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Full text of "Darkwater; voices from within the veil"


s 

University of California Berkeley 
CLASS of 1887 



DARKWATER 



DARKWATER 

VOICES FROM WITHIN 
THE VEIL 



BY 

W. E. BURGHARDT DU BOIS 

AUTHOR OF "THE SOULS OF BLACK FOLK," "THE QUEST 
OF THE SILVER FLEECE," ETC. 




NEW YORK 

HARCOURT, BRACE AND HOWE 
1920 



COPYRIGHT, 1920, BY 
HARCOURT, BRACE AND HOWE, INC. 



THE OUINN ft BADEN CO. PRESS 
RAHWAY, N. J. 



AD NINAM 

MAY 12, 1896 



POSTSCRIPT 

THESE are the things of which men think, who live : 
of their own selves and the dwelling place of their 
fathers; of their neighbors; of work and service; of 
rule and reason and women and children; of Beauty 
and Death and War. To this thinking I have only to 
add a point of view: I have been in the world, but 
not of it. I have seen the human drama from a veiled 
corner, where all the outer tragedy and comedy have 
reproduced themselves in microcosm within. From 
this inner torment of souls the human scene without 
has interpreted itself to me in unusual and even illumi 
nating ways. For this reason, and this alone, I ven 
ture to write again on themes on which great souls 
have already said greater words, in the hope that I 
may strike here and there a half-tone, newer even if 
slighter, up from the heart of my problem and the 
problems of my people. 

Between the sterner flights of logic, I have sought 
to set some little alightings of what may be poetry. 
They are tributes to Beauty, unworthy to stand alone ; 
yet perversely, in my mind, now at the end, I know 
not whether I mean the Thought for the Fancy or 
the Fancy for the Thought, or why the book trails 
off to playing, rather than standing strong on unan- 
swering fact. But this is alway is it not? the Rid 
dle of Life. 

vii 



viii POSTSCRIPT 

Many of my words appear here transformed from 
other publications and I thank the Atlantic, the Inde 
pendent, the Crisis, and the Journal of Race Develop 
ment for letting me use them again. 

W. E. BURGHARDT Du BoiS. 
New York, 1919. 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER PAGE 

POSTSCRIPT vii 

Credo 3 

I. THE SHADOW OF YEARS 5 

A Litany at Atlanta 25 

II. THE SOULS OF WHITE FOLK ... 29 

The Riddle of the Sphinx .... 53 

III. THE HANDS OF ETHIOPIA .... 56 
The Princess of the Hither Isles ... 75 

IV. OF WORK AND WEALTH . . . .81 
The Second Coming 105 

V. "THE SERVANT IN THE HOUSE" . . 109 

Jesus Christ in Texas 123 

VI. OF THE RULING OF MEN . . . .134 

The Call 161 

VII. THE DAMNATION OF WOMEN . . . 163 

Children of the Moon 187 

VIII. THE IMMORTAL CHILD 193 

Almighty Death 219 

IX. OF BEAUTY AND DEATH .... 221 

The Prayers of God 249 

X. THE COMET 253 

A Hymn to the Peoples 275 



DARKWATER 



Credo 

I BELIEVE in God, who made of one blood all nations 
that on earth do dwell. I believe that all men, black 
and brown and white, are brothers, varying through time 
and opportunity, in form and gift and feature, but differ 
ing in no essential particular, and alike in soul and the 
possibility of infinite development. 

Especially do I believe in the Negro Race: in the 
beauty of its genius, the sweetness of its soul, and its 
strength in that meekness which shall yet inherit this tur 
bulent earth. 

I believe in Pride of race and lineage and self: in 
pride of self so deep as to scorn injustice to other selves ; 
in pride of lineage so great as to despise no man's father; 
in pride of race so chivalrous as neither to offer bastardy 
to the weak nor beg wedlock of the strong, knowing that 
men may be brothers in Christ, even though they be not 
brothers-in-law. 

I believe in Service humble, reverent service, from the 
blackening of boots to the whitening of souls ; for Work 
is Heaven, Idleness Hell, and Wage is the " Well done ! " 
of the Master, who summoned all them that labor and 
are heavy laden, making no distinction between the black, 
sweating cotton hands of Georgia and the first families 
of Virginia, since all distinction not based on deed is 
devilish and not divine. 

I believe in the Devil and his angels, who wantonly 
work to narrow the opportunity of struggling human 
beings, especially if they be black ; who spit in the faces 
of the fallen, strike them that cannot strike again, be 
lieve the worst and work to prove it, hating the image 
which their Maker stamped on a brother's soul. 

3 



4 DARKWATER 

I believe in the Prince of Peace. I believe that War 
is Murder. I believe that armies and navies are at bot 
tom the tinsel and braggadocio of oppression and wrong, 
and I believe that the wicked conquest of weaker and 
darker nations by nations whiter and stronger but fore 
shadows the death of that strength. 

I believe in Liberty for all men: the space to stretch 
their arms and their souls, the right to breathe and the 
right to vote, the freedom to choose their friends, enjoy 
the sunshine, and ride on the railroads, uncursed by 
color ; thinking, dreaming, working as they will in a king 
dom of beauty and love. 

I believe in the Training of Children, black even as 
white ; the leading out of little souls into the green pas 
tures and beside the still waters, not for pelf or peace, 
but for life lit by some large vision of beauty and good 
ness and truth; lest we forget, and the sons of the 
fathers, like Esau, for mere meat barter their birthright 
in a mighty nation. 

Finally, I believe in Patience patience with the weak 
ness of the Weak and the strength of the Strong, the 
prejudice of the Ignorant and the ignorance of the Blind ; 
patience with the tardy triumph of Joy and the mad 
chastening of Sorrow; patience with God! 



I 

THE SHADOW OF YEARS 

I WAS born by a golden river and in the shadow of 
two great hills, five years after the Emancipation 
Proclamation. The house was quaint, with clap 
boards running up and down, neatly trimmed, and 
there were five rooms, a tiny porch, a rosy front yard, 
and unbelievably delicious strawberries in the rear. A 
South Carolinian, lately come to the Berkshire Hills, 
owned all this tall, thin, and black, with golden ear 
rings, and given to religious trances. We were his 
transient tenants for the time. 

My own people were part of a great clan. Fully 
two hundred years before, Tom Burghardt had come 
through the western pass from the Hudson with his 
Dutch captor, " Coenraet Burghardt," sullen in his 
slavery and achieving his freedom by volunteering 
for the Revolution at a time of sudden alarm. His 
wife was a little, black, Bantu woman, who never 
became reconciled to this strange land; she clasped 
her knees and rocked and crooned : 

" Do bana coba gene me, gene me ! 
Ben d'nuli, ben d'le " 

Tom died about 1787, but of him came many sons, 
and one, Jack, who helped in the War of 1812. Of 

5 



6 DARKWATER 

Jack and his wife, Violet, was born a mighty family, 
splendidly named: Harlow and Ira, Cloe, Lucinda, 
Maria, and Othello! I dimly remember my grand 
father, Othello, or " Uncle Tallow," a brown man, 
strong-voiced and redolent with tobacco, who sat 
stiffly in a great high chair because his hip was broken. 
He was probably a bit lazy and given to wassail. At 
any rate, grandmother had a shrewish tongue and 
often berated him. This grandmother was Sarah 
" Aunt Sally " a stern, tall, Dutch-African woman, 
beak-nosed, but beautiful-eyed and golden-skinned. 
Ten or more children were theirs, of whom the young 
est was Mary, my mother. 

Mother was dark shining bronze, with a tiny ripple 
in her black hair, black-eyed, with a heavy, kind face. 
She gave one the impression of infinite patience, but 
a curious determination was concealed in her softness. 
The family were small farmers on Egremont Plain, 
between Great Barrington and Sheffield, Massachu 
setts. The bits of land were too small to support the 
great families born on them and we were always poor. 
I never remember being cold or hungry, but I do re 
member that shoes and coal, and sometimes flour, 
caused mother moments of anxious thought in winter, 
and a new suit was an event ! 

At about the time of my birth economic pressure 
was transmuting the family generally from farmers 
to " hired " help. Some revolted and migrated west 
ward, others went cityward as cooks and barbers. 
Mother worked for some years at house service in 
Great Barrington, and after a disappointed love epi- 



THE SHADOW OF YEARS 7 

sode with a cousin, who went to California, she met 
and married Alfred Du Bois and went to town to 
live by the golden river where I was born. 

Alfred, my father, must have seemed a splendid 
vision in that little valley under the shelter of those 
mighty hills. He was small and beautiful of face 
and feature, just tinted with the sun, his curly hair 
chiefly revealing his kinship to Africa. In nature he 
was a dreamer, romantic, indolent, kind, unreliable. 
He had in him the making of a poet, an adventurer, 
or a Beloved Vagabond, according to the life that 
closed round him; and that life gave him all too little. 
His father, Alexander Du Bois, cloaked under a stern, 
austere demeanor a passionate revolt against the 
world. He, too, was small, but squarish. I remember 
him as I saw him first, in his home in New Bedford, 
white hair close-cropped; a seamed, hard face, but 
high in tone, with a gray eye that could twinkle or 
glare. 

Long years before him Louis XIV drove two 
Huguenots, Jacques and Louis Du Bois, into wild 
Ulster County, New York. One of them in the third 
or fourth generation had a descendant, Dr. James Du 
Bois, a gay, rich bachelor, who made his money in 
the Bahamas, where he and the Gilberts had planta 
tions. There he took a beautiful little mulatto slave 
as his mistress, and two sons were born: Alexander 
in 1803 and John, later. They were fine, straight, 
clear-eyed boys, white enough to " pass." He brought 
them to America and put Alexander in the celebrated 
Cheshire School, in Connecticut Here he often vis- 



8 DARKWATER 

ited him, but one last time, fell dead. He left no will, 
and his relations made short shrift of these sons. 
They gathered in the property, apprenticed grand 
father to a shoemaker; then dropped him. 

Grandfather took his bitter dose like a thorough 
bred. Wild as was his inner revolt against this treat 
ment, he uttered no word against the thieves and made 
no plea. He tried his fortunes here and in Haiti, 
where, during his short, restless sojourn, my own 
father was born. Eventually, grandfather became 
chief steward on the passenger boat between New 
York and New Haven; later he was a small merchant 
in Springfield; and finally he retired and ended his 
days at New Bedford. Always he held his head high, 
took no insults, made few friends. He was not a 
" Negro " ; he was a man ! Yet the current was too 
strong even for him. Then even more than now a 
colored man had colored friends or none at all, lived 
in a colored world or lived alone. A few fine, strong, 
black men gained the heart of this silent, bitter man 
in New York and New Haven. If he had scant sym 
pathy with their social clannishness, he was with them 
in fighting discrimination. So, when the white Epis 
copalians of Trinity Parish, New Haven, showed 
plainly that they no longer wanted black folk as fellow 
Christians, he led the revolt which resulted in St. 
Luke's Parish, and was for years its senior warden. 
He lies dead in the Grove Street Cemetery, beside 
Jehudi Ashmun. 

Beneath his sternness was a very human man. Slyly 
he wrote poetry, stilted, pleading things from a soul 



THE SHADOW OF YEARS 9 

astray. He loved women in his masterful way, marry 
ing three beautiful wives in succession and clinging 
to each with a certain desperate, even if unsympa 
thetic, affection. As a father he was, naturally, a fail 
ure, hard, domineering, unyielding. His four chil 
dren reacted characteristically: one was until past 
middle life a thin spinster, the mental image of her 
father; one died; one passed over into the white world 
and her children's children are now white, with no 
knowledge of their Negro blood; the fourth, my 
father, bent before grandfather, but did not break 
better if he had. He yielded and flared back, asked 
forgiveness and forgot why, became the harshly-held 
favorite, who ran away and rioted and roamed and 
loved and married my brown mother. 

So with some circumstance having finally gotten 
myself born, with a flood of Negro blood, a strain 
of French, a bit of Dutch, but, thank God! no 
" Anglo-Saxon," I come to the days of my child 
hood. 

They were very happy. Early we moved back to 
Grandfather Burghardt's home, I barely remember 
its stone fireplace, big kitchen, and delightful wood 
shed. Then this house passed to other branches of 
the clan and we moved to rented quarters in town, 
to one delectable place " upstairs," with a wide yard 
full of shrubbery, and a brook; to another house abut 
ting a railroad, with infinite interests and astonishing 
playmates; and finally back to the quiet street on which 
I was born, down a long lane and in a homely, cozy 
cottage, with a living-room, a tiny sitting-room, a pan- 



io DARKWATER 

try, and two attic bedrooms. Here mother and I 
lived until she died, in 1884, for father early began 
his restless wanderings. I last remember urgent let 
ters for us to come to New Mil ford, where he had 
started a barber shop. Later he became a preacher. 
But mother no longer trusted his dreams, and he soon 
faded out of our lives into silence. 

From the age of five until I was sixteen I went to 
school on the same grounds, down a lane, into a 
widened yard, with a big choke-cherry tree and two 
buildings, wood and brick. Here I got acquainted 
with my world, and soon had my criterions of judg 
ment. 

Wealth had no particular lure. On the other hand, 
the shadow of wealth was about us. That river of 
my birth was golden because of the woolen and paper 
waste that soiled it. The gold was theirs, not ours; 
but the gleam and glint was for all. To me it was 
all in order and I took it philosophically. I cordially 
despised the poor Irish and South Germans, who slaved 
in the mills, and annexed the rich and well-to-do as 
my natural companions. Of such is the kingdom of 
snobs ! 

'Most of our townfolk were, naturally, the well- 
to-do, shading downward, but seldom reaching pov 
erty. As playmate of the children I saw the homes 
of nearly every one, except a few immigrant New 
Yorkers, of whom none of us approved. The homes 
I saw impressed me, but did not overwhelm me. 
Many were bigger than mine, with newer and shinier 
things, but they did not seem to differ in kind. I 



THE SHADOW OF YEARS 11 

think I probably surprised my hosts more than they 
me, for I was easily at home and perfectly happy 
and they looked to me just like ordinary people, while 
my brown face and frizzled hair must have seemed 
strange to them. 

Yet I was very much one of them. I was a center 
and sometimes the leader of the town gang of boys. 
We were noisy, but never very bad, and, indeed, 
my mother's quiet influence came in here, as I realize 
now. She did not try to make me perfect. To her 
I was already perfect. She simply warned me of a 
few things, especially saloons. In my town the saloon 
was the open door to hell. The best families had their 
drunkards and the worst had little else. 

Very gradually, I cannot now distinguish the steps, 
though here and there I remember a jump or a jolt 
but very gradually I found myself assuming quite 
placidly that I was different from other children. At 
first I think I connected the difference with a manifest 
ability to get my lessons rather better than most and 
to recite with a certain happy, almost taunting, glib- 
ness, which brought frowns here and there. Then, 
slowly, I realized that some folks, a few, even several, 
actually considered my brown skin a misfortune; once 
or twice I became painfully aware that some human 
beings even thought it a crime. I was not for a mo 
ment daunted, although, of course, there were some 
days of secret tears rather I was spurred to tireless 
effort. If they beat me at anything, I was grimly 
determined to make them sweat for it! Once I re 
member challenging a great, hard farmer-boy to battle, 



12 DARKWATER 

when I knew he could whip me; and he did. But 
ever after, he was polite. 

As time flew I felt not so much disowned and re 
jected as rather drawn up into higher spaces and 
made part of a mightier mission. At times I almost 
pitied my pale companions, who were not of the Lord's 
anointed and who saw in their dreams no splendid 
quests of golden fleeces. 

Even in the matter of girls my peculiar phantasy 
asserted itselL Naturally, it was in our town voted 
bad form for boys of twelve and fourteen to show 
any evident weakness for girls. We tolerated them 
loftily, and now and then they played in our games, 
when I joined in quite as naturally as the rest. It 
was when strangers came, or summer boarders, or 
when the oldest girls grew up that my sharp senses 
noted little hesitancies in public and searchings for 
possible public opinion. Then I flamed! I lifted my 
chin and strode off to the mountains, where I viewed 
the world at my feet and strained my eyes across the 
shadow of the hills. 

I was graduated from high school at sixteen, and 
I talked of " Wendell Phillips." This was my first 
sweet taste of the world's applause. There were 
flowers and upturned faces, music and marching, and 
there was my mother's smile. She was lame, then, 
and a bit drawn, but very happy "t was her great 
day and that very year she lay down with a sigh 
of content and has not yet awakened. I felt a cer 
tain gladness to see her, at last, at peace, for she had 
worried all her life. Of my own loss I had then 



THE SHADOW OF YEARS 13 

little realization. That came only with the after-years. 
Now it was the choking gladness and solemn feel of 
wings! At last, I was going beyond the hills and 
into the world that beckoned steadily. 

There came a little pause, a singular pause. I 
was given to understand that I was almost too young 
for the world. Harvard was the goal of my dreams, 
but my white friends hesitated and my colored friends 
were silent. Harvard was a mighty conjure-word 
in that hill town, and even the mill owners' sons 
had aimed lower. Finally it was tactfully explained 
that the place for me was in the South among my 
people. A scholarship had been already arranged at 
Fisk, and my summer earnings would pay the fare. 
My relatives grumbled, but after a twinge I felt a 
strange delight! I forgot, or did not thoroughly re 
alize, the curious irony by which I was not looked upon 
as a real citizen of my birth-town, with a future and 
a career, and instead was being sent to a far land 
among strangers who were regarded as (and in truth 
were) "mine own people." 

Ah ! the wonder of that journey, with its faint spice 
of adventure, as I entered the land of slaves; the 
never-to-be-forgotten marvel of that first supper at 
Fisk with the world " colored " and opposite two of 
the most beautiful beings God ever revealed to the 
eyes of seventeen. I promptly lost my appetite, but 
I was deliriously happy ! 

As I peer back through the shadow of my years, 
seeing not too clearly, but through the thickening veil 
of wish and after-thought, I seem to view my life 



i 4 DARKWATER 

divided into four distinct parts : the Age of Miracles, 
the Days of Disillusion, the Discipline of Work and 
Play, and the Second Miracle Age. 

The Age of Miracles began with Fisk and ended 
with Germany. I was bursting with the joy of living. 
I seemed to ride in conquering might. I was captain 
of my soul and master of fate! I willed to do! It 
was done. I wished! The wish came true. 

Now and then out of the void flashed the great 
sword of hate to remind me of the battle. I remem 
ber once, in Nashville, brushing by accident against 
a white woman on the street. Politely and eagerly 
I raised my hat to apologize. That was thirty-five 
years ago. From that day to this I have never know 
ingly raised my hat to a Southern white woman. 

I suspect that beneath all of my seeming triumphs 
there were many failures and disappointments, but 
the realities loomed so large that they swept away 
even the memory of other dreams and wishes. Con 
sider, for a moment, how miraculous it all was to 
a boy of seventeen, just escaped from a narrow val 
ley : I willed and lo ! my people came dancing about 
me, riotous in color, gay in laughter, full of sym 
pathy, need, and pleading; darkly delicious girls 
"colored" girls sat beside me and actually talked 
to me while I gazed in tongue-tied silence or babbled 
in boastful dreams. Boys with my own experiences 
and out of my own world, who knew and understood, 
wrought out with me great remedies. I studied 
eagerly under teachers who bent in subtle sympathy, 
feeling themselves some shadow of the Veil and lift- 



THE SHADOW OF YEARS 15 

ing it gently that we darker souls might peer through 
to other worlds. 

I willed and lo! I was walking beneath the elms 
of Harvard, the name of allurement, the college of 
my youngest, wildest visions ! I needed money; schol 
arships and prizes fell into my lap, not all I wanted 
or strove for, but all I needed to keep in school. 
Commencement came and standing before governor, 
president, and grave, gowned men, I told them cer 
tain astonishing truths, waving my arms and breath 
ing fast! They applauded with what now seems to 
me uncalled-for fervor, but then! I walked home on 
pink clouds of glory! I asked for a fellowship and 
got it. I announced my plan of studying in Germany, 
but Harvard had no more fellowships for me. A 
friend, however, told me of the Slater Fund and how 
the Board was looking for colored men worth edu 
cating. No thought of modest hesitation occurred 
to me. I rushed at the chance. 

The trustees of the Slater Fund excused themselves 
politely. They acknowledged that they had in the 
past looked for colored boys of ability to educate, 
but, being unsuccessful, they had stopped searching. 
I went at them hammer and tongs ! I plied them with 
testimonials and mid-year and final marks. I inti 
mated plainly, impudently, that they were " stalling " ! 
In vain did the chairman, Ex-President Hayes, ex 
plain and excuse. I took no excuses and brushed ex 
planations aside. I wonder now that he did not brush 
me aside, too, as a conceited meddler, but instead he 
smiled and surrendered. 



1 6 DARKWATER 

I crossed the ocean in a trance. Always I seemed 
to be saying, " It is not real; I must be dreaming! " 
I can live it again the little, Dutch ship the blue 
waters the smell of new-mown hay Holland and 
the Rhine. I saw the Wartburg and Berlin; I made 
the Harzreise and climbed the Brocken; I saw the 
Hansa towns and the cities and dorfs of South Ger 
many; I saw the Alps at Berne, the Cathedral at 
Milan, Florence, Rome, Venice, Vienna, and Pesth; 
I looked on the boundaries of Russia; and I sat in 
Paris and London. 

On mountain and valley, in home and school, I 
met men and women as I had never met them before. 
Slowly they became, not white folks, but folks. The 
unity beneath all life clutched me. I was not less 
fanatically a Negro, but " Negro " meant a greater, 
broader sense of humanity and world-fellowship. I 
felt myself standing, not against the world, but simply 
against American narrowness and color prejudice, 
with the greater, finer world at my back urging me on. 

I builded great castles in Spain and lived therein. 
I dreamed and loved and wandered and sang; then, 
after two long years, I dropped suddenly back into 
" nigger "-hating America ! 

My Days of Disillusion were not disappointing 
enough to discourage me. I was still upheld by that 
fund of infinite faith, although dimly about me I saw 
the shadow of disaster. I began to realize how much 
of what I had called Will and Ability was sheer Luck ! 
Suppose my good mother had preferred a steady in 
come from my child labor rather than bank on the 



THE SHADOW OF YEARS 17 

precarious dividend of my higher training? Suppose 
that pompous old village judge, whose dignity we 
often ruffled and whose apples we stole, had had his 
way and sent me while a child to a " reform " school 
to learn a " trade " ? Suppose Principal Hosmer had 
been born with no faith in " darkies," and instead 
of giving me Greek and Latin had taught me car 
pentry and the making of tin pans? Suppose I had 
missed a Harvard scholarship? Suppose the Slater 
Board had then, as now, distinct ideas as to where 
the education of Negroes should stop? Suppose and 
suppose! As I sat down calmly on flat earth and 
looked at my life a certain great fear seized me. 
Was I the masterful captain or the pawn of laughing 
sprites? Who was I to fight a world of color preju 
dice? I raise my hat to myself when I remember 
that, even with these thoughts, I did not hesitate or 
waver; but just went doggedly to work, and therein 
lay whatever salvation I have achieved. 

First came the task of earning a living. I was 
not nice or hard to please. I just got down on my 
knees and begged for work, anything and anywhere. 
I wrote to Hampton, Tuskegee, and a dozen other 
places. They politely declined, with many regrets. 
The trustees of a backwoods Tennessee town consid 
ered me, but were eventually afraid. Then, suddenly, 
Wilberforce offered to let me teach Latin and Greek 
at $750 a year. I was overjoyed! 

I did not know anything about Latin and Greek, 
but I did know of Wilberforce. The breath of that 
great name had swept the water and dropped into 



1 8 DARKWATER 

southern Ohio, where Southerners had taken their 
cure at Tawawa Springs and where white Methodists 
had planted a school; then came the little bishop, 
Daniel Payne, who made it a school of the African 
Methodists. This was the school that called me, and 
when re-considered offers from Tuskegee and Jeffer 
son City followed, I refused; I was so thankful for 
that first offer. 

I went to Wilberforce with high ideals. I wanted 
to help to build a great university. I was willing to 
work night as well as day. I taught Latin, Greek, 
English, and German. I helped in the discipline, took 
part in the social life, begged to be allowed to 
lecture on sociology, and began to write books. But 
I found myself against a stone wall. Nothing stirred 
before my impatient pounding! Or if it stirred, it 
soon slept again. 

Of course, I was too impatient ! The snarl of years 
was not to be undone in days. I set at solving the 
problem before I knew it. Wilberforce was a colored 
church-school. In it were mingled the problems of 
poorly-prepared pupils, an inadequately-equipped 
plant, the natural politics of bishoprics, and the pro 
vincial reactions of a country town loaded with tradi 
tions. It was my first introduction to a Negro world, 
and I was at once marvelously inspired and deeply 
depressed. I was inspired with the children, had I 
not rubbed against the children of the world and did 
I not find here the same eagerness, the same joy of 
life, the same brains as in New England, France, and 
Germany? But, on the other hand, the ropes and 



THE SHADOW OF YEARS 19 

myths and knots and hindrances; the thundering 
waves of the white world beyond beating us back; 
the scalding breakers of this inner world, its currents 
and back eddies its meanness and smallness its sor 
row and tragedy its screaming farce ! 

In all this I was as one bound hand and foot 
Struggle, work, fight as I would, I seemed to get 
nowhere and accomplish nothing. I had all the wild 
intolerance of youth, and no experience in human 
tangles. For the first time in my life I realized that 
there were limits to my will to do. The Day of 
Miracles was past, and a long, gray road of dogged 
work lay ahead. 

I had, naturally, my triumphs here and there. I 
defied the bishops in the matter of public extempora 
neous prayer and they yielded. I bearded the poor, 
hunted president in his den, and yet was re-elected to 
my position. I was slowly winning a way, but quickly 
losing faith in the value of the way won. Was this 
the place to begin my life work? Was this the work 
which I was best fitted to do? What business had 
I, anyhow, to teach Greek when I had studied men? 
I grew sure that I had made a mistake. So I de 
termined to leave Wilberforce and try elsewhere. 
Thus, the third period of my life began. 

First, in 1896, I married a slip of a girl, beauti 
fully dark-eyed and thorough and good as a German 
housewife. Then I accepted a job to make a study 
of Negroes in Philadelphia for the University of 
Pennsylvania, one year at six hundred dollars. How 
did I dare these two things? I do not know. Yet 



20 DARKWATER 

they spelled salvation. To remain at Wilberforce 
without doing my ideals meant spiritual death. Both 
my wife and I were homeless. I dared a home and 
a temporary job. But it was a different daring from 
the days of my first youth. I was ready to admit 
that the best of men might fail. I meant still to be 
captain of my soul, but I realized that even captains 
are not omnipotent in uncharted and angry seas. 

I essayed a thorough piece of work in Philadelphia. 
I labored morning, noon, and night. Nobody ever 
reads that fat volume on " The Philadelphia Negro/! 
but they treat it with respect, and that consoles me. 
The colored people of Philadelphia received me with 
no open arms. They had a natural dislike to being 
studied like a strange species. I met again and in 
different guise those curious cross-currents and inner 
social whirlings of my own people. They set me to 
groping. I concluded that I did not know so much 
as I might about my own people, and when President 
Bumstead invited me to Atlanta University the next 
year to teach sociology and study the American Negro, 
I accepted gladly, at a salary of twelve hundred dol 
lars. 

My real life work was done at Atlanta for thirteen 
years, from my twenty-ninth to my forty-second birth 
day. They were years of great spiritual upturning, 
of the making and unmaking of ideals, of hard work 
and hard play. Here I found myself. I lost most 
of my mannerisms. I grew more broadly human, 
made my closest and most holy friendships, and 
studied human beings. I became widely-acquainted 



THE SHADOW OF YEARS 21 

with the real condition of my people. I realized the 
terrific odds which faced them. At Wilberforce I 
was their captious critic. In Philadelphia I was their 
cold and scientific investigator, with microscope and 
probe. It took but a few years of Atlanta to bring 
me to hot and indignant defense. I saw the race 
hatred of the whites as I had never dreamed of it 
before, naked and unashamed! The faint discrimi 
nation of my hopes and intangible dislikes paled into 
nothing before this great, red monster of cruel oppres 
sion. I held back with more difficulty each day my 
mounting indignation against injustice and misrepre 
sentation. 

With all this came the strengthening and harden 
ing of my own character. The billows of birth, love, 
and death swept over me. I saw life through all its 
paradox and contradiction of streaming eyes and mad 
merriment. I emerged into full manhood, with the 
ruins of some ideals about me, but with others planted 
above the stars; scarred and a bit grim, but hugging 
to my soul the divine gift of laughter and withal 
determined, even unto stubbornness, to fight the good 
fight. 

At last, forbear and waver as I would, I faced 
the great Decision. My life's last and greatest door 
stood ajar. What with all my dreaming, studying, 
and teaching was I going to do in this fierce fight? 
Despite all my youthful conceit and bumptiousness, I 
found developed beneath it all a reticence and new 
fear of forwardness, which sprang from searching 
criticisms of motive and high ideals of efficiency; 



22 DARKWATER 

but contrary to my dream of racial solidarity and 
notwithstanding my deep desire to serve and follow 
and think, rather than to lead and inspire and de 
cide, I found myself suddenly the leader of a great 
wing of people fighting against another and greater 
wing. 

Nor could any effort of mine keep this fight from 
sinking to the personal plane. Heaven knows I tried. 
That first meeting of a knot of enthusiasts, at Niagara 
Falls, had all the earnestness of self-devotion. At the 
second meeting, at Harper's Ferry, it arose to the 
solemnity of a holy crusade and yet without and to the 
cold, hard stare of the world it seemed merely the 
envy of fools against a great man, Booker Washing 
ton. 

Of the movement I was willy-nilly leader. I hated 
the role. For the first time I faced criticism and 
cared. Every ideal and habit of my life was cruelly 
misjudged. I who had always overstriven to give 
credit for good work, who had never consciously 
stooped to envy was accused by honest colored people 
of every sort of small and petty jealousy, while white 
people said I was ashamed of my race and wanted 
to be white! And this of me, whose one life fanati 
cism had been belief in my Negro blood 1 

Away back in the little years of my boyhood I had 
sold the Springfield Republican and written for Mr. 
Fortune's Globe. I dreamed of being an editor my 
self some day. I am an editor. In the great, slashing 
days of college life I dreamed of a strong organization 
to fight the battles of the Negro race. The National 



THE SHADOW OF YEARS 23 

Association for the Advancement of Colored People 
is such a body, and it grows daily. In the dark days 
at Wilberforce I planned a time when I could speak 
freely to my people and of them, interpreting between 
two worlds. I am speaking now. In the study at 
Atlanta I grew to fear lest my radical beliefs should 
so hurt the college that either my silence or the in 
stitution's ruin would result. Powers and principali 
ties have not yet curbed my tongue and Atlanta still 
lives. 

It all came this new Age of Miracles because a 
few persons in 1909 determined to celebrate Lincoln's 
Birthday properly by calling for the final emancipa 
tion of the American Negro. I came at their call. 
My salary even for a year was not assured, but it 
was the " Voice without reply." The result has been 
the National Association for the Advancement of 
Colored People and The Crisis and this book, which 
I am finishing on my Fiftieth Birthday. 

Last year I looked death in the face and found 
its lineaments not unkind. But it was not my time. 
Yet in nature some time soon and in the fullness of 
days I shall die, quietly, I trust, with my face turned 
South and eastward; and, dreaming or dreamless, I 
shall, I am sure, enjoy death as I have enjoyed life. 



A Litany at Atlanta 

O Silent God, Thou whose voice afar in mist and 
mystery hath left our ears an-hungered in these fearful 
days 

Hear us, good Lord! 

Listen to us, Thy children : our faces dark with doubt 
are made a mockery in Thy Sanctuary. With uplifted 
hands we front Thy Heaven, O God, crying: 
We beseech Thee to hear us, good Lord! 
We are not better than our fellows, Lord ; we are but 
weak and human men. When our devils do deviltry, 
curse Thou the doer and the deed, curse them as we 
curse them, do to them all and more than ever they have 
done to innocence and weakness, to womanhood and 
home. 

Have mercy upon us, miserable sinners! 
And yet, whose is the deeper guilt? Who made these 
devils? Who nursed them in crime and. fed them on 
injustice? Who ravished and debauched their mothers 
and their grandmothers? Who bought and sold their 
crime and waxed fat and rich on public iniquity? 

Thou knowest, good God! 

Is this Thy Justice, O Father, that guile be easier than 
innocence and the innocent be crucified for the guilt of 
the untouched guilty? 

Justice, O Judge of men! 

Wherefore do we pray? Is not the God of the Fathers 
dead? Have not seers seen in Heaven's halls Thine 
hearsed and lifeless form stark amidst the black and 
rolling smoke of sin, where all along bow bitter forms 
of endless dead? 

Awake, Thou that steepest! 
25 



26 DARKWATER 

Thou art not dead, but flown afar, up hills of endless 
light, through blazing corridors of suns, where worlds 
do swing of good and gentle men, of women strong and 
free far from the cozenage, black hypocrisy, and chaste 
prostitution of this shameful speck of dust! 

Turn again, O Lord; leave us not to perish in our sin! 

From lust of body and lust of blood, 
Great God, deliver us! 

From lust of power and lust of gold, 
Great God, deliver its! 

From the leagued lying of despot and of brute, 
Great God, deliver us! 

A city lay in travail, God our Lord, and from her 
loins sprang twin Murder and Black Hate. Red was the 
midnight; clang, crack, and cry of death and fury rilled 
the air and trembled underneath the stars where church 
spires pointed silently to Thee. And all this was to 
sate the greed of greedy men who hide behind the veil 
of vengeance! 

Bend us Thine ear, O Lord! 

In the pale, still morning we looked upon the deed. 
We stopped our ears and held our leaping hands, but 
they did they not wag their heads and leer and cry 
with bloody jaws: Cease from Crime! The word was 
mockery, for thus they train a hundred crimes while we 
do cure one. 

Turn again our captivity, O Lord! 

Behold this maimed and broken thing, dear God; it 
was an humble black man, who toiled and sweat to save^ 
a bit from the pittance paid him. They told him : Work 
and Rise! He worked. Did this man sin? Nay, but 
someone told how someone said another did one whom 
he had never seen nor known. Yet for that man's crime 
this man lieth maimed and murdered, his wife naked to 
shame, his children to poverty and evil. 
Hear us, heavenly Father! 

Doth not this justice of hell stink in Thy nostrils, O 



A LITANY AT ATLANTA 27 

God? How long shall the mounting flood of innocent 
blood roar in Thine ears and pound in our hearts for 
vengeance? Pile the pale frenzy of blood-crazed brutes, 
who do such deeds, high on Thine Altar, Jehovah Jireh, 
and burn it in hell forever and forever! 

Forgive us, good Lord; we know not what we say! 

Bewildered we are and passion-tossed, mad with the 
madness of a mobbed and mocked and murdered people ; 
straining at the armposts of Thy throne, we raise our 
shackled hands and charge Thee, God, by the bones of 
our stolen fathers, by the tears of our dead mothers, by 
the very blood of Thy crucified Christ: What meaneth 
this ? Tell us the plan ; give us the sign ! 
Keep not Thou silent, God! 

Sit not longer blind, Lord God, deaf to our prayer and 
dumb to our dumb suffering. Surely Thou, too, art 
not white, O Lord, a pale, bloodless, heartless thing ! 
Ah! Christ of all the Pities! 

Forgive the thought ! Forgive these wild, blasphemous 
words ! Thou art still the God of our black fathers and 
in Thy Soul's Soul sit some soft darkenings of the 
evening, some shado wings of the velvet night. 

But whisper speak call, great God, for Thy silence 
is white terror to our hearts! The way, O God, show 
us the way and point us the path! 

Whither ? North is greed and South is blood ; within, 
the coward, and without, the liar. Whither ? To death ? 
Amen! Welcome, dark sleep! 

Whither? To life? But not this life, dear God, not 
this. Let the cup pass from us, tempt us not beyond 
our strength, for there is that clamoring and clawing 
within, to whose voice we would not listen, yet shudder 
lest we must, and it is red. Ah ! God ! It is a red and 
awful shape. 
Selah! 

In yonder East trembles a star. 

Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, saith the Lord! 



28 DARKWATER 

Thy Will, O Lord, be done ! 

Kyrie Eleison! 
Lord, we have done these pleading, wavering words. 

We beseech Thee to hear us, good Lord! 
We bow our heads and hearken soft to the sobbing of 
women and little children. 

We beseech Thee to hear us, good Lord! 
Our voices sink in silence and in night. 

Hear us, good Lord! 
In night, O God of a godless land! 

Amen ! 
In silence, O Silent God. 

Selah! 



II 

THE SOULS OF WHITE FOLK 

HIGH in the tower, where I sit above the loud com 
plaining of the human sea, I know many souls that 
toss and whirl and pass, but none there are that in 
trigue me more than the Souls of White Folk. 

Of them I am singularly clairvoyant. I see in and 
through them. I view them from unusual points of 
vantage. Not as a foreigner do I come, for I am 
native, not foreign, bone of their thought and flesh 
of their language. Mine is not the knowledge of the 
traveler or the colonial composite of dear memories, 
words and wonder. Nor yet is my knowledge that 
which servants have of masters, or mass of class, or 
capitalist of artisan. Rather I see these souls un 
dressed and from the back and side. I see the working 
of their entrails. I know their thoughts and they know 
that I know. This knowledge makes them now em 
barrassed, now furious! They deny my right to live 
and be and call me misbirth! My word is to them 
mere bitterness and my soul, pessimism. And yet as 
they preach and strut and shout and threaten, crouch 
ing as they clutch at rags of facts and fancies to 
hide their nakedness, they go twisting, flying by my 
tired eyes and I see them ever stripped, ugly, human. 

The discovery of personal whiteness among the 

29 



30 DARKWATER 

world's peoples is a very modern thing, a nineteenth 
and twentieth century matter, indeed. The ancient 
world would have laughed at such a distinction. The 
Middle Age regarded skin color with mild curiosity; 
and even up into the eighteenth century we were 
hammering our national manikins into one, great, 
Universal Man, with fine frenzy which ignored color 
and race even more than birth. Today we have 
changed all that, and the world in a sudden, emo 
tional conversion has discovered that it is white and 
by that token, wonderful ! 

This assumption that of all the hues of God white 
ness alone is inherently and obviously better than 
brownness or tan leads to curious acts ; even the sweeter 
souls of the dominant world as they discourse with 
me on weather, weal, and woe are continually playing 
above their actual words an obligate of tune and tone, 
saying : 

" My poor, un-white thing ! Weep not nor rage. 
I know, too well, that the curse of God lies heavy 
on you. Why? That is not for me to say, but be 
brave! Do your work in your lowly sphere, praying 
the good Lord that into heaven above, where all is 
love, you may, one day, be born white ! " 

I do not laugh. I am quite straight-faced as I ask 
soberly : 

" But what on earth is whiteness that one should 
so desire it?" Then always, somehow, some way, 
silently but clearly, I am given to understand that 
whiteness is the ownership of the earth forever and 
ever, Afrien! 



THE SOULS OF WHITE FOLK 31 

Now what is the effect on a man or a nation when 
it comes passionately to believe such an extraordinary 
dictum as this? That nations are coming to believe 
it is manifest daily. Wave on wave, each with in 
creasing virulence, is dashing this new religion of 
whiteness on the shores of our time. Its first effects 
are funny: the strut of the Southerner, the arrogance 
of the Englishman amuck, the whoop of the hoodlum 
who vicariously leads your mob. Next it appears 
dampening generous enthusiasm in what we once 
counted glorious; to free the slave is discovered to be 
tolerable only in so far as it freed his master! Do 
we sense somnolent writhings in black Africa or angry 
groans in India or triumphant banzais in Japan ? " To 
your tents, O Israel ! " These nations are not white ! 

After the more comic manifestations and the chill 
ing of generous enthusiasm come subtler, darker deeds. 
Everything considered, the title to the universe claimed 
by White Folk is faulty. It ought, at least, to look 
plausible. How easy, then, by emphasis and omission 
to make children believe that every great soul the 
world ever saw was a white man's soul; that every 
great thought the world ever knew was a white man's 
thought; that every great deed the world ever did 
was a white man's deed; that every great dream the 
world ever sang was a white man's dream. In fine, 
that if from the world were dropped everything that 
could not fairly be attributed to White Folk, the 
world would, if anything, be even greater, truer, bet 
ter than now. And if all this be a lie, is it not a lie 
in a great cause? 



32 DARKWATER 

Here it is that the comedy verges to tragedy. The 
first minor note is struck, all unconsciously, by those 
worthy souls in whom consciousness of high .descent 
brings burning desire to spread the gift abroad, 
the obligation of nobility to the ignoble. Such sense 
of duty assumes two things: a real possession of the 
heritage and its frank appreciation by the humble-born. 
So long, then, as humble black folk, voluble with 
thanks, receive barrels of old clothes from lordly and 
generous whites, there is much mental peace and 
moral satisfaction. But when the black man begins 
to dispute the white man's title to certain alleged 
bequests of the Fathers in wage and position, author 
ity and training; and when his attitude toward charity 
is sullen anger rather than humble jollity; when he 
insists on his human right to swagger and swear 
and waste, then the spell is suddenly broken and the 
philanthropist is ready to believe that Negroes are im 
pudent, that the South is right, and that Japan wants 
to fight America. 

After this the descent to Hell is easy. On the pale, 
white faces which the great billows whirl upward 
to my tower I see again and again, often and still 
more often, a writing of human hatred, a deep and 
passionate hatred, vast by the very vagueness of its 
expressions. Down through the green waters, on the 
bottom of the world, where men move to and fro, 
I have seen a man an educated gentleman grow 
livid with anger because a little, silent, black woman 
was sitting by herself in a Pullman car. He was a 
white man. I have seen a great, grown man curse 



THE SOULS OF WHITE FOLK 33 

a little child, who had wandered into the wrong wait 
ing-room, searching for its mother : " Here, you 

damned black " He was white. In Central Park 

I have seen the upper lip of a quiet, peaceful man 
curl back in a tigerish snarl of rage because black 
folk rode by in a motor car. He was a white man. 
We have seen, you and I, city after city drunk and 
furious with ungovernable lust of blood; mad with 
murder, destroying, killing, and cursing; torturing 
human victims because somebody accused of crime 
happened to be of the same color as the mob's inno 
cent victims and because that color was not white! 
We have seen, Merciful God! in these wild days 
and in the name of Civilization, Justice, and Mother 
hood, what have we not seen, right here in America, 
of orgy, cruelty, barbarism, and murder done to men 
and women of Negro descent. 

Up through the foam of green and weltering waters 
wells this great mass of hatred, in wilder, fiercer vio 
lence, until I look down and know that today to the 
millions of my people no misfortune could happen, 
of death and pestilence, failure and defeat that 
would not make the hearts of millions of their fel 
lows beat with fierce, vindictive joy! Do you doubt 
it? Ask your own soul what it would say if the next 
census were to report that half of black America was 
dead and the other half dying. 

Unfortunate ? Unfortunate. But where is the mis 
fortune? Mine? Am I, in my blackness, the sole 
sufferer? I suffer. And yet, somehow, above the 
suffering, above the shackled anger that beats the 



34 DARKWATER 

bars, above the hurt that crazes there surges in me 
a vast pity, pity for a people imprisoned and en 
thralled, hampered and made miserable for such a 
cause, for such a phantasy! 

