Pt. II Four Crucial Years In The Life Of Edgar Rice Burroughs

May 25, 2010

 

Four Crucial Years

In The Life Of Edgar Rice Burroughs

Part II

by

R.E. Prindle

…presumptuous attempts to conquer the outer world of appearances by the inner world of wishful thinking.

–S. Freud, Letter To Arnold Zweig 5/8/32.

Quoted by Schur:  Freud: Living and Dying

     Now back in Chicago he had to consider what direction his life was to take.  At least secure working for his Dad, ERB made a tentative move in the direction of an artistic career.  During the summer he enrolled in the Chicago Art Institute.

     Chicago is billed as America’s Second City but in many ways it is or was, America’s First, certainly West of the Appalachians.  The city was much more important to the Southern States than New York City, while its importance to the West is shown by the fact that the Outfit- the Chicago Mafia- considers the whole West as its province.  The Outfit ruled everything west of the Appalachians by the end of the fifties

     At the time in question when Chicago’s population was a mill six the population of the country was about 75 million so Chicago represented over 2% of the total.  West of the towers rising from the mud there was virtually no one and those that existed were rubes and hicks or living on the reservation.  During Burroughs entire youth this most modern of American capitals stood a beacon of civilization, such as it was, on what was then known as the great American desert.

     Burroughs was to approach this metropolis from the West several times so is it any wonder that when John Carter emerged from the deserts of the Green Men- read Indians- the towers of Helium rose from nowhere much like Chicago.  The twin of Chicago was probably New York City in ERB’s mind.

     As the capital of the Empire, Helium, like Chicago, reflected the racial and ethnic makeup of Mars. 

     Chicago was polyglot and the mix was troubling.  Bruce Grant who wrote the history of the Union Club of Chicago entitled characteristically ‘Fight For A City’ in 1955 characterized the situation during Burroughs’ time in this manner, page 96:

     The thousands of laborers and adventurers who were attracted to Chicago during the rebuilding era following the fire of 1871 were for the most part uneducated newcomers.  Ignorant of the underlying spirit of American institutions.  Chicago was the Western distributing point for a vast European immigration.  With the good came the bad, and borne along with the stream were the scum and dregs of countries where despotism had made paupers and tyranny had bred conspirators.  From Russia came the Nihilists, described by one newspaper as ‘the gift of centuries of Slavic slavery and cruelty.’  From the German states came the Socialists, the offspring of military exactions and autocratic government.  And from Europe generally, including Great Britain and Ireland, Chicago drained the feverish spirit of human resentment against laws and life; of property and of conduct which it had no hand in making or enforcing.

     This was the environment Burroughs was growing up in.  I suppose he was getting his Russian and Jewish information from the newspapers.  Therefore it was heavily slanted in favor of the Jews.  But as he walked around Chicago he must have thought himself a Stranger In A Strange Land.  I do today.  No more than 10% of Chicago’s population could be considered native.  The city had a larger Irish population than Dublin, was the most populous German city in the world, The Polish population could compete with Warsaw and on down the line.

     The Socialists paraded shouting and screaming Revolution under the Red banner which may have made sense in Germany but made no sense to the native born.  Anarchists unfurled the Black Flag with their preposterous social conceptions.

     The remarkable thing about America is the extent that the Anglos went to accommodate the immigrants.  Of course there were movements such as the APA- American Protective Association- and later the Ku Klux Klan, but these were scorned and ineffective in any event, regardless of how seriously some paranoid immigrant writers like Gustavus Myers might take them.

     Then as now Liberals controlled the country.  More typical of the reaction was this querulous little poem gleaned from the pages of ‘Chicago’s Public Wits:  a Chapter In The American Comic Spirit,’ Edited by Kenny J. Williams and Bernard Duffy.  LSU Press, 1983:

I Wish I Was A Foreigner

by

An American

I wish I was a foreigner, I really, really do.

A right down foreign foreigner; pure foreigner through and through;

Because I find Americans, with all of native worth,

Don’t stand one half the chances here with men of foreign birth.

It seems to be unpopular for us to hold a place,

For we are made to give it up to men of foreign race.

The question of necessity and fitness to possess

Must never be considered- who cares for our distress.

