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Martin Eden 121







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Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

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me?" "Oh, you are an unconscious henchman." "Henchman?" "Why, yes. You do corporation work. You have no working-class nor criminal practice. You dont depend upon wife-beaters and pickpockets for your income. You get your livelihood from the masters of society, and whoever feeds a man is that mans master. Yes, you are a henchman. You are interested in advancing the interests of the aggregations of capital you serve." Mr. Morses face was a trifle red. "I confess, sir," he said, "that you talk like a scoundrelly socialist." Then it was that Martin made his remark: "You hate and fear the socialists; but why? You know neither them nor their doctrines." "Your doctrine certainly sounds like socialism," Mr. Morse replied, while Ruth gazed anxiously from one to the other, and Mrs. Morse beamed happily at the opportunity afforded of rousing her liege lords antagonism. "Because I say Republicans are stupid, and hold that liberty, equality, and fraternity are exploded bubbles, does not make me a socialist," Martin said with a smile. "Because I question Jefferson and the unscientific Frenchmen who informed his mind, does not make me a socialist. Believe me, Mr. Morse, you are far nearer socialism than I who am its avowed enemy." "Now you please to be facetious," was all the other could say. "Not at all. I speak in all seriousness. You still believe in equality, and yet you do the work of the corporations, and the corporations, from day to day, are busily engaged in burying equality. And you call me a socialist because I deny equality, because I affirm just what you live up to. The Republicans are foes to equality, though most of them fight the battle against equality with the very word itself the slogan on their lips. In the name of equality they destroy equality. That was why I called them stupid. As for myself, I am an individualist. I believe the race is to the swift, the battle to the strong. Such is the lesson I have learned from biology, or at least think I have learned. As I said, I am an individualist, and individualism is the hereditary and eternal foe of socialism." "But you frequent socialist meetings," Mr. Morse challenged. "Certainly, just as spies frequent hostile camps. How else are you to learn about the enemy? Besides, I enjoy myself at their meetings. They are good fighters, and, right or wrong, they have read the books. Any one of them knows far more about sociology and all the other ologies than the average captain of industry. Yes, I have been to half a dozen of their meetings, but that doesnt make me a socialist any more than hearing Charley Hapgood orate made me a Republican." "I cant help it," Mr. Morse said feebly, "but I still believe you incline that way." Bless me, Martin thought to himself, he doesnt know what I was talking about. He hasnt understood a word of it. What did he do with his education, anyway? Thus, in his development, Martin found himself face to face with economic morality, or the morality of class; and soon it became to him a grisly monster. Personally, he was an intellectual moralist, and more offending to him than platitudinous pomposity was the morality of those about him, which was a curious hotchpotch of the economic, the metaphysical, the sentimental, and the imitative. A sample of this curious messy mixture he encountered nearer home. His sister Marian had been keeping company with an industrious young mechanic, of German extraction, who, after thoroughly learning the trade, had set up for himself in a bicycle-repair shop. Also, having got the agency for a low-grade make of wheel, he was prosperous. Marian had called on Martin in his room a short time before to announce her engagement, during which visit she had playfully inspected Martins palm and told his fortune. On her next visit she brought Hermann von Schmidt along with her. Martin did the honors and congratulated both of them in language so easy and graceful as to affect disagreeably the peasant-mind of his sisters lover. This bad impression was further heightened by Martins reading aloud the half-dozen stanzas of verse with which he had commemorated Marians previous visit. It was a bit of society verse, airy and delicate, which he had named "The Palmist." He was surprised, when he finished reading it, to note no

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