Conceive this nation, of all human peoples, engaged 
in a crusade to make the " World Safe for Democ 
racy"! Can you imagine the United States protest 
ing against Turkish atrocities in Armenia, while the 
Turks are silent about mobs in Chicago and St. Louis; 
what is Louvain compared with Memphis, Waco, 
Washington, Dyersburg, and Estill Springs? In 
short, what is the black man but America's Belgium, 
and how could America condemn in Germany that 
which she commits, just as brutally, within her own 
borders ? 

A true and worthy ideal frees and uplifts a people; 
a false ideal imprisons and lowers. Say to men, 
earnestly and repeatedly : " Honesty is best, knowl 
edge is power; do unto others as you would be done 
by." Say this and act it and the nation must move 
toward it, if not to it. But say to a people: "The 
one virtue is to be white," and the people rush to the 
inevitable conclusion, " Kill the ' nigger ' ! " 

Is not this the record of present America? Is not 
this its headlong progress ? Are we not coming more 
and more, day by day, to making the statement " I 
am white," the one fundamental tenet of our practical 
morality? Only when this basic, iron rule is involved 
is our defense of right nation-wide and prompt. Mur 
der may swagger, theft may rule and prostitution may 
flourish and the nation gives but spasmodic, inter- 



THE SOULS OF WHITE FOLK 35 

mittent and lukewarm attention. But let the murderer 
be black or the thief brown or the violator of woman 
hood have a drop of Negro blood, and the righteous 
ness of the indignation sweeps the world. Nor would 
this fact make the indignation less justifiable did not 
we all know that it was blackness that was condemned 
and not crime. 

In the awful cataclysm of World War, where from 
beating, slandering, and murdering us the white world 
turned temporarily aside to kill each other, we of the 
Darker Peoples looked on in mild amaze. 

Among some of us, I doubt not, this sudden de 
scent of Europe into hell brought unbounded sur 
prise; to others, over wide area, it brought the 
Schadcn Freude of the bitterly hurt; but most of us, 
I judge, looked on silently and sorrowfully, in sober 
thought, seeing sadly the prophecy of our own souls. 

Here is a civilization that has boasted much. 
Neither Roman nor Arab, Greek nor Egyptian, Per 
sian nor Mongol ever took himself and his own per- 
fectness with such disconcerting seriousness as the 
modern white man. We whose shame, humiliation, 
and deep insult his aggrandizement so often involved 
were never deceived. We looked at him clearly, with 
world-old eyes, and saw simply a human thing, weak 
and pitiable and cruel, even as we are and were. 

These super-men and world-mastering demi-gods 
listened, however, to no low tongues of ours, even 
when we pointed silently to their feet of clay. Per 
haps we, as folk of simpler soul and more primitive 
type, have been most struck in the welter of recent 



3 6 DARKWATER 

years by the utter failure of white religion. We have 
curled our lips in something like contempt as we have 
witnessed glib apology and weary explanation. Noth 
ing of the sort deceived us. A nation's religion is its 
life, and as such white Christianity is a miserable 
failure. 

Nor would we be unfair in this criticism : We know 
that we, too, have failed, as you have, and have re 
jected many a Buddha, even as you have denied 
Christ; but we acknowledge our human frailty, while 
you, claiming super-humanity, scoff endlessly at our 
shortcomings. 

The number of white individuals who are practising 
with even reasonable approximation the democracy 
and unselfishness of Jesus Christ is so small and un 
important as to be fit subject for jest in Sunday sup 
plements and in Punch, Life, Le Rire, and Fliegende 
Blatter. In her foreign mission work the extraordi 
nary self-deception of white religion is epitomized: 
solemnly the white world sends five million dollars 
worth of missionary propaganda to Africa each year 
and in the same twelve months adds twenty-five mil 
lion dollars worth of the vilest gin manufactured. 
'Peace to the augurs of Rome ! 

We may, however, grant without argument that 
religious ideals have always far outrun their very 
human devotees. J^et us, then, turn to more mundane 
matters of honor and fairness. The world today is 
trade. The world has turned shopkeeper; history is 
economic history; living is earning a living. Is it 
necessary to ask how much of high emprise and hon- 



THE SOULS OF WHITE FOLK 37 

orable conduct has been found here? Something, to 
be sure. The establishment of world credit systems 
is built on splendid and realizable faith in fellow-men. 
But it is, after all, so low and elementary a step that 
sometimes it looks merely like honor among thieves, 
for the revelations of highway robbery and low cheat 
ing in the business world and in all its great modern 
centers have raised in the hearts of all true men in our 
day an exceeding great cry for revolution in our basic 
methods and conceptions of industry and commerce. 

We do not, for a moment, forget the robbery of 
other times and races when trade was a most uncer 
tain gamble; but was there not a certain honesty and 
frankness in the evil that argued a saner morality? 
There are more merchants today, surer deliveries, and 
wider well-being, but are there not, also, bigger thieves, 
deeper injustice, and more calloused selfishness in 
well-being? Be that as it may, certainly the nicer 
sense of honor that has risen ever and again in groups 
of forward-thinking men has been curiously and 
broadly blunted. Consider our chiefest industry, 
fighting. Laboriously the Middle Ages built its rules 
of fairness equal armament, equal notice, equal con 
ditions. What do we see today? Machine-guns 
against assegais; conquest sugared with religion; mu 
tilation and rape masquerading as culture, all this, 
with vast applause at the superiority of white over 
black soldiers! 

War is horrible! This the dark world knows to 
its awful cost. But has it just become horrible, in 
these last days, when under essentially equal condi- 



3 8 DARKWATER 

tions, equal armament, and equal waste of wealth 
white men are righting white men, with surgeons and 
nurses hovering near? 

Think of the wars through which we have lived 
in the last decade: in German Africa, in British 
Nigeria, in French and Spanish Morocco, in China, 
in Persia, in the Balkans, in Tripoli, in Mexico, and 
in a dozen lesser places were not these horrible, too ? 
Mind you, there were for most of these wars no Red 
Cross funds. 

Behold little Belgium and her pitiable plight, but 
has the world forgotten Congo? What Belgium now 
suffers is not half, not even a tenth, of what she has 
done to black Congo since Stanley's great dream of 
1880. Down the dark forests of inmost Africa sailed 
this modern Sir Galahad, in the name of " the noble- 
minded men of several nations," to introduce com 
merce and civilization. What came of it? "Rubber 
and murder, slavery in its worst form," wrote Glave 
in 1895. 

Harris declares that King Leopold's regime meant 
the death of twelve million natives, " but what we 
who were behind the scenes felt most keenly was 
the fact that the real catastrophe in the Congo was 
desolation and murder in the larger sense. The in 
vasion of family life, the ruthless destruction of every 
social barrier, the shattering of every tribal law, the 
introduction of criminal practices which struck the 
chiefs of the people dumb with horror in a word, 
a veritable avalanche of filth and immorality over 
whelmed the Congo tribes." 



THE SOULS OF WHITE FOLK 39 

Yet the fields of Belgium laughed, the cities were 
gay, art and science flourished; the groans that helped 
to nourish this civilization fell on deaf ears because 
the world round about was doing the same sort of 
thing elsewhere on its own account. 

As we saw the dead dimly through rifts of battle- 
smoke and heard faintly the cursings and accusations 
of blood brothers, we darker men said : This is not 
Europe gone mad; this is not aberration nor insanity; 
this is Europe; this seeming Terrible is the real soul 
of white culture back of all culture, stripped and 
visible today. This is where the world has arrived, 
these dark and awful depths and not the shining 
and ineffable heights of which it boasted. Here is 
whither the might and energy of modern humanity 
has really gone. 

But may not the world cry back at us and ask: 
" What better thing have you to show ? What have 
you done or would do better than this if you had 
today the world rule? Paint with all riot of hateful 
colors the thin skin of European culture, is it not 
better than any culture that arose in Africa or Asia ? " 

It is. Of this there is no doubt and never has been; 
but why is it better? Is it better because Europeans 
are better, nobler, greater, and more gifted than other 
folk? It is not. Europe has never produced and 
never will in our day bring forth a single human soul 
who cannot be matched and over-matched in every 
line of human endeavor by Asia and Africa. Run 
the gamut, if you will, and let us have the Europeans 
who in sober truth over-match Nefertari, Mohammed, 



40 DARKWATER 

Rameses and Askia, Confucius, Buddha, and Jesus 
Christ. If we could scan the calendar of thousands 
of lesser men, in like comparison, the result would 
be the same; but we cannot do this because of the 
deliberately educated ignorance of white schools by 
which they remember Napoleon and forget Sonni AH. 

The greatness of Europe has lain in the width of 
the stage on which she has played her part, the 
strength of the foundations on which she has builded, 
and a natural, human ability no whit greater (if as 
great) than that of other days and races. In other 
words, the deeper reasons for the triumph of Euro 
pean civilization lie quite outside and beyond Europe, 
back in the universal struggles of all mankind. 

Why, then, is Europe great? Because of the foun 
dations which the mighty past have furnished her to 
build upon: the iron trade of ancient, black Africa, 
the religion and empire-building of yellow Asia, the 
art and science of the " dago " Mediterranean shore, 
east, south, and west, as well as north. And where 
she has builded securely upon this great past and 
learned from it she has gone forward to greater and 
more splendid human triumph ; but where she has ig 
nored this past and forgotten and sneered at it, she 
has shown the cloven hoof of poor, crucified human 
ity, she has played, like other empires gone, the 
world fool ! 

If, then, European triumphs in culture have been 
greater, so, too, may her failures have been greater. 
How great a failure and a failure in what does the 
World War betoken? Was it national jealousy of 



THE SOULS OF WHITE FOLK 41 

the sort of the seventeenth century? But Europe has 
done more to break down national barriers than any 
preceding culture. Was it fear of the balance of 
power in Europe? Hardly, save in the half-Asiatic 
problems of the Balkans. What, then, does Haupt- 
mann mean when he says : " Our jealous enemies 
forged an iron ring about our breasts and we knew 
our breasts had to expand, that we had to split 
asunder this ring or else we had to cease breathing. 
But Germany will not cease to breathe and so it came 
to pass that the iron ring was forced apart." 

Whither is this expansion? What is that breath 
of life, thought to be so indispensable to a great Euro 
pean nation? Manifestly it is expansion overseas; it 
is colonial aggrandizement which explains, and alone 
adequately explains, the World War. How many of 
us today fully realize the current theory of colonial 
expansion, of the relation of Europe which is white, 
to the world which is black and brown and yellow? 
Bluntly put, that theory is this : It is the duty of white 
Europe to divide up the darker world and administer 
it for Europe's good. 

This Europe has largely done. The European 
world is using black and brown men for all the uses 
which men know. Slowly but surely white culture 
is evolving the theory that " darkies " are born beasts 
of burden for white folk. It were silly to think other 
wise, cries the cultured world, with stronger and 
shriller accord. The supporting arguments grow and 
twist themselves in the mouths of merchant, scientist, 
soldier, traveler, writer, and missionary : Darker peo- 



42 DARKWATER 

pies are dark in mind as well as in body; of dark, un 
certain, and imperfect descent; of frailer, cheaper 
stuff; they are cowards in the face of mausers and 
maxims; they have no feelings, aspirations, and loves; 
they are fools, illogical idiots, " half -devil and half- 
child." 

Such as they are civilization must, naturally, raise 
them, but soberly and in limited ways. They are 
not simply dark white men. They are not " men " 
in the sense that Europeans are men. To the very 
limited extent of their shallow capacities lift them 
to be useful to whites, to raise cotton, gather rubber, 
fetch ivory, dig diamonds, and let them be paid 
what men think they are worth white men who know 
them to be well-nigh worthless. 

Such degrading of men by men is as old as mankind 
and the invention of no one race or people. Ever 
have men striven to conceive of their victims as differ 
ent from the victors, endlessly different, in soul and 
blood, strength and cunning, race and lineage. It 
has been left, however, to Europe and to modern days 
to discover the eternal world-wide mark of meanness, 
color ! 

Such is the silent revolution that has gripped mod 
ern European culture in the later nineteenth and twen 
tieth centuries. Its zenith came in Boxer times : White 
supremacy was all but world-wide, Africa was dead, 
India conquered, Japan isolated, and China prostrate, 
while white America whetted her sword for mongrel 
Mexico and mulatto South America, lynching her own 
Negroes the while. Temporary halt in this program 



THE SOULS OF WHITE FOLK 43 

was made by little Japan and the white world imme 
diately sensed the peril of such " yellow " presump 
tion! What sort of a world would this be if yellow 
men must be treated " white " ? Immediately the 
eventual overthrow of Japan became a subject of deep 
thought and intrigue, from St. Petersburg to San 
Francisco, from the Key of Heaven to the Little 
Brother of the Poor. 

The using of men for the benefit of masters is no 
new invention of modern Europe. It is quite as old 
as the world. But Europe proposed to apply it on 
a scale and with an elaborateness of detail of which no 
former world ever dreamed. The imperial width of 
the thing, the heaven-defying audacity makes its 
modern newness. 

The scheme of Europe was no sudden invention, 
but a way out of long-pressing difficulties. It is plain 
to modern white civilization that the subjection of 
the white working classes cannot much longer be 
maintained. Education, political power, and increased 
knowledge of the technique and meaning of the in 
dustrial process are destined to make a more and 
more equitable distribution of wealth in the near fu 
ture. The day of the very rich is drawing to a close, so 
far as individual white nations are concerned. But 
there is a loophole. There is a chance for exploitation 
on an immense scale for inordinate profit, not simply 
to the very rich, but to the middle class and to the 
laborers. This chance lies in the exploitation of 
darker peoples. It is here that the golden hand beck 
ons. Here are no labor unions or votes or ques- 



44 DARKWATER 

tioning onlookers or inconvenient consciences. These 
men may be used down to the very bone, and shot and 
maimed in " punitive " expeditions when they revolt. 
In these dark lands " industrial development " may 
repeat in exaggerated form every horror of the indus 
trial history of Europe, from slavery and rape to 
disease and maiming, with only one test of success, 
dividends ! 

This theory of human culture and its aims has 
worked itself through warp and woof of our daily 
thought with a thoroughness that few realize. Every 
thing great, good, efficient, fair, and honorable is 
"white"; everything mean, bad, blundering, cheating, 
and dishonorable is " yellow " ; a bad taste is 
" brown"; and the devil is " black." The changes of 
this theme are continually rung in picture and story, 
in newspaper heading and moving-picture, in sermon 
and school book, until, of course, the King can do no 
wrong, a White Man is always right and a Black 
Man has no rights which a white man is bound to 
respect. 

There must come the necessary despisings and 
hatreds of these savage half-men, this unclean canaille 
of the world these dogs of men. All through the 
world this gospel is preaching. It has its literature, 
it has its priests, it has its secret propaganda and above 
all it pays! 

There's the rub, it pays. Rubber, ivory, and 
palm-oil; tea, coffee, and cocoa; bananas, oranges, and 
other fruit; cotton, gold, and copper they, and a 
hundred other things which dark and sweating bodies 



THE SOULS OF WHITE FOLK 4 5 

hand up to the white world from their pits of slime, 
pay and pay well, but of all that the world gets the 
black world gets only the pittance that the white world 
throws it disdainfully. 

Small wonder, then, that in the practical world of 
things-that-be there is jealousy and strife for the pos 
session of the labor of dark millions, for the right 
to bleed and exploit the colonies of the world where 
this golden stream may be had, not always for the 
asking, but surely for the whipping and shooting. It 
was this competition for the labor of yellow, brown, 
and black folks that was the cause of the World War. 
Other causes have been glibly given and other contrib 
uting causes there doubtless were, but they were sub 
sidiary and subordinate to this vast quest of the dark 
world's wealth and toil. 

Colonies, we call them, these places where 
"niggers" are cheap and the earth is rich; they are 
those outlands where like a swarm of hungry locusts 
white masters may settle to be served as kings, wield 
the lash of slave-drivers, rape girls and wives, grow 
as rich as Croesus and send homeward a golden 
stream. They belt the earth, these places, but they 
cluster in the tropics, with its darkened peoples: in 
Hong Kong and Anam, in Borneo and Rhodesia, in 
Sierra Leone and Nigeria, in Panama and Havana 
these are the El Dorados toward which the world 
powers stretch itching palms. 

Germany, at last one and united and secure on land, 
looked across the seas and seeing England with 
sources of wealth insuring a luxury and power which 



46 DARKWATER 

Germany could not hope to rival by the slower pro 
cesses of exploiting her own peasants and working- 
men, especially with these workers half in revolt, im 
mediately built her navy and entered into a desperate 
competition for possession of colonies of darker 
peoples. To South America, to China, to Africa, to 
Asia Minor, she turned like a hound quivering on the 
leash, impatient, suspicious, irritable, with blood-shot 
eyes and dripping fangs, ready for the awful word. 
England and France crouched watchfully over their 
bones, growling and wary, but gnawing industriously, 
while the blood of the dark world whetted their greedy 
appetites. In the background, shut out from the 
highway to the seven seas, sat Russia and Austria, 
snarling and snapping at each other and at the last 
Mediterranean gate to the El Dorado, where the Sick 
Man enjoyed bad health, and where millions of serfs 
in the Balkans, Russia, and Asia offered a feast to 
greed well-nigh as great as Africa. 

The fateful day came. It had to come. The cause 
of war is preparation for war; and of all that Europe 
has done in a century there is nothing that has equaled 
in energy, thought, and time her preparation for 
wholesale murder. The only adequate cause of this 
preparation was conquest and conquest, not in Eu 
rope, but primarily among the darker peoples of Asia 
and Africa; conquest, not for assimilation and uplift, 
but for commerce and degradation. For this, and 
this mainly, did Europe gird herself at frightful cost 
for war. 

The red day dawned when the tinder was lighted 



THE SOULS OF WHITE FOLK 47 

in the Balkans and Austro-Hungary seized a bit which 
brought her a step nearer to the world's highway; she 
seized one bit and poised herself for another. Then 
came that curious chorus of challenges, those leaping 
suspicions, raking all causes for distrust and rivalry 
and hatred, but saying little of the real and greatest 
cause. 

Each nation felt its deep interests involved. But 
how? Not, surely, in the death of Ferdinand the 
.Warlike; not, surely, in the old, half -forgotten 
revanche for Alsace-Lorraine; not even in the neu 
trality of Belgium. No! But in the possession of 
land overseas, in the right to colonies, the chance to 
levy endless tribute on the darker world, on coolies 
in China, on starving peasants in India, on black 
savages in Africa, on dying South Sea Islanders, on 
Indians of the Amazon all this and nothing more. 

Even the broken reed on which we had rested high 
hopes of eternal peace, the guild of the laborers the 
front of that very important movement for human 
justice on which we had builded most, even this flew 
like a straw before the breath of king and kaiser. 
Indeed, the flying had been foreshadowed when in 
Germany and America " international " Socialists had 
all but read yellow and black men out of the kingdom 
of industrial justice. Subtly had they been bribed, 
but effectively: Were they not lordly whites and 
should they not share in the spoils of rape? High 
wages in the United States and England might be 
the skilfully manipulated result of slavery in Africa 
and of peonage in Asia. 



48 DARKWATER 

With the dog-in-the-manger theory of trade, with 
the determination to reap inordinate profits and to ex 
ploit the weakest to the utmost there came a new impe 
rialism, the rage for one's own nation to own the 
earth or, at least, a large enough portion of it to 
insure as big profits as the next nation. Where sec 
tions could not be owned by one dominant nation there 
came a policy of " open door," but the " door " was 
open to " white people only." As to the darkest and 
weakest of peoples there was but one unanimity in 
Europe, that which Herr Dernberg of the German 
Colonial Office called the agreement with England to 
maintain white " prestige " in Africa, the doctrine 
of the divine right of white people to steal. 

Thus the world market most wildly and desperately 
sought today is the market where labor is cheapest 
and most helpless and profit is most abundant. This 
labor is kept cheap and helpless because the white 
world despises " darkies." If one has the temerity 
to suggest that these workingmen may walk the way 
of white workingmen and climb by votes and self- 
assertion and education to the rank of men, he is 
howled out of court. They cannot do it and if they 
could, they shall not, for they are the enemies of the 
white race and the whites shall rule forever and for 
ever and everywhere. Thus the hatred and despising 
of human beings from whom Europe wishes to extort 
her luxuries has led to such jealousy and bickering 
between European nations that they have fallen afoul 
of each other and have fought like crazed beasts. 
Such is the fruit of human hatred. 



THE SOULS OF WHITE FOLK 49 

But what of the darker world that watches ? Most 
men belong to this world. With Negro and Negroid, 
East Indian, Chinese, and Japanese they form two- 
thirds of the population of the world. A belief in 
humanity is a belief in colored men. If the uplift of 
mankind must be done by men, then the destinies of 
this world will rest ultimately in the hands of darker 
nations. 

What, then, is this dark world thinking? It is 
thinking that as wild and awful as this shameful war 
was, it is nothing to compare with that fight for free 
dom which black and brown and yellow men must 
and will make unless their oppression and humilia 
tion and insult at the hands of the White World 
cease. The Dark World is going to submit to its 
present treatment just as long as it must and not one 
moment longer. 

Let me say this again and emphasize it and leave 
no room for mistaken meaning: The World War 
was primarily the jealous and avaricious struggle for 
the largest share in exploiting darker races. As such 
it is and must be but the prelude to the armed and 
indignant protest of these despised and raped peoples. 
Today Japan is hammering on the door of justice, 
China is raising her half -manacled hands to knock 
next, India is writhing for the freedom to knock, 
Egypt is sullenly muttering, the Negroes of South 
and West Africa, of the West Indies, and of the 
United States are just awakening to their shameful 
slavery. Is, then, this war the end of wars? Can 
it be the end, so long as sits enthroned, even in the 



50 DARKWATER 

souls of those who cry peace, the despising and robbing 
of darker peoples? If Europe hugs this delusion, 
then this is not the end of world war, it is but the 
beginning ! 

We see Europe's greatest sin precisely where we 
found Africa's and Asia's, in human hatred, the 
despising of men; with this difference, however: Eu 
rope has the awful lesson of the past before her, has 
the splendid results of widened areas of tolerance, 
sympathy, and love among men, and she faces a 
greater, an infinitely greater, world of men than any 
preceding civilization ever faced. 

It is curious to see America, the United States, 
looking on herself, first, as a sort of natural peace 
maker, then as a moral protagonist in this terrible 
time. No nation is less fitted for this role. For two 
or more centuries America has marched proudly in the 
van of human hatred, making bonfires of human 
flesh and laughing at them hideously, and making the 
insulting of millions more than a matter of dislike, 
rather a great religion, a world war-cry: Up 
white, down black; to your tents, O white folk, and 
world war with black and parti-colored mongrel 
beasts ! 

Instead of standing as a great example of the suc 
cess of democracy and the possibility of human 
brotherhood America has taken her place as an awful 
example of its pitfalls and failures, so far as black 
and brown and yellow peoples are concerned. And 
this, too, in spite of the fact that there has been no 
actual failure; the Indian is not dying out, the Japan- 



THE SOULS OF WHITE FOLK 51 

ese and Chinese have not menaced the land, and 
the experiment of Negro suffrage has resulted in the 
uplift of twelve million people at a rate probably un 
paralleled in history. But what of this? America, 
Land of Democracy, wanted to believe in the failure 
of democracy so far as darker peoples were concerned. 
Absolutely without excuse she established a caste sys 
tem, rushed into preparation for war, and conquered 
tropical colonies. She stands today shoulder to 
shoulder with Europe in Europe's worst sin against 
civilization. She aspires to sit among the great na 
tions who arbitrate the fate of " lesser breeds without 
the law " and she is at times heartily ashamed even 
of the large number of " new " white people whom 
her democracy has admitted to place and power. 
Against this surging forward of Irish and German, 
of Russian Jew, Slav and " dago " her social bars 
have not availed, but against Negroes she can and 
does take her unflinching and immovable stand, 
backed by this new public policy of Europe. She 
trains her immigrants to this despising of " niggers " 
from the day of their landing, and they carry and 
send the news back to the submerged classes in the 
fatherlands. 

All this I see and hear up in my tower, above the 
thunder of the seven seas. From my narrowed win 
dows I stare into the night that looms beneath the 
cloud-swept stars. Eastward and westward storms 
are breaking, great, ugly whirlwinds of hatred and 
blood and cruelty. I will not believe them inevitable. 



52 DARKWATER 

I will not believe that all that was must be, that all the 
shameful drama of the past must be done again today 
before the sunlight sweeps the silver seas. 

If I cry amid this roar of elemental forces, must 
my cry be in vain, because it is but a cry, a small 
and human cry amid Promethean gloom? 

Back beyond the world and swept by these wild, 
white faces of the awful dead, why will this Soul 
of White Folk, this modern Prometheus, hang 
bound by his own binding, tethered by a fable of the 
past? I hear his mighty cry reverberating through 
the world, " I am white ! " Well and good, O Pro 
metheus, divine thief! Is not the world wide enough 
for two colors, for many little shinings of the sun? 
Why, then, devour your own vitals if I answer even 
as proudly, " I am black! " 



The Riddle of the Sphinx 

Dark daughter of the lotus leaves that watch the South 
ern Sea ! 
Wan spirit of a prisoned soul a-panting to be free! 

The muttered music of thy streams, the whisper of 

the deep, 

Have kissed each other in God's name and kissed a 
world to sleep. 

The will of the world is a whistling wind, sweeping a 

cloud-swept sky, 
And not from the East and not from the West knelled 

that soul-waking cry, 
But out of the South, the sad, black South it 

screamed from the top of the sky, 
Crying : " Awake, O ancient race ! " Wailing, " O 

woman, arise ! " 
And crying and sighing and crying again as a voice in 

the midnight cries, 

But the burden of white men bore her back and the 
white world stifled her sighs. 

The white world's vermin and filth : 
All the dirt of London, 
All the scum of New York; 
Valiant spoilers of women 
And conquerors of unarmed men ; 
Shameless breeders of bastards, 
Drunk with the greed of gold, 
Baiting their blood-stained hooks 
With cant for the souls of the simple ; 
Bearing the white man's burden 
Of liquor and lust and lies! 
53 



54 DARKWATER 

Unthankful we wince in the East, 
Unthankful we wail from the westward, 
Unthank fully thankful, we curse, 
In the unworn wastes of the wild: 
I hate them, Oh ! 
I hate them well, 
I hate them, Christ! 
As I hate hell ! 
If I were God, 
I'd sound their knell 
This day ! 

Who raised the fools to their glory, 
But black men of Egypt and Ind, 
Ethiopia's sons of the evening, 
Indians and yellow Chinese, 
Arabian children of morning, 
And mongrels of Rome and Greece? 

Ah, well ! 

And they that raised the boasters 
Shall drag them down again, 
Down with the theft of their thieving 
And murder and mocking of men; 
Down with their barter of women 
And laying and lying of creeds ; 
Down with their cheating of childhood 
And drunken orgies of war, 
down 
down 

deep down, 

Till the devil's strength be shorn, 
Till some dim, darker David, a-hoeing of his corn, 
And married maiden, mother of God, 
Bid the black Christ be born ! 
Then shall our burden be manhood, 
Be it yellow or black or white ; 
And poverty and justice and sorrow, 
The humble and simple and strong 



THE RIDDLE OF THE SPHINX 55 

Shall sing with the sons of morning 
And daughters of even-song: 

Black mother of the iron hills that ward the 

blazing sea, 
Wild spirit of a storm-swept soul, a-struggling 

to be free, 
Where 'neath the bloody finger-marks thy 

riven bosom quakes, 
Thicken the thunders of God's Voice and lol 

a world awakes! 



Ill 

THE HANDS OF ETHIOPIA 

"Semper novi quid ex Africa" cried the Roman 
proconsul, and he voiced the verdict of forty centuries. 
Yet there are those who would write world history 
and leave out of account this most marvelous of con 
tinents. Particularly today most men assume that 
Africa is far afield from the center of our burning 
social problems and especially from our problem of 
world war. 

Always Africa is giving us something new or some 
metempsychosis of a world-old thing. On its black 
bosom arose one of the earliest, if not the earliest, of 
self -protecting civilizations, which grew so mightily 
that it still furnishes superlatives to thinking and 
speaking men. Out of its darker and more remote 
forest fastnesses came, if we may credit many recent 
scientists, the first welding of iron, and we know 
that agriculture and trade flourished there when Eu 
rope was a wilderness. 

Nearly every human empire that has arisen in the 
world, material and spiritual, has found some of its 
greatest crises on this continent of Africa, from 
Greece to Great Britain. As Mommsen says : " It was 
through Africa that Christianity became the religion 
of the world." In Africa the last flood of Germanic 

56 



THE HANDS OF ETHIOPIA 57 

invasions spent itself within hearing of the last gasp 
of Byzantium, and it was through Africa that Islam 
came to play its great role of conqueror and civilizer. 
With the Renaissance and the widened world of 
modern thought Africa came no less suddenly with 
her new-old gift. Shakespeare's " Ancient Pistol " 
cries: 

A foutre for the world and worldlings base ! 
I speak of Africa and golden joys ! 

He echoes a legend of gold from the days of Punt 
and Ophir to those of Ghana, the Gold Coast, and 
the -Rand. This thought had sent the world's greed 
scurrying down the hot, mysterious coasts of Africa 
to the Good Hope of gain, until for the first time a 
real world-commerce was born, albeit it started as a 
commerce mainly in the bodies and souls of men. 

The present problem of problems is nothing more 
than democracy beating itself helplessly against the 
color bar, purling, seeping, seething, foaming to 
burst through, ever and again overwhelming the 
emerging masses of white men in its rolling back 
waters and held back by those who dream of future 
kingdoms of greed built on black and brown and 
yellow slavery. 

The indictment of Africa against Europe is grave. 
For four hundred years white Europe was the chief 
support of that trade in human beings which first and 
last robbed black Africa of a hundred million human 
beings, transformed the face of her social life, over 
threw organized government, distorted ancient indus- 



58 DARKWATER 

try, and snuffed out the lights of cultural development. 
Today instead of removing laborers from Africa to 
distant slavery, industry built on a new slavery ap 
proaches Africa to deprive the natives of their land, 
to force them to toil, and to reap all the profit for 
the white world. 

It is scarcely necessary to remind the reader of the 
essential facts underlying these broad assertions. A 
recent law of the Union of South Africa assigns 
nearly two hundred and fifty million acres of the best 
of natives' land to a million and a half whites and 
leaves thirty-six million acres of swamp and marsh 
for four and a half-million blacks. In Rhodesia over 
ninety million acres have been practically confiscated. 
In the Belgian Congo all the land was declared the 
property of the state. 

Slavery in all but name has been the foundation 
of the cocoa industry in St. Thome and St. Principe 
and in the mines of the Rand. Gin has been one of 
the greatest of European imports, having increased 
fifty per cent, in ten years and reaching a total of at 
least twenty-five million dollars a year today. 
Negroes of ability have been carefully gotten rid of, 
deposed from authority, kept out of positions of in 
fluence, and discredited in their people's eyes, while a 
caste of white overseers and governing officials has ap 
peared everywhere. 

Naturally, the picture is not all lurid. David Liv 
ingstone has had his successors and Europe has given 
(Africa something of value in the beginning of educa 
tion and industry. Yet the balance of iniquity is 



THE HANDS OF ETHIOPIA 59 

desperately large; but worse than that, it has aroused 
no world protest. A great Englishman, familiar with 
African problems for a generation, says frankly to 
day : " There does not exist any real international 
conscience to which you can appeal." 

Moreover, that treatment shows no certain signs 
of abatement. Today in England the Empire Re 
sources Development Committee proposes to treat 
iA'f rican colonies as " crown estates " and by intensive 
scientific exploitation of both land and labor to make 
these colonies pay the English national debt after the 
war! German thinkers, knowing the tremendous 
demand for raw material which would follow the war, 
had similar plans of exploitation. " It is the clear, 
common sense of the African situation," says H. G. 
Wells, " that while these precious regions of raw 
material remain divided up between a number of 
competitive European imperialisms, each resolutely 
set upon the exploitation of its ' possessions ' to its 
own advantage and the disadvantage of the others, 
there can be no permanent peace in the world. It is 
impossible." 

We, then, who fought the war against war; who 
in a hell of blood and suffering held hardly our souls 
in leash by the vision of a world organized for peace; 
who are looking for industrial democracy and for the 
organization of Europe so as to avoid incentives to 
war, we, least of all, should be willing to leave the 
backward world as the greatest temptation, not only to 
wars based on international jealousies, but to the most 
horrible of wars, which arise from the revolt of the 



60 DARKWATER 

maddened against those who hold them in common 
contempt. 

Consider, my reader, if you were today a man of 
some education and knowledge, but born a Japanese 
or a Chinaman, an East Indian or a Negro, what 
would you do and think? What would be in the 
present chaos your outlook and plan for the future? 
Manifestly, you would want freedom for your people, 
freedom from insult, from segregation, from 
poverty, from physical slavery. If the attitude of the 
European and American worlds is in the future going 
to be based essentially upon the same policies as in 
the past, then there is but one thing for the trained 
man of darker blood to do and that is definitely and 
as openly as possible to organize his world for war 
against Europe. He may have to do it by secret, 
uiaderground propaganda, as in Egypt and India and 
eventually in the United States; or by open increase 
of armament, as in Japan; or by desperate efforts at 
modernization, as in China; but he must do it. He 
represents the vast majority of mankind. To surrender 
would be far worse than physical death. There is no 
way out unless the white world opens the door. 
Either the white world gives up such insult as its 
modern use of the adjective " yellow " indicates, or 
its connotation of "chink" and "nigger" implies; 
either it gives up the plan of color serfdom which its 
use of the other adjective " white " implies, as indicat 
ing everything decent and every part of the world 
worth living in, or trouble is written in the stars ! 

It is, therefore, of singular importance after dis- 



THE HANDS OF ETHIOPIA 6r 

quieting delay to see the real Pacifist appear. Both 
England and Germany have recently been basing their 
claims to parts of black Africa on the wishes and 
interests of the black inhabitants. Lloyd George has 
declared " the general principle of national self-deter 
mination applicable at least to German Africa," while 
Chancellor Hertling once welcomed a discussion " on 
the reconstruction of the world's colonial posses 
sions." 

The demand that an Africa for Africans shall re 
place the present barbarous scramble for exploitation 
by individual states comes from singularly different 
sburces. Colored America demands that " the con 
quered German colonies should not be returned to Ger 
many, neither should they be held by the Allies. Here 
is the opportunity for the establishment of a nation 
that may never recur. Thousands of colored men, sick 
of white arrogance and hypocrisy, see in this their 
race's only salvation." 

Sir Harry H. Johnston recently said : "If we are 
to talk, as we do, sentimentally but justly about restor 
ing the nationhood of Poland, about giving satis 
faction to the separatist feeling in Ireland, and about 
what is to be done for European nations who are op 
pressed, then we can hardly exclude from this feeling 
the countries of Africa." 

Laborers, black laborers, on the Canal Zone write: 
" Out of this chaos may be the great awakening of 
our race. There is cause for rejoicing. If we fail 
to embrace this opportunity now, we fail to see how 
we will be ever able to solve the race question. It 



62 DARKWATER 

is for the British Negro, the French Negro, and the 
'American Negro to rise to the occasion and start a 
national campaign, jointly and collectively, with this 



aim in view." 



From British West Africa comes the bitter com 
plaint " that the West Africans should have the right 
or opportunity to settle their future for themselves 
is a thing which hardly enters the mind of the Eu 
ropean politician. That the Balkan States should be 
admitted to the Council of Peace and decide the gov 
ernment under which they are to live is taken as a 
matter of course because they are Europeans, but no 
extra-European is credited, even by the extremest ad 
vocates of human equality, with any right except to 
humbly accept the fate which Europe shall decide for 
him." 

Here, then, is the danger and the demand; and the 
real 'Pacifist will seek to organize, not simply the 
masses in white nations, guarding against exploitation 
and profiteering, but will remember that no permanent 
relief can come but by including in this organization 
the lowest and the most exploited races in the world. 
World philanthropy, like national philanthropy, must 
come as uplift and prevention and not merely as al 
leviation and religious conversion. Reverence for 
humanity, as such, must be installed in the world, and 
Africa should be the talisman. 

Black Africa, including British, French, Belgian, 
Portuguese, Italian, and Spanish possessions and the 
independent states of Abyssinia and Liberia and leav 
ing out of account Egypt and North Africa, on the 



THE HANDS OF ETHIOPIA 63 

one hand, and South Africa, on the other, has an area 
of 8,200,000 square miles and a population well over 
one hundred millions of black men, with less than 
one hundred thousand whites. 

Commercial exploitation in Africa has already 
larger results to show than most people realize. An 
nually $200,000,000 worth of goods was coming out 
of black Africa before the World War, including a 
third of the world's supply of rubber, a quarter of all 
of the world's cocoa, and practically all of the world's 
cloves, gum-arabic, and palm-oil. In exchange there 
was being returned to Africa one hundred millions in 
cotton cloth, twenty-five millions in iron and steel, and 
as much in foods, and probably twenty-five millions in 
liquors. 

Here are the beginnings of a modern industrial sys 
tem : iron and steel for permanent investment, bound 
to yield large dividends; cloth as the cheapest ex 
change for invaluable raw material; liquor to tickle 
the appetites of the natives and render the alienation 
of land and the break-down of customary law easier; 
eventually forced and contract labor under white 
drivers to increase and systematize the production of 
raw materials. These materials are capable of indefi 
nite expansion : cotton may yet challenge the southern 
United States, fruits and vegetables, hides and skins, 
lumber and dye-stuffs, coffee and tea, grain and 
tobacco, and fibers of all sorts can easily follow organ 
ized and systematic toil. 

Is it a paradise of industry we thus contemplate? 
It is much more likely to be a hell. Under present 



64 DARKWATER 

plans there will be no voice or law or custom to 
protect labor, no trades unions, no eight-hour laws, 
no factory legislation, nothing of that great body of 
legislation built up in modern days to protect mankind 
from sinking to the level of beasts of burden. All 
the industrial deviltry, which civilization has been 
driving to the slums and the backwaters, will have a 
voiceless continent to conceal it. If the slave cannot 
be taken from Africa, slavery can be taken to Africa. 

Who are the folk who live here ? They are brown 
and black, curly and crisp-haired, short and tall, and 
longheaded. Out of them in days without date flowed 
the beginnings of Egypt; among them rose, later, 
centers of culture at Ghana, Melle, and Timbuktu. 
Kingdoms and empires flourished in Songhay and 
Zymbabwe, and art and industry in Yoruba and Benin. 
They have fought every human calamity in its most 
hideous form and yet today they hold some similar 
vestiges of a mighty past, their work in iron, their 
weaving and carving, their music and singing, their 
tribal government, their town-meeting and market 
place, their desperate valor in war. 

Missionaries and commerce have left some good 
with all their evil. In black Africa today there are 
more than a thousand government schools and some 
thirty thousand mission schools, with a more or less 
regular attendance of three-quarters of a million school 
children. In a few cases training of a higher order is 
given chiefs' sons and selected pupils. These begin 
nings of education are not much for so vast a land 
and there is no general standard or set plan of develop- 



THE HANDS OF ETHIOPIA 65 

ment, but, after all, the children of Africa are begin 
ning to learn. 

In black Africa today only one-seventeenth of the 
land and a ninth of the people in Liberia and Abys 
sinia are approximately independent, although men 
aced and policed by European capitalism. Half the 
land and the people are in domains under Portugal, 
France, and Belgium, held with the avowed idea of 
exploitation for the benefit of Europe under a system 
of caste and color serfdom. Out of this dangerous 
nadir of development stretch two paths: one is indi 
cated by the condition of about three per cent of the 
people who in Sierra Leone, the Gold Coast, and 
French Senegal, are tending toward the path of mod 
ern development ; the other path, followed by a fourth 
of the land and people, has local self-government and 
native customs and might evolve, if undisturbed, a 
native culture along their own peculiar lines. A tenth 
of the land, sparsely settled, is being monopolized and 
held for whites to make an African Australia. To 
these later folk must be added the four and one-half 
millions of the South African Union, who by every 
modern device are being forced into landless serfdom. 

Before the World War tendencies were strongly 
toward the destruction of independent Africa, the 
industrial slavery of the mass of the blacks and the 
encouragement of white immigration, where possible, 
to hold the blacks in subjection. 

Against this idea let us set the conception of a new 
African World State, a Black Africa, applying to 
these peoples the splendid pronouncements which have 



66 DARKWATER 

of late been so broadly and perhaps carelessly given 
the world: recognizing in Africa the declaration of 
the American Federation of Labor, that "no people 
must be forced under sovereignty under which it 
does not wish to live " ; recognizing in President 
Wilson's message to the Russians, the "principle of 
the undictated development of all peoples"; recog 
nizing the resolution of the recent conference of the 
Aborigines Protection Society of England, " that in 
any reconstruction of Africa, which may result from 
this war, the interests of the native inhabitants and 
also their wishes, in so far as those wishes can be 
clearly ascertained, should be recognized as among 
the principal factors upon which the decision of their 
destiny should be based." In other words, recogniz 
ing for the first time in the history of the modern 
world that black men are human. 

It may not be possible to build this state at once. 
With the victory of the Entente Allies, the German 
colonies, with their million of square miles and one- 
half million black inhabitants, should form such a 
nucleus. It would give Black Africa its physical 
beginnings. Beginning with the German colonies two 
other sets of colonies could be added, for obvious 
reasons. Neither Portugal nor Belgium has shown 
any particular capacity for governing colonial peo 
ples. Valid excuses may in both cases be advanced, 
but it would certainly be fair to Belgium to have her 
start her great task of reorganization after the World 
War with neither the burden nor the temptation of 
colonies; and in the same way Portugal has, in reality, 



THE HANDS OF ETHIOPIA 67 

the alternative of either giving up her colonies to 
an African State or to some other European State 
in the near future. These two sets of colonies would 
add 1,700,000 square miles and eighteen million in 
habitants. It would not, however, be fair to despoil 
Germany, Belgium, and Portugal of their colonies 
unless, as Count Hertling once demanded, the whole 
question of colonies be opened. 

How far shall the modern world recognize nations 
which are not nations, but combinations of a domi 
nant caste and a suppressed horde of serfs? Will 
it not be possible to rebuild a world with compact 
nations, empires of self-governing elements, and col 
onies of backward peoples under benevolent interna 
tional control? 

The great test would be easy. Does England pro 
pose to erect in India and Nigeria nations brown and 
black which shall be eventually independent, self-gov 
erning entities, with a full voice in the British Im 
perial Government? If not, let these states either 
have independence at once or, if unfitted for that, 
be put under international tutelage and guardianship. 
It is possible that France, with her great heart, may 
welcome a Black France, an enlarged Senegal in 
Africa; but it would seem that eventually all Africa 
south of twenty degrees north latitude and north of 
the Union of South Africa should be included in a 
new African State. Somaliland and Eritrea should 
be given to Abyssinia, and then with Liberia we would 
start with two small, independent African states and 
one large state under international control. 



6S DARKWATER 

Does this sound like an impossible dream? No 
one could be blamed for so regarding it before 1914. 
I, myself, would have agreed with them. But since 
the nightmare of 1914-1918, since we have seen the 
impossible happen and the unspeakable become so 
common as to cease to stir us; in a day when Russia 
has dethroned her Czar, England has granted the 
suffrage to women and is in the act of giving Home 
Rule to Ireland; when Germany has adopted parlia 
mentary government; when Jerusalem has been de 
livered from the Turks; and the United States has 
taken control of its railroads, is it really so far 
fetched to think of an Africa for the Africans, guided 
by organized civilization? 

