title: 'The Commoner (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923, May 10, 1901, Page 5, Image 5',
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About The Commoner (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923 | View This Issue
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The Man With the Hoe.
In another column will be found Edwin
Markham's famous poem, entitled " The Man
With tho Hoe." Below will ho found Mr.
Bryan's comment thereon, written for tho New
It is not strange that Edwin Markham's poem
entitled "Tho Man With the Hoe" created a pro
found sensation. It is a sermon addressed to tho
heart, and its lesson is not limited to any nation,
race or clime. It voices humanity's protest against
inhuman greed. There is a majestic sweep .to the
argument, and some of the lines pierce like ar
rows: Is this the Thing the Lord God made and gave
To have dominion over sea and land;
To trace tho stars and search the heavens for
To feel the passion of Eternity?
Through this dread shape the suffering ages
"Time's tragedy Is Jn that aching stoop;
Through this dread shape humanity betrayed,
Plundered, profaned and disinherited, ,
C.ies protest to the Judges of the World.
Is this the handiwork you gi-e to God?
How feeble, In comparison, have been the an
swers to it!
The poem deals with the condition, the cause,
the remedy and the warning.
The condition is set forth In the lines:
Down all the stretch of Hell to its last gulf
There is no shape more terrible than this
More tongued with censure oj! the world's blind
More filled with signs and portents for the soul
More fraught with menace to the universe.
It is not an aswer to the indictment to say
that the poet selects his type not from the middle
classes, but from the lowest level. He is dealing
With the mill which takes in, as raw material, the'
man made in the image of his Creator and, if it
Is allowed to complete its work, turns out as the
A thing that grieves not and that never hopes.
Sometimes it is a tyrant who oppresses for the
benefit of himself, his family and the warriors
upon whom he relies to enforce his authority;
sometimes it is an aristocracy which gathers In
the fruits of power and throws upon the masses
the burdens of government; sometimes it is a
plutocracy which openly exalts monoy and de
bases flesh and blood; but everywhere it is the
same brutal spirit which ignores the brotherhood
of man and violates the commandment: "Thou
shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."
The extremes of society are being driven fur
ther and further apart. Wealth Is being concen
trated in the hands of a few, and tenancy is on
the increase. At one end of the scale luxury and
idleness breed effeminacy; at the other end of the
scale want and destitution breed desperation.
Civilization cannot be measured by the refine
ments and the enjoyments of the rich; the toilers
who produce the nation's wealth in time of peace
and constitute the nation's strength in time of
war must participate in every forward movement
of the race. In fact, they are so Important a fac
tor that the real advancement of the race is meas
ured by their advancement. Improved machinery
and inventive genius bave multiplied the produc
tive power of the individual, but the producers
have not received their share of the increase. The
capitalistic class and the speculating class have
enjoyed, and are enjoying, too large a part of the
proceeds of labor.
What is the cause?
Who made him dead to rapture and despair?
The literary sycophants who strew rhetorical
flowers In tho pathway of tho successful, without
inquiring into tho methods employed for securing
success, complacently throw the responsibility for
failure in life upon God, or Nature, or upon tho
man himself. Is it tho fault of God or of Naturo
that children are driven into factories at so early
, an age that their bodies are stunted, their minds
dwarfed and the strength and usefulness of future
generations lessened? Is God or Naturo responsi
ble for the laws which permit this impairment of
the man-power and woman-power of the nation?
TLj labor organizations have done much to miti
gate the evils of child labor and to shorten tho
hours of adult labor, but what encouragement havo
they received from those who favor government
by injunction, oppose arbitration and denounce as
disturbers of tho peace all who criticise existing
Is it the fault of God or of Nature that our tax
laws are so made and our tax systems so admln-
. istered that the poor man pays more than his
share of the taxes and the rich man less than his
Is God or Nature to blame for the substitu
system which raises the purchasing power of tho
dollar in the hands of the money changer, while it
increases the burden of debt to the man who owes
and decreases tho value of property in tho hands
of the wealth producers?
Is God or Nature responsible for a paper
money trust that makes the people at largo the
victims of private individuals entrusted with tho
control of the volume of currency?
Is God or Nature responsible for rrivate mon
opolies which corner the markets, extort from the
people and disburse the proceeds among tho
holders of watered stock?