Perhaps it is not wicked to be of foreign birth,

Or to mutter a mild protest when an alien wants the earth;

But the latest importation is sure to strike a job,

And be the sooner qualified to strike and lead a mob.

A Dutchman (German) or an Irishman, a Frenchman or a Turk

Comes here to be a voter, and is always given work;

A native born American is here, and here he must stay;

So it matters little how he lives, he cannot get away.

The Spaniard and Bohemian, the Russian and the Pole,

Are looking toward America with longings in the soul,

Because the politicians will receive them with open arms,

And the goddess of our freedom bid them welcome to her charms.

But the law abiding Chinaman from the Celestial shore,

Because he has no franchise, is driven from our shore;

Americans and Chinamen are not in much demand,

The one remains neglected while the other is barred the land.

So I wish I was a Dutchman, or some other foreign cuss

I’d lord it over the natives- who don’t dare to make a fuss,

But my blushes tell the story, I am native to the soil’

So the aliens hold the places- visitors must never toil.

     With the real American response as above, the retiring Bill Moyer doesn’t have to worry much about ‘the thunder on the Right’ caused by a few radio announcers.  The real threat to them is that the Liberal ideology will be shown to be false and ridiculous not that the ‘danger from the Right’ is pernicious.

     One believes that if Burroughs were alive today Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly would find him an ardent supporter. One wouldn’t want to be called ‘an unapologetic Conservative.’  The Liberal oppression is that strong.

     The resignation is fairly bitter in the above poem.  The Chinese, the only nationality  ever excluded, had been denied entry in 1882, which was shortly before the above poem was written; thus the writer laments that ‘Americans and Chinamen are not in much demand’ comparing natives with the excluded Chinese.

     By the nineties the Irish had seized control of many municipal administrations, including Chicago’s, so that they were in control of political patronage.  The boodle as it was known.  All the sinecures, city and county, were theirs to distribute to friends and cronies.  The Irish effectively controlled Chicago.  As the poem indicates this privilege was obtained by the vote and votes were obtained by corruption thus the Irish and the Democrats, then as today, were the party of corruption.  All Irish city administrations were corrupt.

     The failure of the potato, of course, sent the Irish fleeing Ireland for more emerald pastures, but the Scottish emigration to the US and Canada  caused by the Highland Clearances  is virtually unknown.  There were two clearances, one in the eighteenth century which sent the Highlanders to the colonies or US and second , 1800-1860 which populated Canada.

      After the Union when the Scottish Lairds no longer had need of armed retainers they simply cleared the natives off the land in about as brutal a manner as the Americans cleared the Indians to make room for sheep.  All these people who had lived in the highlands for centuries discovered they were mere squatters on land which legally belonged to the Laird.  Past services were forgotten; they were literally thrown off the land.  How do you like that?  Matches any hardluck story you’ve ever heard, doesn’t it?

     The Lairds then invoked the law to kick their former retainers not only off the land but out of the country.  Dig that, and take heed for the future.  Sheriffs burned down their houses around their ears.  There was then no place for them in their homeland.  They were ordered to emigrate.  What was that Walter Scott said:

Breathes there a man

With Soul so dead,

Who to himself hath not said,

This is my home,

My native land…

     Well, with a mere change of place you can that about Canada, too.  That’s how the Scots came to the US and Canada.

     The Irish supremacy in the US lasted until the thirties when the massive immigration of the nineties through 1914 wrested power from them.  Fiorello LaGuardia, the Jewish-Italian politician, replaced Jimmy Walker in New york ending the long Celtic rule of that city.  James T. O’Farrell in his Studs Lonigan trilogy has the Irish lamenting that the Slavs are swamping the Irish causing them to lose control of the boodle.  The Irish of Chicago must have rallied because Mayor Daley put the Irish back on top but because of the huge Negro influx into Chicago the Irish have to share power with the Blacks.

     If one makes an analogy of the present with the past it won’t be long before Mexicans and Moslems are directing the affairs of municipalities and States.  A vote is a vote.