No one would expect this new state to be inde 
pendent and self-governing from the start. Contrary, 
however, to present schemes for Africa the world 
would expect independence and self-government as 
the only possible end of the experiment. At first 
we can conceive of no better way of governing this 
state than through that same international control 
by which we hope to govern the world for peace. A 
curious and instructive parallel has been drawn by 
Simeon Strunsky : " Just as the common ownership 
of the northwest territory helped to weld the colonies 
into the United States, so could not joint and benev 
olent domination of Africa and of other backward 
parts of the world be a cornerstone upon which the 
future federation of the world could be built?" 

From the British Labor Party comes this declara 
tion : " With regard to the colonies of the several 



THE HANDS OF ETHIOPIA 69 

belligerents in tropical Africa, from sea to sea, the 
British Labor Movement disclaims all sympathy with 
the imperialist idea that these should form the booty 
of any nation, should be exploited for the profit of the 
capitalists, or should be used for the promotion of the 
militarists' aims of government. In view of the fact 
that it is impracticable here to leave the various peo 
ples concerned to settle their own destinies it is sug 
gested that the interests of humanity would be best 
served by the full and frank abandonment by all 
the belligerents of any dreams of an African Empire; 
the transfer of the present colonies of the European 
Powers in tropical Africa, however, and the limits of 
this area may be defined to the proposed Super- 
national Authority, or League of Nations." 

Lloyd George himself has said in regard to the 
German colonies a word difficult to restrict merely to 
them : " I have repeatedly declared that they are held 
at the disposal of a conference, whose decision must 
have primary regard to the wishes and interests of 
the native inhabitants of such colonies. None of those 
territories is inhabited by Europeans. The govern 
ing consideration, therefore, must be that the inhab 
itants should be placed under the control of an ad 
ministration acceptable to themselves, one of whose 
main purposes will be to prevent their exploitation 
for the benefit of European capitalists or govern 
ments." 

The special commission for the government of this 
African State must, naturally, be chosen with great 
care and thought. It must represent, not simply gov- 



70 DARKWATER 

ernments, but civilization, science, commerce, social 
reform, religious philanthropy without sectarian prop 
aganda. It must include, not simply white men, but 
educated and trained men of Negro blood. The guid 
ing principles before such a commission should be 
clearly understood. In the first place, it ought by this 
time to be realized by the labor movement through 
out the world that no industrial democracy can be 
built on industrial despotism, whether the two sys 
tems are in the same country or in different countries, 
since the world today so nearly approaches a common 
industrial unity. If, therefore, it is impossible in any 
single land to uplift permanently skilled labor with 
out also raising common labor, so, too, there can be 
no permanent uplift of American or European labor as 
long as African laborers are slaves. 

Secondly, this building of a new African State does 
not mean the segregation in it of all the world's black 
folk. It is too late in the history of the world to go 
back to the idea of absolute racial segregation. The 
new African State would not involve any idea of a 
vast transplantation of the twenty-seven million Ne 
groids of the western world, of Africa, or of the 
gathering there of Negroid Asia. The Negroes 
in the United States and the other Americas have 
earned the right to fight out their problems where 
they are, but they could easily furnish from time to 
time technical experts, leaders of thought, and mis- 
'sionaries of culture for their backward brethren in 
the new Africa. 

With these two principles, the practical policies to 



THE HANDS OF ETHIOPIA 71 

be followed out in the government of the new states 
should involve a thorough and complete system of 
modern education, built upon the present government, 
religion, and customary laws of the natives. There 
should be no violent tampering with the curiously 
efficient African institutions of local self-government 
through the family and the tribe; there should be 
no attempt at sudden " conversion " by religious prop 
aganda. Obviously deleterious customs and un 
sanitary usages must gradually be abolished, but the 
general government, set up from without, must follow 
the example of the best colonial administrators and 
build on recognized, established foundations rather 
than from entirely new and theoretical plans. 

The real effort to modernize Africa should be 
through schools rather than churches. Within ten 
years, twenty million black children ought to be in 
school. Within a generation young Africa should 
know the essential outlines of modern culture and 
groups of bright African students could be going to the 
world's great universities. From the beginning the ac 
tual general government should use both colored and 
white officials and later natives should be worked in. 
Taxation and industry could follow the newer ideals of 
industrial democracy, avoiding private land monopoly 
and poverty, and promoting co-operation in produc 
tion and the socialization of income. Difficulties as 
to capital and revenue would be far less than many 
imagine. If a capable English administrator of Brit 
ish Nigeria could with $1,500 build up a cocoa indus 
try of twenty million dollars annually, what might 



72 DARKWATER 

not be done in all Africa, without gin, thieves, and 
hypocrisy ? 

Capital could not only be accumulated in Africa, 
but attracted from the white world, with one great 
difference from present usage: no return so fabulous 
would be offered that civilized lands would be tempted 
to divert to colonial trade and invest materials and 
labor needed by the masses at home, but rather would 
receive the same modest profits as legitimate home 
industry offers. 

There is no sense in asserting that the ideal of an 
African State, thus governed and directed toward 
independence and self-government, is impossible of 
realization. The first great essential is that the civi 
lized world believe in its possibility. By reason of 
a crime (perhaps the greatest crime in human history) 
the modern world has been systematically taught to 
despise colored peoples. Men of education and de 
cency ask, and ask seriously, if it is really possible 
to uplift Africa. Are Negroes human, or, if hu 
man, developed far enough to absorb, even under 
benevolent tutelage, any appreciable part of .modern 
culture? Has not the experiment been tried in Haiti 
and Liberia, and failed? 

One cannot ignore the extraordinary fact that a 
world campaign beginning with the slave-trade and 
ending with the refusal to capitalize the word " Ne 
gro," leading through a passionate defense of slav 
ery by attributing every bestiality to blacks and finally 
culminating in the evident modern profit which lies in 
degrading blacks, all this has unconsciously trained 



THE HANDS OF ETHIOPIA 73 

millions of honest, modern men into the belief that 
black folk are sub-human. This belief is not based 
on science, else it would be held as a postulate of 
the most tentative kind, ready at any time to be 
withdrawn in the face of facts; the belief is not based 
on history, for it is absolutely contradicted by Egyp 
tian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Arabian experi 
ence; nor is the belief based on any careful survey of 
the social development of men of Negro blood to-day 
in Africa and America. It is simply passionate, deep- 
seated heritage, and as such can be moved by neither 
argument nor fact. Only faith in humanity will lead 
the world to rise above its present color prejudice. 

Those who do believe in men, who know what black 
men have done in human history, who have taken pains 
to follow even superficially the story of the rise of the 
Negro in Africa, the West Indies, and the Americas 
of our day know that our modern contempt of Ne 
groes rests upon no scientific foundation worth a 
moment's attention. It is nothing more than a vicious 
habit of mind. It could as easily be overthrown as 
our belief in war, as our international hatreds, as 
our old conception of the status of women, as our fear 
of educating the masses, and as our belief in the 
necessity of poverty. We can, if we will, inaugurate 
on the Dark Continent a last great crusade for hu 
manity. With Africa redeemed Asia would be safe 
and Europe indeed triumphant. 

I have not mentioned North and South Africa, be 
cause my eye was centered on the main mass of the 
Negro race. Yet it is clear that for the development 



74 DARKWATER 

of Central Africa, Egypt should be free and inde 
pendent, there along the highway to a free and inde 
pendent India; while Morocco, Algeria, Tunis, and 
Tripoli must become a part of Europe, with modern 
development and home rule. South Africa, stripped of 
its black serfs and their lands, must admit the resi 
dent natives and colored folk to its body politic as 
equals. 

The hands which Ethiopia shall soon stretch out 
unto God are not mere hands of helplessness and sup 
plication, but rather are they hands of pain and prom 
ise; hard, gnarled, and muscled for the world's real 
work; they are hands of fellowship for the half-sub 
merged masses of a distempered world ; they are hands 
of helpfulness for an agonized God! 

Twenty centuries before Christ a great cloud swept 
over seas and settled on Africa, darkening and well- 
nigh blotting out the culture of the land of Egypt. 
For half a thousand years it rested there, until a 
black woman, Queen Nefertari, " the most venerated 
figure in Egyptian history," rose to the throne of the 
Pharaohs and redeemed the world and her people. 
Twenty centuries after Christ, Black Africa, pros 
trated, raped, and shamed, lies at the feet of the con 
quering Philistines of Europe. Beyond the awful sea 
a black woman is weeping and waiting, with her sons 
on her breast. What shall the end be? The world- 
old and fearful things, war and wealth, murder and 
luxury? Or shall it be a new thing, a new peace 
and a new democracy of all races, a great humanity 
of equal men ? " Semper novi quid ex Africa! " 



The Princess of the Hither Isles 

Her soul was beautiful, wherefore she kept it veiled in 
lightly-laced humility and fear, out of which peered 
anxiously and anon the white and blue and pale-gold of 
her face, beautiful as daybreak or as the laughing of 
a child. She sat in the Hither Isles, well walled be 
tween the This and Now, upon a low and silver throne, 
and leaned upon its armposts, sadly looking upward 
toward the sun. Now the Hither Isles are flat and cold 
and swampy, with drear-drab light and all manner of 
slimy, creeping things, and piles of dirt and clouds of 
flying dust and sordid scraping and feeding and noise. 

She hated them and ever as her hands and busy feet 
swept back the dust and slime her soul sat silver-throned, 
staring toward the great hill to the westward, which 
shone so brilliant-golden beneath the sunlight and above 
the sea. 

The sea moaned and with it moaned the princess' soul, 
for she was lonely, very, very lonely, and full weary 
of the monotone of life. So she was glad to see a mov 
ing in Yonder Kingdom on the mountainside, where the 
sun shone warm, and when the king of Yonder Kingdom, 
silken in robe and golden-crowned and warded by his 
hound, walked down along the restless waters and sat 
beside the armpost of her throne, she wondered why she 
could not love him and fly with him up the shining moun 
tain's side, out of the dirt and dust that nested between 
the This and Now. She looked at him and tried to be 
glad, for he was bonny and good to look upon, this 
king of Yonder Kingdom, tall and straight, thin-lipped 
and white and tawny. So, again, this last day, she 
strove to burn life into his singularly sodden clay, to 

75 



76 DARKWATER 

put his icy soul aflame wherewith to warm her own, to 
set his senses singing. Vacantly he heard her winged 
words, staring and curling his long mustaches with 
vast thoughtf ulness. Then he said : 

" We've found more gold in Yonder Kingdom." 

" Hell seize your gold ! " blurted the princess. 

" No, it's mine," he maintained stolidly. 

She raised her eyes. " It belongs," she said, " to the 
Empire of the Sun." 

" Nay, the Sun belongs to us," said the king calmly 
as he glanced to where Yonder Kingdom blushed above 
the sea. She glanced, too, and a softness crept into her 
eyes. 

" No, no," she murmured as with hesitating pause she 
raised her eyes above the sea, above the hill, up into the 
sky where the sun hung silent and splendid. Its robes 
were heaven's blue, lined and broidered in living flame, 
and its crown was one vast jewel, glistening in glittering 
glory that made the sun's own face a blackness, the 
blackness of utter light. With blinded, tear-filled eyes 
she peered into that formless black and burning face and 
sensed in its soft, sad gleam unfathomed understanding. 
With sudden, wild abandon she stretched her arms 
toward it appealing, beseeching, entreating, and lo ! 

" Niggers and dagoes," said the king of Yonder King 
dom, glancing carelessly backward and lighting in his 
lips a carefully rolled wisp of fragrant tobacco. She 
looked back, too, but in half-wondering terror, for it 
seemed 

A beggar man was creeping across the swamp, shuf 
fling through the dirt and slime. He was little and bald 
and black, rough-clothed, sodden with dirt, and bent with 
toil. Yet withal something she sensed about him and it 
seemed, 

The king of Yonder Kingdom lounged more comfort 
ably beside the silver throne and let curl a tiny trail of 
light-blue smoke. 



THE PRINCESS OF THE HITHER ISLES 77 

" I hate beggars," he said, " especially brown and 
black ones." And he then pointed at the beggar's ret 
inue and laughed, an unpleasant laugh, welded of con 
tempt and amusement. The princess looked and shrank 
on her throne. He, the beggar man, was was what? 
But his retinue, that squalid, sordid, parti-colored 
band of vacant, dull-faced filth and viciousness was 
writhing over the land, and he and they seemed al 
most crouching underneath the scorpion lash of one 
tall skeleton, that looked like Death, and the twisted 
woman whom men called Pain. Yet they all walked as 
one. 

The king of Yonder Kingdom laughed, but the princess 
shrank on her throne, and the king on seeing her thus 
took a gold-piece from out of his purse and tossed it 
carelessly to the passing throng. She watched it with 
fascinated eyes, how it rose and sailed and whirled 
and struggled in the air, then seemed to burst, and up 
ward flew its light and sheen and downward dropped 
its dross. She glanced at the king, but he was lighting 
a match. She watched the dross wallow in the slime, but 
the sunlight fell on the back of the beggar's neck, and 
he turned his head. 

The beggar passing afar turned his head and the prin 
cess straightened on her throne ; he turned his head and 
she shivered forward on her silver seat; he looked upon 
her full and slow and suddenly she saw within that form 
less black and burning face the same soft, glad gleam 
of utter understanding, seen so many times before. She 
saw the suffering of endless years and endless love that 
softened it. She saw the burning passion of the sun 
and with it the cold, unbending duty-deeds of upper 
air. All she had seen and dreamed of seeing in the ris 
ing, blazing sun she saw now again and with it myriads 
more of human tenderness, of longing, and of love. So, 
then, she knew. She rose as to a dream come true, with 
solemn face and waiting eyes. 



78 DARKWATER 

With her rose the king of Yonder Kingdom, almost 
eagerly. 

"You'll come?" he cried. "You'll come and see my 
gold ? " And then in sudden generosity, he added : 
" You'll have a golden throne, up there when we 
marry." 

But she, looking up and on with radiant face, answered 
softly: "I come." 

So down and up and on they mounted, the black 
beggar man and his cavalcade of Death and Pain, and 
then a space ; and then a lone, black hound that nosed and 
whimpered as he ran, and then a space; and then the 
king of Yonder Kingdom in his robes, and then a space ; 
and last the princess of the Hither Isles, with face set 
sunward and lovelight in her eyes. 

And so they marched and struggled on and up through 
endless years and spaces and ever the black beggar looked 
back past death and pain toward the maid and ever the 
maid strove forward with lovelit eyes, but ever the great 
and silken shoulders of the king of Yonder Kingdom 
arose between the princess and the sun like a cloud of 
storms. 

Now, finally, they neared unto the hillside's topmost 
shoulder and there most eagerly the king bent to the 
bowels of the earth and bared its golden entrails, all 
green and gray and rusted while the princess strained 
her pitiful eyes aloft to where the beggar, set 'twixt 
Death and Pain, whirled his slim back against the glory 
of the setting sun and stood somber in his grave majesty, 
enhaloed and transfigured, outstretching his long arms, 
and around all heaven glittered jewels in a cloth of 
gold. 

A while the princess stood and moaned in mad amaze, 
then with one wilful wrench she bared the white flowers 
of her breast and snatching forth her own red heart held 
it with one hand aloft while with the other she gathered 
close her robe and poised herself. 



THE PRINCESS OF THE HITHER ISLES 79 

The king of Yonder Kingdom looked upward quickly, 
curiously, still fingering the earth, and saw the offer of 
her bleeding heart. 

" It's a Negro ! " he growled darkly; " it may not be." 

The woman quivered. 

" It's a nigger ! " he repeated fiercely. " It's neither 
God nor man, but a nigger ! " 

The princess stepped forward. 

The king grasped his sword and looked north and 
east; he raised his sword and looked south and west. 

" I seek the sun," the princess sang, and started into 
the west. 

" Never ! " cried the king of Yonder Kingdom, " for 
such were blasphemy and defilement and the making of 
all evil." 

So, raising his great sword he struck with all his might, 
and more. Down hissed the blow and it bit that little, 
white, heart-holding hand until it flew armless and dis- 
bodied up through the sunlit air. Down hissed the blow 
and it clove the whimpering hound until his last shriek 
shook the stars. Down hissed the blow and it rent the 
earth. It trembled, fell apart, and yawned to a chasm 
wide as earth from heaven, deep as hell, and empty, 
cold, and silent. 

On yonder distant shore blazed the mighty Empire of 
the Sun in warm and blissful radiance, while on this 
side, in shadows cold and dark, gloomed the Hither 
Isles and the hill that once was golden, but now was 
green and slimy dross ; all below was the sad and moan 
ing sea, while between the Here and There flew the 
severed hand and dripped the bleeding heart. 

Then up from the soul of the princess welled a cry 
of dark despair, such a cry as only babe-raped mothers 
know and murdered loves. Poised on the crumbling edge 
of that great nothingness the princess hung, hungering 
with her eyes and straining her fainting ears against the 
awful splendor of the sky. 



8o DARKWATER 

Out from the slime and shadows groped the king, 
thundering: " Back don't be a fool!" 

But down through the thin ether thrilled the still and 
throbbing warmth of heaven's sun, whispering " Leap ! " 

And the princess leapt. 



IV 
OF WORK AND WEALTH 

FOR fifteen years I was a teacher of youth. They 
were years out of the fullness and bloom of my 
younger manhood. They were years mingled of half 
breathless work, of anxious self -questionings, of 
planning and replanning, of disillusion, or mounting 
wonder. 

The teacher's life is a double one. He stands in a 
certain fear. He tends to be stilted, almost dishonest, 
veiling himself before those awful eyes. Not the 
eyes of Almighty God are so straight, so penetrating, 
so all-seeing as the wonder-swept eyes of youth. You 
walk into a room : to the left is a tall window, bright 
with colors of crimson and gold and sunshine. Here 
are rows of books and there is a table. Somber black 
boards clothe the walls to the right and beside your 
desk is the delicate ivory of a nobly cast head. But 
you see nothing of this: you see only a silence and 
eyes, fringed, soft eyes; hard eyes; eyes great and 
small; eyes here so poignant with beauty that the 
sob struggles in your throat; eyes there so hard with 
sorrow that laughter wells up to meet and beat it 
back; eyes through which the mockery and ridicule 
of hell or some pulse of high heaven may suddenly 
flash. Ah! That mighty pause before the class, 
that orison and benediction how much of my life it 
has been and made. 

81 



82 DARKWATER 

I fought earnestly against posing before my class. I 
tried to be natural and honest and frank, but it was 
bitter hard. What would you say to a soft, brown 
face, aureoled in a thousand ripples of gray-black 
hair, which knells suddenly : " Do you trust white 
people?" You do not and you know that you do 
not, much as you want to; yet you rise and lie and 
say you do; you must say it for her salvation and the 
world's; you repeat that she must trust them, that 
most white folks are honest, and all the while you 
are lying and every level, silent eye there knows you 
are lying, and miserably you sit and lie on, to the 
greater glory of God. 

I taught history and economics and something 
called " sociology " at Atlanta University, where, as 
our Mr. Webster used to say, we professors occupied 
settees and not mere chairs. I was fortunate with this 
teaching in having vivid in the minds of my pupils 
a concrete social problem of which we all were parts 
and which we desperately desired to solve. There 
was little danger, then, of my teaching or of their 
thinking becoming purely theoretical. Work and wage 
were thrilling realities to us all. What did we study? 
I can tell you best by taking a concrete human case, 
such as was continually leaping to our eyes and 
thought and demanding understanding and interpreta 
tion and what I could bring of prophecy. 

St. Louis sprawls where mighty rivers meet, as 
broad as Philadelphia, but three stories high instead 
of two, with wider streets and dirtier atmosphere, 



OF WORK AND WEALTH 83 

over the dull-brown of wide, calm rivers. The city 
overflows into the valleys of Illinois and lies there, 
writhing under its grimy cloud. The other city is 
dusty and hot beyond all dream, a feverish Pitts- 
burg in the Mississippi Valley a great, ruthless, ter 
rible thing! It is the sort that crushes man and in 
vokes some living super-man, a giant of things done, 
a clang of awful accomplishment. 

Three men came wandering across this place. They 
were neither kings nor wise men, but they came with 
every significance perhaps even greater than that 
which the kings bore in the days of old. There was 
one who came from the North, brawny and riotous 
with energy, a man of concentrated power, who held 
all the thunderbolts of modern capital in his great fists 
and made flour and meat, iron and steel, cunning chem 
icals, wood, paint and paper, transforming to endless 
tools a disemboweled earth. He was one who saw 
nothing, knew nothing, sought nothing but the mak 
ing and buying of that which sells; who out from the 
magic of his hand rolled over miles of iron road, ton 
upon ton of food and metal and wood, of coal and 
oil and lumber, until the thronging of knotted ways 
in East and real St. Louis was like the red, festering 
ganglia of some mighty heart. 

Then from the East and called by the crash of 
thunderbolts and forked-flame came the Unwise Man, 
unwise by the theft of endless ages, but as human as 
anything God ever made. He was the slave for the 
miracle maker. It was he that the thunderbolts struck 
and electrified into gasping energy. The rasp of his 



84 DARKWATER 

hard breathing shook the midnights of all this end 
less valley and the pulse of his powerful arms set 
the great nation to trembling. 

And then, at last, out of the South, like a still, 
small voice, came the third man, black, with great 
eyes and greater memories; hesitantly eager and yet 
with the infinite softness and ancient calm which come 
from that eternal race whose history is not the his 
tory of a day, but of endless ages. Here, surely, 
was fit meeting-place for these curiously intent forces, 
for these epoch-making and age-twisting forces, for 
these human feet on their super-human errands. 

Yesterday I rode in East St. Louis. It is the kind 
of -place one quickly recognizes, tireless and with 
no restful green of verdure; hard and uneven of 
street; crude, cold, and even hateful of aspect; con 
ventional, of course, in its business quarter, but 
quickly beyond one sees the ruts and the hollows, the 
stench of ill-tamed sewerage, unguarded railroad 
crossings, saloons outnumbering churches and 
churches catering to saloons; homes impudently strait 
and new, prostitutes free and happy, gamblers in 
paradise, the town " wide open/' shameless and frank; 
great factories pouring out stench, filth, and flame 
these and all other things so familiar in the world 
market places, where industry triumphs over thought 
and products overwhelm men. May I tell, too, how 
yesterday I rode in this city past flame-swept walls 
and over gray ashes; in streets almost wet with blood 
and beside ruins, where the bones of dead men new- 
bleached peered out at me in sullen wonder ? 



OF WORK AND WEALTH 85 

Across the river, in the greater city, where bronze 
St. Louis, that just and austere king looks with 
angry, fear-swept eyes down from the rolling heights 
of Forest Park, which knows him not nor heeds 
him, there is something of the same thing, but this 
city is larger and older and the forces of evil have 
had some curbing from those who have seen the 
vision and panted for life; but eastward from St. 
Louis there is a land of no taxes for great industries; 
there is a land where you may buy grafting politi 
cians at far less rate than you would pay for fran 
chises or privileges in a modern town. There, too, 
you may escape the buying of indulgences from the 
great terminal fist, which squeezes industry out of 
St. Louis. In fact, East St. Louis is a paradise for 
high and frequent dividends and for the piling up 
of wealth to be spent in St. Louis and Chicago and 
New York and when the world is sane again, across 
the seas. 

So the Unwise Men pouring out of the East, fall 
ing, scrambling, rushing into America at the rate of 
a million a year, ran, walked, and crawled to this 
maelstrom of the workers. They garnered higher 
wage than ever they had before, but not all of it 
came in cash. A part, and an insidious part, was 
given to them transmuted into whiskey, prostitutes, 
and games of chance. They laughed and disported 
themselves. God! Had not their mothers wept 
enough? It was a good town. There was no veil of 
hypocrisy here, but a wickedness, frank, ungilded, and 
open. To be sure, there were things sometimes to re- 



86 DARKWATER 

veal the basic savagery and thin veneer. Once, for 
instance, a man was lynched for brawling on the 
public square of the county seat; once a mayor who 
sought to " clean up " was publicly assassinated ; al 
ways there was theft and rumors of theft, until St. 
Clair County was a hissing in good men's ears; but 
always, too, there were good wages and jolly hood 
lums and unchecked wassail of Saturday nights. 
Gamblers, big and little, rioted in East St. Louis. 
The little gamblers used cards and roulette wheels and 
filched the weekly wage of the workers. The greater 
gamblers used meat and iron and undid the founda 
tions of the world. All the gods of chance flaunted 
their wild raiment here, above the brown flood of the 
Mississippi. 

Then the world changed; then civilization, built for 
culture, rebuilt itself for wilful murder in Europe, 
Asia, America, and the Southern Seas. Hands that 
made food made powder, and iron for railways was 
iron for guns. The wants of common men were for 
gotten before the groan of giants. Streams of gold, 
lost from the world's workers, filtered and trickled 
into the hands of gamblers and put new power into 
the thunderbolts of East St. Louis. 

Wages had been growing before the World War. 
Slowly but remorselessly the skilled and intelligent, 
banding themselves, had threatened the coffers of the 
mighty, and slowly the mighty had disgorged. Even 
the common workers, the poor and unlettered, had 
again and again gripped the sills of the city walls and 
pulled themselves to their chins; but, alas! there were 



OF WORK AND WEALTH 87 

so many hands and so many mouths and the feet of 
the Disinherited kept coming across the wet paths of 
the sea to this old El Dorado. 

War brought subtle changes. Wages stood still 
while prices fattened. It was not that the white 
American worker was threatened with starvation, but 
it was what was, after all, a more important question, 
whether or not he should lose his front-room and 
victrola and even the dream of a Ford car. 

There came a whirling and scrambling among the 
workers, they fought each other; they climbed on 
each others' backs. The skilled and intelligent, band 
ing themselves even better than before, bargained with 
the men of might and held them by bitter threats; 
the less skilled and more ignorant seethed at the bot 
tom and tried, as of old, to bring it about that the 
ignorant and unlettered should learn to stand together 
against both capital and skilled labor. 

It was here that there came out of the East a beam 
of unearthly light, a triumph of possible good in 
evil so strange that the workers hardly believed it. 
Slowly they saw the gates of Ellis Island closing, 
slowly the footsteps of the yearly million men be 
came fainter and fainter, until the stream of immi 
grants overseas was stopped by the shadow of death 
at the very time when new murder opened new mar 
kets over all the world to American industry; and the 
giants with the thunderbolts stamped and raged and 
peered out across the world and called for men and 
evermore, men ! 

The Unwise Men laughed and squeezed reluctant 



88 DARKWATER 

dollars out of the fists of the mighty and saw in their 
dream the vision of a day when labor, as they knew 
it, should come into its own; saw this day and saw it 
with justice and with right, save for one thing, and 
that was the sound of the moan of the Disinherited, 
who still lay without the walls. When they heard 
this moan and saw that it came not across the seas, 
they were at first amazed and said it was not true; 
and then they were mad and said it should not be. 
Quickly they turned and looked into the red blackness 
of the South and in their hearts were fear and hate ! 

What did they see ? They saw something at which 
they had been taught to laugh and make sport; they 
saw that which the heading of every newspaper column, 
the lie of every cub reporter, the exaggeration of 
every press dispatch, and the distortion of every speech 
and book had taught them was a mass of despicable 
men, inhuman; at best, laughable; at worst, the meat 
of mobs and fury. 

What did they see? They saw nine and one-half 
millions of human beings. They saw the spawn of 
slavery, ignorant by law and by deviltry, crushed by 
insult and debauched by systematic and criminal in 
justice. They saw a people whose helpless women 
have been raped by thousands and whose men lynched 
by hundreds in the face of a sneering world. They 
saw a people with heads bloody, but unbowed, work 
ing faithfully at wages fifty per cent, lower than the 
wages of the nation and under conditions which shame 
civilization, saving homes, training children, hoping 
against hope. They saw the greatest industrial mir- 



OF WORK AND WEALTH 89 

acle of modern days, slaves transforming themselves 
to freemen and climbing out of perdition by their 
own efforts, despite the most contemptible opposition 
God ever saw, they saw all this and what they saw 
the distraught employers of America saw, too. 

The North called to the South. A scream of rage 
went up from the cotton monopolists and industrial 
barons of the new South. Who was this who dared 
to " interfere " with their labor ? Who sought to own 
their black slaves but they? Who honored and loved 
" niggers " as they did ? 

They mobilized all the machinery of modern oppres 
sion: taxes, city ordinances, licenses, state laws, mu 
nicipal regulations, wholesale police arrests and, of 
course, the peculiarly Southern method of the mob 
and the lyncher. They appealed franctically to the 
United States Government; they groveled on their 
knees and shed wild tears at the " suffering " of their 
poor, misguided black friends, and yet, despite this, 
the Northern employers simply had to offer two and 
three dollars a day and from one-quarter to one-half 
a million dark workers arose and poured themselves 
into the North. They went to the mines of West 
Virginia, because war needs coal; they went to the 
industries of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, because 
war needs ships and iron; they went to the automo 
biles of Detroit and the load-carrying of Chicago; 
and they went to East St. Louis. 

Now there came fear in the hearts of the Unwise 
Men. It was not that their wages were lowered, 
they went even higher. They received, not simpljr 



90 DARKWATER 

a living wage, but a wage that paid for some of the 
decencies, and, in East St. Louis, many of the inde 
cencies of life. What they feared was not deprivation 
of the things they were used to and the shadow of 
poverty, but rather the definite death of their rising 
dreams. But if fear was new-born in the hearts 
of the Unwise Men, the black man was born in a 
house of fear; to him poverty of the ulgiest and 
straitest type was father, mother, and blood-brother. 
He was slipping stealthily northward to escape hunger 
and insult, the hand of oppression, and the shadow of 
death. 

Here, then, in the wide valley which Father Mar- 
quette saw peaceful and golden, lazy with fruit and 
river, half-asleep beneath the nod of God, here, then, 
was staged every element for human tragedy, every 
element of the modern economic paradox. 

Ah! That hot, wide plain of East St. Louis is a 
gripping thing. The rivers are dirty with sweat and 
toil and lip, like lakes, along the low and burdened 
shores; flatboats ramble and thread among them, 
and above the steamers bridges swing on great arches 
of steel, striding with mighty grace from shore to 
shore. Everywhere are brick kennels, tall, black 
and red chimneys, tongues of flame. The ground is 
littered with cars and iron, tracks and trucks, boxes 
and crates, metals and coal and rubber. Nature-de 
fying cranes, grim elevators rise above pile on pile 
of black and grimy lumber. And ever below is the 
water, wide and silent, gray-brown and yellow. 



OF WORK AND WEALTH 91 

This is the stage for the tragedy : the armored might 
of the modern world urged by the bloody needs of 
the world wants, fevered today by a fabulous vision 
of gain and needing only hands, hands, hands! Fear 
of loss and greed of gain in the hearts of the giants; 
the clustered cunning of the modern workman, skilled 
as artificer and skilled in the rhythm of the habit of 
work, tasting the world's good and panting for more ; 
fear of poverty and hate of " scabs " in the hearts of 
the workers'; the dumb yearning in the hearts of the 
oppressed; the echo of laughter heard at the foot of 
the Pyramids; the faithful, plodding slouch of the 
laborers; fear of the Shadow of Death in the hearts 
of black men. 

We ask, and perhaps there is no answer, how far 
may the captain of the world's industry do his deeds, 
despite the grinding tragedy of its doing? How far 
may men fight for the beginning of comfort, out be 
yond the horrid shadow of poverty, at the cost of 
starving other and what the world calls lesser men? 
How far may those who reach up out of the slime 
that fills the pits of the world's damned compel men 
with loaves to divide with men who starve? 

The answers to these questions are hard, but yet 
one answer looms above all, justice lies with the 
lowest; the plight of the lowest man, the plight of 
the black man deserves the first answer, and the 
plight of the giants of industry, the last. 

Little cared East St. Louis for all this bandying 
of human problems, so long as its grocers and saloon 
keepers flourished and its industries steamed and 



92 DARKWATER 

screamed and smoked and its bankers grew rich. Stu 
pidity, license, and graft sat enthroned in the City 
Hall. The new black folk were exploited as cheer 
fully as white Polacks and Italians ; the rent of shacks 
mounted merrily, the street car lines counted gleeful 
gains, and the crimes of white men and black men 
flourished in the dark. The high and skilled and smart 
climbed on the bent backs of the ignorant; harder the 
mass of laborers strove to unionize their fellows and 
to bargain with employers. 

Nor were the new blacks fools. They had no love 
for nothings in labor; they had no wish to make their 
fellows' wage envelopes smaller, but they were de 
termined to make their own larger. They, too, were 
willing to join in the new union movement. But the 
unions did not want them. Just as employers monopo 
lized meat and steel, so they sought to monopolize la 
bor and beat a giant's bargain. In the higher trades 
they succeeded. The best electrician in the city was 
refused admittance to the union and driven from the 
town because he was black. No black builder, printer, 
or machinist could join a union or work in East St. 
Louis, no matter what his skill or character. But out 
of the stink of the stockyards and the dust of the 
aluminum works and the sweat of the lumber yards 
the willing blacks could not be kept. 

They were invited to join unions of the laborers 
here and they joined. White workers and black work 
ers struck at the aluminum works in the fall and won 
higher wages and better hours; then again in the 
spring they struck to make bargaining compulsory for 



OF WORK AND WEALTH 93 

the employer, but this time they fronted new things. 
The conflagration of war had spread to America; 
government and court stepped in and ordered no hesi 
tation, no strikes; the work must go on, 

Deeper was the call for workers. Black men poured 
in and red anger flamed in the hearts of the white 
workers. The anger was against the wielders of the 
thunderbolts, but here it was impotent because em 
ployers stood with the hand of the government before 
their faces; it was against entrenched union labor, 
which had risen on the backs of the unskilled and 
unintelligent and on the backs of those whom for any 
reason of race or prejudice or chicane they could beat 
beyond the bars of competition; and finally the anger 
of the mass of white workers was turned toward 
these new black interlopers, who seemed to come to 
spoil their last dream of a great monopoly of common 
labor. 

These angers flamed and the union leaders, fearing 
their fury and knowing their own guilt, not only 
in the larger and subtler matter of bidding their way 
to power across the weakness of their less fortunate 
fellows, but also conscious of their part in making 
East St. Louis a miserable town of liquor and lust, 
leaped quickly to ward the gathering thunder from 
their own heads. The thing they wanted was even at 
their hands: here were black men, guilty not only of 
bidding for jobs which white men could have held at 
war prices, even if they could not fill, but also guilty 
of being black! It was at this blackness that the 
unions pointed the accusing finger. It was here that 



94 DARKWATER 

they committed the unpardonable crime. It was here 
that they entered the Shadow of Hell, where sud 
denly from a fight for wage and protection against 
industrial oppression East St. Louis became the center 
of the oldest and nastiest form of human oppression, 
race hatred. 

The whole situation lent itself to this terrible 
transformation. Everything in the history of the 
United States, from slavery to Sunday supplements, 
from disfranchisement to residence segregation, from 
" Jim-Crow " cars to a " Jim-Crow " army draft 
all this history of discrimination and insult festered 
to make men think and willing to think that the vent 
ing of their unbridled anger against 12,000,000 humble, 
upstriving workers was a way of settling the industrial 
tangle of the ages. It was the logic of the broken 
plate, which, seared of old across its pattern, cracks 
never again, save along the old destruction. 

So hell flamed in East St. Louis! The white men 
drove even black union men out of their unions and 
when the black men, beaten by night and assaulted, 
flew to arms and shot back at the marauders, five 
thousand rioters arose and surged like a crested storm- 
wave, from noonday until midnight; they killed and 
beat and murdered; they dashed out the brains of 
children and stripped off the clothes of women; they 
drove victims into the flames and hanged the helpless 
to the lighting poles. Fathers were killed before the 
faces of mothers; children were burned; heads were 
cut off with axes; pregnant women crawled and 
spawned in dark, wet fields; thieves went through 



OF WORK AND WEALTH 95 

houses and firebrands followed; bodies were thrown 
from bridges; and rocks and bricks flew through the 
air. 

The Negroes fought. They grappled with the mob 
like beasts at bay. They drove them back from the 
thickest cluster of their homes and piled the white 
dead on the street, but the cunning mob caught the 
black men between the factories and their homes, 
where they knew they were armed only with their 
dinner pails. Firemen, policemen, and militiamen 
stood with hanging hands or even joined eagerly with 
the mob. 

It was the old world horror come to life again: all 
that Jews suffered in Spain and Poland; all that peas 
ants suffered in France, and Indians in Calcutta; all 
that aroused human deviltry had accomplished in 
ages past they did in East St. Louis, while the rags 
'of six thousand half -naked black men and women 
fluttered across the bridges of the calm Mississippi. 

The white South laughed, it was infinitely funny 
the " niggers " who had gone North to escape 
slavery and lynching had met the fury of the mob 
which they had fled. Delegations rushed North from 
Mississippi and Texas, with suspicious timeliness and 
with great-hearted offers to take these workers back to 
a lesser hell. The man from Greensville, Mississippi, 
who wanted a thousand got six, because, after all, 
the end was not so simple. 

No, the end was not simple. On the contrary, the 
problem raised by East St. Louis was curiously com 
plex. The ordinary American, tired of the persist- 



96 DARKWATER 

ence of " the Negro problem," sees only another anti- 
Negro mob and wonders, not when we shall settle 
this problem, but when we shall be well rid of it. 
The student of social things sees another mile-post 
in the triumphant march of union labor; he is sorry 
that blood and rapine should mark its march, but, 
what will you? War is life! 

Despite these smug reasonings the bare facts were 
these: East St. Louis, a great industrial center, lost 
5,000 laborers, good, honest, hard-working laborers. 
It was not the criminals, either black or white, who 
were driven from East St. Louis. They are still 
there. They will stay there. But half the honest 
black laborers were gone. The crippled ranks of in 
dustrial organization in the mid-Mississippi Valley 
cannot be recruited from Ellis Island, because in Eu 
rope men are dead and maimed, and restoration, when 
restoration comes, will raise a European demand for 
labor such as this age has never seen. The vision of 
industrial supremacy has come to the giants who lead 
American industry and finance. But it can never be 
realized unless the laborers are here to do the work, 
the skilled laborers, the common laborers, the will 
ing laborers, the well-paid laborers. The present 
forces, organized however cunningly, are not large 
enough to do what America wants; but there is another 
group of laborers, 12,000,000 strong, the natural heirs, 
by every logic of justice, to the fruits of America's in 
dustrial advance. They will be used simply because 
they must be used, but their using means East St. 
Louis ! 



OF WORK AND WEALTH 97 

Eastward from St. Louis lie great centers, like 
Chicago, Indianapolis, Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburg, 
Philadelphia, and New York; in every one of these 
and in lesser centers there is not only the industrial 
unrest of war and revolutionized work, but there is 
the call for workers, the coming of black folk, and 
the deliberate effort to divert the thoughts of men, 
and particularly of workingmen, into channels of 
race hatred against blacks. In every one of these 
centers what happened in East St. Louis has been at 
tempted, with more or less success. Yet the Ameri 
can Negroes stand today as the greatest strategic 
group in the world. Their services are indispensable, 
their temper and character are fine, and their souls 
have seen a vision more beautiful than any other mass 
of workers. They may win back culture to the world 
if their strength can be used with the forces of the 
world that make for justice and not against the hidden 
hates that fight for barbarism. For fight they must 
and fight they will! 

Rising on wings we cross again the rivers of St. 
Louis, winding and threading between the towers of 
industry that threaten and drown the towers of God. 
Far, far beyond, we sight the green of fields and hills ; 
but ever below lies the river, blue, brownish-gray, 
touched with the hint of hidden gold. Drifting 
through half-flooded lowlands, with shanties and crops 
and stunted trees, past struggling corn and straggling 
village, we rush toward the Battle of the Marne and 
the West, from this dread Battle of the East. West 
ward, dear God, the fire of Thy Mad World crimsons 



98 DARKWATER 

our Heaven. Our answering Hell rolls eastward from 
St. Louis. 

Here, in microcosm, is the sort of economic snarl 
that arose continually for me and my pupils to solve. 
We could bring to its unraveling little of the scholarly 
aloofness and academic calm of most white universi 
ties. To us this thing was Life and Hope and Death! 
How should we think such a problem through, not 
simply as Negroes, but as men and women of a new 
century, helping to build a new world? And first of 
all, here is no simple question of race antagonism. 
There are no races, in the sense of great, separate, 
pure breeds of men, differing in attainment, develop 
ment, and capacity. There are great groups, now 
with common history, now with common interests, 
now with common ancestry; more and more common 
experience and present interest drive back the com 
mon blood and the world today consists, not of races, 
but of the imperial commercial group of master capi 
talists, international and predominantly white; the na 
tional middle classes of the several nations, white, 
yellow, and brown, with strong blood bonds, common 
languages, and common history; the international la 
boring class of all colors; the backward, oppressed 
groups of nature-folk, predominantly yellow, brown, 
and black. 

Two questions arise from the work and relations of 
these groups: how to furnish goods and services for 
the wants of men and how equitably and sufficiently 
to satisfy these wants. There can be no doubt that 



OF WORK AND WEALTH 99 

we have passed in our day from a world that could 
hardly satisfy the physical wants of the mass of men, 
by the greatest effort, to a world whose technique 
supplies enough for all, if all can claim their right. 
Our great ethical question today is, therefore, how 
may we justly distribute the world's goods to satisfy 
the necessary wants of the mass of men. 

What hinders the answer to this question? Dis 
likes, jealousies, hatreds, undoubtedly like the race 
hatred in East St. Louis; the jealousy of English and 
German; the dislike of the Jew and the Gentile. But 
these are, after all, surface disturbances, sprung from 
ancient habit more than from present reason. They 
persist and are encouraged because of deeper, mightier 
currents. If the white workingmen of East St. Louis 
felt sure that Negro workers would not and could 
not take the bread and cake from their mouths, their 
race hatred would never have been translated into 
murder. If the black workingmen of the South could 
earn a decent living under decent circumstances at 
home, they would not be compelled to underbid their 
white fellows. 

Thus the shadow of hunger, in a world which never 
needs to be hungry, drives us to war and murder and 
hate. But why does hunger shadow so vast a mass 
of men? Manifestly because in the great organizing 
of men for work a few of the participants come out 
with more wealth than they can possibly use, while 
a vast number emerge with less than can decently sup 
port life. In earlier economic stages we defended 
this as the reward of Thrift and Sacrifice, and as the 



ioo DARKWATER 

punishment of Ignorance and Crime. To this the an 
swer is sharp: Sacrifice calls for no such reward and 
Ignorance deserves no such punishment. The chief 
meaning of our present thinking is that the dispro 
portion between wealth and poverty today cannot be 
adequately accounted for by the thrift and ignorance 
of the rich and the poor. 

Yesterday we righted one great mistake when we 
realized that the ownership of the laborer did not tend 
to increase production. The world at large had learned 
this long since, but black slavery arose again in Amer 
ica as an inexplicable anachronism, a wilful crime. 
The freeing of the black slaves freed America. To 
day we are challenging another ownership, the own 
ership of materials which go to make the goods we 
need. Private ownership of land, tools, and raw ma 
terials may at one stage of economic development be 
a method of stimulating production and one which 
does not greatly interfere with equitable distribution. 
When, however, the intricacy and length of technical 
production increased, the ownership of these things 
becomes a monopoly, which easily makes the rich 
richer and the poor poorer. Today, therefore, we are 
challenging this ownership; we are demanding general 
consent as to what materials shall be privately owned 
and as to how materials shall be used. We are rapidly 
approaching the day when we shall repudiate all pri 
vate property in raw materials and tools and demand 
that distribution hinge, not on the power of those who 
monopolize the materials, but on the needs of the 
mass of men. 



