|Almost all the illustrations used in this volume originally appeared in The New York Journal. They are here reproduced through the cooperation of William R. Hearst, whose courtesy the artist, the editor and the publishers in common recognize and wish in this way to acknowledge.|
The world has never had a good definition of the word "liberty," and the American people, just now, are much in want of one. We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word "liberty" may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself and the product of his labor; while with others the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men's labor.
"Here you have the United States of America, home of liberty, theater of manhood suffrage, kingless and lordless, land of Protection, Republicanism, and the realized Radical Program, where all the black chattel slaves were turned into wage slaves (like my father's white fellows) at a cost of 800,000 lives and wealth incalculable. You and I are paupers in comparison with the great capitalists of that country, where the laborers fight for bones with the Chinamen, like dogs."
George Bernard Shaw
Beneath the whole political world, what most presses and perplexes today, sending vastest results affecting the future, is not the abstract question of democracy, but of social and economic organization, the treatment of working people by employers, and all that goes along with it-not only the wage payment part, but a certain spirit and principle, to vivify anew these relations..... The American Revolution of 1776 was simply a great strike, successful for its immediate object-but whether a real success judged by the scale of the centuries, and the long striking balance of time, yet remains to be settled.
The French Revolution was absolutely a strike, and a very terrible and relentless one, against ages of bad pay, unjust division of wealth products, and the hoggish monopoly of a few, rolling in superfluity, and the vast bulk of the working people, living in squalor.
If the United States, like the countries of the Old World, are also to grow vast crops of poor, desperate, dissatisfied, nomadic, miserably waged populations, such as we see looming upon us of late years-steadily, even if slowly, eating into them like a cancer of lungs or stomach-then our republican experiment, notwithstanding all its surface successes, is at heart an unhealthy failure.
The Problem, The Cartoon and the Artist
by Horace L. Traubel
History is coming to construe social inequity in terms of social peril. Asked: "Who is the offender?" Few annalists would fail to point a retributive finger the way of the plutocrat. But it may be said even to the pauper even to the man or woman robbed: "He whom you accuse is only incidentally or oracularly the criminal. But for you he could not exist. He is yoked with you drawing a common load. The fact that he happens to be the beneficiary and you the victim of this arrangement is not abstractly of much importance." When the miniature villain is grown up, when he acquires a logical maturity, we understand his characteristics. The little shop gathers its harvest of profits with the same relentless hand as the trust. It exacts all it can collect. In the trust the small dealer has reached his majority. Monopoly is next of kin to the tyranny of the atom.
Until the philanthropist changes place with the prisoner, until all social disorder finds by your admission its beginnings in the riot of your personal disbelief, until you acknowledge that all privilege is reflected in the inconsonance of your flaunted humanity, you will not have vindicated your dream of emancipation. Your love and your hate come out of the same soil. So, too, do your plutocrat and your pauper. So, too, do you and your enemy. First of all, then, throw away your flourished pride. We are not going to patch this garment on the basis of any personal design. We are not proposing to win in this fight because we are good and some one else is not. We will win because the juncture for social mercy has arrived-because the time limit of the tiger is reached-because we chance to be, not by our own deliberate choice or because we are strutting heroes, upon the line at which this issue is striking fire.
Then, what is the problem? Is it a far away tiling, in the capitol at Washington, or some plot fulminated on Wall Street, or some massing of power at the handle of a political club? We are ourselves the problem. The deeper you go into your own heart the nearer you come to the problem. There millionaire and pauper melt back to nebula. Only in my primeval self may I find at once the trouble reduced to its elements and their sensible and humane readjustment in forms of mutual and universal benefaction. No substitution of millionaire for pauper or pauper for millionaire will improve the conditions. The millionaire and the pauper must be consigned to errata, must go back to chaos listed against rejuvenation. They came together, coupled their destinies in the press of social preferment, and together must depart, their hard mission fulfilled. Yet they will leave us a key.
We have reached the crossroads. Shall we go further chatteled or free? What is economically called property needs morally to be confirmed or nullified. Every dollar now in circulation or potentially in property is only another traitor added to a vast array. Until all dollars are honest no one dollar can be sure of its virtue. Powers have arisen in our democracy to frustrate its mission. They have taken phantasmic forms, sneaked into legislation, hid back of courts, puppetted presidents from exchanges, and hideously eclipsed the opportunity of the average man. But in determining conditions will history look up a new road or simply go on in a road already chosen? The trust, devil, will turn trust, god-that is, the trust, serving a caste, will become the trust, avowing the common weal. The giant only needs faculty. It has limb enough and maw. Give it heart. It will hew your wood, draw your water.
