Page:Instead of a Book, Tucker.djvu/199

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.



ings in), and I will tell you somewhat also of the real nature of interest; but if you will only get for the present a quite clear idea of "The Position of William," it is all I want of you.


[Liberty, October 1, 1881.]

Liberty's strictures, in her last issue, upon the proposal of the Massachusetts Greenbackers, adopted at their Worcester convention, to ask the legislature to compel all corporations to distribute their profits in excess of six per cent, among the employees in proportion to their wages has stirred up Mr. J. M. L. Babcock, the author of that singular project, to a defence of it. And in defending it against Liberty, he is obliged to do so in behalf of capital. It seems a little odd to find this long-time defender of the rights of labor in the rôle of champion of the claims of capital; but we remember that he is one who follows the lead of justice as he sees it, take him where it may.

Before proceeding to the main question, he gives us two minor points to settle. First, he very pertinently asks why we "grieve" at his course. We answer by taking it all back. As he says, Liberty should rejoice, rather than grieve, at the honest exercise of the right to differ. When we hastily said otherwise, we said a very foolish thing. Yes, worse than that; in so far we were false to our own standard. Mr. Babcock has Liberty's sincerest thanks for recalling her to her own position. May he and all never fail to sharply prod us, whenever they similarly catch us napping!Reading this paragraph eleven years later, I am inclined to regret that I wrote it. So few are the manifestations of good nature in my polemical writings, that I can ill afford to disown any of them; but it really seems that on this occasion I tried a little too hard to be fair. The grief for which I thus apologized was over the fact that Mr. Babcock held an opinion in favor of injustice,—not over the fact that, holding such an opinion, he gave expression to it.

Second, he assumes that the profit idea cannot be ridiculous (as we pronounced it), since its converse is not well established or generally accepted. To say that the no-profit theory is not well established is to beg the principal question under discussion; to say that, because the theory is not generally accepted, the few friends that it has are not entitled to ridi-