OF WORK AND WEALTH 101 

Can we do this and still make sufficient goods, 
justly gauge the needs of men, and rightly decide who 
are to be considered "men"? How do we arrange 
to accomplish these things today? Somebody decides 
whose wants should be satisfied. Somebody organizes 
industry so as to satisfy these wants. What is to 
hinder the same ability and foresight from being used 
in the future as in the past? The amount and kind 
of human ability necessary need not be decreased, 
it may even be vastly increased, with proper encour 
agement and rewards. Are we today evoking the 
necessary ability? On the contrary, it is not the 
Inventor, the Manager, and the Thinker who today are 
reaping the great rewards of industry, but rather the 
Gambler and the Highwayman. Rightly-organized 
industry might easily save the Gambler's Profit and 
the Monopolist's Interest and by paying a more dis 
criminating reward in wealth and honor bring to the 
service of the state more ability and sacrifice than we 
can today command. If we do away with interest 
and profit, consider the savings that could be made; 
but above all, think how great the revolution would be 
when we ask the mysterious Somebody to decide in 
the light of public opinion whose wants should be 
satisfied. This is the great and real revolution that 
is coming in future industry. 

But this is not the end of the revolution nor indeed, 
perhaps, its real beginning. What we must decide 
sometime is who are to be considered " men." Today, 
at the beginning of this industrial change, we are ad 
mitting that economic classes must give way. The 



102 DARKWATER 

laborers' hire must increase, the employers 5 profit must 
be curbed. But how far shall this change go ? Must 
it apply to all human beings and to all work through 
out the world? 

Certainly not. We seek to apply it slowly and with 
some reluctance to white men and more slowly and 
with greater reserve to white women, but black folk 
and brown and for the most part yellow folk we have 
widely determined shall not be among those whose 
needs must justly be heard and whose wants must be 
ministered to in the great organization of world in 
dustry. 

In the teaching of my classes I was not willing to 
stop with showing that this was unfair, indeed I 
did not have to do this. They knew through bitter 
experience its rank injustice, because they were black. 
What I had to show was that no real reorganization 
of industry could be permanently made with the ma 
jority of mankind left out. These disinherited darker 
peoples must either share in the future industrial de 
mocracy or overturn the world. 

Of course, the foundation of such a system must be 
a high, ethical ideal. We must really envisage the 
wants of humanity. We must want the wants of all 
men. We must get rid of the fascination for exclu- 
siveness. Here, in a world full of folk, men are 
lonely. The rich are lonely. We are all frantic for 
fellow-souls, yet we shut souls out and bar the ways 
and bolster up the fiction of the Elect and the Superior 
when the great mass of men is capable of producing 
larger and larger numbers for every human height of 



OF WORK AND WEALTH 103 

attainment. To be sure, there are differences between 
men and groups and there will ever be, but they will 
be differences of beauty and genius and of interest 
and not necessarily of ugliness, imbecility, and hatred. 

The meaning of America is the beginning of the dis 
covery of the Crowd. The crowd is not so well-trained 
as a Versailles garden party of Louis XIV, but it 
is far better trained than the Sans-culottes and it has 
infinite possibilities. What a world this will be when 
human possibilities are freed, when we discover each 
other, when the stranger is no longer the potential 
criminal and the certain inferior! 

What hinders our approach to the ideals outlined 
above ? Our profit from degradation, our colonial ex 
ploitation, our American attitude toward the Negro. 
Think again of East St. Louis! Think back of that 
to slavery and Reconstruction ! Do we want the wants 
of American Negroes satisfied? Most certainly not, 
and that negative is the greatest hindrance today to 
the reorganization of work and redistribution of 
wealth, not only in America, but in the world. 

All humanity must share in the future industrial 
democracy of the world. For this it must be trained 
in intelligence and in appreciation of the good and 
the beautiful. Present Big Business, that Science of 
Human Wants must be perfected by eliminating the 
price paid for waste, which is Interest, and for Chance, 
which is Profit, and making all income a personal 
wage for service rendered by the recipient; by recog 
nizing no possible human service as great enough to 
enable a person to designate another as an idler or 



104 DARKWATER 

as a worker at work which he cannot do. Above all, 
industry must minister to the wants of the many and 
not to the few, and the Negro, the Indian, the Mon 
golian, and the South Sea Islander must be among the 
many as well as Germans, Frenchmen, and English 
men. 

In this coming socialization of industry we must 
guard against that same tyranny of the majority that 
has marked democracy in the making of laws. There 
must, for instance, persist in this future economics a 
certain minimum of machine-like work and prompt 
obedience and submission. This necessity is a simple 
corollary from the hard facts of the physical world. 
It must be accepted with the comforting thought that 
its routine need not demand twelve hours a day or 
even eight. With Work for All and All at Work 
probably from three to six hours would suffice, and 
leave abundant time for leisure, exercise, study, and 
avocations. 

But what shall we say of work where spiritual 
values and social distinctions enter? Who shall be 
Artists and who shall be Servants in the world to 
come ? Or shall we all be artists and all serve ? 



The Second Coming 

Three bishops sat in San Francisco, New Orleans, and 
New York, peering gloomily into three flickering fires, 
which cast and recast shuddering shadows on book-lined 
walls. Three letters lay in their laps, which said: 

" And thou, Valdosta, in the land of Georgia, art not 
least among the princes of America, for out of thee 
shall come a governor who shall rule my people." 

The white bishop of New York scowled and impa 
tiently threw the letter into the fire. "Valdosta?" he 
thought, " That's where I go to the governor's wedding 
of little Marguerite, my white flower, " Then he for 
got the writing in his musing, but the paper flared red 
in the fireplace. 

"Valdosta?" said the black bishop of New Orleans, 
turning uneasily in his chair. " I must go down there. 
Those colored folk are acting strangely. I don't know 
where all this unrest and moving will lead to. Then, 
there's poor Lucy " And he threw the letter into the 
fire, but eyed it suspiciously as it flamed green. " Stran 
ger things than that have happened," he said slowly, 
" ' and ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars . . . 
for nation shall rise against nation and kingdom against 
kingdom/ J: 

In San Francisco the priest of Japan, abroad to study 
strange lands, sat in his lacquer chair, with face like 
soft-yellow and wrinkled parchment. Slowly he wrote 
in a great and golden book : " I have been strangely 
bidden to the Val d' Osta, where one of those religious 
cults that swarm here will welcome a prophet. I shall 
go and report to Kioto." 

So in the dim waning of the day before Christmas 

105 



io6 DARKWATER 

three bishops met in Valdosta and saw its mills and 
storehouses, its wide-throated and sandy streets, in the 
mellow glow of a crimson sun. The governor glared 
anxiously up the street as he helped the bishop of New 
York into his car and welcomed him graciously. 

" I am troubled," said the governor, " about the nig 
gers. They are acting queerly. I'm not certain but 
Fleming is back of it." 

"Fleming?" 

" Yes ! He's running against me next term for gov 
ernor; he's a fire-brand; wants niggers to vote and all 
that pardon me a moment, there's a darky I know " 
and he hurried to the black bishop, who had just de 
scended from the " Jim-Crow " car, and clasped his hand 
cordially. They talked in whispers. " Search diligently," 
said the governor in parting, " and bring me word 
again." Then returning to his guest, " You will excuse 
me, won't you ? " he asked, " but I am sorely troubled ! 
I never saw niggers act so. They're leaving by the 
hundreds and those who stay are getting impudent! 
They seem to be expecting something. What's the crowd, 
Jim?" 

The chauffeur said that there was some sort of Chinese 
official in town and everybody wanted to glimpse him. 
He drove around another way. 

It all happened very suddenly. The bishop of New 
York, in full canonicals for the early wedding, stepped 
out on the rear balcony of his mansion, just as the dying 
sun lit crimson clouds of glory in the East and burned 
the West. 

" Fire ! " yelled a wag in the surging crowd that was 
gathering to celebrate a southern Christmas-eve; all 
laughed and ran. 

The bishop of New York did not understand. He 
peered around. Was it that dark, little house in the 
far backyard that flamed? Forgetful of his robes he 
hurried down, a brave, white figure in the sunset. He 



THE SECOND COMING 107 

found himself before an old, black, rickety stable. He 
could hear the mules stamping within. 

No. It was not fire. It was the sunset glowing 
through the cracks. Behind the hut its glory rose 
toward God like flaming wings of cherubim. He paused 
until he heard the faint wail of a child. Hastily he 
entered. A white girl crouched before him, down by the 
very mules' feet, with a baby in her arms, a little mite 
of a baby that wailed weakly. Behind mother and child 
stood a shadow. The bishop of New York turned to the 
right, inquiringly, and saw a black man in bishop's robes 
that faintly re-echoed his own. He turned away to the 
left and saw a golden Japanese in golden garb. Then 
he heard the black man mutter behind him : " But He 
was to come the second time in clouds of glory, with 
the nations gathered around Him and angels " at the 
word a shaft of glorious light fell full upon the child, 
while without came the tramping of unnumbered feet 
and the whirring of wings. 

The bishop of New York bent quickly over the baby. 
It was black! He stepped back with a gesture of 
disgust, hardly listening to and yet hearing the black 
bishop, who spoke almost as if in apology: 

" She's not really white ; I know Lucy you see, her 
mother worked for the governor The white bishop 
turned on his heel and nearly trod on the yellow priest, 
who knelt with bowed head before the pale mother and 
offered incense and a gift of gold. 

Out into the night rushed the bishop of New York. 
The wings of the cherubim were folded black against 
the stars. As he hastened down the front staircase the 
governor came rushing up the street steps. 

" We are late ! " he cried nervously. " The bride 
awaits ! " He hurried the bishop to the waiting limou 
sine, asking him anxiously: "Did you hear anything? 
Do you hear that noise ? The crowd is growing strangely 
on the streets and there seems to be a fire over toward 



io8 DARKWATER 

the East. I never saw so many people hereI fear vio 
lence a mob a lynching I fear hark ! " 

What was that which he, too, heard beneath the rhythm 
of unnumbered feet? Deep in his heart a wonder grew. 
What was it? Ah, he knew! It was music, some 
strong and mighty chord. It rose higher as the brilliantly- 
lighted church split the night, and swept radiantly toward 
them. So high and clear that music flew, it seemed 
above, around, behind them. The governor, ashen-faced, 
crouched in the car; but the bishop said softly as the 
ecstasy pulsed in his heart: 

" Such music, such wedding music ! What choir is 
it?" 



V, 
" THE SERVANT IN THE HOUSE " 

THE lady looked at me severely; I glanced away. I 
had addressed the little audience at some length on 
the disfranchisement of my people in society, poli 
tics, and industry and had studiously avoided the 
while her cold, green eye. I finished and shook weary 
hands, while she lay in wait. I knew what was com 
ing and braced my soul. 

" "Do you know where I can get a good colored 
cook?" she asked. 

I disclaimed all guilty concupiscence. She came 
nearer and spitefully shook a finger in my face. 

" Why won't Negroes work ! " she panted. " I 
have given money for years to Hampton and Tuske- 
gee and yet I can't get decent servants. They won't 
try. They're lazy! They're unreliable! They're im 
pudent and they leave without notice. They all want 
to be lawyers and doctors and " (she spat the word in 
venom) "ladies!" 

" God forbid ! " I answered solemnly, and then be 
ing of gentle birth and unminded to strike a defense 
less female of uncertain years, I ran; I ran home and 
wrote a chapter in my book and this is it. 

I speak and speak bitterly as a servant and a serv 
ant's son, for my mother spent five or more years of 

109 



no DARKWATER 

her life as a menial; my father's family escaped, al 
though grandfather as a boat steward had to fight 
hard to be a man and not a lackey. He fought and 
won. My mother's folk, however, during my child 
hood, sat poised on that thin edge between the farmer 
and the menial. The surrounding Irish had two 
chances, the factory and the kitchen, and most of them 
took the factory, with all its dirt and noise and low 
wage. The factory was closed to us. Our little lands 
were too small to feed most of us. A few clung almost 
sullenly to the old homes, low and red things crouching 
on a wide level; but the children stirred restlessly and 
walked often to town and saw its wonders. Slowly 
they dribbled off, a waiter here, a cook there, help 
for a few weeks in Mrs. Blank's kitchen when she 
had summer boarders. 

Instinctively I hated such work from my birth. I 
loathed it and shrank from it. Why? I could not 
have said. Had I been born in Carolina instead of 
Massachusetts I should hardly have escaped the taint 
of " service." Its temptations in wage and comfort 
would soon have answered my scruples; and yet I am 
sure I would have fought long even in Carolina, for 
I knew in my heart that thither lay Hell. 

I mowed lawns on contract, did " chores " that 
left me my own man, sold papers, and peddled tea 
anything to escape the shadow of the awful thing 
that lurked to grip my soul. Once, and once only, I 
felt the sting of its talons. I was twenty and had 
graduated from Fisk with a scholarship for Harvard; 
I needed, however, travel money and clothes and a 



"THE SERVANT IN THE HOUSE" in 

bit to live on until the scholarship was due. Fortson 
was a fellow-student in winter and a waiter in sum 
mer. He proposed that the Glee Club Quartet of 
Fisk spend the summer at the hotel in Minnesota 
where he worked and that I go along as " Business 
Manager " to arrange for engagements on the journey 
back. We were all eager, but we knew nothing of 
table-waiting. " Never mind," said Fortson, " you 
can stand around the dining-room during meals and 
carry out the big wooden trays of dirty dishes. Thus 
you can pick up knowledge of waiting and earn good 
tips and get free board." I listened askance, but I 
went. 

I entered that broad and blatant hotel at Lake Min- 
netonka with distinct forebodings. The flamboyant 
architecture, the great verandas, rich furniture, and 
richer dresses awed us mightily. The long loft re 
served for us, with its clean little cots, was reas 
suring; the work was not difficult, but the meals! 
There were no meals. At first, before the guests ate, 
a dirty table in the kitchen was hastily strewn with 
uneatable scraps. We novices were the only ones who 
came to eat, while the guests' dining-room, with its 
savors and sights, set our appetites on edge! After 
a while even the pretense of meals for us was dropped. 
We were sure we were going to starve when Dug, one 
of us, made a startling discovery : the waiters stole 
their food and they stole the best. We gulped and 
hesitated. Then we stole, too, (or, at least, they 
stole and I shared) and we all fattened, for the dain 
ties were marvelous. You slipped a bit here and hid 



H2 DARKWATER 

it there; you cut off extra portions and gave false 
orders; you dashed off into darkness and hid in 
corners and ate and ate! It was nasty business. I 
hated it. I was too cowardly to steal much myself, 
and not coward enough to refuse what others stole. 

Our work was easy, but insipid. We stood about 
and watched overdressed people gorge. For the most 
part we were treated like furniture and were sup 
posed to act the wooden part. I watched the waiters 
even more than the guests. I saw that it paid to amuse 
and to cringe. One particular black man set me 
crazy. He was intelligent and deft, but one day I 
caught sight of his face as he served a crowd of men; 
he was playing the clown, crouching, grinning, as 
suming a broad dialect when he usually spoke good 
English ah! it was a heartbreaking sight, and he 
made more money than any waiter in the dining-room. 

I did not mind the actual work or the kind of 
work, but it was the dishonesty and deception, the 
flattery and cajolery, the unnatural assumption that 
worker and diner had no common humanity. It was 
uncanny. It was inherently and fundamentally wrong. 
I stood staring and thinking, while the other boys 
hustled about. Then I noticed one fat hog, feeding at 
a heavily gilded trough, who could not find his waiter. 
He beckoned me. It was not his voice, for his mouth 
was too full. It was his way, his air, his assumption. 
Thus Caesar ordered his legionaries or Cleopatra her 
slaves. Dogs recognized the gesture. I did not. He 
may be beckoning yet for all I know, for something 
froze within me. I did not look his way again. Then 



"THE SERVANT IN THE HOUSE" 113 

and there I disowned menial service for me and my 
people. 

I would work my hands off for an honest wage, but 
for " tips " and " hand-me-outs," never ! Fortson was 
a pious, honest fellow, who regarded " tips " as in 
the nature of things, being to the manner born; but 
the hotel that summer in other respects rather aston 
ished even him. He came to us much flurried one 
night and got us to help him with a memorial to the 
absentee proprietor, telling of the wild and gay do 
ings of midnights in the rooms and corridors among 
" tired " business men and their prostitutes. We lis 
tened wide-eyed and eager and wrote the filth out 
manfully. The proprietor did not thank Fortson. He 
did not even answer the letter. 

When I finally walked out of that hotel and out of 
menial service forever, I felt as though, in a field of 
flowers, my nose had been held unpleasantly long to 
the worms and manure at their roots. 

" Cursed be Canaan ! " cried the Hebrew priests. 
" A servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren." 
With what characteristic complacency did the slave 
holders assume that Canaanites were Negroes and 
their " brethren " white ? Are not Negroes servants ? 
Ergo! Upon such spiritual myths was the anachron 
ism of American slavery built, and this was the de 
gradation that once made menial servants the aristo 
crats among colored folk. House servants secured 
some decencies of food and clothing and shelter; they 
could more easily reach their master's ear; their per- 



114 DARKWATER 

sonal abilities of character became known and bonds 
grew between slave and master which strengthened 
from friendship to love, from mutual service to mu 
tual blood. 

Naturally out of this the West Indian servant 
climbed out of slavery into citizenship, for few West 
Indian masters fewer Spanish or Dutch were cal 
lous enough to sell their own children into slavery. 
Not so with English and Americans. With a harsh 
ness and indecency seldom paralleled in the civilized 
world white masters on the mainland sold their mu 
latto children, half-brothers and half-sisters, and their 
own wives in all but name, into life-slavery by the 
hundreds and thousands. They originated a special 
branch of slave-trading for this trade and the white 
aristocrats of Virginia and the Carolinas made more 
money by this business during the eighteenth and nine 
teenth centuries than in any other way. 

The clang of the door of opportunity thus knelled 
in the ears of the colored house servant whirled the 
whole face of Negro advancement as on some great 
pivot. The movement was slow, but vast. When 
emancipation came, before and after 1863, the house 
servant still held advantages. He had whatever edu 
cation the race possessed and his white father, no 
longer able to sell him, often helped him with land 
and protection. Notwithstanding this the lure of 
house service for the Negro was gone. The path of 
salvation for the emancipated host of black folk lay 
no longer through the kitchen door, with its wide 
hall and pillared veranda and flowered yard beyond. 



"THE SERVANT IN THE HOUSE" 115 

It lay, as every Negro soon knew and knows, in es 
cape from menial serfdom. 

In 1860, 98 per cent, of the Negroes were servants 
and serfs. In 1880, 30 per cent were servants and 
65 per cent were serfs. The percentage of servants 
then rose slightly and fell again until 21 per cent 
were in service in 1910 and, doubtless, much less than 
20 per cent today. This is the measure of our rise, 
but the Negro will not approach freedom until this 
hateful badge of slavery and mediaevalism has been 
reduced to less than 10 per cent. 

Not only are less than a fifth of our workers serv 
ants today, but the character of their service has been 
changed. The million menial workers among us in 
clude 300,000 upper servants, skilled men and women 
of character, like hotel waiters, Pullman porters, jani 
tors, and cooks, who, had they been white, could have 
called on the great labor movement to lift their work 
out of slavery, to standardize their hours, to define 
their duties, and to substitute a living, regular wage 
for personal largess in the shape of tips, old clothes, 
and cold leavings of food. But the labor movement 
turned their backs on those black men when the white 
world dinned in their ears. Negroes are servants; 
servants are Negroes. They shut the door of escape 
to factory and trade in their fellows' faces and bat 
tened down the hatches, lest the 300,000 should be 
workers equal in pay and consideration with white 
men. 

But, if the upper servants could not escape to mod 
ern, industrial conditions, how much the more did 



u6 DARKWATER 

they press down on the bodies and souls of 700,000 
washerwomen and household drudges, ignorant, un 
skilled offal of a millionaire industrial system. Their 
pay was the lowest and their hours the longest of all 
workers. The personal degradation of their work 
is so great that any white man of decency would 
rather cut his daughter's throat than let her grow up 
to such a destiny. There is throughout the world and 
in all races no greater source of prostitution than this 
grade of menial service, and the Negro race in Amer 
ica has largely escaped this destiny simply because its 
innate decency leads black women to choose irregular 
and temporary sexual relations with men they like 
rather than to sell themselves to strangers. To such 
sexual morals is added (in the nature of self-defense) 
that revolt against unjust labor conditions which ex 
presses itself in " soldiering," sullenness, petty pilfer 
ing, unreliability, and fast and fruitless changes of 
masters. 

Indeed, here among American Negroes we have ex 
emplified the last and worst refuge of industrial caste. 
Menial service is an anachronism, the refuse of me 
diaeval barbarism. Why, then, does it linger? Why 
are we silent about it? Why in the minds of so many 
decent and up-seeing folks does the whole Negro prob 
lem resolve itself into the matter of their getting a 
cook or a maid ? 

No one knows better than I the capabilities of a 
system of domestic service at its best. I have seen 
children who were spiritual sons and daughters of 
their masters, girls who were friends of their mis- 



"THE SERVANT IN THE HOUSE" 117 

tresses, and old servants honored and revered. But 
in every such case the Servant had transcended the 
Menial, the Service had been exalted above the Wage. 
Now to accomplish this permanently and universally, 
calls for the same revolution in household help as in 
factory help and public service. While organized in 
dustry has been slowly making its help into self-respect 
ing, well-paid men, and while public service is begin 
ning to call for the highest types of educated and 
efficient thinkers, domestic service lags behind and 
insists upon seeking to evolve the best types of men 
from the worst conditions. 

The cause of this perversity, to my mind, is two 
fold. First, the ancient high estate of Service, now 
pitifully fallen, yet gasping for breath; secondly, the 
present low estate of the outcasts of the world, peer 
ing with blood-shot eyes at the gates of the industrial 
heaven. 

The Master spoke no greater word than that which 
said : " Whosoever will be great among you, let him 
be your servant ! " What is greater than Personal 
Service! Surely no social service, no wholesale help 
ing of masses of men can exist which does not find its 
effectiveness and beauty in the personal aid of man 
to man. It is the purest and holiest of duties. Some 
mighty glimmer of this truth survived in those who 
made the First Gentlemen of the Bedchamber, the 
Keepers of the Robes, and the Knights of the Bath, 
the highest nobility that hedged an anointed king. 
Nor does it differ today in what the mother does for 
the child or the daughter for the mother, in all the 



ii8 DARKWATER 

personal attentions in the old-fashioned home; this 
is Service! Think of what Friend has meant, not 
simply in spiritual sympathies, but in physical help 
fulness. In the world today what calls for more of 
love, sympathy, learning, sacrifice, and long-suffering 
than the care of children, the preparation of food, 
the cleansing and ordering of the home, personal at 
tendance and companionship, the care of bodies and 
their raiment what greater, more intimate, more 
holy Services are there than these? 

And yet we are degrading these services and loath 
ing them and scoffing at them and spitting upon them, 
first, by turning them over to the lowest and least 
competent and worst trained classes in the world, and 
then by yelling like spoiled children if our babies are 
neglected, our biscuits sodden, our homes dirty, and 
our baths unpoured. Let one suggest that the only 
cure for such deeds is in the uplift of the doer and 
our rage is even worse and less explicable. We will 
call them by their first names, thus blaspheming a 
holy intimacy; we will confine them to back doors; 
we will insist that their meals be no gracious ceremony 
nor even a restful sprawl, but usually a hasty, heckled 
gulp amid garbage; we exact, not a natural, but a 
purchased deference, and we leave them naked to 
insult by our children and by our husbands. 

I remember a girl, how pretty she was, with the 
crimson flooding the old ivory of her cheeks and her 
gracious plumpness ! She had come to the valley dur 
ing the summer to " do housework." I met and walked 
home with her, in the thrilling shadows, to an old 



"THE SERVANT IN THE HOUSE" 119* 

village home I knew well; then as I turned to leave 
I learned that she was there alone in that house for 
a week-end with only one young white man to repre 
sent the family. Oh, he was doubtless a " gentleman " 
and all that, but for the first time in my life I saw 
what a snare the fowler was spreading at the feet of 
the daughters of my people, baited by church and 
state. 

Not alone is the hurt thus offered to the lowly, 
Society and Science suffer. The unit which we seek 
to make the center of society, the Home is de 
prived of the help of scientific invention and sugges 
tion. It is only slowly and by the utmost effort that 
some small foothold has been gained for the vacuum 
cleaner, the washing-machine, the power tool, and the 
chemical reagent. In our frantic effort to preserve 
the last vestiges of slavery and mediaevalism we not 
only set our faces against such improvements, but 
we seek to use education and the power of the state 
to train the servants who do not naturally appear. 

Meantime the wild rush from house service, on 
the part of all who can scramble or run, continues. 
The rules of the labor union are designed, not simply 
to raise wages, but to guard against any likeness be 
tween artisan and servant. There is no essential dif 
ference in ability and training between a subway guard 
and a Pullman porter, but between their union cards 
lies a whole world. 

Yet we are silent. Menial service is not a " social 
problem." It is not really discussed. There is no 
scientific program for its " reform/' There is but 



120 DARKWATER 

one panacea : Escape ! Get yourselves and your sons 
and daughters out of the shadow of this awful thing! 
Hire servants, but never be one. Indeed, subtly but 
surely the ability to hire at least " a maid " is still 
civilization's patent to respectability, while " a man " 
is the first word of aristocracy. 

All this is because we still consciously and uncon 
sciously hold to the " manure " theory of social or 
ganization. We believe that at the bottom of organ 
ized human life there are necessary duties and services 
which no real human being ought to be compelled to 
do. We push below this mudsill the derelicts and 
half-men, whom we hate and despise, and seek to build 
above it Democracy! On such foundations is reared 
a Theory of Exclusiveness, a feeling that the world 
progresses by a process of excluding from the benefits 
of culture the majority of men, so that a gifted mi 
nority may blossom. Through this door the modern 
democrat arrives to the place where he is willing to 
allot two able-bodied men and two fine horses to the 
task of helping one wizened beldam to take the morn 
ing air. 

Here the absurdity ends. Here all honest minds 
turn back and ask: Is menial service permanent or 
necessary? Can we not transfer cooking from the 
home to the scientific laboratory, along with the laun 
dry? Cannot machinery, in the hands of self-respect 
ing and well-paid artisans, do our cleaning, sewing, 
moving, and decorating? Cannot the training of 
children become an even greater profession than the 
attending of the sick? And cannot personal service 



"THE SERVANT IN THE HOUSE" 121 

and companionship be coupled with friendship and 
love where it belongs and whence it can never be di 
vorced without degradation and pain? 

In fine, can we not, black and white, rich and poor, 
look forward to a world of Service without Servants ? 

A miracle! you say? True. And only to be per 
formed by the Immortal Child. 

\ 



Jesus Christ in Texas 

It was in Waco, Texas. 

The convict guard laughed. " I don't know," he said, 
" I hadn't thought of that." He hesitated and looked at 
the stranger curiously. In the solemn twilight he got an 
impression of unusual height and soft, dark eyes. " Curi 
ous sort of acquaintance for the colonel," he thought; 
then he continued aloud : " But that nigger there is bad, 
a born thief, and ought to be sent up for life; got ten 
years last time " 

Here the voice of the promoter, talking within, broke 
in ; he was bending over his figures, sitting by the colonel. 
He was slight, with a sharp nose. 

" The convicts," he said, " would cost us $96 a year 
and board. Well, we can squeeze this so that it won't 
be over $125 apiece. Now if these fellows are driven, 
they can build this line within twelve months. It will 
be running by next April. Freights will fall fifty per 
cent. Why, man, you'll be a millionaire in less than ten 
years." 

The colonel started. He was a thick, short man, with 
a clean-shaven face and a certain air of breeding about 
the lines of his countenance ; the word millionaire sounded 
well to his ears. He thought he thought a great deal; 
he almost heard the puff of the fearfully costly automo 
bile that was coming up the road, and he said: 

" I suppose we might as well hire them." 

"Of course," answered the promoter. 

The voice of the tall stranger in the corner broke in 
here : 

" It will be a good thing for them?" he said, half in 
question. 

123 



124 DARKWATER 

The colonel moved. " The guard makes strange 
friends," he thought to himself. " What's this man do 
ing here, anyway ? " He looked at him, or rather looked 
at his eyes, and then somehow he felt a warming toward 
him. He said: 

"Well, at least, it can't harm them; they're beyond 
that." 

" It will do them good, then," said the stranger again. 

The promoter shrugged his shoulders. " It will do 
us good," he said. 

But the colonel shook his head impatiently. He felt 
a desire to justify himself before those eyes, and he 
answered : " Yes, it will do them good ; or at any rate 
it won't make them any worse than they are." Then he 
started to say something else, but here sure enough the 
sound of the automobile breathing at the gate stopped 
him and they all arose. 

" It is settled, then," said the promoter. 

" Yes," said the colonel, turning toward the stranger 
again. " Are you going into town ? " he asked with the 
Southern courtesy of white men to white men in a 
country town. The stranger said he was. " Then come 
along in my machine. I want to talk with you about 
this." 

They went out to the car. The stranger as he went 
turned again to look back at the convict. He was a tall, 
powerfully built black fellow. His face was sullen, with 
a low forehead, thick, hanging lips, and bitter eyes. There 
was revolt written about his mouth despite the hang 
dog expression. He stood bending over his pile of 
stones, pounding listlessly. Beside him stood a boy of 
twelve, yellow, with a hunted, crafty look. The con 
vict raised his eyes and they met the eyes of the stranger. 
The hammer fell from his hands. 

The stranger turned slowly toward the automobile 
and the colonel introduced him. He had not exactly 
caught his name, but he mumbled something as he 



JESUS CHRIST IN TEXAS 125 

presented him to his wife and little girl, who were 
waiting. 

As they whirled away the colonel started to talk, but 
the stranger had taken the little girl into his lap and 
together they conversed in low tones all the way home. 

In some way, they did not exactly know how, they 
got the impression that the man was a teacher and, of 
course, he must be a foreigner. The long, cloak-like coat 
told this. They rode in the twilight through the lighted 
town and at last drew up before the colonel's mansion, 
with its ghost-like pillars. 

The lady in the back seat was thinking of the guests 
she had invited to dinner and was wondering if she ought 
not to ask this man to stay. He seemed cultured and she 
supposed he was some acquaintance of the colonel's. It 
would be rather interesting to have him there, with the 
judge's wife and daughter and the rector. She spoke 
almost before she thought : 

" You will enter and rest awhile ? " 

The colonel and the little girl insisted. For a moment 
the stranger seemed about to refuse. He said he had 
some business for his father, about town. Then for the 
child's sake he consented. 

Up the steps they went and into the dark parlor where 
they sat and talked a long time. It was a curious con 
versation. Afterwards they did not remember exactly 
what was said and yet they all remembered a certain 
strange satisfaction in that long, low talk. 

Finally the nurse came for the reluctant child and the 
hostess bethought herself: 

" We will have a cup of tea ; you will be dry and 
tired." 

She rang and switched on a blaze of light. With one 
accord they all looked at the stranger, for they had 
hardly seen him well in the glooming twilight. The 
woman started in amazement and the colonel half rose 
in anger. Why, the man was a mulatto, surely; even 



126 DARKWATER 

if he did not own the Negro blood, their practised eyes 
knew it. He was tall and straight and the coat looked 
like a Jewish gabardine. His hair hung in close curls 
far down the sides of his face and his face was olive, 
even yellow. 

A peremptory order rose to the colonel's lips and 
froze there as he caught the stranger's eyes. Those 
eyes, where had he seen those eyes before? He re 
membered them long years ago. The soft, tear-filled 
yes of a brown girl. He remembered many things, 
and his face grew drawn and white. Those eyes kept 
burning into him, even when they were turned half 
away toward the staircase, where the white figure of 
the child hovered with her nurse and waved good-night. 
The lady sank into her chair and thought : " What will 
the judge's wife say? How did the colonel come to 
invite this man here? How shall we be rid of him?" 
She looked at the colonel in reproachful consterna 
tion. 

Just then the door opened and the old butler came 
in. He was an ancient black man, with tufted white 
hair, and he held before him a large, silver tray filled 
with a china tea service. The stranger rose slowly and 
stretched forth his hands as if to bless the viands. The 
old man paused in bewilderment, tottered, and then 
with sudden gladness in his eyes dropped to his knees, 
and the tray crashed to the floor. 

" My Lord and my God ! " he whispered ; but the 
woman screamed : " Mother's china ! " 
The doorbell rang. 

" Heavens ! here is the dinner party ! " exclaimed the 
lady. She turned toward the door, but there in the 
hall, clad in her night clothes, was the little girl. She 
had stolen down the stairs to see the stranger again, 
and the nurse above was calling in vain. The woman 
felt hysterical and scolded at the nurse, but the stranger 
had stretched out his arms and with a glad cry the child 



JESUS CHRIST IN TEXAS 127 

nestled in them. They caught some words about the 
" Kingdom of Heaven " as he slowly mounted the stairs 
with his little, white burden. 

The mother was glad of anything to get rid of the 
interloper, even for a moment. The bell rang again 
and she hastened toward the door, which the loitering 
black maid was just opening. She did not notice the 
shadow of the stranger as he came slowly down the 
stairs and paused by the newel post, dark and silent. 

The judge's wife came in. She was an old woman, 
frilled and powdered into a semblance of youth, and 
gorgeously gowned. She came forward, smiling with 
extended hands, but when she was opposite the 
stranger, somewhere a chill seemed to strike her and she 
shuddered and cried : 

" What a draft ! " as she drew a silken shawl about 
her and shook hands cordially; she forgot to ask who 
the stranger was. The judge strode in unseeing, think 
ing of a puzzling case of theft. 

" Eh ? What ? Oh er yes, good evening," he said, 
" good evening." Behind them came a young woman 
in the glory of youth, and daintily silked, beautiful in 
face and form, with diamonds around her fair neck. 
She came in lightly, but stopped with a little gasp; 
then she laughed gaily and said: 

"Why, I beg your pardon. Was it not curious? I 
thought I saw there behind your man " she hesitated, 
but he must be a servant, she argued " the shadow of 
great, white wings. It was but the light on the drapery. 
What a turn it gave me." And she smiled again. With 
her came a tall, handsome, young naval officer. Hear 
ing his lady refer to the servant, he hardly looked at 
him, but held his gilded cap carelessly toward him, and 
the stranger placed it carefully on the rack. 

Last came the rector, a man of forty, and well- 
clothed. He started to pass the stranger, stopped, and 
looked at him inquiringly. 



128 DARKWATER 

" I beg your pardon," he said. " I beg your pardon, 
I think I have met you ? " 

The stranger made no answer, and the hostess nerv 
ously hurried the guests on. But the rector lingered 
and looked perplexed. 

" Surely, I know you. I have met you somewhere/* 
he said, putting his hand vaguely to his head. " You 
you remember me, do you not? " 

The stranger quietly swept his cloak aside, and to the 
hostess' unspeakable relief passed out of the door. 

" I never knew you," he said in low tones as he 
went. 

The lady murmured some vain excuse about in 
truders, but the rector stood with annoyance written on 
his face. 

" I beg a thousand pardons," he said to the hostess 
absently. " It is a great pleasure to be here, somehow 
I thought I knew that man. I am sure I knew him 
once." 

The stranger had passed down the steps, and as he 
passed, the nurse, lingering at the top of the staircase, 
flew down after him, caught his cloak, trembled, hesi 
tated, and then kneeled in the dust. 

He touched her lightly with his hand and said : " Go, 
and sin no more ! " 

With a glad cry the maid left the house, with its open 
door, and turned north, running. The stranger turned 
eastward into the night. As they parted a long, low 
howl rose tremulously and reverberated through the 
night. The colonel's wife within shuddered. 

" The bloodhounds ! " she said. 

The rector answered carelessly: 

" Another one of those convicts escaped, I suppose. 
Really, they need severer measures." Then he stopped. 
He was trying to remember that stranger's name. 

The judge's wife looked about for the draft and 
arranged her shawl. The girl glanced at the white 



JESUS CHRIST IN TEXAS 129 

drapery in the hall, but the young officer was bending 
over her and the fires of life burned in her veins. 

Howl after howl rose in the night, swelled, and died 
away. JE ne stranger strode rapidly along the highway 
and out into the deep forest. There he paused and 
stood waiting, tall and still. 

A mile up the road behind a man was running, tall 
and powerful and black, with crime-stained face and 
convicts' stripes upon him, and shackles on his legs. He 
ran and jumped, in little, short steps, and his chains 
rang. He fell and rose again, while the howl of the 
hounds rang louder behind him. 

Into the forest he leapt and crept and jumped and 
ran, streaming with sweat; seeing the tall form rise 
before him, he stopped suddenly, dropped his hands in 
sullen impotence, and sank panting to the earth. A 
greyhound shot out of the woods behind him, howled, 
whined, and fawned before the stranger's feet. Hound 
after hound bayed, leapt, and lay there; then silently, 
one by one, and with bowed heads, they crept backward 
toward the town. 

The stranger made a cup of his hands and gave the 
man water to drink, bathed his hot head, and gently 
took the chains and irons from his feet. By and by 
the convict stood up. Day was dawning above the 
treetops. He looked into the stranger's face, and for 
a moment a gladness swept over the stains of his face. 

" Why, you are a nigger, too," he said. 

Then the convict seemed anxious to justify himself. 

" I never had no chance/' he said furtively. 

" Thou shalt not steal," said the stranger. 

The man bridled. 

" But how about them ? Can they steal ? Didn't they 
steal a whole year's work, and then when I stole to 
keep from starving " He glanced at the stranger. 

" No, I didn't steal just to keep from starving. I 
stole to be stealing. I can't seem to keep from stealing. 



130 DARKWATER 

Seems like when I see things, I just must but, yes, I'll 
try!" 

The convict looked down at his striped clothes, but 
the stranger had taken off his long coat; he had put 
it around him and the stripes disappeared. 

In the opening morning the black man started toward 
the low, log farmhouse in the distance, while the 
stranger stood watching him. There was a new glory in 
the day. The black man's face cleared up, and the farmer 
was glad to get him. All day the black man worked 
as he had never worked before. The farmer gave him 
some cold food. 

" You can sleep in the barn," he said, and turned 
away. 

" How much do I git a day ? " asked the black man. 

The farmer scowled. 

" Now see here," said he. " If you'll sign a contract 
for the season, I'll give you ten dollars a month." 

" I won't sign no contract," said the black man dog 
gedly. 

" Yes, you will," said the farmer, threateningly, " or 
I'll call the convict guard." And he grinned. 

The convict shrank and slouched to the barn. As 
night fell he looked out and saw the farmer leave the 
place. Slowly he crept out and sneaked toward the 
house. He looked through the kitchen door. No one 
was there, but the supper was spread as if the mistress 
had laid it and gone out. He ate ravenously. Then 
he looked into the front room and listened. He could 
hear low voices on the porch. On the table lay a gold 
watch. He gazed at it, and in a moment he was beside 
it, his hands were on it! Quickly he slipped out of 
the house and slouched toward the field. He saw his 
employer coming along the highway. He fled back in 
terror and around to the front of the house, when 
suddenly he stopped. He felt the great, dark eyes of 
the stranger and saw the same dark, cloak-like coat 



JESUS CHRIST IN TEXAS 131 

where the stranger sat on the doorstep talking with the 
mistress of the house. Slowly, guiltily, he turned back 
entered the kitchen, and laid the watch stealthily where 
he had found it; then he rushed wildly back toward 
the stranger, with arms outstretched. 

The woman had laid supper for her husband, and 
going down from the house had walked out toward a 
neighbor's. She was gone but a little while, and when 
she came back she started to see a dark figure on the 
doorsteps under the tall, red oak. She thought it was 
the new Negro until he said in a soft voice: 

"Will you give me bread?" 

Reassured at the voice of a white man, she answered 
qukkly in her soft, Southern tones : 

" Why, certainly." 

She was a little woman, and once had been pretty; 
but now her face was drawn with work and care. She 
was nervous and always thinking, wishing, wanting 
for something. She went in and got him some corn- 
bread and a glass of cool, rich buttermilk; then she came 
out and sat down beside him. She began, quite uncon 
sciously, to tell him about herself, the things she had 
done and had not done and the things she had wished 
for. She told him of her husband and this new farm 
they were trying to buy. She said it was hard to get 
niggers to won , She said they ought all to be in the 
chain-gang and made to work. Even then some ran 
away. Only yeste day one had escaped, and another the 
day before. 

At last she gossiped of her neighbors, how good they 
were and how bad. 

" And do you like them all ? " asked the stranger. 

She hesitated. 

" Most of them," she said ; and then, looking up into 
his face and putting her hand into his, as though he were 
her father, she said: 

" There are none I hate ; no, none at all." 



132 DARKWATER 

He looked away, holding her hand in his, and said 
dreamily : 

" You love your neighbor as yourself ? " 

She hesitated. 

" I try " she began, and then looked the way he 

was looking; down under the hill where lay a little, half- 
ruined cabin. 

" They are niggers," she said briefly. 

He looked at her. Suddenly a confusion came over 
her and she insisted, she knew not why. 

" But they are niggers ! " 

With a sudden impulse she arose and hurriedly lighted 
the lamp that stood just within the door, and held it 
above her head. She saw his dark face and curly hair. 
She shrieked in angry terror and rushed down the path, 
and just as she rushed down, the black convict came 
running up with hands outstretched. They met in mid- 
path, and before he could stop he had run against her 
and she fell heavily to earth and lay white and still. Her 
husband came rushing around the house with a cry 
and an oath. 

" I knew it," he said. " It's that runaway nigger." 
He held the black man struggling to the earth and raised 
his voice to a yell. Down the highway came the con 
vict guard, with hound and mob and gun. They paused 
across the fields. The farmer motione<i to them. 

" He attacked my wife," he gasped. 

The mob snarled and worked silently. Right to the 
limb of the red oak they hoisted the struggling, writhing 
black man, while others lifted the aazed woman. Right 
and left, as she tottered to the house, she searched for 
the stranger with a yearning, but the stranger was gone. 
And she told none of her guests. 

" No no, I want nothing," she insisted, until they 
left her, as they thought, asleep. For a time she lay 
still, listening to the departure of the mob. Then she 
rose. She shuddered as she heard the creaking of the 



JESUS CHRIST IN TEXAS 133 

limb where the body hung. But resolutely she crawled 
to the window and peered out into the moonlight; she 
saw the dead man writhe. He stretched his arms out 
like a cross, looking upward. She gasped and clung 
to the window sill. Behind the swaying body, and 
down where the little, half -ruined cabin lay, a single 
flame flashed up amid the far-off shout and cry of the 
mob. A fierce joy sobbed up through the terror in her 
soul and then sank abashed as she watched the flame 
rise. Suddenly whirling into one great crimson column 
it shot to the top of the sky and threw great arms 
athwart the gloom until above the world and behind 
the roped and swaying form below hung quivering and 
burning a great crimson cross. 

She hid her dizzy, aching head in an agony of tears, 
and dared not look, for she knew. Her dry lips moved : 

" Despised and rejected of men." 

She knew, and the very horror of it lifted her dull 
and shrinking eyelids. There, heaven-tall, earth-wide, 
hung the stranger on the crimson cross, riven and blood 
stained, with thorn-crowned head and pierced hands. She 
stretched her arms and shrieked. 

