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FICTITIOUS HISTORY OF THE
BY LIONEL JOSAPHARE
N HIS WAY home, Lysander Mulverhill purchased all the afternoon papers, to get in thorough mind of the governmental situation from newspaper standpoints. He had been asked to join a district political club, and it was to the friendship of the members thereof that he would first yield his activities.
In the newspaper accounts he read many references to the word "party." Party was mightier than country; the country was part of the party, or, it might be said that the country, for the time being, belonged to the party. Renegade, apostate, deserter, traitor and viler were the terms bestowed upon him who found the principles of another party more pleasant than his own. The basest of motives, the most treacherous of characters, the blackest species of scoundrelism, was imputed to him who changed his party. The party's principles might change; but its name ever stood on the banners of loyalty. As Lysander was quite satisfied with the tenets of his, he saw nothing more than a high degree of spirit in this.
Associating with the minor politicians, the kind that cluster about the primaries with little more significance than that they illustrate the power of numbers, he did not observe any marked demonstration over the name of Faraday. Faraday's Faraday. Faraday's highest Federal achievement had been in the House of Representatives, and, though well-known as the author of an important tariff measure, he lacked the personality, in public life at least, that might have gone to make a cordial demand for him through the country.
"Interesting though they might be, I do not think we shall read President Faraday's messages to Congress," Lysander confided to Malachy Mulverhill.
Bruges was with the larger faction of the party. One day he stated to Lysander that this faction would be with Faraday sooner or later.
"Perhaps too later," said Lysander. It was a mere bit of nonsense, this reply, but the political novice soon learned that candidates are never to be mentioned without due solemnity. His remark was related to the pretty ears of Honora Faraday, and Lysander was constrained to render a lengthy explanation. It consumed a bonny half hour. In the end,
Honora was satisfied.
"Of course, you wish my father to win?" she interrogated, in order to complete said satisfaction.
"Of course I do."
"And he will win, will he not ?"
"Miss Mulverhill, is it a question of winning, as one might win a game?" "Not at all."
"Your father, I am well able to say, is entirely fit to be president of this country. I know his utterances would dignify the executive business, and his presence ennoble the city of Washington. Yet we must admit that he has not done that which would excite a call for him from the country at large. He might win, as you put it, if his adherents should prove cleverer than those of his opponent; which is merely saying that he would become a marker on the political score-board, and, upon election, be retransformed into a man. Up to that time, the nominee is but a peg. Such is the case when he is not already so famous that the mention of his name at the outset evokes the demanding roar of his countrymen. I take it that the President elect should not go to his office upon the promises of his campaign, and the plaudits of his spokesmen, but upon the triumphal float of his previous deeds."
She listened attentively, word after
word. Now and then her eyes moved as if she were reading his utterances on a page.
"I have already seen enough of the concrete phase of politics," he continued, "to have misgivings. There are always big things to be done, and those who do them forcibly or stand for them majestically, should take the exalted seat. If such a man does not appear, let the midgets debate among themselves. When there is no lion, let the wolves contend who should lion be."
"My father does not wish to prosper by impure methods.”
"Not necessarily to be said impure. Yet his name must be shouted and advertised. Plainly he is not the extemporaneous choice of the citizens for nomination, and he can never be that choice until the conventions have eliminated all save two men, holding them before the country for votes. Should your father attain that divided distinction, he may then be found the more popular of the two candidates. This selection of the party is brought about with no more conscience than is found in the management of a gambling den."
She trembled at this.
And well might Lysander have shuddered at the danger to his love. For, though a man may, at some hazard, tell truth to a woman, he should never argue it. Logic is a vile-smelling stuff that love. cannot abide. Love is a delusion that cannot endure anything real. Love cannot understand anything beyond or aback of love. Therefore a lover who stands to reason is either a bungler or is determined to woo only that woman who will endure the test.
"Upon what does your father depend?" Lysander asked.
aday would be received with abundant joy by the nominating convention.
The countenance of the listener underwent a spell, or a shadowing, as when flowers are bent by the breeze away from the sunlight. Her mien was now overcast with that almost prehistoric calm, that sheer beauty of the animal which, despite modern gorgeous heaping of paraphernalia, evinced its original force. There was, in this, that which always, on such occasions, correspond with a vague demand of his soul; and, as yet, he loved the woman for its sake in the main.
For a moment she was like a dazzled barbarian agaze through the wrappings of art; then the eyes brightened again, and she became, out of rude nativeness, merely sincere.
"You will not consider me sordid," she said. "You do not think my father's ambition my sole thought, my biting vanity of these days. You do not think I would gladden to see him put before the country at any event."
"Far from that, Miss Faraday."
"Because, is it not apt that a woman should be interested in her father's advance? Fondly I would see him the chief executive of this country, which I love. My country is to me not a mere aggregation of fashions and splendors. I would no more defraud or counterfeit its honors that deceive in ordinary life. Don't you understand?"
"I do, deeply. Permit me to say, thou companion in this sentiment, I am as profoundly engaged and sympathetic as you in this burst of a political day. And I shall assist you with all zeal." "No; do not," she said.
