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- Caesar's Column - 54/54 -

Let us look in upon them at supper. The merry, rosy faces of young and old; the cheerful converse; the plain and abundant food. Here are vegetables from their own garden, and fruit from the trees that line the wide streets.

Listen to their talk! The father is telling how the municipality bought, some three years ago, a large number of female calves, at a small cost; and now they are milch cows; and the town authorities are about to give one of them to every poor family that is without one.

And they praise this work; they love mankind, and the good, kindly government--their own government--which so cares for humanity and strives to lift it up. And then the father explains that each person who now receives a free gift of a milch cow is to bring to the municipal government the first female calf raised by that cow, and the city will care for that, too, for two or three years, and then bestow it upon some other poor family; and so, in endless rotation, the organized benevolence does its work, perennial as seed-time and harvest; and none are the poorer for it, and all are the happier.

But come; they have finished their supper, amid much merriment, and are preparing to go to the play. Let us follow them. How the streets swarm! Not with the dark and terrible throngs that dwell so vividly in my memory; but a joyous crowd--laughing, talking, loving one another--each with a merry smile and a kindly word for his neighbor. And here we are at the door of the play-house.

There is no fumbling to find the coins that can perhaps be but poorly spared; but free as the streets the great doors open. What hurry, what confusion, what chatter, what a rustle of dresses, as they seek their seats.

But hush! The curtain rises. The actors are their own townspeople--young men and women who have shown an aptitude for the art; they have been trained at the cost of the town, and are paid a small stipend for their services once a week. How the lights shine! How sweet is the music! What a beautiful scene! And what lovely figures are these, clad in the picturesque garb of some far-away country or some past age. And listen! They are telling the old, old story; old as the wooing of Eve in Eden; the story of human love, always so dear, so precious to the human heart.

But see! the scene has changed--here is a merry-making; a crowd of flower-wreathed lads and lasses enter, and the harmonious dance, instinct with life and motion,--the poetry of human limbs,--unrolls itself before our eyes.

And so the pretty drama goes forward. An idyl of the golden age; of that glorious epoch when virtue was always triumphant, and vice was always exposed and crushed.

But the play is over; and the audience stream back, laughing and chatting, under the stars, down the long, fruit-embowered streets, to their flower-bedecked, humble homes.

And how little it costs to make mankind happy!

And what do we miss in all this joyous scene? Why, where are the wolves, that used to prowl through the towns and cities of the world that has passed away? The slinking, sullen, bloody-mouthed miscreants, who, under one crafty device or another, would spring upon, and tear, and destroy the poor, shrieking, innocent people--where are they?

Ah! this is the difference: The government which formerly fed and housed these monsters, under cunning kennels of perverted law, and broke open holes in the palisades of society, that they might crawl through and devastate the community, now shuts up every crevice through which they could enter; stops every hole of opportunity; crushes down every uprising instinct of cruelty and selfishness. And the wolves have disappeared; and our little world is a garden of peace and beauty, musical with laughter.

And so mankind moves with linked hands through happy lives to deaths; and God smiles down upon them from his throne beyond the stars.

End of Caesar's Column by Ignatius Donnelly

Caesar's Column - 54/54

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