The few prey on the many; and in turn a few of the many prey upon all. These are the brutal violators of justice, who go to prison, or to the scaffold, for breaking through a code of laws under which peaceful but universal injustice is wrought. If there were enough of these outlaws they might establish a system of jurisprudence for the world under which it would be lawful to rob and murder by the rule of the strong right hand, but criminal to reduce millions to wretchedness by subtle and cunning arts; and, hoity-toity, the prisons would change their tenants, and the brutal plunderers of the few would give place to the cultured spoilers of the many.
And when you come to look at it, my brother, how shall we compare the conditions of the well-to-do-man, who has been merely robbed of his watch and purse, even at the cost of a broken head, which will heal in a few days, with the awful doom of the poor multitude, who from the cradle to the grave work without joy and live without hope? Who is there that would take back his watch and purse at the cost of changing places with one of these wretches?
And who is there that, if the choice were presented to him, would not prefer instant death, which is but a change of conditions, a flight from world to world, or at worst annihilation, rather than to be hurled into the living tomb which I have depicted, there to grovel and writhe, pressed down by the sordid mass around him, until death comes to his relief?
And so it seems to me that, in the final analysis of reason, the great criminals of the world are not these wild beasts, who break through all laws, whose selfishness takes the form of the bloody knife, the firebrand, or the bludgeon; but those who, equally selfish, corrupt the foundations of government and create laws and conditions by which millions suffer, and out of which these murderers and robbers naturally and unavoidably arise.
But I must bring this long letter to a conclusion, and subscribe myself, with love to all,
Your affectionate brother,
My Dear Heinrich:
One morning after breakfast, Max and I were seated in the library, enjoying our matutinal cigars, when, the conversation flagging, I asked Maximilian whether he had noticed the two young ladies who were in the Prince of Cabano’s carriage the morning I whipped the driver. He replied that he had not observed them particularly, as he was too much excited and alarmed for my safety to pay especial attention to anything else; but he had seen that there were two young women in the barouche, and his glance had shown him they were both handsome.
“Have you any idea who they were?” I asked after a pause, for I shrank from revealing the interest I took in one of them.
“No,” said he, indifferently; “probably a couple of the Prince’s mistresses.”