     Be that as it may, in 1897 I believe ERB would have been in sympathy with the author of I Wish I Was A Foreigner.  The Irish certainly figure largely in both his personal and political images of the time.  David Adams writing in the ERBzine has come up with several possible origins for the name of the Mahars of Pellucidar.  I think the most obvious is that the Mahars are intended to be a parody of the Irish administration of Chicago.  Mahar is an Irish name.

     Earlier in the century the city of Chicago which was built on slightly different gradients so that sidewalks had a lot of up and down stairs had been literally jacked up to one level making the sidewalks even.  Entire huge buildings and city blocks were raised several feet above ground to make a level city.  The resulting cavity produced an underground city which the indigent occupied.

     This might suggest the image of the occupants as slimy reptiles into an imaginative mind.  Putting the images together one comes up with an Irish administration of slimy reptiles.  I haven’t figured out why they’re deaf and female yet unless ERB was unhappy with Emma who may have been deaf to his entreaties.  For the present I’ll leave that one up to you.

2.

     I shall permit myself to send you a small book which is sure to be unknown to you.  Group Psychoogy And The Analysis Of The Ego, published in 1921.  Not that I consider this work to be particularly successful, but it shows a way from the analysis of the individual to an understanding of society. 

S. Freud to Romain Rolland.

Quoted by Max Schur: Freud Living And Dying

     Working at the Battery Company, starting from the ground up, his father must still have allowed ERB flexible hours because Our Man found time to attend classes at the Chicago Art Institute.  He was not a very cooperative student, refusing to accept any discipline.  According to Porges he only wanted to draw horses and that without acquiring the fundamentals of drawing.  As he couldn’t find anyone willing to drop some hints on the fine points of equine deliniation he lost interest dropping out of school

     I for one would be very much interested in learning exaclty how he passed his time during this halcyon period.  If he and Emma went to the theatre as Porges suggests I would like to know what shows or lecture they attended.  Lecturers were a much more important adjunct to entertainment than they are today.  Robert Ingersoll had a huge reputation and of course Mark Twain.  There was also the Chautauqua Circuit.

     In the much discussed issue of Theosophy in Burroughs’ life it is quite possible that he attended a lecture or series of lectures either in their own building or some other place.  There undoubtedly would have been reviews of lecture in the papers.  Chicago had at least a dozen, in which the tenets or beliefs would be discussed.  In the crowd in which Burroughs associated I’m sure the fairly amazing doctrines would be discussed.

     When the US government places its 30 million pages of newspapers on the internet by 2006 dating back to the earlyh nineteenth century we will be able to examine this pertinent period in detail.

     At the theatre he and Emma would most likely have seen an actor by the name of John McCulloch who was a fixture of the Chicago stage.  This would have struck ERB as quite a coincidence as his mother had a John McCulloch as an ancestor.  If I am right in my surmise John the Bully was surnamed McCulloch.

     Nor would this be such a far fetched coincidence.  There must have been a couple dozen John McCullochs in Chicago at the time, probably hundreds in the United States.  As I write, my phone book lists a half dozen John McCullochs in this area.

     If Emma introduced ERB to the theatre at this time, there seem to be no reference3s to the theatre earlier, it held an attraction for him he never lost.  The old actor in Marcia Of The Doorstep is probably based on John McCulloch while ERB wrote his play You Lucky Girl at about the same time for his daughter Joan.

     Then at the beginning of the thirties ERB wrote his novelette Pirate Blood using the pseudonym John T. McCulloch which united the McCulloch references in his life.  It is said that ERB capitalized too much in his writing on improbable coincidences which on the one hand may be true but on the other, life is just like that, isn’t it?

     A near contermporary of ERB, Vachel Lindsay, who was born in 1879 in Springfield, Illinois, catalogs the influences to which he and his generation were subject.  It might not hurt to look through the poem here to try to capture some of the essence of what it meant to be young during this period.  The piece is entitled: John L. Sullivan, The Strong Boy Of Boston.

      The poem may be especially relevant to Burroughs as it centers on boxing which was a special interest of his.  During the period from 1892 to 1897 Burroughs’ idol, Gentleman Jim Corbett, was the heavyweight champion.  Corbett had defeated the incredible hulk, John L. Sullivan, in 1892 by landing one on the solar plexus making that piece of anatomy a topic of conversation down to when I was a kid.   In 1897 Bob Fitzsimmons took the title from Corbett.