He did not hear. He did not see. His calm dark 
eyes, all sorrowful, were fastened on the writhing, twist 
ing body of the thief, and a voice came out of the winds 
of the night, saying: 

" This day thou shalt be with me in Paradise ! " 



VI 
OF THE RULING OF MEN 

THE ruling of men is the effort to direct the individual 
actions of many persons toward some end. This end 
theoretically should be the greatest good of all, but 
no human group has ever reached this ideal because 
of ignorance and selfishness. The simplest object 
would be rule for the Pleasure of One, namely the 
Ruler; or of the Few his favorites; or of many the 
Rich, the Privileged, the Powerful. Democratic 
movements inside groups and nations are always tak 
ing place and they are the efforts to increase the 
number of beneficiaries of the ruling. In i8th cen 
tury Europe, the effort became so broad and sweep 
ing that an attempt was made at universal expression 
and the philosophy of the movement said that if All 
ruled they would rule for All and thus Universal Good 
was sought through Universal Suffrage. 

The unrealized difficulty of this program lay in the 
widespread ignorance. The mass of men, even of 
the more intelligent men, not only knew little about 
each other but less about the action of men in groups 
and the technique of industry in general. They could 
only apply universal suffrage, therefore, to the things 
they knew or knew partially : they knew personal and 
menial service, individual craftsmanship, agriculture 

134 



OF THE RULING OF MEN 135 

and barter, taxes or the taking of private property 
for public ends and the rent of land. With these 
matters then they attempted to deal. Under the cry 
of " Freedom " they greatly relaxed the grip of selfish 
interests by restricting menial service, securing the 
right of property in handiwork and regulating public 
taxes; distributing land ownership and freeing trade 
and barter. 

While they were doing this against stubborn re 
sistance, a whole new organization of work suddenly 
appeared. The suddenness of this " Industrial Revo 
lution " of the igth century was partly fortuitous 
in the case of Watt's teakettle partly a natural de 
velopment, as in the matter of spinning, but largely 
the determination of powerful and intelligent individ 
uals to secure the benefits of privileged persons, as 
in the case of foreign slave trade. 

The result was on the one hand a vast and un 
exampled development of industry. Life and civili 
zation in the late iQth and early 2Oth century were 
Industry in its whole conception, language, and ac 
complishment : the object of life was to make goods. 
Now before this giant aspect of things, the new 
democracy stood aghast and impotent. It could not 
rule because it did not understand : an invincible king 
dom of trade, business, and commerce ruled the world, 
and before its threshold stood the Freedom of i8th 
century philosophy warding the way. Some of the 
very ones who were freed from the tyranny of the 
Middle Age became the tyrants of the industrial age. 

There came a reaction. Men sneered at " democ- 



i 3 6 DARKWATER 

racy " and politics, and brought forth Fate and Philan- 
/ thropy to rule the world Fate which gave divine 
right to rule to the Captains of Industry and their 
created Millionaires; Philanthropy which organized 
vast schemes of relief to stop at least the flow of 
blood in the vaster wounds which industry was 
making. 

It was at this time that the lowest laborers, who 
worked hardest, got least and suffered most, began 
to mutter and rebel, and among these were the Amer 
ican Negroes. Lions have no historians, and there 
fore lion hunts are thrilling and satisfactory human 
reading. Negroes had no bards, and therefore it has 
been widely told how American philanthropy freed 
the slave. In truth the Negro revolted by armed re 
bellion, by sullen refusal to work, by poison and mur 
der, by running away to the North and Canada, by 
giving point and powerful example to the agitation 
of the abolitionists and by furnishing 200,000 soldiers 
and many times as many civilian helpers in the Civil 
War. This war was not a war for Negro freedom, 
but a duel between two industrial systems, one of 
which was bound to fail because it was an anachron 
ism, and the other bound to succeed because of the 
Industrial Revolution. 

When now the Negro was freed the Philanthropists 
sought to apply to his situation the Philosophy of 
Democracy handed down from the i8th century. 

There was a chance here to try democratic rule 
in a new way, that is, against the new industrial op 
pression with a mass of workers who were not yet 



OF THE RULING OF MEN 137 

in its control. With plenty of land widely distributed, 
staple products like cotton, rice, and sugar cane, and 
a thorough system of education, there was a unique 
chance to realize a new modern democracy in industry 
in the southern United States which would point 
the way to the world. This, too, if done by black folk, 
would have tended to a new unity of human beings 
and an obliteration of human hatreds festering along 
the color line. 

Efforts were begun. The I4th and I5th amend 
ments gave the right to vote to white and black la 
borers, and they immediately established a public 
school system and began to attack the land question. 
The United States government was seriously consider 
ing the distribution of land and capital " 40 acres 
and a mule " and the price of cotton opened an easy 
way to economic independence. Co-operative move 
ments began on a large scale. 

But alas! Not only were the former slave-owners 
solidly arrayed against this experiment, but the owners 
of the industrial North saw disaster in any such be 
ginnings of industrial democracy. The opposition 
based its objections on the color line, and Recon 
struction became in history a great movement for the 
self-assertion of the white race against the impudent 
ambition of degraded blacks, instead of, in truth, the 
rise of a mass of black and white laborers. 

The result was the disfranchisement of the blacks 
of the South and a world-wide attempt to restrict 
democratic development to white races and to dis 
tract them with race hatred against the darker races. 



138 DARKWATER 

This program, however, although it undoubtedly 
helped raise the scale of white labor, in much greater 
proportion put wealth and power in the hands of the 
great European Captains of Industry and made mod 
ern industrial imperialism possible. 

This led to renewed efforts on the part of white 
European workers to understand and apply their po 
litical power to its reform through democratic con 
trol. 

Whether known as Communism or Socialism or 
what not, these efforts are neither new nor strange 
nor terrible, but world-old and seeking an absolutely 
justifiable human ideal the only ideal that can be 
sought: the direction of individual action in industry 
so as to secure the greatest good of all. Marxism was 
one method of accomplishing this, and its panacea 
was the doing away with private property in machines 
and materials. Two mighty attacks were made on 
this proposal. One was an attack on the fundamental 
democratic foundation: modern European white in 
dustry does not even theoretically seek the good of 
all, but simply of all Europeans. This attack was 
virtually unanswered indeed some Socialists openly 
excluded Negroes and Asiatics from their scheme. 
From this it was easy to drift into that form of 
syndicalism which asks socialism for the skilled 
laborer only and leaves the common laborer in his 
bonds. 

This throws us back on fundamentals. It compels 
us again to examine the roots of democracy. 

Who may be excluded from a share in the ruling 



OF THE RULING OF MEN 139 

of men? Time and time again the world has an 
swered : 



The Ignorant 
The Inexperienced 
The Guarded 
The Unwilling 

That is, we have assumed that only the intelligent 
should vote, or those who know how to rule men, or 
those who are not under benevolent guardianship, or 
those who ardently desire the right. 

These restrictions are not arguments for the wide 
distribution of the ballot they are rather reasons for 
restriction addressed to the self-interest of the present 
real rulers. We say easily, for instance, " The igno 
rant ought not to vote." We would say, " No civilized 
state should have citizens too ignorant to participate 
in government," and this statement is but a step to 
the fact: that no state is civilized which has citizens 
too ignorant to help rule it. Or, in other words, ed 
ucation is not a prerequisite to political control -polit 
ical control is the cause of popular education. 

Again, to make experience a qualification for the 
franchise is absurd: it would stop the spread of de 
mocracy and make political power hereditary, a pre 
requisite of a class, caste, race, or sex. It has of course 
been soberly argued that only white folk or English 
men, or men, are really capable of exercising sovereign 
power in a modern state. The statement proves too 
much: only yesterday it was Englishmen of high de- 



i 4 o DARKWATER 

scent, or men of " blood/' or sovereigns " by divine 
right " who could rule. Today the civilized world 
is being ruled by the descendants of persons who a 
century ago were pronounced incapable of ever devel 
oping a self-ruling people. In every modern state 
there must come to the polls every generation, and 
indeed every year, men who are inexperienced in the 
solutions of the political problems that confront them 
and who must experiment in methods of ruling men. 
Thus and thus only will civilization grow. 

Again, what is this theory of benevolent guardian 
ship for women, for the masses, for Negroes for 
" lesser breeds without the law " ? It is simply the 
old cry of privilege, the old assumption that there are 
those in the world who know better what is best for 
others than those others know themselves, and who 
can be trusted to do this best. 

In fact no one knows himself but that self's own 
soul. The vast and wonderful knowledge of this mar 
velous universe is locked in the bosoms of its indi 
vidual souls. To tap this mighty reservoir of ex 
perience, knowledge, beauty, love, and deed we must 
appeal not to the few, not to some souls, but to all. 
The narrower the appeal, the poorer the culture; the 
wider the appeal the more magnificent are the possi 
bilities. Infinite is human nature. We make it finite 
by choking back the mass of men, by attempting to 
speak for others, to interpret and act for them, and 
we end by acting for ourselves and using the world 
as our private property. If this were all, it were 
crime enough but it is not all : by our ignorance we 



OF THE RULING OF MEN 141 

make the creation of the greater world impossible; 
we beat back a world built of the playing of dogs 
and laughter of children, the song of Black Folk and 
worship of Yellow, the love of women and strength 
of men, and try to express by a group of doddering 
ancients the Will of the World. 

There are people who insist upon regarding the 
franchise, not as a necessity for the many, but as a 
privilege for the few. They say of persons and 
classes: "They do not need the ballot." This is 
often said of women. It is argued that everything 
which women with the ballot might do for themselves 
can be done for them; that they have influence and 
friends " at court," and that their enfranchisement 
would simply double the number of ballots. So, too, 
we are told that American Negroes can have done for 
them by other voters all that they could possibly do 
for themselves with the ballot and much more be 
cause the white voters are more intelligent. 

Further than this, it is argued that many of the 
disfranchised people recognize these facts. " Women 
do not want the ballot" has been a very effective 
counter war-cry, so much so that many men have 
taken refuge in the declaration : " When they want to 

vote, why, then " So, too, we are continually 

told that the " best " Negroes stay out of politics. 

Such arguments show so curious a misapprehen 
sion of the foundation of the argument for democracy 
that the argument must be continually restated and 
emphasized. We must remember that if the theory 
of democracy is correct, the right to vote is not merely 



142 DARKWATER 

a privilege, not simply a method of meeting the needs 
of a particular group, and least of all a matter of 
recognized want or desire. Democracy is a method of 
realizing the broadest measure of justice to all human 
beings. The world has, in the past, attempted various 
methods of attaining this end, most of which can be 
summed up in three categories: 

The method of the benevolent tyrant. 
The method of the select few. 
The method of the excluded groups. 

The method of intrusting the government of a 
people to a strong ruler has great advantages when 
the ruler combines strength with ability, unselfish de 
votion to the public good, and knowledge of what 
that good calls for. Such a combination is, however, 
rare and the selection of the right ruler is very diffi 
cult. To leave the selection to force is to put a pre 
mium on physical strength, chance, and intrigue; to 
make the selection a matter of birth simply transfers 
the real power from sovereign to minister. Inevit 
ably the choice of rulers must fall on electors. 

Then comes the problem, who shall elect. The 
earlier answer was : a select few, such as the wise, the 
best born, the able. Many people assume that it was 
corruption that made such aristocracies fail. By no 
means. The best and most effective aristocracy, like 
the best monarchy, suffered from lack of knowledge. 
The rulers did not know or understand the needs of 
the people and they could not fijad out, for in the 



OF THE RULING OF MEN 143 

last analysis only the man himself, however humble, 
knows his own condition. He may not know how to 
remedy it, he may not realize just what is the matter; 
but he knows when something hurts and he alone 
knows how that hurt feels. Or if sunk below feeling 
or comprehension or complaint, he does not even know 
that he is hurt, God help his country, for it not only 
lacks knowledge, but has destroyed the sources of 
knowledge. 

So soon as a nation discovers that it holds in the 
heads and hearts of its individual citizens the vast 
mine of knowledge, out of which it may build a 
just government, then more and more it calls those 
citizens to select their rulers and to judge the justice of 
their acts. 

Even here, however, the temptation is to ask only 
for the wisdom of citizens of a certain grade or those 
of recognized worth. Continually some classes are 
tacitly or expressly excluded. Thus women have been 
excluded from modern democracy because of the per 
sistent theory of female subjection and because it was 
argued that their husbands or other male folks would 
look to their interests. Now, manifestly, most hus 
bands, fathers, and brothers, will, so far as they know 
how or as they realize women's needs, look after 
them. But remember the foundation of the argument, 
^-that in the last analysis only the sufferer knows his 
.sufferings and that no state can be strong which 
.excludes from its expressed wisdom the knowledge 
possessed by mothers, wives, and daughters. We have 
jbut to view the unsatisfactory relations of the sexes 



144 DARKWATER 

the world over and the problem of children to realize 
how desperately we need this excluded wisdom. 

The same arguments apply to other excluded groups : 
if a race, like the Negro race, is excluded, then so 
far as that race is a part of the economic and social 
organization of the land, the feeling and the experi 
ence of that race are absolutely necessary to the reali 
zation of the broadest justice for all citizens. Or if 
the " submerged tenth " be excluded, then again, there 
is lost from the world an experience of untold value, 
and they must be raised rapidly to a place where they 
can speak for themselves. In the same way and for 
the same reason children must be educated, insanity 
prevented, and only those put under the guardianship 
of others who can in no way be trained to speak for 
themselves. 

The real argument for democracy is, then, that in 
the people we have the source of that endless life and 
unbounded wisdom which the rulers of men must 
have. A given people today may not be intelligent, 
but through a democratic government that recognizes, 
not only the worth of the individual to himself, but 
the worth of his feelings and experiences to all, they 
can educate, not only the individual unit, but genera 
tion after generation, until they accumulate vast stores 
of wisdom. Democracy alone is the method of show 
ing the whole experience of the race for the benefit 
of the future and if democracy tries to exclude women 
or Negroes or the poor or any class because of innate 
characteristics which do not interfere with intelligence, 
then that democracy cripples itself and belies its name. 



OF THE RULING OF MEN 145 

From this point of view we can easily see the weak 
ness and strength of current criticism of extension of 
the ballot. It is the business of a modern government 
to see to it, first, that the number of ignorant within 
its bounds is reduced to the very smallest number. 
Again, it is the duty of every such government to ex 
tend as quickly as possible the number of persons of 
mature age who can vote. Such possible voters 
must be regarded, not as sharers of a limited treas 
ure, but as sources of new national wisdom and 
strength. 

The addition of the new wisdom, the new points of 
view, and the new interests must, of course, be from 
time to time bewildering and confusing. Today those 
who have a voice in the body politic have expressed 
their wishes and sufferings. The result has been a 
smaller or greater balancing of their conflicting in 
terests. The appearance of new interests and com 
plaints means disarrangement and confusion to the 
older equilibrium. It is, of course, the inevitable pre 
liminary step to that larger equilibrium in which the 
interests of no human soul will be neglected. These 
interests will not, surely, be all fully realized, but 
they will be recognized and given as full weight as 
the conflicting interests will allow. The problem of 
government thereafter would be to reduce the neces 
sary conflict of human interests to the minimum. 

From such a point of view one easily sees the 
strength of the demand for the ballot on the part of 
certain disfranchised classes. When women ask for 
the ballot, they are asking, not for a privilege, but 



146 DARKWATER 

for a necessity. You may not see the necessity, you 
may easily argue that women do not need to vote. 
Indeed, the women themselves in considerable numbers 
may agree with you. Nevertheless, women do need 
the ballot. They need it to right the balance of a 
world sadly awry because of its brutal neglect of the 
rights of women and children. With the best will 
and knowledge, no man can know women's wants as 
well as women themselves. To disfranchise women 
is deliberately to turn from knowledge and grope in 
ignorance. 

So, too, with American Negroes: the South con 
tinually insists that a benevolent guardianship of whites 
over blacks is the ideal thing. They assume that white 
people not only know better what Negroes need than 
Negroes themselves, but that they are anxious to sup 
ply these needs. As a result they grope in ignorance 
and helplessness. They cannot " understand " the 
Negro; they cannot protect him from cheating and 
lynching; and, in general, instead of loving guardian 
ship we see anarchy and exploitation. If the Negro 
could speak for himself in the South instead of be 
ing spoken for, if he could defend himself instead of 
having to depend on the chance sympathy of white 
citizens, how much healthier a growth of democracy 
the South would have. 

So, too, with the darker races of the world. No 
federation of the world, no true inter-nation can ex 
clude the black and brown and yellow races from its 
counsels. They must equally and according to number 
act and be heard at the world's council. 



OF THE RULING OF MEN 147 

It is not, for a moment, to be assumed that en 
franchising women will not cost something. It will 
for many years confuse our politics. It may even 
change the present status of family life. It will admit 
to the ballot thousands of inexperienced persons, un 
able to vote intelligently. Above all, it will interfere 
with some of the present prerogatives of men and 
probably for some time to come annoy them con 
siderably. 

So, too, Negro enfranchisement meant reconstruc 
tion, with its theft and bribery and incompetency as 
well as its public schools and enlightened, social legisla 
tion. It would mean today that black men in the 
South would have to be treated with consideration, 
have their wishes respected and their manhood rights 
recognized. Every white Southerner, who wants peons 
beneath him, who believes in hereditary menials and a 
privileged aristocracy, or who hates certain races be 
cause of their characteristics, would resent this. 

Notwithstanding this, if America is ever to become 
a government built on the broadest justice to every 
citizen, then every citizen must be enfranchised. There 
may be temporary exclusions, until the ignorant and 
their children are taught, or to avoid too sudden an 
influx of inexperienced voters. But such exclusions 
can be but temporary if justice is to prevail. 

The principle of basing all government on the con 
sent of the governed is undenied and undeniable. 
Moreover, the method of modern democracy has placed 
within reach of the modern state larger reserves of 
efficiency, ability, and even genius than the ancient or 



148 DARKWATER 

mediaeval state dreamed of. That this great work of 
the past can be carried further among all races and 
nations no one can reasonably doubt. 

Great as are our human differences and capabilities 
there is not the slightest scientific reason for assum 
ing that a given human being of any race or sex can 
not reach normal, human development if he is granted 
a reasonable chance. This is, of course, denied. It 
is denied so volubly and so frequently and with such 
positive conviction that the majority of unthinking 
people seem to assume that most human beings are not 
human and have no right to human treatment or hu 
man opportunity. All this goes to prove that human 
beings are, and must be, woefully ignorant of each 
other. It always startles us to find folks thinking 
like ourselves. We do not really associate with each 
other, we associate with our ideas of each other, and 
few people have either the ability or courage to ques 
tion their own ideas. None have more persistently 
and dogmatically insisted upon the inherent inferior 
ity of women than the men with whom they come in 
closest contact. It is the husbands, brothers, and 
sons of women whom it has been most difficult to in 
duce to consider women seriously or to acknowledge 
that women have rights which men are bound to 
respect. So, too, it is those people who live in closest 
contact with black folk who have most unhesitatingly 
asserted the utter impossibility of living beside Ne 
groes who are not industrial or political slaves or 
social pariahs. All this proves that none are so blind 
as those nearest the thing seen, while, on the other 



OF THE RULING OF MEN 149 

hand, the history of the world is the history of the 
discovery of the common humanity of human beings 
among steadily-increasing circles of men. 

If the foundations of democracy are thus seen to 
be sound, how are we going to make democracy ef 
fective where it now fails to function particularly 
in industry? The Marxists assert that industrial de 
mocracy will automatically follow public ownership of 
machines and materials. Their opponents object that 
nationalization of machines and materials would not 
suffice because the mass of people do not understand 
the industrial process. They do not know: 

What to do 

How to do it 

Who could do it best 

or 
How to apportion the resulting goods. 

There can be no doubt but that monopoly of ma 
chines and materials is a chief source of the power of 
industrial tyrants over the common worker and that 
monopoly today is due as much to chance and cheat 
ing as to thrift and intelligence. So far as it is 
due to chance and cheating, the argument for public 
ownership of capital is incontrovertible even though 
it involves some interference with long vested rights 
and inheritance. This is being widely recognized in 
the whole civilized world. But how about the accu 
mulation of goods due to thrift and intelligence 
would democracy in industry interfere here to such 



150 DARKWATER 

an extent as to discourage enterprise and make im 
possible the intelligent direction of the mighty and 
intricate industrial process of modern times? 

The knowledge of what to do in industry and how 
to do it in order to attain the resulting goods rests in 
the hands and brains of the workers and managers, 
and the judges of the result are the public. Conse 
quently it is not so much a questien as to whether the 
world will admit democratic control here as how can 
such control be long avoided when the people once 
understand the fundamentals of industry. How can 
civilization persist in letting one person or a group 
of persons, by secret inherent power, determine what 
goods shall be made whether bread or champagne, 
overcoats or silk socks ? Can so vast a power be kept 
from the people? 

But it may be opportunely asked: has our experi 
ence in electing public officials led us to think that we 
could run railways, cotton mills, and department stores 
by popular vote? The answer is clear: no, it has not, 
and the reason has been lack of interest in politics 
and the tyranny of the Majority. Politics have not 
touched the matters of daily life which are nearest the 
interests of the people namely, work and wages; or 
if they have, they have touched it obscurely and in 
directly. When voting touches the vital, everyday in 
terests of all, nominations and elections will call for 
more intelligent activity. Consider too the vast un 
used and misused power of public rewards to obtain 
ability and genius for the service of the state. If 
millionaires can buy science and art, cannot the Demo- 



OF THE RULING OF MEN 151 

cratic state outbid them not only with money but with 
the vast ideal of the common weal? 

There still remains, however, the problem of the 
Majority. 

What is the cause of the undoubted reaction and 
alarm that the citizens of democracy continually feel? 
It is, I am sure, the failure to feel the full significance 
of the change of rule from a privileged minority to 
that of an omnipotent majority, and the assumption 
that mere majority rule is the last word of govern 
ment; that majorities have no responsibilities, that 
they rule by the grace of God. Granted that govern 
ment should be based on the consent of the governed, 
does the consent of a majority at any particular time 
adequately express the consent of all? Has the mi 
nority, even though a small and unpopular and un 
fashionable minority, no right to respectful consid 
eration ? 

I remember that excellent little high school text 
book, " NordhofFs Politics/' where I first read of gov 
ernment, saying this sentence at the beginning of its 
most important chapter: "The first duty of a mi 
nority is to become a majority." This is a state 
ment which has its underlying truth, but it also has 
its dangerous falsehood; viz., any minority which can 
not become a majority is not worthy of any considera 
tion. But suppose that the out-voted minority is 
necessarily always a minority ? Women, for instance, 
can seldom expect to be a majority; artists must al 
ways be the few; ability is always rare, and black 
folk in this land are but a tenth. Yet to tyrannize 



152 DARKWATER 

over such minorities, to browbeat and insult them, to 
call that government a democracy which makes ma 
jority votes an excuse for crushing ideas and individu 
ality and self -development, is manifestly a peculiarly 
dangerous perversion of the real democratic ideal. It 
is right here, in its method and not in its object, that 
democracy in America and elsewhere has so often 
failed. We have attempted to enthrone any chance 
majority and make it rule by divine right. We have 
kicked and cursed minorities as upstarts and usurpers 
when their sole offense lay in not having ideas or hair 
like ours. Efficiency, ability, and genius found often 
no abiding place in such a soil as this. Small wonder 
that revolt has come and high-handed methods are 
rife, of pretending that policies which we favor or per 
sons that we like have the anointment of a purely 
imaginary majority vote. 

; Are the methods of such a revolt wise, howsoever 
great the provocation and evil may be? If the abso 
lute monarchy of majorities is galling and inefficient, 
is it any more inefficient than the absolute monarchy 
of individuals or privileged classes have been found to 
be in the past ? Is the appeal from a numerous-minded 
despot to a smaller, privileged group or to one man 
likely to remedy matters permanently? Shall we step 
backward a thousand years because our present prob 
lem is baffling? 

Surely not and surely, too, the remedy for absolut 
ism lies in calling these same minorities to council. 
As the king-in-council succeeded the king by the grace 
of God, so in future democracies the toleration and 



OF THE RULING OF MEN 153 

encouragement of minorities and the willingness to 
consider as " men " the crankiest, humblest and poor 
est and blackest peoples, must be the real key to the 
consent of the governed. Peoples and governments 
will not in the future assume that because they have 
the brute power to enforce momentarily dominant 
ideas, it is best to do so without thoughtful con 
ference with the ideas of smaller groups and individu 
als. Proportionate representation in physical and 
spiritual form must come. 

That this method is virtually coming in vogue we 
can see by the minority groups of modern legislatures. 
Instead of the artificial attempts to divide all possible 
ideas and plans between two great parties, modern 
legislatures in advanced nations tend to develop smaller 
and smaller minority groups, while government is car 
ried on by temporary coalitions. For a time we in 
veighed against this and sought to consider it a per 
version of the only possible method of practical de 
mocracy. Today we are gradually coming to realize 
that government by temporary coalition of small and 
diverse groups may easily become the most efficient 
method of expressing the will of man and of setting 
the human soul free. The only hindrance to the 
faster development of this government by allied mi 
norities is the fear of external war which is used 
again and again to melt these living, human, thinking 
groups into inhuman, thoughtless, and murdering ma 
chines. 

The persons, then, who come forward in the dawn 
of the 20th century to help in the ruling of men 



154 DARKWATER 

must come with the firm conviction that no nation, 
race, or sex, has a monopoly of ability or ideas; that 
no human group is so small as to deserve to be ig 
nored as a part, and as an integral and respected part, 
of the mass of men; that, above all, no group of 
twelve million black folk, even though they are at the 
physical mercy of a hundred million white majority, 
can be deprived of a voice in their government and 
of the right to self -development without a blow at 
the very foundations of all democracy and all hu 
man uplift; that the very criticism aimed today at 
universal suffrage is in reality a demand for power 
on the part of consciously efficient minorities, but 
these minorities face a fatal blunder when they as 
sume that less democracy will give them and their 
kind greater efficiency. However desperate the temp 
tation, no modern nation can shut the gates of oppor 
tunity in the face of its women, its peasants, its la 
borers, or its socially damned. How astounded the 
future world-citizen will be to know that as late as 
1918 great and civilized nations were making des 
perate endeavor to confine the development of ability 
and individuality to one sex, that is, to one-half of 
the nation; and he will probably learn that similar 
effort to confine humanity to one race lasted a hundred 
years longer. 

The doctrine of the divine right of majorities leads 
to almost humorous insistence on a dead level of medi 
ocrity. It demands that all people be alike or that they 
be ostracized. At the same time its greatest accusa 
tion against rebels is this same desire to be alike : the 



OF THE RULING OF MEN 155 

suffragette is accused of wanting to be a man, the so 
cialist is accused of envy of the rich, and the black 
man is accused of wanting to be white. That any one 
of these should simply want to be himself is to the 
average worshiper of the majority inconceivable, and 
yet of all worlds, may the good Lord deliver us from 
a world where everybody looks like his neighbor and 
thinks like his neighbor and is like his neighbor. 

The world has long since awakened to a realization 
of the evil which a privileged few may exercise over 
the majority of a nation. So vividly has this truth 
been brought home to us that we have lightly assumed 
that a privileged and enfranchised majority cannot 
equally harm a nation. Insane, wicked, and wasteful 
as the tyranny of the few over the many may be, it 
is not more dangerous than the tyranny of the many 
over the few. Brutal physical revolution can, and 
usually does, end the tyranny of the few. But the 
spiritual losses from suppressed minorities may be 
vast and fatal and yet all unknown and unrealized 
because idea and dream and ability are paralyzed by 
brute force. 

If, now, we have a democracy with no excluded 
groups, with all men and women enfranchised, what 
is such a democracy to do? How will it function? 
What will be its field of work? 

The paradox which faces the civilized world today 
is that democratic control is everywhere limited in 
its control of human interests. Mankind is engaged 
in planting, forestry, and mining, preparing food and 
shelter, making clothes and machines, transporting 



156 DARKWATER 

goods and folk, disseminating news, distributing 
products, doing public and private personal service, 
teaching, advancing science, and creating art. 

In this intricate whirl of activities, the theory of 
government has been hitherto to lay down only very 
general rules of conduct, marking the limits of ex 
treme anti-social acts, like fraud, theft, and murder. 

The theory was that within these bounds was Free 
dom the Liberty to think and do and move as one 
wished. The real realm of freedom was found in 
experience to be much narrower than this in one 
direction and much broader in another. In matters 
of Truth and Faith and Beauty, the Ancient Law 
was inexcusably strait and modern law unforgivably 
stupid. It is here that the future and mighty fight 
for Freedom must and will be made. Here in the 
heavens and on the mountaintops, the air of Free 
dom is wide, almost limitless, for here, in the highest 
stretches, individual freedom harms no man, and, 
therefore, no man has the right to limit it. 

On the other hand, in the valleys of the hard, un 
yielding laws of matter and the social necessities of 
time production, and human intercourse, the limits on 
our freedom are stern and unbending if we would 
exist and thrive. This does not say that everything 
here is governed by incontrovertible " natural " law 
which needs no human decision as to raw materials, 
machinery, prices, wages, news-dissemination, educa 
tion of children, etc.; but it does mean that decisions 
here must be limited by brute facts and based on 
science and human wants. 



OF THE RULING OF MEN 157 

Today the scientific and ethical boundaries of our 
industrial activities are not in the hands of scientists, 
teachers, and thinkers; nor is the intervening oppor 
tunity for decision left in the control of the public 
whose welfare such decisions guide. On the contrary, 
the control of industry is largely in the hands of a 
powerful few, who decide for their own good and 
regardless of the good of others. The making of the 
rules of Industry, then, is not in the hands of All, 
but in the hands of the Few. The Few who govern 
industry envisage, not the wants of mankind, but 
their own wants. They work quietly, often secretly, 
opposing Law, on the one hand, as interfering with 
the "freedom of industry"; opposing, on the other 
hand, free discussion and open determination of the 
rules of work and wealth and wages, on the ground 
that harsh natural law brooks no interference by De 
mocracy. 

These things today, then, are not matters of free 
discussion and determination. They are strictly con 
trolled. Who controls them? Who makes these in 
ner, but powerful, rules? Few people know. Others 
assert and believe these rules are " natural " a part 
of our inescapable physical environment. Some of 
them doubtless are; but most of them are just as 
clearly the dictates of self-interest laid down by the 
powerful private persons who today control industry. 
Just here it is that modern men demand that Democ 
racy supplant skilfully concealed, but all too evident, 
Monarchy. 

In industry, monarchy and the aristocracy rule, 



158 DARKWATER 

and there are those who, calling themselves democratic, 
believe that democracy can never enter here. Indus 
try, they maintain, is a matter of technical knowl 
edge and ability, and, therefore, is the eternal heri 
tage of the few. They point to the failure of attempts 
at democratic control in industry, just as we used to 
point to Spanish-American governments, and they 
expose, not simply the failures of Russian Soviets, 
they fly to arms to prevent that greatest experiment 
in industrial democracy which the world has yet seen. 
These are the ones who say: We must control labor 
or civilization will fail; we must control white labor 
in Europe and America; above all, we must control 
yellow labor in Asia and black labor in Africa and 
the South, else we shall have no tea, or rubber, or 
cotton. And yet, and yet is it so easy to give up the 
dream of democracy? Must industry rule men or 
may men rule even industry? And unless men rule 
industry, can they ever hope really to make laws or 
educate children or create beauty? 

That the problem of the democratization of indus 
try is tremendous, let no man deny. We must spread 
that sympathy and intelligence which tolerates the 
widest individual freedom despite the necessary pub 
lic control; we must learn to select for public office 
ability rather than mere affability. We must stand 
ready to defer to knowledge and science and judge by 
result rather than by method; and finally we must 
face the fact that the final distribution of goods 
the question of wages and income is an ethical and 
not a mere mechanical problem and calls for grave 



OF THE RULING OF MEN 159 

public human judgment and not secrecy and closed 
doors. All this means time and development. It 
comes not complete by instant revolution of a day, 
nor yet by the deferred evolution of a thousand years 
it comes daily, bit by bit and step by step, as men and 
women learn and grow and as children are trained in 
Truth. 

These steps are in many cases clear: the careful, 
steady increase of public democratic ownership of in 
dustry, beginning with the simplest type of public 
utilities and monopolies, and extending gradually as 
we learn the way; the use of taxation to limit in 
heritance and to take the unearned increment for public 
use beginning (but not ending) with a " single tax " on 
monopolized land values; the training of the public in 
business technique by co-operation in buying and sell 
ing, and in industrial technique by the shop committee 
and manufacturing guild. 

But beyond all this must come the Spirit the Will to 
Human Brotherhood of all Colors, Races, and Creeds ; 
the Wanting of the Wants of All. Perhaps the finest 
contribution of current Socialism to the world is neither 
its light nor its dogma, but the idea back of its one 
mighty word Comrade ! 



The Call 

In the Land of the Heavy Laden came once a dreary 
day. And the King, who sat upon the Great White 
Throne, raised his eyes and saw afar off how the hills 
around were hot with hostile feet and the sound of the 
mocking of his enemies struck anxiously on the King's 
ears, for the King loved his enemies. So the King lifted 
up his hand in the glittering silence and spake softly, 
saying: "Call the Servants of the King." Then the 
herald stepped before the armpost of the throne, and 
cried : " Thus saith the High and Mighty One, who 
inhabiteth Eternity, whose name is Holy, the Servants 
of the King!" 

Now, of the servants of the king there were a hundred 
and forty-four thousand, tried men and brave, brawny 
of arm and quick of wit; aye, too, and women of wis 
dom and women marvelous in beauty and grace. And 
yet on this drear day when the King called, their ears 
were thick with the dust of the enemy, their eyes were 
blinded with the flashing of his spears, and they hid 
their faces in dread silence and moved not, even at the 
King's behest. So the herald called again. And the 
servants cowered in very shame, but none came forth. 
But the third blast of the herald struck upon a woman's 
heart, afar. And the woman straightway left her baking 
and sweeping and the rattle of pans; and the woman 
straightway left her chatting and gossiping and the sew 
ing of garments, and the woman stood before the King, 
saying : " The servant of thy servants, O Lord." 

Then the King smiled, smiled wondrously, so that 
the setting sun burst through the clouds, and the hearts 
of the King's men dried hard within them. And the 

161 



162 DARKWATER 

low-voiced King said, so low that even they that lis 
tened heard not well : " Go, smite me mine enemies, that 
they cease to do evil in my sight." And the woman 
quailed and trembled. Three times she lifted her eyes 
unto the hills and saw the heathen whirling onward in 
their rage. And seeing, she shrank three times she 
shrank and crept to the King's feet. 

"O King," she cried, "I am but a woman." 
And the King answered : " Go, then, Mother of Men." 
And the woman said, " Nay, King, but I am still a 
maid." Whereat the King cried : " O maid, made Man, 
thou shalt be Bride of God." 

And yet the third time the woman shrank at the thun 
der in her ears, and whispered : " Dear God, I am black ! " 
The King spake not, but swept the veiling of his 
face aside and lifted up the light of his countenance 
upon her and lo! it was black. 

So the woman went forth on the hills of God to do 
battle for the King, on that drear day in the land of the 
Heavy Laden, when the heathen raged and imagined a 
vain thing. 



VII 
THE DAMNATION OF WOMEN 

I REMEMBER f our women of my boyhood : my mother, 
cousin Inez, Emma, and Ide Fuller. They represented 
the problem of the widow, the wife, the maiden, and 
the outcast. They were, in color, brown and light- 
brown, yellow with brown freckles, and white. They 
existed not for themselves, but for men; they were 
named after the men to whom they were related and 
not after the fashion of their own souls. 

They were not beings, they were relations and these 
relations were enfilmed with mystery and secrecy. We 
did not know the truth or believe it when we heard it. 
Motherhood! What was it? We did not know or 
greatly care. My mother and I were good chums. I 
liked her. After she was dead I loved her with a 
fierce sense of personal loss. 

Inez was a pretty, brown cousin who married. 
What was marriage? We did not know, neither did 
she, poor thing! It came to mean for her a litter of 
children, poverty, a drunken, cruel companion, sick 
ness, and death. Why? 

There was no sweeter sight than Emma, slim, 
straight, and dainty, darkly flushed with the passion 
of youth; but her life was a wild, awful struggle to 



164 DARKWATER 

crush her natural, fierce joy of love. She crushed it 
and became a cold, calculating mockery. 

Last there was that awful outcast of the town, the 
white woman, Ide Fuller. What she was, we did 
not know. She stood to us as embodied filth and 
wrong, but whose filth, whose wrong? 

Grown up I see the problem of these women trans 
fused; I hear all about me the unanswered call of 
youthful love, none the less glorious because of its 
clean, honest, physical passion. Why unanswered? 
Because the youth are too poor to marry or if they 
marry, too poor to have children. They turn aside, 
then, in three directions: to marry for support, to 
what men call shame, or to that which is more evil 
than nothing. It is an unendurable paradox; it must 
be changed or the bases of culture will totter and fall. 

The world wants healthy babies and intelligent 
workers. Today we refuse to allow the combination 
and force thousands of intelligent workers to go child 
less at a horrible expenditure of moral force, or we 
damn them if they break our idiotic conventions. Only 
at the sacrifice of intelligence and the chance to do 
their best work can the majority of modern women 
bear children. This is the damnation of women. 

All womanhood is hampered today because the 
world on which it is emerging is a world that tries 
to worship both virgins and mothers and in the end 
despises motherhood and despoils virgins. 

The future woman must have a life work and 
economic independence. She must have knowledge. 
She must have the right of motherhood at her own 



THE DAMNATION OF WOMEN 165 

discretion. The present mincing horror at free wom 
anhood must pass if we are ever to be rid of the besti 
ality of free manhood; not by guarding the weak in 
weakness do we gain strength, but by making weak 
ness free and strong. 

The world must choose the free woman or the white 
wraith of the prostitute. Today it wavers between 
the prostitute and the nun. Civilization must show 
two things: the glory and beauty of creating life and 
the need and duty of power and intelligence. This 
and this only will make the perfect marriage of love 
and work. 

God is Love, 
Love is God; 

There is no God but Love 
And Work is His Prophet ! 

All this of woman, but what of black women? 

The world that wills to worship womankind studi 
ously forgets its darker sisters. They seem in a sense 
to typify that veiled Melancholy : 

" Whose saintly visage is too bright 
To hit the sense of human sight, 
And, therefore, to our weaker view 
O'er-laid with black." 

Yet the world must heed these daughters of sorrow, 
from the primal black All-Mother of men down 
through the ghostly throng of mighty womanhood, 
who walked in the mysterious dawn of Asia and 
Africa; from Neith, the primal mother of all, whose 
feet rest on hell, and whose almighty hands uphold 



166 DARKWATER 

the heavens; all religion, from beauty to beast, lies 
on her eager breasts; her body bears the stars, while 
her shoulders are necklaced by the dragon; from 
black Neith down to 

" That starr'd Ethiop queen who strove 
To set her beauty's praise above 
The sea-nymphs," 

through dusky Cleopatras, dark Candaces, and darker, 
fiercer Zinghas, to our own day and our own land, 
in gentle Phillis; Harriet, the crude Moses; the 
sybil, Sojourner Truth; and the martyr, Louise De 
Mortie. 

The father and his worship is Asia; Europe is the 
precocious, self-centered, forward-striving child; but 
the land of the mother is and was Africa. In subtle 
and mysterious way, despite her curious history, her 
slavery, polygamy, and toil, the spell of the African 
mother pervades her land. Isis, the mother, is still 
titular goddess, in thought if not in name, of the dark 
continent. Nor does this all seem to be solely a sur 
vival of the historic matriarchate through which all 
nations pass, it appears to be more than this, as if 
the great black race in passing up the steps of human 
culture gave the world, not only the Iron Age, the 
cultivation of the soil, and the domestication of ani 
mals, but also, in peculiar emphasis, the mother-idea. 

" No mother can love more tenderly and none is 
more tenderly loved than the Negro mother," writes 
Schneider. Robin tells of the slave who bought his 
mother's freedom instead of his own. Mungo Park 



THE DAMNATION OF WOMEN 167 

writes : " Everywhere in Africa, I have noticed that 
no greater affront can be offered a Negro than insult 
ing his mother. * Strike me/ cries a Mandingo to 
his enemy, ' but revile not my mother ! ' And the 
Krus and Fantis say the same. The peoples on the 
Zambezi and the great lakes cry in sudden fear or 
joy: "O, my mother!" And the Herero swears 
(endless oath) "By my mother's tears!" "As the 
mist in the swamps," cries the Angola Negro, " so 
lives the love of father and mother." 

A student of the present Gold Coast life describes 
the work of the village headman, and adds: "It is 
a difficult task that he is set to, but in this matter he 
has all-powerful helpers in the female members of 
the family, who will be either the aunts or the sisters 
or the cousins or the nieces of the headman, and as 
their interests are identical with his in every particular, 
the good women spontaneously train up their children 
to implicit obedience to the headman, whose rule in 
the family thus becomes a simple and an easy matter. 
' The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world/ 
What a power for good in the native state system 
would the mothers of the Gold Coast and Ashanti 
become by judicious training upon native lines!" 

Schweinf urth declares of one tribe : " A bond be 
tween mother and child which lasts for life is the 
measure of affection shown among the Dyoor" and 
Ratzel adds: 

" Agreeable to the natural relation the mother 
stands first among the chief influences affecting the 
children. From the Zulus to the Waganda, we find 



1 68 DARKWATER 

the mother the most influential counsellor at the court 
of ferocious sovereigns, like Chaka or Mtesa; some 
times sisters take her place. Thus even with chiefs 
who possess wives by hundreds the bonds of blood 
are the strongest and that the woman, though often 
heavily burdened, is in herself held in no small esteem 
among the Negroes is clear from the numerous Negro 
queens, from the medicine women, from the partici 
pation in public meetings permitted to women by 
many Negro peoples." 

As I remember through memories of others, back 
ward among my own family, it is the mother I evef 
recall, the little, far-off mother of my grandmothers, 
who sobbed her life away in song, longing for her lost 
palm-trees and scented waters; the tall and bronzen 
grandmother, with beaked nose and shrewish eyes, 
who loved and scolded her black and laughing hus 
band as he smoked lazily in his high oak chair ; above 
all, my own mother, with all her soft brownness, 
the brown velvet of her skin, the sorrowful black- 
brown of her eyes, and the tiny brown-capped waves 
of her midnight hair as it lay new parted on her fore 
head. All the way back in these dim distances it is 
mothers and mothers of mothers who seem to count, 
while fathers are shadowy memories. 

Upon this African mother-idea, the westward slave 
trade and American slavery struck like doom. In the 
cruel exigencies of the traffic in men and in the sud 
den, unprepared emancipation the great pendulum of 
social equilibrium swung from a time, in 1800, 
when America had but eight or less black women to 



THE DAMNATION OF WOMEN 169 

every ten black men, all too swiftly to a day, in 1870, 
when there were nearly eleven women to ten men 
in our Negro population. This was but the outward 
numerical fact of social dislocation; within lay polyg 
amy, polyandry, concubinage, and moral degradation, 
They fought against all this desperately, did these 
black slaves in the West Indies, especially among the 
half-free artisans; they set up their ancient house 
hold gods, and when Toussaint and Cristophe founded 
their kingdom in Haiti, it was based on old African 
tribal ties and beneath it was the mother-idea. 

The crushing weight of slavery fell on black women. 
Under it there was no legal marriage, no legal family, 
no legal control over children. To be sure, custom 
and religion replaced here and there what the law 
denied, yet one has but to read advertisements like 
the following to see the hell beneath the system: 

" One hundred dollars reward will be given for my 
two fellows, Abram and Frank. Abram has a wife at 
Colonel Stewart's, in Liberty County, and a mother at 
Thunderbolt, and a sister in Savannah. 

" WILLIAM ROBERTS." 