Is God or Nature to blame for the subbstitu
tion of force for reason and might for right in
government? Is God or Nature responsible for the
nation's entrance upon a career of conquest, en
tailing upon the many the burden and menace of
militarism and conferring upon the lew the ben
efits of exploitation?
j.1he United States supreme court has coined
the phrase, "larceny by law," and compared with
ordinary stealing this form of theft may be called
grand larceny; and yet wholesale wrong-doing is
never taken into account by those who assume
that all who are poor deserve their poverty, and
that all who are rich earn their riches. If one
employs another to commit robbery he is as guilty
as d he commits the act himself; does it change
the moral character of the act because the injury
is done indirectly Instead of directly? Does it
change the moral character of the act because the
injury is done through legislation which he has
secured or in the absence of some righteous law
the passage of which he has prevented.
" The accumulation of wealth by honest means
is. to be encouraged, but the line must be drawn
between honest wealth the reward of brain ser
vice or muscle service rendered and predatory
wealth which defies the law or turns government
itself into a machine for the plunder of the public.
The indolent cannot expect plenty under any
just form of government, neither can the vicious
expect happiness, but under bad laws those who
work the hardest may enjoy the least, and those
who labor least may have the most.
But the remedy:
How will you ever straighten up this shape,
Touch it again with immortality?
. Give justice to every creature justice in the
methods of government, justice in the distribution
of the burdens of government, justice In the mak
ing of the laws, justice In the Interpretation of
the laws, justice In the execution of the laws.
Justice first and charity afterwards.
Justice will not eliminate distress entirely,
but it will greatly reduce the number of those who
come within the description of the poet. There
will still be some poor, some destitute, some des
perate. Gonoratlons of vice will transmit tenden
cies toward vice, which must be reformed.
Somo will bo victims of unavoidable misfor
tunesthey will need tho aid of tho more fortun
ate. The orphan will need a foster-parent, tho
widow will need a friend, tho aged without rel
atives will need a benefactor. Tho weak must bo
encouraged by the strong; those who fall must bo
Love Is the antithesis of greed; it will inspiro
both justico and mercy. Love and lovo alone can
regulato tho rolatlons between man and man and
plant a hope in the breast of overy child born into
When every man-made wrons is .remedied
thcro will still be suffering enough to enable every
person to prove his lovo toward God by manifest
ing his compassion toward his follows.
But the poet presents also a warning:
How will the future reckon with this man,
How answer his brute question In that hour
When whirlwinds of robolllon shako tho world?
How will it bo with kingdoms and with kings
With those who shaped him to the thing he is
When this dumb terror shall reply to 'God
After the silence of tho centuries?
In monarchies revolution is tho only weapon
of the oppressed; under our form of government
wrongs are righted by tho ballot; but oven here
the longer a necessary reform is delayed the noro
disturbance its accomplishment causes.
Victor Hugo has described the mob as "tho
human race in misery." Wo cannot afford to make
people miserable. Life is secure and 1 oporty
rights are respected in proportion as the people
find life worth living. Happy will bo the lot of all
when each member of society makes to society a
just and adequate return for that which he re
ceives from society. Happy will be the lot of all
when each member of society recognizes the indis
soluble tie that binds together the highest and
the lowest, the strongest and the weakest, tho
richest and the poorest when each member of
society aids according to his ability to give back
to the poet's subject:
the upward looking and the light;
Rebuild in it the music and the dream;
Make right the, immemorial infamies,
Perfidious wrongs, immedicable woes.
A Vivid Object Lesson.
A Los Angeles dispatch to the New York
World, one day last month, told the story
of a train load of Porto Ricans who were on
their way to Hawaii. The World refers to
this as "a vivid object lesson in what is hap
pening in Porto Rico." Speaking of these em
igrants, the World says:
"They sailed on Saturday in the Zealandia, nick
named "the "Slave Ship." Twelve of the party of
900 had died since they loft San Juan. The death
certificates give the causes as "pernicious anaemia'
whiph is not the medical equivalent for "benevolent
assimilation," but for "lack of blood and want of nu
triment" Their railway journey had been in cars
fouler than cattle cars and mora crowded. Their
quarters on tho Zealandia are squalid and inhumanly
As the ship was leaving, the mother of one of the
youths who had just died "begged to be allowed to
kiss her dead child's face once more, but this was
denied to her." And so the "Slave Ship" with the
"free flag of the republic" floating at its masthead,
dropped down to sea with tho wails of this mother
borne back upon tho breeze.
"A disagreeable skeleton at the imperialist feast
Hustle it away. And let the band play-some lively
patriotic air and play it loudly."