"Perhaps you do not value my assistance, nor such friendship?"
"I value your friendship that I do not wish your assistance."
"It cannot amount to much, then, if it is to be sacrificed for a sentimental whim." "Let us revert to something else." She gathered her full civilization about her with a sigh.
It was on the following day that Lysander met Nicholas Boksky in the basement where met the district club of candidate makers.
Boksky does not amount to very much in this story; but he is a type that is
everywhere gaining influence in our real life. We courteously repress a smile at the wharf, noticing him immigrate with his dinner and extra clothing tied up in a handkerchief. In a few years he makes our laws; or his sons perform that office for ours. Explicitly he comes from nowhere, borne in on the crest of an immigrant wave. He arrives in fright and he remains to fright us with the tyranny of his ignorance. Be the upper class what it may and the lower what may be, when the very high and the very low unite for mutual benefit, the result is iniquity to everybody else. It is from such ignorant and more or less vicious class that craft resources itself whenever in need of numbers. So a few lines to Boksky will not be amiss.
He was a Pole with a curious history. He was known by name to more people in the metropolis than were most of those outside of official life. Boksky's family, for some generations, had belonged to lowness of class in varying degrees; also to wealthier category in a few degrees. His great-grandfather, Abraham Boksky, had died in his native land, leaving a large family and fortune. One of his sons, Maximus, subsequently bespattered the paths of evil with his wealth. Thus forspent, Maximus emigrated to America. Here he became a peddler, peddling having been the handy means of the family's rise to fortune whenever that family required a rise. In a few years, Maximus Boksky became rich, married richer, and entertained some of the most pretentious merchants to whom his bad English was no disqualification. In the course of time, he lost his wealth through speculation, and with his very good wife established a boarding house, that set a very fine table, it was said.
Maximus Boksky had a son, Henry, proud and quite in style, and on whose education had been spent large sums from the revenue of the boarding-house, before it became third-class. He graduated from a college of the law and endeavored to practice; but a well-furnished suite of offices did him no avail, and he went to foster litigation in the West. Here he neglected his law for interests in gold mines, and in a few years was back in New York, where he opened a haberdashery, selling
underwear to the fashionable with considerable success.
Henry Boksky died in affluence; but when the executors came to the division of his estate there was nothing to divide, as the legatees, including Nicholas Boksky, had draughted heavily on their shares. Nicholas Boksky was suddenly reduced to the distress of making his own livelihood. With good-will he turned to the hereditary profession of peddling. Parlor matches was his specialty, and no one dealt in the same with greater flourish. He had a song with which to announce his wares along the street, and would continue it in the faces of those who answered his ring at their doorbells. Children followed him along the thoroughfares and men got their nickels ready when they heard him coming. Newspapers had caricatured him in court, on the street and among ward poli
In gayest manner, his burden doffed for the night, he approached Lysander Mul
"Mr. Mulverhill," he began, "isn't it a shame ?"
"It sometimes is," replied Mulverhill; "why especially this evening?"
"Why, Bruges, you know. Gave us all the rinkydink. You know, I'm a Faraday man, for all time, unless I should get orders to the contrary; which may happen in the life of any man. And we all thought Bruges was the same until he discontinued handing out the coin." "That's cheerful."
"You mean it used to be, don't you?" "Ah, yes; I must have meant so.' "Bruges has a new candidate a dark horse. Now, what politician of any respectability would handle a dark horse? Who wants to have anything to do with a Great Unknown? I've never in all my experience in politics was I acquainted with a generous Great Unknown. I never knew a Dark Horse that had any money or would part with it. To hell with dark horses."
"Are there any rumors to the name of this lugubrious equine ?"
"Oh, yes; I understand. There are many rumors, all with different names. That's the ordinary trait of rumors—to be conflicting, is it not?" "Yes; most of the
rumors I have
"Chances were never better," replied the other, with a knowing nod. "Faraday on the third ballot is my prediction."
This was more than the word of a match peddler.
Lysander found himself amid an excited assemblage where nothing seemed clear to the meeting as a whole, though each talker behooved himself to have the situation in a nutshell-the shell-game being quite an innocent diversion with the Fate that presides over the destinies of politicians.
He strove to ascertain one fact or another that would give him an insight. "General averages are the thing," said one fellow.
"It's the enthusiasm; that is the only thing that grows," vouchsafed another.
"After all, the people know just what they want, and the wise ones know what the people want," explained a third.
"Say! It's the party and nothing else. We want a party man, and there's only one party man that I know of, and you know him, too, and after he's nominated, there'll be nothing more than the turn of adding up the votes. You understand; the party is in power, and it is going to stay there."