Those who do the work of the world must enjoy its usufruct. To farm the land and live on its cast off fruit, to make clothes and go naked, to build houses and live in huts, to be condemned to loaf and tramp as a desultory on the margin of labor, to perpetuate the existing system in which the boss is a whip and the workman a clod, to need to apologize to your children because they were conceived in the promise of democracy and delivered in its default, is to give history a grotesque turn and to make our articulations and gestures of brotherhood not only partial or fragmentary, which would be a negative fault, but mocking wantons dancing on the skulls of the betrayed. The crass and stained knife of our dispensation has parceled all property and the possibilities of property in lien to the few members of a caste, whose foundation, labor, the only indispensable factor in the social regime, is despised and without suffrage. The farmer is born mortgaged to the land, the weaver shuttled to the loom, the scribbler inked to the pen, consigned all to one despotism, discouraged in the main from even the prophetic assertion of an enlightened and adequate social law which would perpetuate in every individual his last talent and his freest dream of noble achievement. We are to-day committed to a temporal humor, a makeshift in moral lethargy, a stammer in the social lexicography, a helpless play of industrial negations.
The case of this pro versus this con must be settled not according to any individual humor but according to some instinct of universal equity. It arose in no private idiosyncrasy and will finish in no exercise of a personal benevolence. The blame of tyranny can be fastened to no local malignity and the glory of emancipation will accrue to no one benign palm. The man who to-day does not get is as bad or as good or as innocent or as willful as the man who has built a reservoir at the foot of the drift. It will be made impossible in the liberalized future for any one person to take advantage of any accident of nature or any ignorance of man. Power will not seek fortune but fortitude-it will not rob: it will bestow and still realize the delight of power. Laws of states which provide and protect the beneficiary will give way to laws of hearts which bar no one in or out and cannot be vindicated while want, even in the pariah, remains to unsettle the free articles of our contract. Democracy must not invoke against one of its children a rule of trespass. As long as a dollar anywhere goes farther than a man so long will democracy play foul to its prophecy. He who owns my coat owns me. He who pays me wages takes in exchange an inalienable volition. I am tied throat down and asked to walk. I sponsor my children into bondage. The land is owned under my feet, the house is owned over my head. Before I am born I am a thousand years in debt. The tax gatherer at the gate of life levies the last cent against my birthright.
The cartoon has an Adamic directness. It comes by ostensible fiat, not by known law. Every cartoonist of genius plunges out of chaos shaped to a particular exigency. He is a surprise-a differentiation. He has his unmistakable individuality of technique, which builds, serves, destroys, in certain contingencies of circumstance, and goes out, a light quenched. No second torch is lit from that flame. Yet the cartoon is classic. Without formal ancestry or grandeur of pedigree it arbitrates the destiny of man and time and tries by some consensus the waifs of social struggle.
The cartoon with Jovinian éclant and unconcern sheafs in one fist the lightning of social interrogation. "The slang of art," it has been called-bringing to the esthetic, as slang does to language, its everlasting felicities. The cartoon dares any venture of speech. No sneak or snarl in society can escape the cartoon. The cartoon is everywhere before anything else-even anticipates its subject creatures. It goes and comes by free will. Grim with quick pardon, weeping with laughter, profound with frivolity, brutal with finesse, magnificent with modesty, the cartoon is everything it does not pretend to be, the horizontal to your perpendicular and the circle to your square.
The cartoon is the master of paradox. Its good humor gives it a pass to the heart of its victim. The cartoon is fierce in encounter and quick to forgive. It is not malicious. It deals with man not as a malevolence but as a foible. It is more powerful than marching armies and more subtle than scholastic verbiage. It is the quick fast and hard of agitation, the jocular madcap of humbug custom, the blasphemy making faces at half gods. It coalesces the freest method with the sternest hope, creating harmony between cross purposes, reducing enmities to their logic in imbecility. The cartoon epitomizes data in law and accepts convention in undress. What army could march without its cartoon? What cause succeed? What dream be communicated? What faith expressed?
The cartoon is in the van, standarding revolt. For the people will tolerate in the cartoon what no other agent of expression is at liberty to inflict. The cartoon penetrates the boudoir without illicit curiosity and rebukes vice without a puritan condescension. While not good, god good devilling the flagrant descent of human fallibility it so impartially administers rebuke and so without venom draws the demonic back to the line of law that critics who lack humor charge it with choosing a harlequin disguise and a counterfeit fate. The cartoon must be taken with your religion. Its novitiate vestibules the most sacred revelation. The cartoon leveled to a grave sincerity, taken to heart in its best annunciations, mastered by a pen steadfastly faithful to ideals, goes into households as a friendliest counselor, enlivening routine, instructing doubt, exploiting between grave and gay the prophecy of evolution.
Davenport is a direct product of the soil. He came to his art without the formal intervention of a school. This accounts at once for his power and for his defect. In the work of some cartoonists you are at the start made aware of a prevalent technical excellence. You feel that and perhaps you feel nothing more. But with Davenport you are impressed first of all with his power of pithy representation. He promptly suggests-he only incidentally draws. The great cartoonist only secondarily attracts attention as an artist He is first the story teller. Davenport's simplicity is Spartan.