" Fifty dollars reward Ran away from the sub 
scriber a Negro girl named Maria. She is of a copper 
color, between thirteen and fourteen years of age bare 
headed and barefooted. She is small for her age very 
sprightly and very likely. She stated she was going to 
see her mother at Maysville. 

" SANFORD THOMSON." 

" Fifty dollars reward Ran away from the subscriber 
his Negro man Pauladore, commonly called Paul. I un- 



170 DARKWATER 

derstand General R. Y. Hayne has purchased his wife 
and children from H. L. Pinckney, Esq., and has them 
now on his plantation at Goose Creek, where, no doubt, 
the fellow is frequently lurking. 

" T. DAVIS." 

The Presbyterian synod of Kentucky said to the 
churches under its care in 1835 : " Brothers and sisters, 
parents and children, husbands and wives, are torn 
asunder and permitted to see each other no more. 
These acts are daily occurring in the midst of us. The 
shrieks and agony often witnessed on such occasions 
proclaim, with a trumpet tongue, the iniquity of our 
system. There is not a neighborhood where these 
heartrending scenes are not displayed. There is not 
a village or road that does not behold the sad proces 
sion of manacled outcasts whose mournful counte 
nances tell that they are exiled by force from all that 
their hearts hold dear." 

A sister of a president of the United States de 
clared : " We Southern ladies are complimented with 
the names of wives, but we are only the mistresses of 
seraglios." 

Out of this, what sort of black women could be 
born into the world of today? There are those who 
hasten to answer this query in scathing terms and who 
say lightly and repeatedly that out of black slavery 
came nothing decent in womanhood; that adultery and 
uucleanness were their heritage and are their continued 
portion. 

Fortunately so exaggerated a charge is humanly 
impossible of truth. The half-million women of Ne- 



THE DAMNATION OF WOMEN 171 

gro descent who lived at the beginning of the igth 
century had become the mothers of two and one- 
fourth million daughters at the time of the Civil 
War and five million granddaughters in 1910. Can 
all these women be vile and the hunted race con 
tinue to grow in wealth and character? Impossible. 
Yet to save from the past the shreds and vestiges of 
self-respect has been a terrible task. I most sincerely 
doubt if any other race of women could have brought 
its fineness up through so devilish a fire. 

Alexander Crummell once said of his sister in the 
blood : " In her girlhood all the delicate tenderness 
of her sex has been rudely outraged. In the field, in 
the rude cabin, in the press-room, in the factory she 
was thrown into the companionship of coarse and 
ignorant men. No chance was given her for delicate 
reserve or tender modesty. From her childhood she 
was the doomed victim of the grossest passion. All 
the virtues of her sex were utterly ignored. If the 
instinct of chastity asserted itself, then she had to 
fight like a tiger for the ownership and possession 
of her own person and ofttimes had to suffer pain 
and lacerations for her virtuous self-assertion. When 
she reached maturity, all the tender instincts of her 
womanhood were ruthlessly violated. At the age of 
marriage, always prematurely anticipated under slav 
ery she was mated as the stock of the plantation were 
mated, not to be the companion of a loved and chosen 
husband, but to be the breeder of human cattle for 
the field or the auction block." 

Down in such mire has the black motherhood of 



172 DARKWATER 

this race struggled, starving its own wailing off 
spring to nurse to the world their swaggering masters; 
welding for its children chains which affronted even 
the moral sense of an unmoral world. Many a man 
and woman in the South have lived in wedlock as holy 
as Adam and Eve and brought forth their brown and 
golden children, but because the darker woman was 
helpless, her chivalrous and whiter mate could cast 
her off at his pleasure and publicly sneer at the body 
he had privately blasphemed. 

I shall forgive the white South much in its final 
judgment day : I shall forgive its slavery, for slavery 
is a world-old habit; I shall forgive its fighting for a 
well-lost cause, and for remembering that struggle with 
tender tears; I shall forgive its so-called "pride of 
race," the passion of its hot blood, and even its dear, 
old, laughable strutting and posing; but one thing I 
shall never forgive, neither in this world nor the 
world to come: its wanton and continued and persist 
ent insulting of the black womanhood which it sought 
and seeks to prostitute to its lust. I cannot forget 
that it is such Southern gentlemen into whose hands 
smug Northern hypocrites of today are seeking to place 
our women's eternal destiny, men who insist upon 
withholding from my mother and wife and daughter 
those signs and appellations of courtesy and respect 
which elsewhere he withholds only from bawds and 
courtesans. 

The result of this history of insult and degradation 
has been both fearful and glorious. It has birthed 
the haunting prostitute, the brawler, and the beast of 



THE DAMNATION OF WOMEN 173 

burden; but it has also given the world an efficient 
womanhood, whose strength lies in its freedom and 
whose chastity was won in the teeth of temptation and 
not in prison and swaddling clothes. 

To no modern race does its women mean so much 
as to the Negro nor come so near to the fulfilment 
of its meaning. As one of our women writes : " Only 
the black woman can say * when and where I enter, in 
the quiet, undisputed dignity of my womanhood, with 
out violence and without suing or special patronage, 
then and there the whole Negro race enters with me/ ' 

They came first, in earlier days, like foam flashing 
on dark, silent waters, bits of stern, dark woman 
hood here and there tossed almost carelessly aloft to 
the world's notice. First and naturally they assumed 
the panoply of the ancient African mother of men, 
strong and black, whose very nature beat back the 
wilderness of oppression and contempt. Such a one 
was that cousin of my grandmother, whom western 
Massachusetts remembers as " Mum Bett." Scarred 
for life by a blow received in defense of a sister, she 
ran away to Great Barrington and was the first slave, 
or one of the first, to be declared free under the Bill 
of Rights of 1780. The son of the judge who freed 
her, writes: 

" Even in her humble station, she had, when occasion 
required it, an air of command which conferred a degree 
of dignity and gave her an ascendancy over those of her 
rank, which is very unusual in persons of any rank or 
color. Her determined and resolute character, which 
enabled her to limit the ravages of Shay's mob, was 



174 DARKWATER 

manifested in her conduct and deportment during her 
whole life. She claimed no distinction, but it was yielded 
to her from her superior experience, energy, skill, and 
sagacity. Having known this woman as familiarly as 
I knew either of my parents, I cannot believe in the 
moral or physical inferiority of the race to which she 
belonged. The degradation of the African must have 
been otherwise caused than by natural inferiority." 

It was such strong women that laid the founda 
tions of the great Negro church of today, with its 
five million members and ninety millions of dol 
lars in property. One of the early mothers of 
the church, Mary Still, writes thus quaintly, in the 
forties : 

" When we were as castouts and spurned from the 
large churches, driven from our knees, pointed at by the 
proud, neglected by the careless, without a place of wor 
ship, Allen, faithful to the heavenly calling, came for 
ward and laid the foundation of this connection. The 
women, like the women at the sepulcher, were early to 
aid in laying the foundation of the temple and in helping 
to carry up the noble structure and in the name of their 
God set up their banner; most of our aged mothers are 
gone from this to a better state of things. Yet some 
linger still on their staves, watching with intense interest 
the ark as it moves over the tempestuous waves of oppo 
sition and ignorance. . . . 

" But the labors of these women stopped not here, 
for they knew well that they were subject to affliction 
and death. For the purpose of mutual aid, they banded 
themselves together in society capacity, that they might 
be better able to administer to each others' sufferings 
and to soften their own pillows. So we find the females 



THE DAMNATION OF WOMEN 175 

in the early history of the church abounding in good 
works and in acts of true benevolence." 

From such spiritual ancestry came two striking 
figures of war-time, Harriet Tubman and Sojourner 
Truth. 

For eight or ten years previous to the breaking out 
of the Civil War, Harriet Tubman was a constant at 
tendant at anti-slavery conventions, lectures, and other 
meetings; she was a black woman of medium size, 
smiling countenance, with her upper front teeth gone, 
attired in coarse but neat clothes, and carrying always 
an old-fashioned reticule at her side. Usually as 
soon as she sat down she would drop off in sound 
sleep. 

She was born a slave in Maryland, in 1820, bore 
the marks of the lash on her flesh; and had been made 
partially deaf, and perhaps to some degree mentally 
unbalanced by a blow on the head in childhood. Yet 
she was one of the most important agents of the 
Underground Railroad and a leader of fugitive slaves. 
She ran away in 1849 an< ^ went to Boston in 1854, 
where she was welcomed into the homes of the lead 
ing abolitionists and where every one listened with 
tense interest to her strange stories. She was abso 
lutely illiterate, with no knowledge of geography, 
and yet year after year she penetrated the slave states 
and personally led North over three hundred fugitives 
without losing a single one. A standing reward of 
$10,000 was offered for her, but as she said : " The 
whites cannot catch us, for I was born with the charm, 
and the Lord has given me the power." She was one 



176 DARKWATER 

of John Brown's closest advisers and only severe sick 
ness prevented her presence at Harper's Ferry. 

When the war cloud broke, she hastened to the 
front, flitting down along her own mysterious paths, 
haunting the armies in the field, and serving as guide 
and nurse and spy. She followed Sherman in his 
great march to the sea and was with Grant at Peters 
burg, and always in the camps the Union officers si 
lently saluted her. 

The other woman belonged to a different type, 
a tall, gaunt, black, unsmiling sybil, weighted with 
the woe of the world. She ran away from slavery and 
giving up her own name took the name of Sojourner 
Truth. She says : " I can remember when I was a 
little, young girl, how my old mammy would sit out 
of doors in the evenings and look up at the stars and 
groan, and I would say, ' Mammy, what makes you 
groan so ? ' And she would say, * I am groaning to 
think of my poor children; they do not know where 
I be and I don't know where they be. I look up at the 
stars and they look up at the stars ! ' 

Her determination was founded on unwavering faith 
in ultimate good. Wendell Phillips says that he was 
once in Faneuil Hall, when Frederick Douglass was 
one of the chief speakers. Douglass had been describ 
ing the wrongs of the Negro race and as he proceeded 
he grew more and more excited and finally ended by 
saying that they had no hope of justice from the 
whites, no possible hope except in their own right 
arms. It must come to blood! They must fight for 
themselves. Sojourner Truth was sitting, tall and 



THE DAMNATION OF WOMEN 177 

dark, on the very front seat facing the platform, and 
in the hush of feeling when Douglass sat down she 
spoke out in her deep, peculiar voice, heard all over the 
hall: 

"Frederick, is God dead?" 

Such strong, primitive types of Negro womanhood 
in America seem to some to exhaust its capabilities. 
They know less of a not more worthy, but a finer 
type of black woman wherein trembles all of that 
delicate sense of beauty and striving for self-realiza 
tion, which is as characteristic of the Negro soul 
as is its quaint strength and sweet laughter. George 
Washington wrote in grave and gentle courtesy to 
a Negro woman, in 1776, that he would "be happy 
to see " at his headquarters at any time, a person " to 
whom nature has been so liberal and beneficial in her 
dispensations." This child, Phillis Wheatley, sang 
her trite and halting strain to a world that wondered 
and could not produce her like. Measured today her 
muse was slight and yet, feeling her striving spirit, 
we call to her still in her own words : 

" Through thickest glooms look back, immortal shade." 

'Perhaps even higher than strength and art loom 
human sympathy and sacrifice as characteristic of 
Negro womanhood. Long years ago, before the Dec 
laration of Independence, Kate Ferguson was born 
in New York. Freed, widowed, and bereaved of her 
children before she was twenty, she took the children 
of the streets of New York, white and black, to her 
empty arms, taught them, found them homes, and 



1 78 DARKWATER 

with Dr. Mason of Murray Street Church established 
the first modern Sunday School in Manhattan. 

Sixty years later came Mary Shadd up out of Dela 
ware. She was tall and slim, of that ravishing dream- 
born beauty, that twilight of the races which we call 
mulatto. Well-educated, vivacious, with determina 
tion shining from her sharp eyes, she threw herself 
singlehanded into the great Canadian pilgrimage when 
thousands of hunted black men hurried northward and 
crept beneath the protection of the lion's paw. She 
became teacher, editor, and lecturer; tramping afoot 
through winter snows, pushing without blot or blem 
ish through crowd and turmoil to conventions and 
meetings, and finally becoming recruiting agent for 
the United States government in gathering Negro sol 
diers in the West. 

After the war the sacrifice of Negro women for 
freedom and uplift is one of the finest chapters in 
their history. Let one life typify all : Louise De Mor- 
tie, a free-born Virginia girl, had lived most of her 
life in Boston. Her high forehead, swelling lips, and 
dark eyes marked her for a woman of feeling and 
intellect. She began a successful career as a public 
reader. Then came the War and the Call. She 
went to the orphaned colored children of New Or 
leans, out of freedom into insult and oppression and 
into the teeth of the yellow fever. She toiled and 
dreamed. In 1887 she had raised money and built 
an orphan home and that same year, in the thirty- 
fourth of her young life, she died, saying simply: 
" I belong to God." 



THE DAMNATION OF WOMEN 179 

As I look about me today in this veiled world of 
mine, despite the noisier and more spectacular advance 
of my brothers, I instinctively feel and know that it 
is the five million women of my race who really count. 
Black women (and women whose grandmothers were 
black) are today furnishing our teachers; they are 
the main pillars of those social settlements which we 
call churches; and they have with small doubt raised 
three-fourths of our church property. If we have 
today, as seems likely, over a billion dollars of accu 
mulated goods, who shall say how much of it has been 
wrung from the hearts of servant girls and washer 
women and women toilers in the fields? As makers 
of two million homes these women are today seeking 
in marvelous ways to show forth our strength and 
beauty and our conception of the truth. 

In the United States in 1910 there were 4,931,882 
women of Negro descent; over twelve hundred thou 
sand of these were children, another million were 
girls and young women under twenty, and two and a 
half-million were adults. As a mass these women 
were unlettered, a fourth of those from fifteen to 
twenty-five years of age were unable to write. These 
women are passing through, not only a moral, but an 
economic revolution. Their grandmothers married 
at twelve and fifteen, but twenty-seven per cent of 
these women today who have passed fifteen are still 
single. 

Yet these black women toil and toil hard. There 
were in 1910 two and a half million Negro homes in 
the United States. Out of these homes walked daily 



i8o DARKWATER 

to work two million women and girls over ten years of 
age, over half of the colored female population as 
against a fifth in the case of white women. These, 
then, are a group of workers, fighting for their daily 
bread like men; independent and approaching eco 
nomic freedom ! They furnished a million farm labor 
ers, 80,000 farmers, 22,000 teachers, 600,000 servants 
and washerwomen, and 50,000 in trades and merchan 
dizing. 

The family group, however, which is the ideal of 
the culture with which these folk have been born, is 
not based on the idea of an economically independent 
working mother. Rather its ideal harks back to the 
sheltered harem with the mother emerging at first as 
nurse and homemaker, while the man remains the sole 
breadwinner. What is the inevitable result of the 
clash of such ideals and such facts in the colored 
group? Broken families. 

Among native white women one in ten is separated 
from her husband by death, divorce, or desertion. 
Among Negroes the ratio is one in seven. Is the 
cause racial? No, it is economic, because there is 
the same high ratio among the white foreign-born. 
The breaking up of the present family is the result 
.of modern working and sex conditions and it hits 
the laborers with terrible force. The Negroes are 
put in a peculiarly difficult position, because the wage 
of the male breadwinner is below the standard, while 
the openings for colored women in certain lines of 
domestic work, and now in industries, are many. Thus 
while toil holds the father and brother in country and 



THE DAMNATION OF WOMEN 181 

town at low wages, the sisters and mothers are called 
to the city. As a result the Negro women outnumber 
the men nine or ten to eight in many cities, making 
what Charlotte Oilman bluntly calls "cheap women." 
What shall we say to this new economic equality in 
a great laboring class ? Some people within and with 
out the race deplore it. " Back to the homes with the 
women," they cry, " and higher wage for the men." 
But how impossible this is has been shown by war 
conditions. Cessation of foreign migration has raised 
Negro men's wages, to be sure but it has not only 
raised Negro women's wages, it has opened to them 
a score of new avenues of earning a living. Indeed, 
here, in microcosm and with differences emphasizing 
sex equality, is the industrial history of labor in the 
1 9th and 2Oth centuries. We cannot abolish the new 
economic freedom of women. We cannot imprison 
women again in a home or require them all on pain 
of death to be nurses and housekeepers. 

What is today the message of these black women 
to America and to the world? The uplift of women 
is, next to the problem of the color line and the peace 
movement, our greatest modern cause. When, now, 
two of these movements woman and color combine 
in one, the combination has deep meaning. 

In other years women's way was clear : to be beauti 
ful, to be petted, to bear children. Such has been 
their theoretic destiny and if perchance they have 
been ugly, hurt, and barren, that has been forgotten 
with studied silence. In partial compensation for this 
narrowed destiny the white world has lavished its 



i8a DARKWATER 

politeness on its womankind, its chivalry and bows, 
its uncoverings and courtesies all the accumulated 
homage disused for courts and kings and craving 
exercise. The revolt of white women against this 
preordained destiny has in these latter days reached 
splendid proportions, but it is the revolt of an aris 
tocracy of brains and ability, the middle class and 
rank and file still plod on in the appointed path, paid 
by the homage, the almost mocking homage, of men. 
From black women of America, however, (and 
from some others, too, but chiefly from black women 
and their daughters' daughters) this gauze has been 
withheld and without semblance of such apology they 
have been frankly trodden under the feet of men. 
They are and have been objected to, apparently for 
reasons peculiarly exasperating to reasoning human 
beings. When in this world a man comes forward 
with a thought, a deed, a vision, we ask not, how does 
he look, but what is his message? It is of but pass 
ing interest whether or not the messenger is beautiful 
or ugly, the message is the thing. This, which is 
axiomatic among men, has been in past ages but par 
tially true if the messenger was a woman. The world 
still wants to ask that a woman primarily be pretty and 
if she is not, the mob pouts and asks querulously, 
"What else are women for?" Beauty "is its own 
excuse for being,'* but there are other excuses, as most 
men know, and when the white world objects to black 
women because it does not consider them beautiful, 
the black world of right asks two questions : " What 
is beauty? " and, " Suppose you think them ugly, what 



THE DAMNATION OF WOMEN 183 

then? If ugliness and unconventionality and eccen 
tricity of face and deed do not hinder men from do 
ing the world's work and reaping the world's reward, 
why should it hinder women ? " 

Other things being equal, all of us, black and white, 
would prefer to be beautiful in face and form and 
suitably clothed; but most of us are not so, and one 
of the mightiest revolts of the century is against the 
devilish decree that no woman is a woman who is 
not by present standards a beautiful woman. This 
decree the black women of America have in large 
measure escaped from the first. Not being expected 
to be merely ornamental, they have girded themselves 
for work, instead of adorning their bodies only for 
play. Their sturdier minds have concluded that if 
a woman be clean, healthy, and educated, she is as 
pleasing as God wills and far more useful than most 
of her sisters. If in addition to this she is pink and 
white and straight-haired, and some of her fellow-men 
prefer this, well and good; but if she is black or 
brown and crowned in curled mists (and this to us is 
the most beautiful thing on earth), this is surely the 
flimsiest excuse for spiritual incarceration or banish 
ment. 

The very attempt to do this in the case of Negro 
Americans has strangely over-reached itself. By so 
much as the defective eyesight of the white world 
rejects black women as beauties, by so much the more 
it needs them as human beings, an enviable alterna 
tive, as many a white woman knows. Consequently, 
for black women alone, as a group, " handsome is that 



184 DARKWATER 

handsome does" and they are asked to be no more 
beautiful than God made them, but they are asked to 
be efficient, to be strong, fertile, muscled, and able 
to work. If they marry, they must as independent 
workers be able to help support their children, for 
their men are paid on a scale which makes sole sup 
port of the family often impossible. 

On the whole, colored working women are paid as 
well as white working women for similar work, save 
in some higher grades, while colored men get from 
one-fourth to three- fourths less than white men. The 
result is curious and three- fold : the economic inde 
pendence of black women is increased, the breaking 
up of Negro families must be more frequent, and the 
number of illegitimate children is decreased more 
slowly among them than other evidences of culture are 
increased, just as was once true in Scotland and 
Bavaria. 

What does this mean? It forecasts a mighty di 
lemma which the whole world of civilization, despite 
its will, must one time frankly face : the unhusbanded 
mother or the childless wife. God send us a world 
with woman's freedom and married motherhood in 
extricably wed, but until He sends it, I see more of 
future promise in the betrayed girl-mothers of the 
black belt than in the childless wives of the white 
North, and I have more respect for the colored serv 
ant who yields to her frank longing for motherhood 
than for her white sister who offers up children for 
clothes. Out of a sex freedom that today makes us 
shudder will come in time a day when we will no 



THE DAMNATION OF WOMEN 185 

longer pay men for work they do not do, for the 
sake of their harem; we will pay women what they 
earn and insist on their working and earning it; we 
will allow those persons to vote who know enough to 
vote, whether they be black or female, white or male; 
and we will ward race suicide, not by further burden 
ing the over-burdened, but by honoring motherhood, 
even when the sneaking father shirks his duty. 

" Wait till the lady passes/' said a Nashville white 
boy. 

" She's no lady; she's a nigger," answered another. 

So some few women are born free, and some amid 
insult and scarlet letters achieve freedom; but our 
women in black had freedom thrust contemptuously 
upon them. With that freedom they are buying an 
untrammeled independence and dear as is the price they 
pay for it, it will in the end be worth every taunt and 
groan. Today the dreams of the mothers are coming 
true. We have still our poverty and degradation, our 
lewdness and our cruel toil; but we -have, too, a vast 
group of women of Negro blood who for strength of 
character, cleanness of soul, and unselfish devotion of 
purpose, is today easily the peer of any group of 
women in the civilized world. And more than that, in 
the great rank and file of our five million women we 
have the up-working of new revolutionary ideals, 
which must in time have vast influence on the thought 
and action of this land. 

For this, their promise, and for their hard past, 
I honor the women of my race. Their beauty, their 



i86 DARKWATER 

dark and mysterious beauty of midnight eyes, crumpled 
hair, and soft, full-featured faces is perhaps more to 
me than to you, because I was born to its warm and 
subtle spell ; but their worth is yours as well as mine. 
No other women on earth could have emerged from 
the hell of force and temptation which once engulfed 
and still surrounds black women in America with half 
the modesty and womanliness that they retain. I have 
always felt like bowing myself before them in all 
abasement, searching to bring some tribute to these 
long-suffering victims, these burdened sisters of mine, 
whom the world, the wise, white world, loves to af 
front and ridicule and wantonly to insult. I have 
known the women of many lands and nations, I have 
known and seen and lived beside them, but none have 
I known more sweetly feminine, more unswervingly 
loyal, more desperately earnest, and more instinctively 
pure in body and in soul than the daughters of my 
black mothers. This, then, a little thing to their 
memory and inspiration. 



Children of the Moon 

I am dead; 

Yet somehow, somewhere, 

In Time's weird contradiction, I 

May tell of that dread deed, wherewith 

I brought to Children of the Moon 

Freedom and vast salvation. 

I was a woman born, 

And trod the streaming street, 

That ebbs and flows from Harlem's hills, 

Through caves and canons limned in light, 

Down to the twisting sea. 

That night of nights, 

I stood alone and at the End, 

Until the sudden highway to the moon, 

Golden in splendor, 

Became too real to doubt. 

Dimly I set foot upon the air, 
I fled, I flew, through thrills of light, 
With all about, above, below, the whirring 
Of almighty wings. 

I found a twilight land, 
Where, hardly hid, the sun 
Sent softly-saddened rays of 
Red and brown to burn the iron soil 
And bathe the snow-white peaks 
In mighty splendor. 
187' 



i88 DARKWATER 

Black were the men, 

Hard-haired and silent-slow, 

Moving as shadows, 

Bending with face of fear to earthward ; 

And women there were none. 

" Woman, woman, woman ! " 
I cried in mounting terror. 
"Woman and Child!" 
And the cry sang back 
Through heaven, with the 
Whirring of almighty wings. 

Wings, wings, endless wings, 

Heaven and earth are wings; 

Wings that flutter, furl, and fold, 

Always folding and unfolding, 

Ever folding yet again ; 

Wings, veiling some vast 

And veiled face, 

In blazing blackness, 

Behind the folding and unfolding, 

The rolling and unrolling of 

Almighty wings ! 

I saw the black men huddle, 
Fumed in fear, falling face downward ; 
Vainly I clutched and clawed, 
Dumbly they cringed and cowered, 
Moaning in mournful monotone: 

O Freedom, O Freedom, 
O Freedom over me; 
Before I'll be a slave, 
I'll be buried in my grave, 
And go home to my God, 
And be free. 



CHILDREN OF THE MOON 189 

It was as angel-music 

From the dead, 

And ever, as they sang, 

Some winged thing of wings, filling all heaven, 

Folding and unfolding, and folding yet again, 

Tore out their blood and entrails, 

J Til I screamed in utter terror ; 

And a silence came, 

A silence and the wailing of a babe. 

Then, at last, I saw and shamed; 

I knew how these dumb, dark, and dusky things 

Had given blood and life, 

To fend the caves of underground, 

The great black caves of utter night, 

Where earth lay full of mothers 

And their babes. 

Little children sobbing in darkness, 
Little children crying in silent pain, 
Little mothers rocking and groping and strug 
gling, 

Digging and delving and groveling, 
Amid the dying-dead and dead-in-life 
And drip and dripping of warm, wet blood, 
Far, far beneath the wings, 
The folding and unfolding of almighty wings. 

I bent with tears and pitying hands, 
Above these dusky star-eyed children, 
Crinkly-haired, with sweet-sad baby voices, 
Pleading low for light and love and living 
And I crooned : 

" Little children weeping there, 
God shall find your faces fair; 
Guerdon for your deep distress, 
He shall send His tenderness; 



igo DARKWATER 

For the tripping of your feet 
Make a mystic music sweet 
In the darkness of your hair; 
Light and laughter in the air 
Little children weeping there, 
God shall find your faces fair ! " 

I strode above the stricken, bleeding men, 

The rampart 'ranged against the skies, 

And shouted: 

" Up, I say, build and slay ; 

Fight face foremost, force a way, 

Unloose, unfetter, and unbind; 

Be men and free ! " 

Dumbly they shrank, 

Muttering they pointed toward that peak, 

Than vastness vaster, 

Whereon a darkness brooded, 

" Who shall look and live," they sighed ; 

And I sensed 

fine folding and unfolding of almighty wings. 

Yet did we build of iron, bricks, and blood ; 
We built a day, a year, a thousand years, 
Blood was the mortar, blood and tears, 
And, ah, the Thing, the Thing of wings, 
The winged, folding Wing of Things 
Did furnish much mad mortar 
For that tower. 

Slow and ever slower rose the towering task, 
And with it rose the sun, 
Until at last on one wild day, 
Wind-whirled, cloud-swept and terrible 
I stood beneath the burning shadow 
Of the peak, 



CHILDREN OF THE MOON 191 

Beneath the whirring of almighty wings, 
While downward from my feet 
Streamed the long line of dusky faces 
And the wail of little children sobbing under 
earth. 

Alone, aloft, 

I saw through firmaments on high 

The drama of Almighty God, 

With all its flaming suns and stars. 

"Freedom!" I cried. 

" Freedom ! " cried heaven, earth, and stars ; 

And a Voice near-far, 

Amid the folding and unfolding of almighty 

wings, 

Answered, " I am Freedom 
Who sees my face is free 
He and his." 

I dared not look ; 

Downward I glanced on deep-bowed heads and 

closed eyes, 

Outward I gazed on flecked and flaming blue 
But ever onward, upward flew 
The sobbing of small voices, 
Down, down, far down into the night. 

Slowly I lifted livid limbs aloft ; 
Upward I strove: the face! the face! 
Onward I reeled: the face! the face! 
To beauty wonderful as sudden death, 
Or horror horrible as endless life 
Up! Up! the blood-built way; 
( Shadow grow vaster ! 
Terror come faster!) 
Up! Up! to the blazing blackness 
Of one veiled face. 



192 DARKWATER 

And endless folding and unfolding, 

Rolling and unrolling of almighty wings. 

The last step stood! 

The last dim cry of pain 

Fluttered across the stars, 

And then 

Wings, wings, triumphant wings, 

Lifting and lowering, waxing and waning, 

Swinging and swaying, twirling and whirling, 

Whispering and screaming, streaming and 

gleaming, 

Spreading and sweeping and shading and flam 
ing- 
Wings, wings, eternal wings, 
Til the hot, red blood, 
Flood fleeing flood, 

Thundered through heaven and mine ears, 
While all across a purple sky, 
The last vast pinion. 
Trembled to unfold. 

I rose upon the Mountain of the Moon, 

I felt the blazing glory of the Sun ; 

I heard the Song of Children crying, " Free ! " 

I saw the face of Freedom 

And I died. 



VIII 
THE IMMORTAL CHILD 

IF a man die shall he live again? We do not know. 
But this we do know, that our children's children live 
forever and grow and develop toward perfection as 
they are trained. All human problems, then, center in 
the Immortal Child and his education is the problem 
of problems. And first for illustration of what I 
would say may I not take for example, out of many 
millions, the life of one dark child. 

It is now nineteen years since I first saw Coleridge- 
Taylor. We were in London in some somber hall 
where there were many meeting, men and women 
called chiefly to the beautiful World's Fair at Paris; 
and then a few slipping over to London to meet Pan- 
Africa. We were there from Cape Colony and Li 
beria, from Haiti and the States, and from the Islands 
of the Sea. I remember the stiff, young officer who 
came with credentials from Menelik of Abyssinia; I 
remember the bitter, black American who whispered 
how an army of the Soudan might some day cross 
the Alps; I remember Englishmen, like the Colensos, 
who sat and counseled with us; but above all, I re 
member Coleridge-Taylor. 

He was a little man and nervous, with dark-golden 
face and hair that bushed and strayed. His fingers 

193 



194 DARKWATER 

were always nervously seeking hidden keys and he 
was quick with enthusiasm, instinct with life. His 
bride of a year or more, dark, too, in her whiter 
way, was of the calm and quiet type. Her soft con 
tralto voice thrilled us often as she sang, while her 
silences were full of understanding. 

Several times we met in public gatherings and then 
they bade me to their home, a nest of a cottage, 
with gate and garden, hidden in London's endless 
rings of suburbs. I dimly recall through these years 
a room in cozy disorder, strewn with music music 
on the floor and music on the chairs, music in the air 
as the master rushed to the piano now and again 
to make some memory melodious some allusion real. 

And then at last, for it was the last, I saw Coleridge- 
Taylor in a mighty throng of people crowding the 
Crystal Palace. We came in facing the stage and 
scarcely dared look around. On the stage were a 
full orchestra, a chorus of eight hundred voices, and 
some of the world's famous soloists. He left his wife 
sitting beside me, and she was very silent as he went 
forward to lift the conductor's baton. It was one 
of the earliest renditions of " Hiawatha's Wedding 
Feast." We sat at rapt attention and when the last, 
weird music died, the great chorus and orchestra rose 
as a man to acclaim the master; he turned toward the 
audience and then we turning for the first time saw 
that sea of faces behind, the misty thousands whose 
voices rose to one strong shout of joy! It was a 
moment such as one does not often live. It seemed, 
and was, prophetic. 



THE IMMORTAL CHILD 195 

This young man who stepped forth as one of the 
most notable of modern English composers had a 
simple and uneventful career. His father was a black 
surgeon of Sierra Leone who came to London for 
study. While there he met an English girl and this 
son was born, in London, in 1875. 

Then came a series of chances. His father failed 
to succeed and disappeared back to Africa leaving the 
support of the child to the poor working mother. 
The child showed evidences of musical talent and a 
friendly workingman gave him a little violin. A mu 
sician glancing from his window saw a little dark boy 
playing marbles on the street with a tiny violin in 
one hand; he gave him lessons. He happened to gain 
entrance into a charity school with a master of un 
derstanding mind who recognized genius when he saw 
it; and finally his beautiful child's treble brought him 
to the notice of the choirmaster of St. George's, 
Croyden. 

So by happy accident his way was clear. Within 
his soul was no hesitation. He was one of those 
fortunate beings who are not called to Wander-Jahre, 
but are born with sails set and seas charted. Already 
the baby of four little years was a musician, and 
as choir-boy and violinist he walked unhesitatingly 
and surely to his life work. He was graduated with 
honors from the Royal Academy of Music in 1894, 
and married soon after the daughter of one of his 
professors. Then his life began, and whatever it 
lacked of physical adventure in the conventional round 
of a modern world-city, it more than gained in the 



196 DARKWATER 

almost tempestuous outpouring of his spiritual nature. 
Life to him was neither meat nor drink, it was crea 
tive flame; ideas, plans, melodies glowed within him. 
To create, to do, to accomplish; to know the white 
glory of mighty midnights and the pale Amen of 
dawns was his day of days. Songs, pianoforte and 
violin pieces, trios and quintets for strings, incidental 
music, symphony, orchestral, and choral works rushed 
from his fingers. Nor were they laboriously con 
trived or light, thin things made to meet sudden pop 
ularity. Rather they were the flaming bits that must 
be said and sung, that could not wait the slower 
birth of years, so hurried to the world as though 
their young creator knew that God gave him but a 
day. His whole active life was scarcely more than 
a decade and a half, and yet in that time, without 
wealth, friends, or influence, in the face of perhaps 
the most critical and skeptical and least imaginative 
civilization of the modern world, he wrote his name 
so high as a creative artist that it cannot soon be 
forgotten. 

And this was but one side of the man. On the 
other was the sweet-tempered, sympathetic comrade, 
always willing to help, never knowing how to refuse, 
generous with every nerve and fiber of his being. 
Think of a young musician, father of a family, who 
at the time of his death held positions as Associate 
of the Royal College of Music, Professor in Trinity 
College and Crystal Palace, Conductor of the Handel 
Choral Society and the Rochester Choral Society, 
Principal of the Guildhall School of Music, where he 



THE IMMORTAL CHILD 197 

had charge of the choral choir, the orchestra, and 
the opera. He was repeatedly the leader of music 
festivals all over Great Britain and a judge of con 
tests. And with all this his house was open in cheer 
ing hospitality to friends and his hand ever ready 
with sympathy and help. 

When such a man dies, it must bring pause to a 
reasoning world. We may call his death-sickness 
pneumonia, but we all know that it was sheer over 
work, the using of a delicately-tuned instrument too 
commonly and continuously and carelessly to let it last 
its normal life. We may well talk of the waste of 
wood and water, of food and fire, but the real and 
unforgivable waste of modern civilization is the waste 
of ability and genius, the killing of useful, indis 
pensable men who have no right to die ; who deserve, 
not for themselves, but for the world, leisure, freedom 
from distraction, expert medical advice, and intelli 
gent sympathy. 

Coleridge-Taylor's life work was not finished, it 
was but well begun. He lived only his first period 
of creative genius, when melody and harmony flashed 
and fluttered in subtle, compelling, and more than 
promising profusion. He did not live to do the or 
ganized, constructive work in the full, calm power 
of noonday, the reflective finishing of evening. In 
the annals of the future his name must always stand 
high, but with the priceless gift of years, who can say 
where it might not have stood. 

Why should he have worked so breathlessly, almost 
furiously? It was, we may be sure, because with 



198 DARKWATER 

unflinching determination and with no thought of 
surrender he faced the great alternative, the choice 
which the cynical, thoughtless, busy, modern world 
spreads grimly before its greater souls food or 
beauty, bread and butter, or ideals. And continually 
we see worthier men turning to the pettier, cheaper 
thing the popular portrait, the sensational novel, the 
jingling song. The choice is not always between the 
least and the greatest, the high and the empty, but 
only too often it is between starvation and some 
thing. When, therefore, we see a man, working des 
perately to earn a living and still stooping to no paltry 
dickering and to no unworthy work, handing away 
a " Hiawatha " for less than a song, pausing for 
glimpses of the stars when a world full of charcoal 
glowed far more warmly and comfortably, we know 
that such a man is a hero in a sense never approached 
by the swashbuckling soldier or the lying patriot. 

Deep as was the primal tragedy in the life of Cole 
ridge-Taylor, there lay another still deeper. He 
smiled at it lightly, as we all do, we who live within 
the veil, to hide the deeper hurt. He had, with us, 
that divine and African gift of laughter, that echo 
of a thousand centuries of suns. I mind me how once 
he told of the bishop, the well-groomed English bishop, 
who eyed' the artist gravely, with his eye-glass hair 
and color and figure, and said quite audibly to his 
friends, "Quite interesting looks intelligent, yes 
yes!" 

Fortunate was Coleridge-Taylor to be born in Eu 
rope and to speak a universal tongue. In America 



THE IMMORTAL CHILD 199 

he could hardly have had his career. His genius was, 
to be sure, recognized (with some palpitation and con 
sternation) when it came full-grown across the seas 
with an English imprint; but born here, it might never 
have been permitted to grow. We know in America 
how to discourage, choke, and murder ability when 
it so far forgets itself as to choose a dark skin. Eng 
land, thank God, is slightly more civilized than her 
colonies; but even there the path of this young man 
was no way of roses and just a shade thornier than 
that of whiter men. He did not complain at it, he 
did not 

" Wince and cry aloud." 

Rather the hint here and there of color discrimina 
tion in England aroused in him deeper and more 
poignant sympathy with his people throughout the 
world. He was one with that great company of 
mixed-blooded men: Pushkin and Dumas, Hamilton 
and Douglass, Browning and many others; but he 
more than most of these men knew the call of the 
blood when it came and listened and answered. He 
came to America with strange enthusiasm. He took 
with quite simple and unconscious grace the conven 
tional congratulations of the musical world. He was 
used to that. But to his own people to the sad 
sweetness of their voices, their inborn sense of music, 
their broken, half -articulate voices, he leapt with new 
enthusiasm. From the fainter shadowings of his own 
life, he sensed instinctively the vaster tragedy of 
theirs. His soul yearned to give voice and being to 



200 DARKWATER 

this human thing. He early turned to the sorrow 
songs. He sat at the faltering feet of Paul Laurence 
Dunbar and he asked (as we sadly shook our heads) 
for some masterpiece of this world-tragedy that his 
soul could set to music. And then, so characteris 
tically, he rushed back to England, composed a half- 
dozen exquisite harmonies haunted by slave-songs, 
led the Welsh in their singing, listened to the Scotch, 
ordered great music festivals in all England, wrote 
for Beerbohm Tree, took on another music professor 
ship, promised a trip to Germany, and at last, stagger 
ing home one night, on his way to his wife and little 
boy and girl, fell in his tracks and in four days was 
dead, at the age of thirty-seven. They say that in 
his death-throe he arose and facing some great, 
ghostly choir raised his last baton, while all around 
the massive silence rang with the last mist-music of 
his dying ears. 

He was buried from St. Michael's on September 5, 
1912, with the acclaim of kings and music masters 
and little children and to the majestic melody of his 
own music. The tributes that followed him to his 
grave were unusually hearty and sincere. The head 
of the Royal College calls the first production of 
" Hiawatha " one of the most remarkable events in 
modern English musical history and the trilogy one 
of the most universally-beloved works of modern 
English music. One critic calls Taylor's a name 
" which with that of Elgar represented the nation's 
most individual output " and calls his " Atonement " 
" perhaps the finest passion music of modern times." 



THE IMMORTAL CHILD 201 

Another critic speaks of his originality : " Though 
surrounded by the influences that are at work in Eu 
rope today, he retained his individuality to the end, 
developing his style, however, and evincing new ideas 
in each succeeding work. His untimely death at the 
age of thirty-seven, a short life like those of Schu 
bert, Mendelssohn, Chopin, and Hugo Wolf has 
robbed the world of one of its noblest singers, one 
of those few men of modern times who found ex 
pression in the language of musical song, a lyricist 
of power and worth." 

But the tributes did not rest with the artist; with 
peculiar unanimity they sought his " sterling charac 
ter," "the good husband and father," the "staunch 
and loyal friend." And perhaps I cannot better end 
these hesitating words than with that tribute from 
one who called this master, friend, and whose lament 
cried in the night with more of depth and passion 
than Alfred Noyes is wont in his self-repression to 
voice : 

" Through him, his race, a moment, lifted up 
Forests of hands to beauty, as in prayer, 
Touched through his lips the sacramental cup 

And then sank back, benumbed in our bleak air." 

Yet, consider : to many millions of people this man 
was all wrong. First, he ought never to have been 
born, for he was the mulatto son of a white woman. 
Secondly, he should never have been educated as a 
musician, he should have been trained for his 
" place " in the world and to make him satisfied there-* 



202 DARKWATER 

with. Thirdly, he should not have married the 
woman he loved and who loved him, for she was 
white and the niece of an Oxford professor. 
Fourthly, the children of such a union but why pro 
ceed? You know it all by heart. 

If he had been black, like Paul Laurence Dunbar, 
would the argument have been different? No. He 
should never have been born, for he is a " problem." 
He should never be educated, for he cannot be edu 
cated. He should never marry, for that means chil 
dren and there is no place for black children in this 
world. 

In the treatment of the child the world foreshadows 
its own future and faith. All words and all thinking 
lead to the child, to that vast immortality and wide 
sweep of infinite possibility which the child repre 
sents. Such thought as this it was that made the 
Master say of old as He saw baby faces: 

"And whosoever shall offend one of these little 
ones, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged 
about his neck and he were cast into the sea." 

And yet the mothers and fathers and the men and 
women of my race must often pause and ask: Is it 
worth while? Ought children be born to us? Have 
we any right to make human souls face what we 
face today? The answer is clear: If the great battle 
of human right against poverty, against disease, 
against color prejudice is to be won, it must be won, 
not in our day, but in the day of our children's chil 
dren. Ours is the blood and dust of battle; theirs 



THE IMMORTAL CHILD 203 

the rewards of victory. If, then, they are not there 
because we have not brought them into the world, we 
have been the guiltiest factor in conquering ourselves. 
It is our duty, then, to accomplish the immortality of 
black blood, in order that the day may come in this 
dark world when poverty shall be abolished, privilege 
be based on individual desert, and the color of a man's 
skin be no bar to the outlook of his soul. 

If it is our duty as honest colored men and women, 
battling for a great principle, to bring not aimless 
rafts of children to the world, but as many as, with 
reasonable sacrifice, we can train to largest manhood, 
what in its inner essence shall that training be, par 
ticularly in its beginning? 

The first temptation is to shield the child, to hedge 
it about that it may not know and will not dream 
of the color line. Then when we can no longer wholly 
shield, to indulge and pamper and coddle, as though 
in this dumb way to compensate. From this attitude 
comes the multitude of our spoiled, wayward, disap 
pointed children. And must we not blame ourselves? 
For while the motive was pure and the outer menace 
undoubted, is shielding and indulgence the way to 
meet it? 

Some Negro parents, realizing this, leave their chil 
dren to sink or swim in this sea of race prejudice. 
They neither shield nor explain, but thrust them forth 
grimly into school or street and let them learn as 
they may from brutal fact. Out of this may come 
strength, poise, self-dependence, and out of it, too, 
may come bewilderment, cringing deception, and self- 



204 DARKWATER 

distrust. It is, all said, a brutal, unfair method, and 
in its way it is as bad as shielding and indulgence. 
Why not, rather, face the facts and tell the truth? 
Your child is wiser than you think. 

The truth lies ever between extremes. It is wrong 
to introduce the child to race consciousness prema 
turely; it is dangerous to let that consciousness grow 
spontaneously without intelligent guidance. With 
every step of dawning intelligence, explanation 
frank, free, guiding explanation must come. The 
day will dawn when mother must explain gently but 
clearly why the little girls next door do not want to 
play with " niggers " ; what the real cause is of the 
teachers' unsympathetic attitude ; and how people may 
ride in the backs of street cars and the smoker end 
-of trains and still be people, honest high-minded souls. 

