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PAGE 2

Bradley-Martin Bal-Masque
by [?]

The denunciation of the ball by Dr. Rainsford proved him not only a notoriety-seeking preacher, but a selfish parasite who lacks sufficient sense to disguise his hypocrisy. It contained not one word of protest against the amassing of enormous fortunes by the few at the expense of the many, not a single plea for justice to a despoiled people, not one word of Christian pity for their woes. It was simply a warning–foolishly flung from the housetop instead of whispered in the closet–that such reckless waste would breed discontent in the home of want–would “make demagogues and agitators dangerous!” Dr. Rainsford would not alter, but conceal, existing conditions. His theory is that robbery is all right so long as the people do not rebel thereby imperiling the system by which they are despoiled. From his fashionable pulpit and sumptuous home he hurls forth his anathema-maranatha at those who would presume to abridge the prescriptive rights of the plutocracy–who doubt that grinding penury in a land bursting with fatness is pleasing to the All-Father! He would by no means curtail the wealth of Dives or better the condition of Lazarus; but thinks it good policy for the former to refrain from piling his plate so high in the presence of the hungry plebs, lest the latter cease crying for crumbs and swipe the tablecloth! Dr. Rainsford is a paid servant of Dives, his duly ordained Pandarus. His duty is to tickle his masters jaded palate with spiritual treacle seasoned with Jamaica ginger, to cook up sensations as antidotes for ennui. If the “agitators” cause a seismic upheaval that will wreck the plutocracy, what is to become of the fashionable preachers? Dr. Rainsford would not abolish Belshazzar’s feast–he would but close the door and draw the blinds, that God’s eye may not look upon the iniquity, nor his finger trace upon the frescoed walls the fateful Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin! Save thy breath, good doctor, to cool thy dainty broth; for, mad with pride, thy master hears nor heeds the gabble of the goose beneath his walls, nor the watchdog’s warning. Gnaw thy bone in peace, for the people, schooled to patience and amused with panaceas, will scarce resent the trampling of one more parvenu upon their necks, be she ever so broad of beam. If some years hence they should rise against the robbers, led on by “dangerous demagogues,” repine not, for every dog, sacerdotal or otherwise, can but have his day.

Turgid Talmage must likewise unload; Talmage, who presumes to teach not only theology but political economy; who interlards his sermons with strange visions of Heaven, dreams of Hell, and still more wonderful hints on how to make a people terrestrially prosperous. He, like thousands of “able editors,” apologizes for such vulgar extravagance by urging that it “puts money in circulation, makes business better, and helps the people by supplying employment!” Has the world passed into its dotage, or simply become an universal asylum for idiots? If wanton waste makes business better, then Uncle Sam has but to squander in bal-masques, or other debauchery, his seventy-five billions of wealth to inaugurate an industrial boom! To gratify their taste for the barbaric, to advertise themselves to all the earth as the eastern termini of west-bound equines, the Bradley-Martins wiped out of existence $500,000 of the world’s wealth, leaving just that much less available capital for productive enterprises. They might as well have burned a building or sunk a vessel of that value. It is urged that “labor was employed and paid.” Quite true; but tell me, thou resounding ministerial vacuum, thou unreflecting editorial parrot, where is its product? What has society to show for the expenditure of this energy? A hole in its working capital–a hiatus in its larder caused by employing and sustaining labor, not to produce but to destroy. Prodigality on the part of the rich personally benefits a few parasites, just as the bursting of a molasses barrel fattens useless flies; but waste, by reducing the amount of wealth available for reproduction, breeds general want. A thousand editors have screamed in leaded type that it were “worse for the wealthy to hoard than waste.” Thou lunatics, go learn the difference between a car and its load of cotton, a bolt of muslin and that wherewith it is measured, a nation’s wealth and its exchange media. What does a man with the wealth he “hoards?” Does he not seek to make it earn an increment? Concentration of capital may be bad for the people, but destruction of capital takes the tools from their hands and the food from their lips. The court of Louis XV., which American snobs have just expended half-a-million trying to imitate, likewise, “made business better” by wasting wealth–Madame DuBarry posing as “public benefactress,” and receiving no end of encomiums from Paris shopkeepers, jewel merchants and mantua-makers. Much money was “put in circulation and labor employed” in furnishing forth the transient splendors of players and prostitutes; but somehow France did not prosper. Finally not even the pitiless screws of the tax-farmer could wring blood from the national turnip. The working capital of France was so far consumed that her people stood helpless, perishing of hunger. Finally Madame DuBarry was supplanted as “public benefactress” by one with an even sharper tang to her tongue, namely, la Belle Guillotine, who blithely led the quadrille d’honneur, with a Robespierre for consort, to music furnished gratis by the raucous throats of ragged sans- culottes. Instead of lords and ladies treading the stately minuet in Versailles saloons adorned with beauty roses, the bare feet of hungry men beat time to the fierce Carmagnole on Parisian pavements.