Critics will tell you he cannot draw and will yet admit that he can tell a story. If he could draw and could not tell a story what would the world or the cartoon gain? Davenport never overloads his characters with baggage. He plays with elements not atoms. He does not wait for his message to grow upon you. He communicates it in a flash. He does not formally present a thesis. He takes you unawares. You would never suspect in Davenport the scholar let loose in caricature. He comes fresh from the farm and the workshop, with mud on his boots and grease on his hands. He has manners without mannerism and faith without a code. When this sort of man appears, the arts tradition turns up its nose.
But Davenport was not sent into the world to serve a tradition. He answers a current cry. Unlike the artist he can tell his tale without footnote, index, glossary or introduction. A few deft lines and the thing is done. Done so easily that we could imagine it within the common range; and yet done so hardly that the best thumb and forefinger in the business could not make a plausible counterfeit. I stand amazed before Davenport's fecundity, which follows event into all its corners and brings forth game always after its kind. You could drag your schools in vain for such a catch.
Davenport has personally no background of culture or opulence to explain him. He is like Grant, Lincoln, Whitman, in demonstrating the power of our democracy to recoup itself without stint from the crowd. He could not have come out of a school, as the protégé of a classical atelier. But he proceeds to make the cartoon classic, so severely does he apply it to the gravest uses of a humanized art. He disdains finish. He has simplified production to its fewest factors. Others may need more pen and brush-some even need crutches-but he is one whose primary syllables are electric, so do they carry power and so convey their shock.
With Davenport's pen as index you are reminded not of the man who owns the land but of the man who tills the field-not of the man who owns the factory but of the man who runs the loom-not of creatures but of creators-not of capitalists but of capital-not of those who sell but of those who make pictures. That is, you are taken by him to beginnings, to roots, and made to respect the democratic spirit which back of every institution and emolument having given life can alone maintain it. Davenport never had the point taken off his pen by a scissoring professor. He never had water mixed with his ink by an interloping magnate. That is why the professors say he cannot draw and why the magnates say he insists upon an extreme moral.
From nothing that Davenport has ever done would you realize anything but respect for the average man, anything but hope for our democracy. When Arthur McEwen, in 1898, reviewing Davenport's former volume, said: " Capital as the book is-and no other cartoonist among us could put forth one to rival it-Davenport's next, say two years hence, is sure to be better," he spoke as an informed prophet Davenport has gained in dramatic intensity and in capacity to portray the archaic and the pathetic. He can more fiercely than Hogarth grapple with the gnarled puzzles that dodge in and out and around the hallucinations of our interoceanic conceit. Nor less than Woolff can he give you the child upon whom a brute injustice has stamped a premature age. His pictures invite battle and tears. They never run to waste in artifice, dragging along an epilogue of superfluous detail.
The last and almost lost item in the composition of a background is fixed there with a deliberate motive and with a determined look toward the general effect. Davenport is not a hired artist producing for pay, open to bids. He is a man of inerrant democracy of temperament who yields his soul only to high latitudes of conviction. He will tell you: "You would hardly believe it if I say that the two hours spent on a picture often leave me totally exhausted, almost empty-so have I taken the thing to heart; the emotion, even the simple physical stamina, is gone out of me." In tragedy and contrast he is a first child whose energy is not one generation removed from solar fire.
The large mould of his physical composition but reflects the simplicity of his spiritual endowment He does not study. He sees. In the crowd he is electric, drawing power from its importunate faith. He is not a man who derives conclusions from nature through a book or across the barriers of a cloistered learning. He goes direct to sources, consulting no oracled middleman. He has in himself the placidity and habit of drowsing sensuousness which gives the animal an impressive distinction of composure touched with the intimation of potential resentment If you are familiar with his turn of mind you will remember how he refers to the animal for analogues and how regnantly through the animal he translates energy into intelligence and throws you down or lifts you up under the animal hoof or in the gambol of animal affection. It required fewer than the usual departures to convert the animal Davenport into the supermilitant man.
Davenport is not personal either in motive or effect. He may incidentally take account of the personal equation, but if he does so it will be out of deference to and not by the sacrifice of a supreme principle. He is above, in the free air, and below, with roots, as well as on the earth, with its ravaging trade and the flare of its foppery and culture. That is no doubt why Bryan has said in a letter to me: "Davenport stands at the head of his profession." Davenport does not live at the point of his pen. He lives up his arm, in dynamic sympathy. The pictures here reproduced, converging, as they do, in some unity of economic and political effect, serve to exhibit not only the diversity of his gifts but his primary and fiery devotion to the fundamentals of social justice.