Remember, too, that in such frank explanation you 
are speaking in nine cases out of ten to a good deal 
clearer understanding than you think and that the 
child-mind has what your tired soul may have lost 
faith in, the Power and the Glory. 

Out of little, unspoiled souls rise up wonderful re 
sources and healing balm. Once the colored child un 
derstands the white world's attitude and the shameful 
wrong of it, you have furnished it with a great life J 
motive, a power and impulse toward good which is 
the mightiest thing man has. How many white folk 
would give their own souls if they might graft into 
their children's souls a great, moving, guiding ideal 

With this Power there comes, in the transfiguring 
.soul of childhood, the Glory : the vision of accomplish- 



THE IMMORTAL CHILD 205 

ment, the lofty ideal. Once let the strength of the 
motive work, and it becomes the life task of the 
parent to guide and to shape the ideal; to raise it 
from resentment and revenge to dignity and self-re 
spect, to breadth and accomplishment, to human serv 
ice; to beat back every thought of cringing and sur 
render. 

Here, at last, we can speak with no hesitation, with 
no lack of faith. For we know that as the world 
grows better there will be realized in our children's 
lives that for which we fight unfalteringly, but vainly 
now. 

So much for the problem of the home and our own 
dark children. Now let us look beyond the pale upon 
the children of the wide world. What is the real 
lesson of the life of Coleridge-Taylor? It is this: 
humanly speaking it was sheer accident that this boy 
developed his genius. We have a right to assume 
that hundreds and thousands of boys and girls today 
are missing the chance of developing unusual talents 
because the chances have been against them; and that 
indeed the majority of the children of the world are 
not being systematically fitted for their life work and 
for life itself. Why? 

Many seek the reason in the content of the school 
program. They feverishly argue the relative values 
of Greek, mathematics, and manual training, but fail 
with singular unanimity in pointing out the funda 
mental cause of our failure in human education : That 
failure is due to the fact that we aim not at the full 
development of the child, but that the world regards, 



206 DARKWATER 

and always has regarded education first as a means 
of buttressing the established order of things rather 
than improving it. And this is the real reason why 
strife, war, and revolution have marked the onward 
march of humanity instead of reason and sound re 
form. Instead of seeking to push the coming genera 
tion ahead of our pitiful accomplishment, we insist 
that it march behind. We say, morally, that high 
character is conformity to present public opinion; we 
say industrially that the present order is best and that 
children must be trained to perpetuate it. 

But, it is objected, what else can we do? Can we 
teach Revolution to the inexperienced in hope that 
they may discern progress? No, but we may teach 
frankly that this world is not perfection, but develop 
ment: that the object of education is manhood and 
womanhood, clear reason, individual talent and genius 
and the spirit of service and sacrifice, and not simply 
a frantic effort to avoid change in present institutions ; 
that industry is for man and not man for industry 
and that while we must have workers to work, the 
prime object 01 our training is not the work but the 
worker not the maintenance of present industrial 
caste but the development of human intelligence 
by which drudgery may be lessened and beauty 
widened. 

Back of our present educational system is the phil 
osophy that sneers at the foolish Fathers who believed 
it self-evident, " that all men were created free and. 
equal." Surely the overwhelming evidence is to 
day that men are slaves and unequal. But is it not 



THE IMMORTAL CHILD 207 

education that is the creator of this freedom and equal 
ity? Most men today cannot conceive of a freedom 
that does not involve somebody's slavery. They do 
not want equality because the thrill of their happiness 
comes from having things that others have not. But 
may not human education fix the fine ideal of an 
equal maximum of freedom for every human soul 
combined with that minimum of slavery for each soul 
which the inexorable physical facts of the world im 
pose rather than complete freedom for some and com 
plete slavery for others ; and, again, is not the equality 
toward which the world moves an equality of honor 
in the assigned human task itself rather than equal 
facility in doing different tasks? Human equality is 
not lack of difference, nor do the infinite human dif 
ferences argue relative superiority and inferiority. 
And, again, how new an aspect human differences may 
assume when all men are educated. Today we think 
of apes, semi-apes, and human beings; tomorrow 
we may think of Keir Hardies, Roosevelts, and 
Beethovens not equals but men. Today we are 
forcing men into educational slavery in order that 
others may enjoy life, and excuse ourselves by saying 
that the world's work must be done. We are degrad 
ing some sorts of work by honoring others, and then 
expressing surprise that most people object to having 
their children trained solely to take up their father's 
tasks. 

Given as the ideal the utmost possible freedom for 
every human soul, with slavery for none, and equal 
honor for all necessary human tasks, then our prob- 



208 DARKWATER 

lem of education is greatly simplified : we aim to de 
velop human souls; to make all intelligent; to discover 
special talents and genius. With this course of train 
ing beginning in early childhood and never ceasing 
must go the technical training for the present world's 
work according to carefully studied individual gifts 
and wishes. 

On the other hand, if we arrange our system of 
education to develop workmen who will not strike and 
Negroes satisfied with their present place in the world, 
we have set ourselves a baffling task. We find our 
selves compelled to keep the masses ignorant and to 
curb our own thought and expression so as not to 
inflame the ignorant. We force moderate reformers 
and men with new and valuable ideas to become red 
radicals and revolutionists, since that happens to be 
the only way to make the world listen to reason. 
Consider our race problem in the South: the South 
has invested in Negro ignorance; some Northerners 
proposed limited education, not, they explained, to bet 
ter the Negro, but merely to make the investment more 
profitable to the present beneficiaries. They thus 
gained wide Southern support for schools like Hamp 
ton and Tuskegee. But could this program be ex 
pected long to satisfy colored folk? And was this 
shifty dodging of the real issue the wisest statesman 
ship ? No ! The real question in the South is the ques 
tion of the permanency of present color caste. The 
problem, then, of the formal training of our colored 
children has been strangely complicated by the strong 
feeling of certain persons as to their future in America 



THE IMMORTAL CHILD 209 

and the world. And the reaction toward this caste 
education has strengthened the idea of caste educa 
tion throughout the world. 

Let us then return to fundamental ideals. Children 
must be trained in a knowledge of what the world is 
and what it knows and how it does its daily work. 
These things cannot be separated: we cannot teach 
pure knowledge apart from actual facts, or separate 
truth from the human mind. Above all we must not 
forget that the object of all education is the child it 
self and not what it does or makes. 

It is here that a great movement in America has 
grievously sinned against the light. There has arisen 
among us a movement to make the Public School pri 
marily the hand-maiden of production. America is 
conceived of as existing for the sake of its mines, fields 
and factories, and not those factories, fields and mines 
as existing for America. Consequently, the public 
schools are for training the mass of men as servants 
and laborers and mechanics to increase the land's in 
dustrial efficiency. 

Those who oppose this program, especially if they 
are black, are accused of despising common toil and 
humble service. In fact, we Negroes are but facing 
in our own children a world problem: how can we, 
while maintaining a proper output of goods and fur 
nishing needed services, increase the knowledge of 
experience of common men and conserve genius for 
the common weal ? Without wider, deeper intelligence 
among the masses Democracy cannot accomplish its 
greater ends. Without a more careful conservation 



210 DARKWATER 

of human ability and talent the world cannot secure 
the services which its greater needs call for. Yet 
today who goes to college, the Talented or the Rich? 
Who goes to high school, the Bright or the Well-to- 
Do ? Who does the physical work of the world, those 
whose muscles need the exercise or those whose souls 
and minds are stupefied with manual toil ? How is the 
drudgery of the world distributed, by thoughtful jus 
tice or the lash of Slavery? 

We cannot base the education of future citizens on 
the present inexcusable inequality of wealth nor on 
physical differences of race. We must seek not to 
make men carpenters but to make carpenters men. 

Colored Americans must then with deep determina 
tion educate their children in the broadest, highest 
way. They must fill the colleges with the talented and 
fill the fields and shops with the intelligent. Wisdom 
is the principal thing. Therefore, get wisdom. 

But why am I talking simply of " colored " chil 
dren? Is not the problem of their education simply 
an intensification of the problem of educating all chil 
dren ? Look at our plight in the United States, nearly 
150 years after the establishment of a government 
based on human intelligence. 

If we take the figures of the Thirteenth Census, we 
find that there were five and one-half million illiterate 
Americans of whom 3,184,633 were white. Remem 
bering that illiteracy is a crude and 'extreme test of ig 
norance, we may assume that there are in the United 
States ten million people over ten years of age who 
are too ignorant either to perform their civic duties or 



THE IMMORTAL CHILD 211 

to teach industrial efficiency. Moreover, it does not 
seem that this illiteracy is disappearing rapidly. 

For instance, nine per cent of American children be 
tween ten and nineteen years of age cannot read and 
write. Moreover, there are millions of children who, 
judging by the figures for the school year 1909-10, are 
not going to learn to read and write, for of the Ameri 
cans six to fourteen years of age there were 3,125,392 
who were not in school a single day during that year. 
If we take the eleven million youths fifteen to twenty 
years of age for whom vocational training is particu 
larly adapted, we find that nearly five per cent of 
these, or 448,414, are absolutely illiterate; it is not too 
much to assume that a million of them have not ac 
quired enough of the ordinary tools of intelligence to 
make the most of efficient vocational training. 

Confining ourselves to the white people, over fifteen 
per cent of the white children six to fourteen years of 
age, or 2,253,198, did not attend school during the 
school year 1909-10. Of the native white children of 
native parents ten to fourteen years of age nearly a 
tenth were not in school during that year; 121,878 
native white children of native parents, fifteen to nine 
teen years of age, were illiterate. 

If we confine our attention to the colored children, 
the case is, of course, much worse. 

We cannot hope to make intelligent workmen and 
intelligent citizens of a group of people, over forty 
per cent of whose children six to fourteen years of 
age were not in school a single day during 1909-10; 
for the other sixty per cent the school term in the 



212 DARKWATER 

majority of cases was probably less than five months. 
Of the Negro children ten to fourteen years of age 
18.9 per cent were illiterate; of those fifteen to nine 
teen years of age 20.3 per cent were illiterate; of those 
ten to fourteen years of age 31.4 per cent, did not go 
to school a single day in 1909-10. 

What is the trouble? It is simple. We are spend 
ing one dollar for education where we should spend 
ten dollars. If tomorrow we multiplied our effort to 
educate the next generation ten-fold, we should but 
begin our bounden duty. The heaven that lies about 
our infancy is but the ideals come true which every 
generation of children is capable of bringing; but we, 
selfish in our own ignorance and incapacity, are mak 
ing of education a series of miserable compromises: 
How ignorant can we let a child grow to be in order 
to make him the best cotton mill operative ? What is 
the least sum that will keep the average youth out of 
'jail? How many months saved on a high school 
course will make the largest export of wheat ? 

If we realized that children are the future, that 
immortality is the present child, that no education 
which educates can possibly be too costly, then we 
know that the menace of Kaiserism which called for 
the expenditure of more than 332 thousand millions 
of dollars was not a whit more pressing than the 
menace of ignorance, and that no nation tomorrow 
will call itself civilized which does not give every 
single human being college and vocational training 
free and under the best teaching force procurable for 
love or money. 



THE IMMORTAL CHILD 213 

This world has never taken the education of chil 
dren seriously. Misled by selfish dreamings of per 
sonal life forever, we have neglected the true and 
practical immortality through the endless life of chil 
dren's children. Seeking counsels of our own souls' 
perfection, we have despised and rejected the possible 
increasing perfection of unending generations. Or 
if we are thrown back in pessimistic despair from mak 
ing living folk decent, we leap to idle speculations of 
a thousand years hereafter instead of working stead 
ily and persistently for the next generation. 

All our problems center in the child. All our hopes, 
our dreams are for our children. Has our own life 
failed? Let its lesson save the children's lives from 
similar failure. Is democracy a failure? Train up 
citizens that will make it succeed. Is wealth too 
crude, too foolish in form, and too easily stolen? 
Train up workers with honor and consciences and 
brains. Have we degraded service with menials? 
Abolish the mean spirit and implant sacrifice. Do we 
despise women? Train them as workers and thinkers 
and not as playthings, lest future generations ape 
our worst mistake. Do we despise darker races? 
Teach the children its fatal cost in spiritual degrada 
tion and murder, teach them that to hate " niggers " 
or " chinks " is to crucify souls like their own. Is 
there anything we would accomplish with human be 
ings? Do it with the immortal child, with a stretch 
of endless time for doing it and with infinite possibili 
ties to work on. 

Is this our attitude toward education? It is not 



214 DARKWATER 

neither in England nor America in France nor Ger 
many with black nor white nor yellow folk. Educa 
tion to the modern world is a burden which we are 
driven to carry. We shirk and complain. We do just 
as little as possible and only threat or catastrophe in 
duces us to do more than a minimum. If the ignorant 
mass, panting to know, revolts, we dole them gingerly 
enough knowledge to pacify them temporarily. If, as 
in the Great War, we discover soldiers too ignorant 
to use our machines of murder and destruction, we 
train them to use machines of murder and destruc 
tion. If mounting wealth calls for intelligent work 
men, we rush tumultuously to train workers in order 
to increase our wealth. But of great, broad plans to 
train all men for all things to make a universe intelli 
gent, busy, good, creative and beautiful where in this 
wide world is such an educational program? To an 
nounce it is to invite gasps or Brobdingnagian laughter. 
It cannot be done. It will cost too much. 

What has been done with man can be done with 
men, if the world tries long enough and hard enough. 
And as to the cost all the wealth of the world, save 
that necessary for sheer decent existence and for the 
maintenance of past civilization, is, and of right ought 
to be, the property of the children for their education. 

I mean it. In one year, 1917, we spent $96,700,- 
000,000 for war. We blew it away to murder, maim, 
and destroy! Why? Because the blind, brutal crime 
of powerful and selfish interests made this path 
through hell the only visible way to heaven. We did 
it. We had to do it, and we are glad the putrid horror 



THE IMMORTAL CHILD 215 

is over. But, now, are we prepared to spend less to 
make a world in which the resurgence of such devilish 
pow^r will be impossible ? 

Do we really want war to cease? 

Then educate the children of this generation at a 
cost no whit less and if necessary a hundred times 
as great as the cost of the Great War. 

Last year, 1917, education cost us $915,000,000. 

Next year it ought to cost us at least two thousand 
million dollars. We should spend enough money to 
hire the best teaching force possible the best organiz 
ing and directing ability in the land, even if we have to 
strip the railroads and meat trust. We should dot 
city and country with the most efficient, sanitary, and 
beautiful school -houses the world knows and we 
should give every American child common school, 
high school, and college training and then vocational 
guidance in earning a living. 

Is this a dream? 

Can we afford less ? 

Consider our so-called educational " problems " i 
" How may we keep pupils in the high school ? " 
Feed and clothe them. " Shall we teach Latin, Greek, 
and mathematics to the ' masses ' ? " If they are worth 
teaching to anybody, the masses need them most. 
"Who shall go to college?" Everybody. "When 
shall culture training give place to technical educa 
tion for work?" Never. 

These questions are not "problems." They are 
simply " excuses " for spending less time and money 
on the next generation. Given ten millions of dollars 



DARKWATER 

a year, what can we best do with the education of a 
million children? The real answer is kill nine hun 
dred and ninety thousand of them quickly and not 
gradually, and make thoroughly-trained men and 
women of the other ten thousand. But who set the 
limit of ten million dollars? Who says it shall not 
be ten thousand millions, as it ought to be ? You and 
I say it, and in saying it we sin against the Holy 
Ghost. 

We sin because in our befuddled brains we have 
linked money and education inextricably. We assume 
that only the wealthy have a real right to education 
when, in fact, being born is being given a right to 
college training. Our wealth today is, we all know, 
distributed mainly by chance inheritance and personal 
favor and yet we attempt to base the right to educa 
tion on this foundation. The result is grotesque! 
We bury genius; we send it to jail; we ridicule and 
mock it, while we send mediocrity and idiocy to col 
lege, gilded and crowned. For three hundred years 
we have denied black Americans an education and 
now we exploit them before a gaping world: See 
how ignorant and degraded they are! All they are 
fit for is education for cotton-picking and dish-wash 
ing. When Dunbar and Taylor happen along, we are 
torn between something like shamefaced anger or 
impatient amazement. 

A world guilty of this last and mightiest war has 
no right to enjoy or create until it has made the future 
safe from another Arkansas or Rheims. To this there 
is but one patent way, proved and inescapable, Educa- 



THE IMMORTAL CHILD 217 

tion, and that not for me or for you but for the Im 
mortal Child. And that child is of all races and all 
colors. All children are the children of all and not of 
individuals and families and races. The whole gen 
eration must be trained and guided and out of it 
as out of a huge reservoir must be lifted all genius, 
talent, and intelligence to serve all the world. 



Almighty Death * 

Softly, quite softly 

For I hear, above the murmur of the sea, 

Faint and far-fallen footsteps, as of One 

Who comes from out beyond the endless ends of Time, 

With voice that downward looms thro* singing stars; 

Its subtle sound I see thro' these long-darkened eyes, 

I hear the Light He bringeth on His hands 

Almighty Death! 

Softly, oh, softly, lest He pass me by, 

And that unquivering Light toward which my longing 

soul 

And tortured body through these years have writhed, 
Fade to the dun darkness of my days. 

Softly, full softly, let me rise and greet 

The strong, low luting of that long-awaited call; 

Swiftly be all my good and going gone, 

And this vast veiled and vanquished vigor of my soul 

Seek somehow otherwhere its rest and goal, 

Where endless spaces stretch, 

Where endless time doth moan, 

Where endless light doth pour 

Thro' the black kingdoms of eternal death. 

Then haply I may see what things I have not seen, 
Then I may know what things I have not known; 
Then may I do my dreams. 
Farewell ! No sound of idle mourning let there be 

*For Joseph Pulitzer, October 29, 1911. 

219. 



220 DARKWATER 

To shudder this full silence save the voice 
Of children little children, white and black, 
Whispering the deeds I tried to do for them; 
While I at last unguided and alone 
Pass softly, full softly. 



IX 
OF BEAUTY AND DEATH 

FOR long years we of the world gone wild have looked 
into the face of death and smiled. Through all our 
bitter tears we knew how beautiful it was to die 
for that which our souls called sufficient. Like all 
true beauty this thing of dying was so simple, so 
matter-of-fact. The boy clothed in his splendid youth 
stood before us and laughed in his own jolly way, 
went and was gone. Suddenly the world was full of 
the fragrance of sacrifice. We left our digging and 
burden-bearing; we turned from our scraping and 
twisting of things and words; we paused from our 
hurrying hither and thither and walking up and down, 
and asked in half-whisper: this Death is this Life? 
And is its beauty real or false? And of this heart- 
questioning I am writing. 

My friend, who is pale and positive, said to me 
yesterday, as the tired sun was nodding: 

:< You are too sensitive." 

I admit, I am sensitive. I am artificial. I cringe 
or am bumptious or immobile. I am intellectually 
dishonest, art-blind, and I lack humor. 

" Why don't you stop all this ? " she retorts trium 
phantly. 

221 



222 DARKWATER 

You will not let us. 

" There you go, again. You know that I " 

Wait! I answer. Wait! 

I arise at seven. The milkman has neglected me. 
He pays little attention to colored districts. My white 
neighbor glares elaborately. I walk softly, lest I dis 
turb him. The children jeer as I pass to work. The 
women in the street car withdraw their skirts or pre 
fer to stand. The policeman is truculent. The ele 
vator man hates to serve Negroes. My job is inse 
cure because the white union wants it and does not 
want me. I try to lunch, but no place near will serve 
me. I go forty blocks to Marshall's, but the Com 
mittee of Fourteen closes Marshall's; they say white 
women frequent it. 

" Do all eating places discriminate ? " 

No, but how shall I know which do not except 

I hurry home through crowds. They mutter or get 
angry. I go to a mass-meeting. They stare. I go 
to a church. " We don't admit niggers ! " 

Or perhaps I leave the beaten track. I seek new 
work. "Our employees would not work with you; 
our customers would object." 

I ask to help in social uplift. 

" Why er we will write you." 

I enter the free field of science. Every laboratory 
door is closed and no endowments are available. 

I seek the universal mistress, Art; the studio door 
is locked. 

I write literature. " We cannot publish stories of 
colored folks of that type." It's the only type I know. 



OF BEAUTY AND DEATH 223 

This is my life. It makes me idiotic. It gives me 
artificial problems. I hesitate, I rush, I waver. In 
fine, I am sensitive ! 

My pale friend looks at me with disbelief and curl 
ing tongue. 

" Do you mean to sit there and tell me that this 
is what happens to you each day?" 

Certainly not, I answer low. 

" Then you only fear it will happen ? " 

I fear! 

"Well, haven't you the courage to rise above a 
almost a craven fear?" 

Quite quite craven is my fear, I admit; but the 
terrible thing is these things do happen! 

" But you just said " 

They do happen. Not all each day, surely not. 
But now and then now seldom, now, sudden; now 
after a week, now in a chain of awful minutes; not 
everywhere, but anywhere in Boston, in Atlanta. 
That's the hell of it. Imagine spending your life look 
ing for insults or for hiding places from them 
shrinking (instinctively and despite desperate bolster- 
ings of courage) from blows that are not always but 
ever; not each day, but each week, each month, each 
year. Just, perhaps, as you have choked back the 
craven fear and cried, " I am and will be the master of 
my " 

" No more tickets downstairs ; here's one to the 
smoking gallery." 

You hesitate. You beat back your suspicions. 



224 DARKWATER 

After all, a cigarette with Charlie Chaplin then a 
white man pushes by 

" Three in the orchestra." 

'* Yes, sir." And in he goes. 

Suddenly your heart chills. You turn yourself 
away toward the golden twinkle of the purple night 
and hesitate again. What's the use? Why not al 
ways yield always take what's offered, always bow 
to force, whether of cannon or dislike? Then the 
great fear surges in your soul, the real fear the fear 
beside which other fears are vain imaginings; the 
fear lest right there and then you are losing your own 
soul; that you are losing your own soul and the soul 
of a people; that millions of unborn children, black 
and gold and mauve, are being there and then de 
spoiled by you because you are a coward and dare not 
fight! 

Suddenly that silly orchestra seat and the cavorting 
of a comedian with funny feet become matters of 
life, death, and immortality; you grasp the pillars of 
the universe and strain as you sway back to that be- 
frilled ticket girl. You grip your soul for riot and 
murder. You choke and sputter, and she seeing that 
you are about to make a " fuss " obeys her orders and 
throws the tickets at you in contempt. Then you slink 
to your seat and crouch in the darkness before the 
film, with every tissue burning! The miserable wave 
of reaction engulfs you. To think of compelling pup 
pies to take your hard-earned money; fattening hogs 
to hate you and yours; forcing your way among 



OF BEAUTY AND DEATH 225 

cheap and tawdry idiots God! What a night of 
pleasure ! 

Here, then, is beauty and ugliness, a wide vision 
of world-sacrifice, a fierce gleam of world-hate. 
Which is life and what is death and how shall we 
face so tantalizing a contradiction? Any explanation 
must necessarily be subtle and involved. No pert and 
easy word of encouragement, no merely dark despair, 
can lay hold of the roots of these things. And first 
and before all, we cannot forget that this world is 
beautiful. Grant all its ugliness and sin the petty, 
horrible snarl of its putrid threads, which few have 
seen more near or more often than I notwithstanding 
all this, the beauty of this world is not to be 
denied. 

Casting my eyes about I dare not let them rest on 
the beauty of Love and Friend, for even if my tongue 
were cunning enough to sing this, the revelation of 
reality here is too sacred and the fancy too untrue. 
Of one world-beauty alone may we at once be brutally 
frank and that is the glory of physical nature; this, 
though the least of beauties, is divine ! 

And so, too, there are depths of human degradation 
which it is not fair for us to probe. With all their 
horrible prevalence, we cannot call them natural. But 
may we not compare the least of the world's beauty 
with the least of its ugliness not murder, starvation, 
and rapine, with love and friendship and creation 
but the glory of sea and sky and city, with the little 
hatef ulnesses and thoughtlessnesses of race prejudice, 



226 DARKWATER 

that out of such juxtaposition we may, perhaps, de 
duce some rule of beauty and life or death? 

There mountains hurl themselves against the stars 
and at their feet lie black and leaden seas. Above 
float clouds white, gray, and inken, while the clear, 
impalpable air springs and sparkles like new wine. 
Last night we floated on the calm bosom of the sea 
in the southernmost haven of Mount Desert. The 
water flamed and sparkled. The sun had gone, but 
above the crooked back of cumulus clouds, dark and 
pink with radiance, and on the other sky aloft to the 
eastward piled the gorgeous-curtained mists of even 
ing. The radiance faded and a shadowy velvet veiled 
the mountains, a humid depth of gloom behind which 
lurked all the mysteries of life and death, while above, 
the clouds hung ashen and dull; lights twinkled and 
flashed along the shore, boats glided in the twilight, 
and the little puffing of motors droned away. Then 
was the hour to talk of life and the meaning of life, 
while above gleamed silently, suddenly, star on star. 

Bar Harbor lies beneath a mighty mountain, a great, 
bare, black mountain that sleeps above the town; but 
as you leave, it rises suddenly, threateningly, until far 
away on Frenchman's Bay it looms above the town 
in withering vastness, as if to call all that little world 
petty save itself. Beneath the cool, wide stare of 
that great mountain, men cannot live as giddily as in 
some lesser summer's playground. Before the un 
veiled face of nature, as it lies naked on the Maine 
coast, rises a certain human awe. 



OF BEAUTY AND DEATH 227 

God molded his world largely and mightily off this 
marvelous coast and meant that in the tired days of 
life men should come and worship here and renew 
their spirit. This I have done and turning I go to 
work again. As we go, ever the mountains of Mount 
Desert rise and greet us on our going somber, rock- 
ribbed and silent, looking unmoved on the moving 
world, yet conscious of their everlasting strength. 

About us beats the sea the sail-flecked, restless 
sea, humming its tune about our flying keel, unmindful 
of the voices of men. The land sinks to meadows, 
black pine forests, with here and there a blue and 
wistful mountain. Then there are islands bold rocks 
above the sea, curled meadows; through and about 
them roll ships, weather-beaten and patched of sail, 
strong-hulled and smoking, light gray and shining. 
All the colors of the sea lie about us gray and yel 
lowing greens and doubtful blues, blacks not quite 
black, tinted silvers and golds and dreaming whites. 
Long tongues of dark and golden land lick far out 
into the tossing waters, and the white gulls sail and 
scream above them. It is a mighty coast ground out 
and pounded, scarred, crushed, and carven in massive, 
frightful lineaments. Everywhere stand the pines 
the little dark and steadfast pines that smile not, 
neither weep, but wait and wait. Near us lie isles 
of flesh and blood, white cottages, tiled and meadowed. 
Afar lie shadow-lands, high mist-hidden hills, moun 
tains boldly limned, yet shading to the sky, faint and 
unreal. 

.We skirt the pine-clad shores, chary of men, and 



228 DARKWATER 

know how bitterly winter kisses these lonely shores 
to fill yon row of beaked ice houses that creep up the 
hills. We are sailing due westward and the sun, yet 
two hours high, is blazoning a fiery glory on the 
sea that spreads and gleams like some broad, jeweled 
trail, to where the blue and distant shadow-land lifts 
its carven front aloft, leaving 1 , as it gropes, shades of 
shadows beyond. 

Why do not those who are scarred in the world's 
battle and hurt by its hardness travel to these places 
of beauty and drown themselves in the utter joy of 
life? I asked this once sitting in a Southern home. 
Outside the spring of a Georgia February was luring 
gold to the bushes and languor to the soft air. Around 
me sat color in human flesh brown that crimsoned 
readily; dim soft-yellow that escaped description; 
cream-like duskiness that shadowed to rich tints of 
autumn leaves. And yet a suggested journey in the 
world brought no response. 

" I should think you would like to travel/' said 
the white one. 

But no, the thought of a journey seemed to depress 
them. 

Did you ever see a " Jim-Crow " waiting-room ? 
There are always exceptions, as at Greensboro but 
usually there is no heat in winter and no air in sum 
mer; with undisturbed loafers and train hands and 
broken, disreputable settees; to buy a ticket is torture; 
you stand and stand and wait and wait until every 
white person at the " other window " is waited on. 



OF BEAUTY AND DEATH 229 

Then the tired agent yells across, because all the 
tickets and money are over there 
" What d'ye want ? What ? Where ? " 
The agent browbeats and contradicts you, hurries 
and confuses the ignorant, gives many persons the 
wrong change, compels some to purchase their tickets 
on the train at a higher price, and sends you and me 
out on the platform, burning with indignation and 
hatred ! 

The " Jim-Crow " car is up next the baggage car 
and engine. It stops out beyond the covering in the 
rain or sun or dust. Usually there is no step to help 
you climb on and often the car is a smoker cut in two 
and you must pass through the white smokers or else 
they pass through your part, with swagger and noise 
and stares. Your compartment is a half or a quarter 
or an eighth of the oldest car in service on the road. 
Unless it happens to be a through express, the plush is 
caked with dirt, the floor is grimy, and the windows 
dirty. An impertinent white newsboy occupies two 
seats at the end of the car and importunes you to the 
point of rage to buy cheap candy, Coco-Cola, and 
worthless, if not vulgar, books. He yells and swag 
gers, while a continued stream of white men saunters 
back and forth from the smoker to buy and hear. 
The white train crew from the baggage car uses the 
" Jim-Crow " to lounge in and perform their toilet. 
The conductor appropriates two seats for himself and 
his papers and yells gruffly for your tickets before the 
train has scarcely started. It is best not to ask him 
for information even in the gentlest tones. His in- 



230 DARKWATER 

formation is for white persons chiefly. It is difficult 
to get lunch or clean water. Lunch rooms either 
don't serve niggers or serve them at some dirty and 
ill-attended hole in the wall. As for toilet rooms, 
don't! If you have to change cars, be wary of junc 
tions which are usually without accommodation and 
filled with quarrelsome white persons who hate a 
"darky dressed up." You are apt to have the com 
pany of a sheriff and a couple of meek or sullen black 
prisoners on part of your way and dirty colored sec 
tion hands will pour in toward night and drive you 
to the smallest corner. 

" No," said the little lady in the corner (she looked 
like an ivory cameo and her dress flowed on her like 
a caress), "we don't travel much." 

Pessimism is cowardice. The man who cannot 
frankly acknowledge the " Jim-Crow " car as a fact 
and yet live and hope is simply afraid either of him 
self or of the world. There is not in the world a 
more disgraceful denial of human brotherhood than 
the "Jim-Crow" car of the southern United States; 
but, too, just as true, there is nothing more beautiful 
in the universe than sunset and moonlight on Montego 
Bay in far Jamaica. And both things are true and 
both belong to this our world, and neither can be 
denied. 

The sun, prepared to cross that awful border which 
men call Night and Death, marshals his hosts. I 
seem to see the spears of mighty horsemen flash 



OF BEAUTY AND DEATH 231 

golden in the light; empurpled banners flame afar, and 
the low thunder of marching hosts thrills with the 
thunder of the sea. Athwart his own path, screen 
ing a face of fire, he throws cloud masses, masking 
his trained guns. And then the miracle is done. The 
host passes with roar too vast for human ear and the 
sun is set, leaving the frightened moon and blinded 
stars. 

In the dusk the green-gold palms turn their star- 
like faces and stretch their fan-like fingers, lifting 
themselves proudly, lest any lordly leaf should know 
the taint of earth. 

Out from the isle the serpent hill thrusts its great 
length around the bay, shouldering back the waters 
and the shadows. Ghost rains sweep down, smearing 
his rugged sides, yet on he writhes, undulant with 
pine and palm, gleaming until his low, sharp head and 
lambent tongue, grown gray and pale and silver in 
the dying day, kisses the molten gold of the golden 
sea. 

Then comes the moon. Like fireflies nesting in the 
hand of God gleams the city, dim-swathed by fairy 
palms. A long, thin thumb, mist-mighty, points 
shadowy to the Spanish Main, while through the 
fingers foam the Seven Seas. Above the calm and 
gold-green moon, beneath the wind-wet earth; and 
here, alone, my soul enchained, enchanted! 

From such heights of holiness men turn to master 
the world. All the pettiness of life drops away and 
it becomes a great battle before the Lord. His trum- 



232 DARKWATER 

pet, where does it sound and whither? I go. I 
saw Montego Bay at the beginning of the World 
War. The cry for service as high as heaven, as wide 
as human feeling, seemed filling the earth. What 
were petty slights, silly insults, paltry problems, beside 
this call to do and dare and die? We black folk 
offered our services to fight. What happened? Most 
Americans have forgotten the extraordinary series of 
events which worked the feelings of black America to 
fever heat. 

First was the refusal to accept Negro volunteers for 
the army, except in the four black regiments already 
established. While the nation was combing the coun 
try for volunteers for the regular army, it would not 
let the American Negro furnish even his proportionate 
quota of regular soldiers. This led to some grim 
bantering among Negroes : 

" Why do you want to volunteer ? " asked many. 
"Why should you fight for this country?" 

Before we had chance to reply to this, there came 
the army draft bill and the proposal by Vardaman 
and his ilk to except Negroes. We protested to 
Washington in various ways, and while we were in 
sisting that colored men should be drafted just as 
other citizens, the bill went through with two little 
"jokers." 

First, it provided that Negroes should be drafted, 
but trained in "separate" units; and, secondly, it 
somewhat ambiguously permitted men to be drafted 
for " labor." 

A wave of fear and unrest spread among Negroes 



OF BEAUTY AND DEATH 233 

and while we were looking at both these provisions 
askance, suddenly we received the draft registration 
blank. It directed persons " of African descent " 
to " tear off the corner ! " Probably never before in 
the history of the United States has a portion of 
the citizens been so openly and crassly discriminated 
against by action of the general government. It was 
disheartening, and on top of it came the celebrated 
" German plots." It was alleged in various parts of 
the country with singular unanimity that Germans 
were working among the Negroes, and it was further 
intimated that this would make the Negroes too dan 
gerous an element to trust with guns. To us, of course, 
it looked as though the discovery and the proposition 
came from the same thinly-veiled sources. 

Considering carefully this series of happenings the 
American Negro sensed an approaching crisis and 
faced a puzzling dilemma. Here was evidently pre 
paring fertile ground for the spread of disloyalty and 
resentment among the black masses, as they were 
forced to choose apparently between forced labor or a 
" Jim-Crow " draft. Manifestly when a minority 
group is thus segregated and forced out of the nation, 
they can in reason do but one thing take advantage 
of the disadvantage. In this case we demanded 
colored officers for the colored troops. 

General Wood was early approached and asked to 
admit suitable candidates to Plattsburg. He refused. 
We thereupon pressed the government for a " sepa 
rate " camp for the training of Negro officers. Not 
only did the War Department hesitate at this request. 



234 DARKWATER 

but strong opposition arose among colored people 
themselves. They said we were going too far. " We 
will obey the law, but to ask for voluntary segregation 
is to insult ourselves." But strong, sober second 
thought came to our rescue. We said to our protest 
ing brothers: "We face a condition, not a theory. 
There is not the slightest chance of our being ad 
mitted to white camps; therefore, it is either a case of 
a ' Jim-Crow ' officers' training camp or no colored 
officers. Of the two things no colored officers would 
be the greater calamity." 

Thus we gradually made up our minds. But the 
War Department still hesitated. It was besieged, and 
when it presented its final argument, "We have no 
place for such a camp," the trustees of Howard Uni 
versity said : " Take our campus." Eventually twelve 
hundred colored cadets were assembled at Fort Des 
Moines for officers' training. 

The city of Des Moines promptly protested, but it 
finally changed its mind. Des Moines never before 
had seen such a class of colored men. They rapidly 
became popular with all classes and many encomiums 
were passed upon their conduct. Their commanding 
colonel pronounced their work first class and de 
clared that they presented excellent material for 
officers. 

Meantime, with one accord, the thought of the 
colored people turned toward Colonel Young, their 
highest officer in the regular army. Charles Young 
is a heroic figure. He is the typical soldier, silent, 
uncomplaining, brave, and efficient! From his days 



OF BEAUTY AND DEATH 235 

at West Point throughout his thirty years of serv 
ice he has taken whatever task was assigned him 
and performed it efficiently; and there is no doubt 
but that the army has been almost merciless in the 
requirements which it has put upon this splendid 
officer. He came through all with flying colors. In 
Haiti, in Liberia, in western camps, in the Sequoia 
Forests of California, and finally with Pershing in 
Mexico, in every case he triumphed. Just at the time 
we were looking to the United States government to 
call him to head the colored officers' training at Des 
Moines, he was retired from the army, because of 
" high blood pressure! " There is no disputing army 
surgeons and their judgment in this case may be justi 
fied, but coming at the time it did, nearly every Negro 
in the United States believed that the "high blood 
pressure " that retired Colonel Young was in the 
prejudiced heads of the Southern oligarchy who were 
determined that no American Negro should ever wear 
the stars of a General. 

To say that Negroes of the United States were dis 
heartened at the retirement of Colonel Young is to 
put it mildly, but there was more trouble. The pro 
vision that Negroes must be trained separately looked 
simple and was simple in places where there were large 
Negro contingents, but in the North with solitary 
Negroes drafted here and there we had some extra 
ordinary developments. Regiments appeared with one 
Negro where the Negro had to be separated like a 
pest and put into a house or even a village by himself 
while the commander frantically telegraphed to Wash- 



236 DARKWATER 

ington. Small wonder that one poor fellow in Ohio 
solved the problem by cutting his throat. The whole 
process of drafting Negroes had to be held up until 
the government could find methods and places for 
assembling them. 

Then came Houston. In a moment the nation for 
got the whole record of one of the most celebrated 
regiments in the United States Army and its splen 
did service in the Indian Wars and in the Philippines. 
It was the first regiment mobilized in the Spanish- 
American War and it was the regiment that volun 
teered to a man to clean up the yellow fever camps 
when others hesitated. It was one of the regiments 
to which Pershing said in December : 

'' Men, I am authorized by Congress to tell you all 
that our people back in the States are mightily glad 
and proud at the way the soldiers have conducted 
themselves while in Mexico, and I, General Pershing, 
can say with pride that a finer body of men never 
stood under the flag of our nation than we find here 
tonight." 

The nation, also, forgot the deep resentment mixed 
with the pale ghost of fear which Negro soldiers call 
up in the breasts of the white South. It is not so 
much that they fear that the Negro will strike if he 
gets a chance, but rather that they assume with curi 
ous unanimity that he has reason to strike, that any 
other persons in his circumstances or treated as he is 
would rebel. Instead of seeking to relieve the cause 
of such a possible feeling, most of them strain every 
effort to bottle up the black man's resentment. Is it 



OF BEAUTY AND DEATH 237 

inconceivable that now and then it bursts all bounds, 
as at Brownsville and Houston? 

So in the midst of this mental turmoil came Hous 
ton and East St. Louis. At Houston black soldiers, 
goaded and insulted, suddenly went wild and " shot 
up " the town. At East St. Louis white strikers on 
war work killed and mobbed Negro workingmen, and 
as a result 19 colored soldiers were hanged and 51 
imprisoned for life for killing 17 whites at Hous 
ton, while for killing 125 Negroes in East St. Louis, 
20 white men were imprisoned, none for more than 
15 years, and 10 colored men with them. 

Once upon a time I took a great journey in this 
land to three of the ends of our world and over seven 
thousand mighty miles. I saw the grim desert and 
the high ramparts of the Rocky Mountains. Three 
days I flew from the silver beauty of Seattle to the 
somber whirl of Kansas City. Three days I flew 
from the brute might of Chicago to the air of the 
Angels in California, scented with golden flowers, 
where the homes of men crouch low and loving on 
the good, broad earth, as though they were kissing 
her blossoms. Three days I flew through the em 
pire of Texas, but all these shall be tales untold, for 
in all this journey I saw but one thing that lived 
and will live eternal in my soul, the Grand Canon. 

It is a sudden void in the bosom of earth, down to 
its entrails a wound where the dull titanic knife has 
turned and twisted in the hole, leaving its edges livid, 
scarred, jagged, and pulsing over the white, and red, 



\ 

238 DARKWATER 

and purple of its mighty flesh, while down below 
down, down below, in black and severed vein, boils 
the dull and sullen flood of the Colorado. 

It is awful. There can be nothing like it. It is the 
earth and sky gone stark and raving mad. The moun 
tains up-twirled, disbodied and inverted, stand on their 
peaks and throw their bowels to the sky. Their 
arth is air; their ether blood-red rock engreened. 
You stand upon their roots and fall into their pin 
nacles, a mighty mile. 

Behold this mauve and purple mocking of time and 
space! See yonder peak! No human foot has trod 
it. Into that blue shadow only the eye of God has 
looked. Listen to the accents of that gorge which 
mutters : " Before Abraham was, I am." Is yonder 
wall a hedge of black or is it the rampart between 
heaven and hell? I see greens, is it moss or giant 
pines? I see specks that may be boulders. Ever the 
winds sigh and drop into those sun-swept silences. 
Ever the gorge lies motionless, unmoved, until I fear. 
It is a grim thing, unholy, terrible! It is human 
some mighty drama unseen, unheard, is playing there 
its tragedies or mocking comedy, and the laugh of 
endless years is shrieking onward from peak to peak, 
unheard, unechoed, and unknown. 

One throws a rock into the abyss. It gives back 
no sound. It falls on silence the voice of its thunders 
cannot reach so far. It is not it cannot be a mere, 
inert, unfeeling, brute fact its grandeur is too serene 
: its beauty too divine! It is not red, and blue, and 
green, but, ah! the shadows and the shades of all the 



OF BEAUTY AND DEATH 239 

world, glad colorings touched with a hesitant spiritual 
delicacy. What does it mean what does it mean? 
Tell me, black and boiling water ! 

It is not real. It is but shadows. The shading of 
eternity. Last night yonder tesselated palace was 
gloom dark, brooding thought and sin, while hither 
rose the mountains of the sun, golden, blazing, en 
sanguined. It was a dream. This blue and brilliant 
morning shows all those burning peaks alight, 
while here, shapeless, mistful, brood the shadowed 
towers. 

I have been down into the entrails of earth down, 
down by straight and staring cliffs down by sound 
ing waters and sun-strewn meadows; down by green 
pastures and still waters, by great, steep chasms 
down by the gnarled and twisted fists of God to the 
deep, sad moan of the yellow river that did this thing 
of wonder, a little winding river with death in its 
depth and a crown of glory in its flying hair. 

I have seen what eye of man was never meant to 
see. I have profaned the sanctuary. I have looked 
upon the dread disrobing of the Night, and yet I live. 
Ere I hid my head she was standing in her cavern 
halls, glowing coldly westward her feet were black 
ness: her robes, empurpled, flowed mistily from 
shoulder down in formless folds of folds; her head, 
pine-crowned, was set with jeweled stars. I turned 
away and dreamed the canon, the awful, its depths 
called; its heights shuddered. Then suddenly I arose 
and looked. Her robes were falling. At dim-dawn 
they hung purplish-green and black. Slowly she 



240 DARKWATER 

stripped them from her gaunt and shapely limbs 
her cold, gray garments shot with shadows stood re 
vealed. Down dropped the black-blue robes, gray- 
pearled, and slipped, leaving a filmy, silken, misty 
thing, and underneath I glimpsed her limbs of utter 
light. 