"Well, now, seeing that it is you that asks, between you and me, we're biding our time. We ain't saying anything. We're just waiting till the right time; then we will be found to have everything ready." From Nicholas Boksky came the most iconoclastic opinion of all, as follows: Preamble: "I've been in this business since I was fifteen years old, and I'm ashamed to tell you how long ago that was." Therefore, "I can tell you that this district business doesn't mean anything at all. This is only the hollering and hand-shaking and exchanging of
cigars (got one with you? Thanks!). No; I tell you, the big faction in this party is controlled by the Cherokee Association. Whatever the Cherokee Association decides on-goes! This State controls the Union; this city has the State by the wind-pipe, and don't let any one tell you. it hasn't. The real ones know. And the Cherokee has its name and license on the collar of the city. They're not dreamers, you know; just practical. Politics is their business, just like anything else. I can't blame them; can you? And they are experts besides. Join the Cherokee if you want to raise your voice in this."
Thus Mulverhill found a new billow for his boat. There was no merit in keeping out of Cherokee if the guiding spirits of the party should be found in it.
Shortly after this instigation he became a member. The next lesson was easily learned, with the living illustrations bustling about, all handling the situation in their own respective
The debates were of a more serious nature than at the district club; at any rate, less noisy. Here Mulverhill met some of the bigger men of the party, and some of the bigger spenders, the bigger bellies, the bigger mouths, and the bigger eaters and drinkers. The Cherokee Association had members everywhere. They occupied chairs in every department of the city Government. Their debaters were on every platform where the party's colors were draped. Their inferior friends were scattered through the police department. They led every district meeting.
Verily, it was good to belong to Cherokee. It was marvelous what a simpleton one could endeavor to be, refraining to become a member hitherto.
Here also was Anthony Bruges. Among the Cherokees, Bruges was wiser than in the district. He was like the other Cherokees. And they spoke less here than at the district; there was less need of speaking at all. Motives were understood. Alliances were absolute between allied interests. The heat of mob-cojoling was avoided; the jaws were at rest. This was a society of the jaws at home. The mob required certain sentiments flung to them, like meats to their beastly applause. In the inferior clubs, the leaders talked loud of and sweatily for their favorites; in Chero
kee the names were whispered in siderooms. The Grand Figure would hardly abandon a cause during a campaign; but he could have his friend, the orator, speak to the district meeting, and, upon a change of policy, another friend could take up the Grand Figure's other view of the matter. So that in the different side rooms of Cherokee, an invisible spirit might have heard the one Grand Figure whisper different names. Nothing was overt save the conclusions of the body.
There were factions in Cherokee, too. These were factions less of principle than of executiveness; and there were factions that were mere factions. Men against men; ambition against ambition. It was and it is futile to mention corruption among these men; not only futile but juvenile. Their standard of life was the standard that had been handed down from the time when hands first existed. The
acquisition of power. Power had been wielded with a club, with a sword, with cannon, with votes, with gold. The instrument was usually what was found best adapted to the people whose dominion was open for conquest. When the people had to be slaughtered into submission, there were willing hands to perform the feat. When they objected to slaughter, on moral grounds, very well, the powers were able to establish themselves on moral grounds. There were men whose special duty it was to furnish these moral grounds for the delectation of the multitude.
There are men who demand riches; and men who are willing to supply. This is one of the most fortunate cases of supply and demand. Wealth is a congestion of natural resources. Of the silks fluttering to the wind, the facades of marble, the interiors of carved wood and tapestries, the music, the tables that have the acme of a hundred acres and the fugitive meat of miles, the vaults of gold and credit-the supply is always equal to the demand; those who have most having also the right. to demand most.
The people never have more than a transitory advantage. The cause is plain; they are too many. It would be impossible for the many to be right at the expense of the few. It would be impossible for power to be in the many. It is impossible for the many to organize and main
tain such organization. It must be repeated-the many are too many. cannot act save through the hands and mouths and pens of a few. The constituting of this few always generates power, which is always quick to comprehend itself and dominate its makers. Out of the organization of the many always emerges this same old few adorning themselves with the same old jewels under different names condensing and consolidating the good things that have been entrusted to them.
No; the many cannot govern themselves -for if they could, they would not need Government at all.
The primary trait of Government is, that the Governor be ungovernable. He must be the similitude of a god.
Even in this, the populace will not admire a good man, except so long as he is a novelty, or, perhaps, a memory.
The despot is picturesque, dramatic and mysterious. There are no other words more fascinating than these. Tell a woman that she is picturesque, dramatic and mysterious, and there is no fear of a rival outflattering. Let the people view a picturesque monarch, also dramatic and mysterious, and they are captivated. What matter that they have painted his picturesqueness with gold and bedecked it with tributes of their myriad poverties; what matter that his dramatics are occasional scenes of blood; or that his mystery is a mere desire for more? He stalks, amid his riches, the emblem of their longings.
And man must have some emblem, some idol before which to pray; otherwise he becomes irreligious and plain. He lapses into barbarism; which is a matter of idols and pomp anyway, and the whole curriculum of civilization must be gone again.
The distress of this world is that there have been too many thinkers. These are ever inquiring, "Why?" The moment a man asks "why," the universe totters. A statue rests upon a pedestal; the pedestal upon a granite steps; these upon solid ground; the ground is the world. But where rests the world? The same with an idea. You can examine it unto a certain depth. Below that, it is flying through space.
Now, kings are a matter of cause and