     In the poem, Lindsay lists the many influences on his young life centered around 1889.  Pervading and overriding all is the ominous figure of Sullivan and the Irish.  Both Lindsay and Burroughs were Anglos.  The refrain ‘East side, West side’ refers to the Irish domination of New York City while the capitalized LONDON BRIDGE IS FALLING DOWN  of the last stanza implies that the Irish were conquering the Anglos.

When I was nine years old in 1889,

I sent my love a lacy valentine.

Suffering boys were dressed like Fauntleroys,

While Puck and Judge in quiet humor vied.

The Gibson Girl came shining like a bride

To spoil Tennyson’s Elaine.

Louisa Alcott was my gentle guide….

Then…

I heard a battle trumpet sound.

Nigh New Orleans

Upon an emerald plain

John L. Sullivan

The strong boy

of Boston

Fought seventy-five red round with Jake Kilrain.

In simple sheltered 1889

Nick Carter I would piously deride.

Over the Elsie books I moped and sighed.

St. Nicholas magazine was all my pride;

While coarser boys on cellar doors would slide.

The grownups bought refinement by the pound.

Rogers groups had not been told to hide.

E.P. Roe had just begun to wane.

Howells was rising, surely to attain!

The nation for a jamboree was gowned.

The hundreth year of roaring freedom crowned.

The British Lion ran and hid from Blaine

The razzle-dazzle hip-hoorah from Maine.

The mocking bird was singing in the lane….

Yet…

“East side, west side, all around the town the tots sang: ‘Ring a rosie-

‘London Bridge is falling down.’

And…

John L. Sullivan

The strong boy

Of Boston

Broke every single rib of Jake Kilrain.

In dear provincial 1889

Barnum’s bears and tigers could astound

Ingersoll was called a most vile hound,

And named with Satan, Judas, Thomas Paine!

Phillips Brooks for heresy was fried.

Boston Brahmins patronized Mark Twain.

The baseball rules were changed.  That was a gain!

Pop Anson was our darling pet and pride.

Native sons in Irish votes were drowned.

Tammany once more escaped it chain.

Once more each raw slaoon was raising Cain.

The mocking bird was singing in the lane….

Yet…

“East side, west side, all around the town

The tots sang:  ‘Ring a rosie’

‘London Bridge is falling down.'”

And…

John L. Sullivan

The strong boy

Of Boston

Finished the ring career of Jake Kilrain.

In mystic, ancient 1889

Wilson with pure learning was allied.

Roosevelt gave forth a chriping sound.

Stanley found old Emin and and his train.

Stout explorers sought the pole in vain.

To dream of flying proved a man insane.

The newly rich were bathing in champagne.

Van Bibber Davis, at a single bound

Displayed himself and a simpering glory found.

John J. Ingalls, like a lonely crane

Swore and swore and stalked the Kansas plain.

The Cronin murder was the ages’ stain.

Johnstown was flooded, and the whole world cried.

We heard  of Louvain and Lorraine,

Of a million heroes for their freedom slain.

Of Armageddon and the world’s birth-pain,

The League of nations, the new world allied,

With Wilson crucified, then justified.

We thought the world would loaf and sprawl and mosey,

The gods of Yap and Swat were sweetly dozy,

We thought the far off gods of Chow had died.

The mocking bird was singing in the lane….

Yet…

“East side, west side, all around the town

the tots sang: ‘Ring a rosie’

‘LONDON BRIDGE IS FALLING DOWN.'”

And…

John L. Sullivan knocked out Jake Kilrain.

     So many of the references which had an influence on Vachel Lindsay have lost their relevance but there are two which are important for our story.  One is that:  The Gibson Girl came shining like a bride to spoil the cult of Tennyson’s Elaine.  Elaine came from Tennyson’s Arthurian poem ‘Idylls Of The King.’  She was sort of pale and wan.  The Gibson Girl was created by the illustrator, Charles Gibson.  The latter girl was a robust saucy temptation of the All American Girl.  Emma made the choice between the two the Gibson Girl  her role model which is why I find her so entrancing.  In that sense Emma was forward looking heading into the twentieth century.  The Gibson Girl may be said to epitomize the woman of the myth of the twentieth century.  From the Gibson Girl the ideal  progressed to the Vargas pinup girl of the heyday of Esquire Magazine and from there she degenerated to the sex fantasies of Hugh Hefner and on down to Larry Flynt’s Hustler.  The story could have had a happy ending but didn’t.  It’s gotten worse.  I don’t want to go into that.