My God! For what am I thankful this night? 
For nothing. For nothing but the most common 
place of commonplaces; a table of gentlewomen and 
gentlemen soft-spoken, sweet-tempered, full of hu 
man sympathy, who made me, a stranger, one of 
them. Ours was a fellowship of common books, 
common knowledge, mighty aims. We could laugh 
and joke and think as friends and the Thing the 
hateful, murderous, dirty Thing which in America 
we call " Nigger-hatred " was not only not there 
it could not even be understood. It was a curious 
monstrosity at which civilized folk laughed or looked 
puzzled. There was no elegant and elaborate con 
descension of " We once had a colored servant " 
" My father was an Abolitionist " " I've always been 
interested in your people "there was only the com 
munity of kindred souls, the delicate reverence for 
the Thought that led, the quick deference to the guest. 
You left in quiet regret, knowing that they were not 
discussing you behind your back with lies and license. 
God! It was simply human decency and I had to 
be thankful for it because I am an American Negro, 
and white America, with saving exceptions, is cruel 
lo everything that has black blood and this was 



OF BEAUTY AND DEATH 241 

Paris, in the years of salvation, 1919. Fellow blacks, 
we must join the democracy of Europe. 

Toul! Dim through the deepening dark of early 
afternoon, I saw its towers gloom dusky toward the 
murk of heaven. We wound in misty roads and 
dropped upon the city through the great throats of 
its walled bastions. There lay France a strange, 
unknown, unfamiliar France. The city was dispos 
sessed. Through its streets its narrow, winding 
streets, old and low and dark, carven and quaint, 
poured thousands upon thousands of strange feet of 
khaki-clad foreigners, and the echoes threw back awk 
ward syllables that were never French. Here was 
France beaten to her knees yet fighting as never na 
tion fought before, calling in her death agony across 
the seas till her help came and with all its strut and 
careless braggadocio saved the worthiest nation of 
the world from the wickedest fate ever plotted by 
Fools. 

Tim Brimm was playing by the town-pump. Tim 
Brimm and the bugles of Harlem blared in the little 
streets of Maron in far Lorraine. The tiny streets 
were seas of mud. Dank mist and rain sifted through 
the cold air above the blue Moselle. Soldiers sol 
diers everywhere black soldiers, boys of Washing 
ton, Alabama, Philadelphia, Mississippi. Wild and 
sweet and wooing leapt the strains upon the air. 
French children gazed in wonder women left their 
washing. Up in the window stood a black Major, 



242 DARKWATER 

a Captain, a Teacher, and I with tears behind our 
smiling eyes. Tim Brimm was playing by the town- 
pump. 

The audience was framed in smoke. It rose ghost 
like out of memories bitter memories of the officer 
near dead of pneumonia whose pain was lighted up 
by the nurses waiting to know whether he must be 
" Jim-Crowed " with privates or not. Memories of 
that great last morning when the thunders of hell 
called the Ninety-second to its last drive. Memories 
of bitter humiliations, determined triumphs, great vic 
tories, and bugle-calls that sounded from earth to 
heaven. Like memories framed in the breath of God, 
my audience peered in upon me good, brown faces 
with great, kind, beautiful eyes black soldiers of 
America rescuing beloved France and the words 
came in praise and benediction there in the "Y," 
with its little stock of cigarettes and candies and its 
rusty wood stove. 

" Alors" said Madame, " quatre sont morts" 
four dead four tall, strong sons dead for France 
sons like the sweet and blue-eyed daughter who was 
hiding her brave smile in the dusk. It was a tiny 
stone house whose front window lipped the passing 
sidewalk where ever tramped the feet of black sol 
diers marching home. There was a cavernous ward 
robe, a great fireplace invaded by a new and jaunty 
iron stove. Vast, thick piles of bedding rose in yonder 
corner. Without was the crowded kitchen and up 
a half -stair was our bedroom that gave upon a tiny 
court with arched stone staircase and one green tree. 



OF BEAUTY AND DEATH 243 

We were a touching family party held together by a 
great sorrow and a great joy. How we laughed over 
the salad that got brandy instead of vinegar how we 
ate the golden pile of fried potatoes and how we 
pored over the post-card from the Lieutenant of 
the Senegalese dear little vale of crushed and risen 
France, in the day when Negroes went " over the 
top " at Pont-a-Mousson. 

Paris, Paris by purple facade of the opera, the 
crowd on the Boulevard des Italiens and the great 
swing of the Champs Elysees. But not the Paris 
the world knows. Paris with its soul cut to the core 
feverish, crowded, nervous, hurried; full of uni 
forms and mourning bands, with cafes closed at 9 130 
no sugar, scarce bread, and tears so interwined 
with joy that there is scant difference. Paris has 
been dreaming a nightmare, and though she awakes, 
the grim terror is upon her it lies on the sand- 
closed art treasures of the Louvre. Only the flowers 
are there, always the flowers, the Roses of England 
and the Lilies of France. 

New York! Behind the Liberty that faces free 
France rise the white cliffs of Manhattan, tier on tier, 
with a curving pinnacle, towers square and twin, a 
giant inkwell daintily stoppered, an ancient pyramid 
enthroned; beneath, low ramparts wide and mighty; 
while above, faint-limned against the turbulent sky, 
looms the vast grace of that Cathedral of the Pur- 



244 DARKWATER 

chased and Purchasing Poor, topping the world and 
pointing higher. 

Yonder the gray cobwebs of the Brooklyn bridges 
leap the sea, and here creep the argosies from all 
earth's ends. We move to this swift home on dun 
and swelling waters and hear as we come the heart 
beats of the new world. 

New York and night from the Brooklyn Bridge: 
The bees and fireflies flit and twinkle in their vast 
hives; curved clouds like the breath of gods hover 
between the towers and the moon. One hears the 
hiss of lightnings, the deep thunder of human things, 
and a fevered breathing as of some attendant and 
invincible Powers. The glow of burning millions 
melts outward into dim and fairy outlines until afar 
the liquid music born of rushing crowds drips like a 
benediction on the sea. 

New York and morning : the sun is kissing the timid 
dew in Central Park, and from the Fountain of 
Plenty one looks along that world street, Fifth Ave 
nue, and walks toward town. The earth lifts and 
curves graciously down from the older mansions of 
princes to the newer shops of luxury. Egypt and 
Abyssinia, Paris and Damascus, London and India 
caress you by the way; churches stand aloof while 
the shops swell to emporiums. But all this is noth 
ing. Everything is mankind. Humanity stands and 
'flies and walks and rolls about the poor, the price 
less, the world-known and the forgotten; child and 



OF BEAUTY AND DEATH 245 

grandfather, king and leman the pageant of the 
world goes by, set in a frame of stone and jewels, 
clothed in scarlet and rags. Princes Street and the 
Elysian Fields, the Strand and the Ringstrasse these 
are the Ways of the World today. 

New York and twilight, there where the Sixth 
Avenue " L " rises and leaps above the tenements 
into the free air at noth Street. It circles like a 
bird with heaven and St. John's above and earth and 
the sweet green and gold of the Park beneath. Be 
yond lie all the blue mists and mysteries of distance; 
beneath, the city rushes and crawls. Behind echo all 
the roar and war and care and maze of the wide 
city set in its sullen darkening walls, flashing weird 
and crimson farewells. Out at the sides the stirs 
twinkle. 

Again New York and Night and Harlem. A dark 
city of fifty thousand rises like magic from the earth. 
Gone is the white world, the pale lips, the lank hair; 
gone is the West and North the East and South is 
here triumphant. The street is crowd and leisure 
and laughter. Everywhere black eyes, black and 
brown, and frizzled hair curled and sleek, and skins 
that riot with luscious color and deep, burning blood. 
Humanity is packed dense in high piles of close-knit 
homes that lie in layers above gray shops of food 
and clothes and drink, with here and there a moving- 
picture show. Orators declaim on the corners, lovers 
lark in the streets, gamblers glide by the saloons, 



246 DARKWATER 

workers lounge wearily home. Children scream and 
run and frolic, and all is good and human and beauti 
ful and ugly and evil, even as Life is elsewhere. 

And then the Veil. It drops as drops the night 
on southern seas vast, sudden, unanswering. There 
is Hate behind it, and Cruelty and Tears. As one 
peers through its intricate, unfathomable pattern of 
ancient, old, old design, one sees blood and guilt 
and misunderstanding. And yet it hangs there, this 
Veil, between Then and Now, between Pale and Col 
ored and Black and White between You and Me. 
Surely it is a thought-thing, tenuous, intangible; yet 
just as surely is it true and terrible and not in our 
little day may you and I lift it. We may feverishly 
unravel its edges and even climb slow with giant 
shears to where its ringed and gilded top nestles 
close to the throne of God. But as we work and 
climb we shall see through streaming eyes and hear 
with aching ears, lynching and murder, cheating and 
despising, degrading and lying, so flashed and fleshed 
through this vast hanging darkness that the Doer 
never sees the Deed and the Victim knows not the 
Victor and Each hates All in wild and bitter ignorance. 
Listen, O Isles, to these Voices from within the Veil, 
for they portray the most human hurt of the Twentieth 
Cycle of that poor Jesus who was called the Christ ! 

There is something in the nature of Beauty that 
demands an end. Ugliness may be indefinite. It 
may trail off into gray endlessness. But Beauty must 



OF BEAUTY AND DEATH 247 

be complete whether it be a field of poppies or a 
great life, it must end, and the End is part and 
triumph of the Beauty. I know there are those who 
envisage a beauty eternal. But I cannot. I can 
dream of great and never-ending processions of beau 
tiful things and visions and acts. But each must be 
complete or it cannot for me exist. 

On the other hand, Ugliness to me is eternal, not. 
in the essence but in its incompleteness; but its eter 
nity does not daunt me, for its eternal unfulfilment 
is a cause of joy. There is in it nothing new or 
unexpected; it is the old evil stretching out and ever 
seeking the end it cannot find; it may coil and writhe 
and recur in endless battle to days without end, but 
it is the same human ill and bitter hurt. But Beauty 
is fulfilment. It satisfies. It is always new and 
strange. It is the reasonable thing. Its end is Death 
the sweet silence of perfection, the calm and balance 
of utter music. Therein is the triumph of Beauty. 

So strong is the spell of beauty that there are those 
who, contradicting their own knowledge and experi 
ence, try to say that all is beauty. They are called 
optimists, and they lie. All is not beauty. Ugliness 
and hate and ill are here with all their contradiction 
and illogic; they will always be here perhaps, God 
send, with lessened volume and force, but here and 
eternal, while beauty triumphs in its great completion 
Death. We cannot conjure the end of all ugliness 
in eternal beauty, for beauty by its very being and 
definition has in each definition its ends and limits; 
but while beauty lies implicit and revealed in its end,, 



248 DARKWATER 

ugliness writhes on in darkness forever. So the ugli 
ness of continual birth fulfils itself and conquers glori 
ously only in the beautiful end, Death. 

At last to us all comes happiness, there in the Court 
of Peace, where the dead lie so still and calm and 
good. If we were not dead we would lie and listen 
to the flowers grow. We would hear the birds sing 
and see how the rain rises and blushes and burns 
and pales and dies in beauty. We would see spring, 
summer, and the red riot of autumn, and then in 
winter, beneath the soft white snow, sleep and dream 
of dreams. But we know that being dead, our 
Happiness is a fine and finished thing and that ten, a 
hundred, and a thousand years, we shall lie at rest, 
unhurt in the Court of Peace. 



The Prayers of God 

Name of God's Name ! 

Red murder reigns ; 

All hell is loose ; 

On gold autumnal air 

Walk grinning devils, barbed and hoofed; 

While high on hills of hate, 

Black-blossomed, crimson-sky'd, 

Thou sittest, dumb. 

Father Almighty ! 

This earth is mad! 

Palsied, our cunning hands; 

Rotten, our gold; 

Our argosies reel and stagger 

Over empty seas; 

All the long aisles 

Of Thy Great Temples, God, 

Stink with the entrails 

Of our souls. 

And Thou art dumb. 

Above the thunder of Thy Thunders, Lord, 

Lightening Thy Lightnings, 

Rings and roars 

The dark damnation 

Of this hell of war. 

Red piles the pulp of hearts and heads 

And little children's hands. 

Allah! 

Elohim ! 

Very God of God! 

Death is here! 

249 



250 DARKWATER 

Dead are the living ; deep-dead the dead. 

Dying are earth's unborn 

The babes' wide eyes of genius and of joy, 

Poems and prayers, sun-glows and earth-songs, 

Great-pictured dreams, 

Enmarbled phantasies, 

High hymning heavens all 

In this dread night 

Writhe and shriek and choke and die 

This long ghost-night 

While Thou art dumb. 

Have mercy! 

Have mercy upon us, miserable sinners! 

Stand forth, unveil Thy Face, 

Pour down the light 

That seethes above Thy Throne, 

And blaze this devil's dance to darkness! 

Hear! 

Speak! 

In Christ's Great Name 

I hear! 

Forgive me, God! 

Above the thunder I hearkened ; 

Beneath the silence, now, 

I hear! 

(Wait, God, a little space. 

It is so strange to talk with Thee 

Alone!) 

This gold? 

I took it. 

Is it Thine? 

Forgive; I did not know. 



THE PRAYERS OF GOD 251 

Blood? Is it wet with blood? 
Tis from my brother's hands. 
(I know; his hands are mine.) 
It flowed for Thee, O Lord. 

War ? Not so ; not war 

Dominion, Lord, and over black, not white ; 

Black, brown, and fawn, 

And not Thy Chosen Brood, O God, 

We murdered. 

To build Thy Kingdom, 

To drape our wives and little ones, 

And set their souls a-glitter 

For this we killed these lesser breeds 

And civilized their dead, 

Raping red rubber, diamonds, cocoa, goldl 

For this, too, once, and in Thy Name, 
I lynched a Nigger 

(He raved and writhed, 

I heard him cry, 

I felt the life-light leap and lie, 

I saw him crackle there, on high, 

I watched him wither!) 

Thou? 
Thee? 
I lynched Thee? 

Awake me, God! I sleep! 

What was that awful word Thou saidst? 

That black and riven thing was it Thee? 

That gasp was it Thine? 

This pain is it Thine ? 

Are, then, these bullets piercing Thee? 

Have all the wars of all the world, 



252 DARKWATER 

Down all dim time, drawn blood from Thee? 

Have all the lies and thefts and hates 

Is this Thy Crucifixion, God, 

And not that funny, little cross, 

With vinegar and thorns? 

Is this Thy kingdom here, not there, 

This stone and stucco drift of dreams? 

Help! 

I sense that low and awful cry 

Who cries ? 

Who weeps? 

With silent sob that rends and tears 

Can God sob? 

Who prays ? 

I hear strong prayers throng by, 
Like mighty winds on dusky moors * 
Can God pray? 

Prayest Thou, Lord, and to me? 

Thou needest me? 

Thou needest me? 

Thou needest me? 

Poor, wounded soul ! 

Of this I never dreamed. I thought 

Courage, God, 
I come! 



THE COMET 

HE stood a moment on the steps of the bank, watching 
the human river that swirled down Broadway. Few 
noticed him. Few ever noticed him save in a way 
that stung. He was outside the world "nothing!'* 
as he said bitterly. Bits of the words of the walkers 
came to him. 

"The comet?" 

" The comet " 

Everybody was talking of it. Even the president, 
as he entered, smiled patronizingly at him, and asked : 

" Well, Jim, are you scared ? " 

" No," said the messenger shortly. 

" I thought we'd journeyed through the comet's 
tail once," broke in the junior clerk affably. 

"Oh, that was Halley's," said the president; "this 
is a new comet, quite a stranger, they say wonder 
ful, wonderful! I saw it last night. Oh, by the 
way, Jim," turning again to the messenger, " I want 
you to go down into the lower vaults today." 

The messenger followed the president silently. Of 
course, they wanted him to go down to the lower 
vaults. It was too dangerous for more valuable men. 
He smiled grimly and listened. 

"Everything of value has been moved out since 

, 253 



254 DARKWATER 

the water began to seep in," said the president; "but 
we miss two volumes of old records. Suppose you 
nose around down there, it isn't very pleasant, I 
suppose." 

" Not very," said the messenger, as he walked out. 

" Well, Jim, the tail of the new comet hits us at 
noon this time," said the vault clerk, as he passed 
over the keys; but the messenger passed silently down 
the stairs. Down he went beneath Broadway, where 
the dim light filtered through the feet of hurrying 
men; down to the dark basement beneath; down into 
the blackness and silence beneath that lowest cavern. 
Here with his dark lantern he groped in the bowels 
of the earth, under the world. 

He drew a long breath as he threw back the last 
great iron door and stepped into the fetid slime within. 
Here at last was peace, and he groped moodily for 
ward. A great rat leaped past him and cobwebs 
crept across his face. He felt carefully around the 
room, shelf by shelf, on the muddied floor, and in 
crevice and corner. Nothing. Then he went back 
to the far end, where somehow the* wall felt different. 
He sounded and pushed and pried. Nothing. He 
started away. Then something brought him back. 
He was sounding and working again when suddenly 
the whole black wall swung as on mighty hinges, and 
blackness yawned beyond. He peered in; it was 
evidently a secret vault some hiding place of the 
old bank unknown in newer times. He entered hesi 
tatingly. It was a long, narrow room with shelves, 
and at the far end, an old iron chest. On a high 



THE COMET 255 

shelf lay the two missing volumes of records, and 
others. He put them carefully aside and stepped to 
the chest. It was old, strong, and rusty. He looked 
at the vast and old-fashioned lock and flashed his 
light on the hinges. They were deeply incrusted with 
rust. Looking about, he found a bit of iron and 
began to pry. The rust had eaten a hundred years, 
and it had gone deep. Slowly, wearily, the old lid 
lifted, and with a last, low groan lay bare its treasure 
and he saw the dull sheen of gold ! 

"Boom!" 

A low, grinding, reverberating crash struck upon 
his ear. He started up and looked about. All was 
black and still. He groped for his light and swung 
it about him. Then he knew! The great stone door 
had swung to. He forgot the gold and looked death 
squarely in the face. Then with a sigh he went 
methodically to work. The cold sweat stood on his 
forehead; but he searched, pounded, pushed, and 
worked until after what seemed endless hours his 
hand struck a cold bit of metal and the great door 
swung again harshly on its hinges, and then, striking 
against something soft and heavy, stopped. He had 
just room to squeeze through. There lay the body 
of the vault clerk, cold and stiff. He stared at it, 
and then felt sick and nauseated. The air seemed 
unaccountably foul, with a strong, peculiar odor. He 
stepped forward, clutched at the air, and fell fainting 
across the corpse. 

He awoke with a sense of horror, leaped from the 
body, and groped up the stairs, calling to the guard. 



256 DARKWATER 

The watchman sat as if asleep, with the gate swing 
ing free. With one glance at him the messenger hur 
ried up to the sub-vault. In vain he called to the 
guards. His voice echoed and re-echoed weirdly. 
Up into the great basement he rushed. Here another 
guard lay prostrate on his face, cold and still. A 
fear arose in the messenger's heart. He dashed up 
to the cellar floor, up into the bank. The stillness 
of death lay everywhere and everywhere bowed, bent, 
and stretched the silent forms of men. The messen 
ger paused and glanced about. He was not a man 
easily moved; but the sight was appalling! "Rob 
bery and murder/' he whispered slowly to himself 
as he saw the twisted, oozing mouth of the president 
where he lay half -buried on his desk. Then a new 
thought seized him: If they found him here alone 
wi^h all this money and all these dead men what 
would his life be worth? He glanced about, tiptoed 
cautiously to a side door, and again looked behind. 
Quietly he turned the latch and stepped out into Wall 
Street. 

How silent the street was ! Not a soul was stirring, 
and yet it was high-noon Wall Street? Broadway? 
He glanced almost wildly up and down, then across 
the street, and as he looked, a sickening horror froze 
in his limbs. With a choking cry of utter fright he 
lunged, leaned giddily against the cold building, and 
stared helplessly at the sight. 

In the great stone doorway a hundred men and 
women and children lay crushed and twisted and 
jammed, forced into that great, gaping doorway like 



THE COMET 257 

refuse in a can as if in one wild, frantic rush to 
safety, they had crushed and ground themselves to 
death. Slowly the messenger crept along the walls, 
wetting his parched mouth and trying to compre 
hend, stilling the tremor in his limbs and the rising 
terror in his heart. He met a business man, silk- 
hatted and frock-coated, who had crept, too, along 
that smooth wall and stood now stone dead with 
wonder written on his lips. The messenger turned 
his eyes hastily away and sought the curb. A woman 
leaned wearily against the signpost, her head bowed 
motionless on her lace and silken bosom. Before 
her stood a street car, silent, and within but the mes 
senger but glanced and hurried on. A grimy news 
boy sat in the gutter with the " last edition " in his 
uplifted hand: " Danger!" screamed its black head 
lines. " Warnings wired around the world. The 
Comet's tail sweeps past us at noon. Deadly gases 
expected. Close doors and windows. Seek the cel 
lar." The messenger read and staggered on. Far out 
from a window above, a girl lay with gasping face 
and sleevelets on her arms. On a store step sat a 
little, sweet-faced girl looking upward toward the 
skies, and in the carriage by her lay but the mes 
senger looked no longer. The cords gave way the 
terror burst in his veins, and with one great, gasping 
cry he sprang desperately forward and ran, ran as 
only the frightened run, shrieking and fighting the 
air until with one last wail of pain he sank on the 
grass of Madison Square and lay prone and still. 
When he arose, he gave no glance at the still and 



25 8 DARKWATER 

silent forms on the benches, but, going to a fountain, 
bathed his face; then hiding himself in a corner away 
from the drama of death, he quietly gripped himself 
and thought the thing through : The comet had swept 
the earth and this was the end. Was everybody dead ? 
He must search and see. 

He knew that he must steady himself and keep 
calm, or he would go insane. First he must go to a 
restaurant. He walked up Fifth Avenue to a famous 
hostelry and entered its gorgeous, ghost-haunted halls. 
He beat back the nausea, and, seizing a tray from dead 
hands, hurried into the street and ate ravenously, 
hiding to keep out the sights. 

" Yesterday, they would not have served me," he 
whispered, as he forced the food down. 

Then he started up the street, looking, peering, 
telephoning, ringing alarms; silent, silent all. Was 
nobody nobody he dared not think the thought and 
hurried on. 

Suddenly he stopped still. He had forgotten. My 
God! How could he have forgotten? He must rush 
to the subway then he almost laughed. No a car; 
if he could find a Ford. He saw one. Gently he lifted 
off its burden, and took his place on the seat. He 
tested the throttle. There was gas. He glided off, 
shivering, and drove up the street. Everywhere stood, 
leaned, lounged, and lay the dead, in grim and awful 
silence. On he ran past an automobile, wrecked and 
overturned ; past another, filled with a gay party whose 
smiles yet lingered on their death-struck lips; on past 
crowds and groups of cars, pausing by dead police- 



THE COMET 259 

men ; at 42nd Street he had to detour to Park Avenue 
to avoid the dead congestion. He came back on Fifth 
Avenue at 57th and flew past the Plaza and by the 
park with its hushed babies and silent throng, until 
as he was rushing past 72nd Street he heard a 
sharp cry, and saw a living form leaning wildly out 
an upper window. He gasped. The human voice 
sounded in his ears like the voice of God. 

" Hello hello help, in God's name ! " wailed the 
woman. " There's a dead girl in here and a man and 
and see yonder dead men lying in the street and 
dead horses for the love of God go and bring the 
officers " And the words trailed off into hys 
terical tears. 

He wheeled the car in ja sudden circle, running over 
the still body of a child and leaping on the curb. 
Then he rushed up the steps and tried the door and 
rang violently. There was a long pause, but at last 
the heavy door swung back. They stared a moment 
in silence, he had not noticed before that he was a 
Negro. He had not thought of her as white. She was 
a woman of perhaps twenty-five rarely beautiful and 
richly gowned, with darkly-golden hair, and jewels. 
Yesterday, he thought with bitterness, she would 
scarcely have looked at him twice. He would have 
been dirt beneath her silken feet. She stared at him. 
Of all the sorts of men she had pictured as coming 
to her rescue she had not dreamed of one like him. 
Not that he was not human, but he dwelt in a world 
so far from hers, so infinitely far, that he seldom 
even entered her thought. Yet as she looked at him 



260 DARKWATER 

curiously he seemed quite commonplace and usual. 
He was a tall, dark workingman of the better class, 
with a sensitive face trained to stolidity and a poor 
man's clothes and hands. His face was soft and slow 
and his manner at once cold and nervous, like fires 
long banked, but not out. 

So a moment each paused and gauged the other; 
then the thought of the dead world without rushed 
in and they started toward each other. 

"What has happened?" she cried. "Tell me! 
Nothing stirs. All is silence! I see the dead strewn 
before my window as winnowed by the breath of 

God, and see " She dragged him through great, 

silken hangings to where, beneath the sheen of mahog 
any and silver, a little French maid lay stretched in 
quiet, everlasting sleep, and near her a butler lay prone 
in his livery. 

The tears streamed down the woman's cheeks and 
she clung to his arm until the perfume of her breath 
swept his face and he felt the tremors racing through 
her body. 

" I had been shut up in my dark room developing 
pictures of the comet which I took last night; when I 
came out I saw the dead ! 

" What has happened ? " she cried again. 

He answered slowly: 

" Something comet or devil swept across the 
earth this morning and many are dead ! " 

" Many ? Very many ? " 

" I have searched and I have seen no other living 
soul but you." 



THE COMET 261 

She gasped and they stared at each other. 

" My father ! " she whispered. 

"Where is he?" 

" He started for the office." 

"Where is it?" 

" In the Metropolitan Tower." 

" Leave a note for him here and come." 

Then he stopped. 

" No," he said firmly " first, we must go to Har 
lem." 

" Harlem ! " she cried. Then she understood. She 
tapped her foot at first impatiently. She looked back 
and shuddered. Then she came resolutely down the 
steps. 

" There's a swifter car in the garage in the court," 
she said. 

" I don't know how to drive it," he said. 

" I do," she answered. 

In ten minutes they were flying to Harlem on the 
wind. The Stutz rose and raced like an airplane. 
They took the turn at noth Street on two wheels 
and slipped with a shriek into I35th. 

He was gone but a moment. Then he returned, 
and his face was gray. She did not look, but 
said: 

" You have lost somebody ? " 

" I have lost everybody," he said, simply " un 
less " 

He ran back and was gone several minutes hours 
they seemed to her. 

" Everybody," he said, and he walked slowly back 



262 DARKWATER 

with something film-like in his hand which he stuffed 
into his pocket. 

" I'm afraid I was selfish," he said. But already the 
car was moving toward the park among the dark 
and lined dead of Harlem the brown, still faces, the 
knotted hands, the homely garments, and the silence 
the wild and haunting silence. Out of the park, and 
down Fifth Avenue they whirled. In and out among 
the dead they slipped and quivered, needing no sound 
of bell or horn, until the great, square Metropolitan 
Tower hove in sight. Gently he laid the dead elevator 
boy aside; the car shot upward. The door of the 
office stood open. On the threshold lay the stenog 
rapher, and, staring at her, sat the dead clerk. The 
inner office was empty, but a note lay on the desk, 
folded and addressed but unsent: 

Dear Daughter : 

I've gone for a hundred mile spin in Fred's new Mer 
cedes. Shall not be back before dinner. I'll bring 
Fred with me. 

J. B. H. 

" Come," she cried nervously. " We must search 
the city." 

Up and down, over and across, back again on 
went that ghostly search. Everywhere was silence and 
death death and silence! They hunted from Mad 
ison Square to Spuyten Duyvel; they rushed across 
the Williamsburg Bridge; they swept over Brooklyn; 
from the Battery and Morningside Heights they 
scanned the river. Silence, silence everywhere, and 



THE COMET 263 

no human sign. Haggard and bedraggled they puffed 
a third time slowly down Broadway, under the broil 
ing sun, and at last stopped. He sniffed the air. An 
odor a smell and with the shifting breeze a sicken 
ing stench filled their nostrils and brought its awful 
warning. The girl settled back helplessly in her seat. 

" What can we do ? " she cried. 

It was his turn now to take the lead, and he did 
it quickly. 

" The long distance telephone the telegraph and 
the cable night rockets and then flight ! " 

She looked at him now with strength and confidence. 
He did not look like men, as she had always pictured 
men; but he acted like one and she was content. In 
fifteen minutes they were at the central telephone ex 
change. As they came to the door he stepped quickly 
before her and pressed her gently back as he closed it. 
She heard him moving to and fro, and knew his bur 
dens the poor, little burdens he bore. When she 
entered, he was alone in the room. The grim switch 
board flashed its metallic face in cryptic, sphinx-like 
immobility. She seated herself on a stool and donned 
the bright earpiece. She looked at the mouthpiece. 
She had never looked at one so closely before. It 
was wide and black, pimpled with usage; inert; dead; 
almost sarcastic in its unfeeling curves. It looked 
she beat back the thought but it looked, it persisted 
in looking like she turned her head and found her 
self alone. One moment she was terrified; then she 
thanked him silently for his delicacy and turned reso 
lutely, with a quick intaking of breath. 



264 DARKWATER 

" Hello ! " she called in low tones. She was calling 
to the world. The world must answer. Would the 
world answer? Was the world 

Silence ! 

She had spoken too low. 

"Hello!" she cried, full-voiced. 

She listened. Silence! Her heart beat quickly. 
She cried in clear, distinct, loud tones : " Hello hello 
hello!" 

What was that whirring? Surely no was it the 
click of a receiver? 

She bent close, she moved the pegs in the holes, 
and called and called, until her voice rose almost 
to a shriek, and her heart hammered. It was as if 
she had heard the last flicker of creation, and the 
evil was silence. Her voice dropped to a sob. She 
sat stupidly staring into the black and sarcastic mouth 
piece, and the thought came again. Hope lay dead 
within her. Yes, the cable and the rockets remained; 
but the world she could not frame the thought or 
say the word. It was too mighty too terrible ! She 
turned toward the door with a new fear in her heart. 
For the first time she seemed to realize that she was 
alone in the world with a stranger, with something 
more than a stranger, with a man alien in blood and 
culture unknown, perhaps unknowable. It was 
awful! She must escape she must fly; he must not 
see her again. Who knew what awful thoughts 

She gathered her silken skirts deftly about her 
young, smooth limbs listened, and glided into a side- 
hall. A moment she shrank back: the hall lay filled 



THE COMET 265 

with dead women; then she leaped to the door and 
tore at it, with bleeding fingers, until it swung wide. 
She looked out. He was standing at the top of the 
alley, silhouetted, tall and black, motionless. Was 
he looking at her or away? She did not know she 
did not care. She simply leaped and ran ran until 
she found herself alone amid the dead and the tall 
ramparts of towering buildings. 

She stopped. She was alone. Alone! Alone on 
the streets alone in the city perhaps alone in the 
world! There crept in upon her the sense of decep 
tion of creeping hands behind her back of silent, 
moving things she could not see, of voices hushed 
in fearsome conspiracy. She looked behind and side 
ways, started at strange sounds and heard still stran 
ger, until every nerve within her stood sharp and 
quivering, stretched to scream at the barest touch. 
She whirled and flew back, whimpering like a child, 
until she found that narrow alley again and the dark, 
silent figure silhouetted at the top. She stopped and 
rested; then she walked silently toward him, looked 
at him timidly; but he said nothing as he handed her 
into the car. Her voice caught as she whispered : 

Not that." 

And he answered slowly : " No not thatl " 

They climbed into the car. She bent forward on 
the wheel and sobbed, with great, dry, quivering sobs, 
as they flew toward the cable office on the east side, 
leaving the world of wealth and prosperity for the 
world of poverty and work. In the world behind them 
were death and silence, grave and grim, almost cyni- 



266 DARKWATER 

cal, but always decent; here it was hideous. It clothed 
itself in every ghastly form of terror, struggle, hate, 
and suffering. It lay wreathed in crime and squalor, 
greed and lust. Only in its dread and awful silence 
was it like to death everywhere. 

Yet as the two, flying and alone, looked upon the 
horror of the world, slowly, gradually, the sense of 
all-enveloping death deserted them. They seemed to 
move in a world silent and asleep, not dead. They 
moved in quiet reverence, lest somehow they wake these 
sleeping forms who had, at last, found peace. They 
moved in some solemn, world- wide Friedhof, above 
which some mighty arm had waved its magic wand. 
All nature slept until until, and quick with the same 
startling thought, they looked into each other's eyes 
he, ashen, and she, crimson, with unspoken thought. 
To both, the vision of a mighty beauty of vast, un 
spoken things, swelled in their souls; but they put it 
away. 

Great, dark coils of wire came up from the earth 
and down from the sun and entered this low lair 
of witchery. The gathered lightnings of the world 
centered here, binding with beams of light the ends 
of the earth. The doors gaped on the gloom within. 
H,e paused on the threshold. 

" Do you know the code ? " she asked. 

" I know the call for help we used it formerly at 
the bank." 

She hardly heard. She heard the lapping of 
the waters far below, the dark and restless waters 
the cold and luring waters, as they called. He 



THE COMET 267 

stepped within. Slowly she walked to the wall, where 
the water called below, and stood and waited. Long 
she waited, and he did not come. Then with a start 
she saw him, too, standing beside the black waters. 
Slowly he removed his coat and stood there silently. 
She walked quickly to him and laid her hand on his 
arm. He did not start or look. The waters lapped 
on in luring, deadly rhythm. He pointed down to the 
waters, and said quietly: 

" The world lies beneath the waters now may I 
go?" 

She looked into his stricken, tired face, and a great 
pity surged within her heart. She answered in a voice 
clear and calm, " No." 

Upward they turned toward life again, and he 
seized the wheel. The world was darkening to twi 
light, and a great, gray pall was falling mercifully 
and gently on the sleeping dead. The ghastly glare 
of reality seemed replaced with the dream of some 
vast romance. The girl lay silently back, as the motor 
whizzed along, and looked half-consciously for the 
elf -queen to wave life into this dead world again. 
She forgot to wonder at the quickness with which he 
had learned to drive her car. It seemed natural. And 
then as they whirled and swung into Madison Square 
and at the door of the Metropolitan Tower she gave a 
low cry, and her eyes were great! Perhaps she had 
seen the elf -queen? 

The man led her to the elevator of the tower and 
deftly they ascended. In her father's office they gath 
ered rugs and chairs, and he wrote a note and laid 



268 DARKWATER 

it on the desk; then they ascended to the roof and 
he made her comfortable. For a while she rested and 
sank to dreamy somnolence, watching the worlds 
above and wondering. Below lay the dark shadows 
of the city and afar was the shining of the sea. She 
glanced at him timidly as he set food before her and 
took a shawl and wound her in it, touching her rever 
ently, yet tenderly. She looked up at him with thank 
fulness in her eyes, eating what he served. He watched 
the city. She watched him. He seemed very human, 
very near now. 

" Have you had to work hard ? " she asked softly. 

" Always/' he said. 

" I have always been idle," she said. " I was rich." 

" I was poor," he almost echoed. 

" The rich and the poor are met together," she 
began, and he finished: 

" The Lord is the Maker of them all." 

"Yes," she said slowly; "and how foolish our 
human distinctions seem now," looking down to the 
great dead city stretched below, swimming in unlight- 
ened shadows. 

" Yes I was not human, yesterday," he said. 

She looked at him. " And your people were not 

my people," she said; "but today " She paused. 

He was a man, no more ; but he was in some larger 
sense a gentleman, sensitive, kindly, chivalrous, 
everything save his hands and his face. Yet yes 
terday 

"Death, the leveler!" he muttered. 

" And the revealer," she whispered gently, rising to 



THE COMET 269 

her feet with great eyes. He turned away, and after 
fumbling a moment sent a rocket into the darkening 
air. It arose, shrieked, and flew up, a slim path of 
light, and, scattering its stars abroad, dropped on 
the city below. She scarcely noticed it. A vision of 
the world had risen before her. Slowly the mighty 
prophecy of her destiny overwhelmed her. Above the 
dead past hovered the Angel of Annunciation. She 
was no mere woman. She was neither high nor low, 
white nor black, rich nor poor. She was primal 
woman; mighty mother of all men to come and Bride 
of Life. She looked upon the man beside her and 
forgot all else but his manhood, his strong, vigorous 
manhood his sorrow and sacrifice. She saw him 
glorified. He was no longer a thing apart, a creature 
below, a strange outcast of another clime and blood, 
but her Brother Humanity incarnate, Son of God and 
great All-Father of the race to be. 

He did not glimpse the glory in her eyes, but stood 
looking outward toward the sea and sending rocket 
after rocket into the unanswering darkness. Dark- 
purple clouds lay banked and billowed in the west. 
Behind them and all around, the heavens glowed in 
dim, weird radiance that suffused the darkening world 
and made almost a minor music. Suddenly, as though 
gathered back in some vast hand, the great cloud- 
curtain fell away. Low on the horizon lay a long, 
white star mystic, wonderful! And from it fled 
upward to the pole, like some wan bridal veil, a pale, 
wide sheet of flame that lighted all the world and 
dimmed the stars. 



270 DARKWATER 

In fascinated silence the man gazed at the heavens 
and dropped his rockets to the floor. Memories of 
memories stirred to life in the dead recesses of his 
mind. The shackles seemed to rattle and fall from 
his soul. Up from the crass and crushing and cring 
ing of his caste leaped the lone majesty of kings long 
dead. He arose within the shadows, tall, straight, and 
stern, with power in his eyes and ghostly scepters 
hovering to his grasp. It was as though some mighty 
Pharaoh lived again, or curled Assyrian lord. He 
turned and looked upon the lady, and found her gaz 
ing straight at him. 

Silently, immovably, they saw each other face to 
face eye to eye. Their souls lay naked to the night. 
It was not lust; it was not love it was some vaster, 
mightier thing that needed neither touch of body nor 
thrill of soul. It was a thought divine, splendid. 

Slowly, noiselessly, they moved toward each other 
the heavens above, the seas around, the city grim and 
dead below. He loomed from out the velvet shadows 
vast and dark. Pearl-white and slender, she shone 
beneath the stars. She stretched her jeweled hands 
abroad. He lifted up his mighty arms, and they cried 
each to the other, almost with one voice, " The world 
is dead." 

" Long live the " 

"Honk! Honk!" Hoarse and sharp the cry of 
a motor drifted clearly up from the silence below. 
They started backward with a cry and gazed upon 
each other with eyes that faltered and fell, with blood 
that boiled. 



THE COMET 27: 

" Honk ! Honk ! Honk ! Honk ! " came the mad 
cry again, and almost from their feet a rocket blazed 
into the air and scattered its stars upon them. She 
covered her eyes with her hands, and her shoulders 
heaved. He dropped and bowed, groped blindly on 
his knees about the floor. A blue flame spluttered 
lazily after an age, and she heard the scream of an 
answering rocket as it flew. 

Then they stood still as death, looking to opposite 
ends of the earth. 

" Clang crash clang ! " 

The roar and ring of swift elevators shooting up 
ward from below made the great tower tremble. A 
murmur and babel of voices swept in upon the night. 
All over the once dead city the lights blinked, flickered, 
and flamed; and then with a sudden clanging of doors 
the entrance to the platform was filled with men, and 
one with white and flying hair rushed to the girl 
and lifted her to his breast. "My daughter!" he 
sobbed. 

Behind him hurried a younger, comelier man, care 
fully clad in motor costume, who bent above the girl 
with passionate solicitude and gazed into her staring 
eyes until they narrowed and dropped and her face 
flushed deeper and deeper crimson. 

" Julia," he whispered; " my darling, I thought you 
were gone forever." 

She looked up at him with strange, searching eyes. 

" Fred," she murmured, almost vaguely, " is the 
world gone? " 

"Only New York," he answered; "it is terrible 



272 DARKWATER 

awful! You know, but you, how did you escape 
how have you endured this horror? Are you well? 
Unharmed?" 

" Unharmed ! " she said. 

" And this man here ? " he asked, encircling her 
drooping form with one arm and turning toward the 
Negro. Suddenly he stiffened and his hand flew to 
his hip. "Why!" he snarled. " It's a nigger- 
Julia! Has he has he dared " 

She lifted her head and looked at her late com 
panion curiously and then dropped her eyes with a 
sigh. 

" He has dared all, to rescue me," she said quietly, 
" and I thank him much." But she did not look 
at him again. As the couple turned away, the father 
drew a roll of bills from his pockets. 

" Here, my good fellow," he said, thrusting the 
money into the man's hands, " take that, what's your 
name? " 

" Jim Davis," came the answer, hollow-voiced. 

" Well, Jim, I thank you. I've always liked your 
people. If you ever want a job, call on me." And 
they were gone. 

The crowd poured up and out of the elevators, 
talking and whispering. 

"Who was it?" 

"Are they alive?" 

"How many?" 

"Two!" 

"Who was saved?" 

" A white girl and a nigger there she goes." 



THE COMET 273 

"A nigger? Where is he? Let's lynch the 
damned " 

" Shut up he's all right he saved her." 

" Saved hell ! He had no business " 

" Here he comes." 

Into the glare of the electric lights the colored man 
moved slowly, with the eyes of those that walk and 
sleep. 

"Well, what do you think of that?" cried a by 
stander; "of all New York, just a white girl and a 
nigger!" 

The colored man heard nothing. He stood silently 
beneath the glare of the light, gazing at the money 
in his hand and shrinking as he gazed; slowly he put 
his other hand into his pocket and brought out a baby's 
filmy cap, and gazed again. A woman mounted to 
the platform and looked about, shading her eyes. 
She was brown, small, and toil-worn, and in one arm 
lay the corpse of a dark baby. The crowd parted and 
her eyes fell on the colored man; with a cry she 
tottered toward him. 

"Jim!" 

He whirled and, with a sob of joy, caught her in 
his arms. 



r A Hymn to the Peoples 

O Truce of God! 

And primal meeting of the Sons of Man, 
Foreshadowing the union of the World! 
From all the ends of earth we come! 
Old Night, the elder sister of the Day, 
Mother of Dawn in the golden East, 
Meets in the misty twilight with her brood, 
Pale and black, tawny, red and brown, 
The mighty human rainbow of the world, 
Spanning its wilderness of storm. 

Softly in sympathy the sunlight falls, 

Rare is the radiance of the moon; 

And on the darkest midnight blaze the stars 

The far-flown shadows of whose brilliance 

Drop like a dream on the dim shores of Time, 

Forecasting Days that are to these 

As day to night. 

So sit we all as one. 

So, gloomed in tall and stone-swathed groves, 

The Buddha walks with Christ! 

And Al-Koran and Bible both be holy! 

Almighty Word! 

In this Thine awful sanctuary, 

First and flame-haunted City of the Widened World, 

Assoil us, Lord of Lands and Seas ! 

We are but weak and wayward men, 
Distraught alike with hatred and vainglory; 

275 



276 A HYMN TO THE PEOPLES 

Prone to despise the Soul that breathes within 
High visioned hordes that lie and steal and kill, 
Sinning the sin each separate heart disclaims, 
Clambering upon our riven, writhing selves, 
Besieging Heaven by trampling men to Hell! 

We be blood-guilty ! Lo, our hands be red ! 

Not one may blame the other in this sin! 

But here here in the white Silence of the Dawn, 

Before the Womb of Time, 

With bowed hearts all flame and shame, 

We face the birth-pangs of a world: 

We hear the stifled cry of Nations all but born 

The wail of women ravished of their stunted brood ! 

We see the nakedness of Toil, the poverty of Wealth, 

JVe know the Anarchy of Empire, and doleful Death 

of Life! 
And hearing, seeing, knowing all, we cry: 

Save us, World-Spirit, from our lesser selves! 
Grant us that war and hatred cease, 
Reveal our souls in every race and hue ! 
Help us, O Human God, in this Thy Truce, 
Jo make Humanity divine!