     The second key point is the general regretful tone concerning the Irish.  Just as in the poem I Wish I Was A Foreigner where the American complains …’the foreigner comes here to be a voter,’ so Lindsay notes ‘Native sons in Irish votes were drowned.’  This is serious.  This was a major problem with the ‘democracy’ when its intended fairness was turned against itself.  In a homogeneous society votes are used to determine an issue regarding the welfare of the whole people.  In a heterogeneous society votes are used to advance the interests of one segment against the others.  Thus the whole democratic process is subverted.

     Thus while the Anglos were concerned with regulating the country and immigration for the benefit of all, the Irish put themselves forward as the benefactors of the immigrants against the Anglos taking moral shortcuts which undermined the integrity of the State.  Immigrants then were brought in on the Irish side condemning the Anglos who were their true benefactors.

     Hence the baffling undercurrent of condemnation and complaint that runs thorugh American historical writing.

     Vachel Lindsay would also run afoul of the Diversity with his poem of the Congo which the Left portrayed as anti-Negro while it merely was an expression of Lindsay’s understanding of the culture of the Negro Group within the Diversity.  The Negro deserves to have his own psychology and he does.  We should value and honor that.

     Such censoring of opinion will have its consequences.  Burroughs himself was and is charged with racism merely for having prescient views.  The man was a deep thinker.  Viewing the world around him at this time he came to a remarkably accurate conclusion.  I can’t tell what his thought processes were but analyzing history he came to this conclusion.

     In his prophetic futuristic novel ‘Beyond Thirty’ of 1915, just after the Great War began, he has a post-war Europe ruled, as I thought improbably by Black Africans.  In light of recent events this now seems not so improbable.

     Life is not what we would have it:  The world is not run on any principles we can cheerfully accept.  The twentieth century was one of unprecedented disasters in their scope.  Shiva and Kali rule whether we will or not.  The twenty-first century will be even more destructive.  Now, beginning in the fifteenth century Europe, in essence, began the invasion of the world.  Scientifically far in advance of the rest of the world its success was dazzling.  However, somewhere in these years, we are considering, perhaps specifically 1893, the Euroamericans, the West, lost its will to dominate.  This lack of will was presciently picked up by a number of writers including Burroughs.

     The way of the world is that one either conquers or one is conquered.  Having begun to impose its will on the world there was no turning back for the West.  However it has attempted to do so.  The result is that instead of invading and conquering the West is now being invaded and conquered.

     Any Freudian analysis of the ego of the various peoples or, Groups, will provide a record of their mental processes, objectives and desires, not mention, capabilities.  The myth of the twentieth century was destroyed on 9/11/01 when the Moslems destroyed the religious symbol of the World Trade Center.

     The West at the height of their confidence moved peoples about the world to satisfy their needs.  East Indians were taken to all corners of the world while Chinese were moved into areas in the Pacific where their skills were in advance of the native populations.  During the two wars Africans were recruited to fight from Europe to the Far East.  A great deal of the consequences have been suppressed.  Having set the peoples of the world in motion, the West withdrew from its conquests, the conquered peoples began to assert their Group egos realizing that it was either conquer or be destroyed.  Then they began their invasions.

     The Japanese attempt to expel the West from Asia was successful although costly for themselves.  Nevertheless by the 50s the West had been expelled from Asia while the enclave in Hong Kong was allowed to live out the terms of their lease.

     By the early sixtes the Africans had expelled the West except in South Africa.  that fearful drama is not yet finished.

     Africans had been dispersed throughout the Americas during gthe 16th through 19th centuries.  Beginning recently they have begun to invade Europe from the North African ports especially from Libya.

     At the same time the world’s population has grown so large that there are areas that can no longer support their populations.  Whether by design or natural increase the Semitic States were so productive that they began exporting people throughout th world  beginning in the seventies while their populations at home continue to grow.

     As the Moslems invaded the world in this second Eruption From The Desert this narrow, bigoted, antiquated religious faith came into conflict with Western Scientific knowledge.

     To accept scientific knowledge would destroy the Moslem faith in much the same way that the Christian and Jewish faiths in the West have been affected.  There can be no compromise between the two; this is an either-or situation.

     While Moslem proselytizing has never ceased since the seventh century there was now a renewed burst of activity combined with an all out assault on the West, well conducted within Moslem military limitations.

     On 9/11/01 they were successful in destroying the symbol of scientific achievement, the World Trade Center in New York City.  They aimed directly at the strength of the West- its economic system.

     It is a mistake to think that anything can be achieved by fair minded discussion or concessions, otherwise known as appeasement.   Appeasement didn’t work out so well in the thirties when another determined ideology asserted its will.  This is a war to the knife; only one side will be left standing.

     More remarkable still, having disturbed the Africans in their nest, the Africans are on the move having begun an invsion of Euorpe which is already over populated there being no room for vast numbers of either Africans or Moslems, unless….  Religious and racial intolerance began to take a vicious turn in the twentieth centgury when racial clashes began almost simultaneoulsy in Europe and Asia.

     Since then genocidal wars of either a racial or religious nature have proliferated.  The Moslems have opened a guerilla war on the world.  In areas where resources are insufficient to support an Arab or Semitic population against other races the Semites or Arabs are conducting genocidal wars as in the Sudan where they are wiping out the Negroes or driving them beyond the borders.

     As Moslems and Negroes flood into Europe this must result in a terrific struggle for survival of the Europeans, probably breaking out within the next ten or twenty years.

     The resultant war must be genocidal in nature.  If the European struggle is successful it must result in the death of alien populations or their being driven out of Europe the same as the long struggle to drive the Moslems out of Spain.  Or the Europeans will be annihilated.

     This is an unpleasant but inevitable prospect.

     If the Europeans fail as I am sure they will then Burroughs remarkable prophecy of a Black Europe in ‘Beyond Thirty’ is almost certain to become a reality.  Life does not give you any easy choices.  Here in America you’re not even supposed to talk about this problem in a realistic manner so  there is no hope of avoiding destruction.

     ERB’s head must have been aswirl with all these thoughts that society forbade him to express directly.

     Probably wrestling with all these macro thoughts he had the really important micro thoughts to deal with.  Really, what to do with Emma who he wanted but didn’t want to marry, while still not losing her to Frank Martin.

     In February of  ’98 he once again for some reason decided to seek an officer’s appointment.  He wrote to a former commandant at the MMA, Capt. Fred A. Smith, seeking his assistance.  Smith, of course, replied that there was nothing he could do.  ERB still didn’t understand the consequences of abandoning his post in 1896.

     Shortly thereafter ERB pulled up stakes to return to Idaho abruptly abandoning Emma again.  Why he should have done so is not clear although perhaps there is a clue in the Return Of Tarzan.  Remember that dream displacement and disfiguration are in operation so that one cannot expect a literal representation of the incident.  One has to demythologize it.l  In the Return W.C. Clayton, Tarzan’s rival for Jane, and Jane have been stranded in the jungle. 

      Tarzan has chanced upon their camp.  As he watched an aged, toothless lion was about to spring on a cringing W.E. Clayton as Jane watches.  Tarzan transfixes the lion with his spear.  He then sees Clayton get up to embrace and kiss Jane.  Mistaking the import of the embrace and kiss, Tarzan turns sorowfully back to disappear into the jungle.

     Burroughs himself may have seen Frank Martin kissing Emma.  Perhaps he thought that a pauper like himself had lost out to a prince like Martin.  Thinking himself cut out might have been the reason for his departure to Idaho much as Tarzan melted back into the jungle..  With no more thought for his Dad at the Battery Company than he had for Col. Rogers at the MMA ERB just up and left.  Poor old Emma must have been wondering what she had done.  Couldn’t have been anything she said.

Continue to Part III.

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