John Most and Freiheit [excerpt]
The case of John Most involves such
a clear question of the freedom of the press that no Freethinker
can afford to overlook it. There is something interesting about
the personality of this man. He and his famous weekly, Die Freiheit,
are well known by name to two continents, but it is only a select
few who can judge both understandingly.
Herr Most, like all of the radical
Anarchists, was born a Catholic. He has served terms of imprisonment
in Germany, England, and the United States, always for what are
recognized to be political crimes, with one exception. This exception
will not lower him in the eyes of the majority of readers of this
paper, whatever they may think of any form of Anarchy. Augsburg,
where Most was born, is a Bavarian city, and there Catholicism is
particularly bigoted and intolerant. The youthful Most rebelled
against going to confession, and the priest, a licentious and choleric
fellow, attempted to give him corporal punishment. The priest got
the worst thrashing he ever had in his life. Young Most was sentenced
to jail, and registered a vow that he would never enter a church
as long as he lived, which oath he has solemnly kept.
Most is a well-educated man. He is
an omnivorous reader, and has made a special study of history. On
this subject he has often lectured both in English and German. In
the popular mind Herr Most is so thoroughly identified with the
extreme Auarchists [sic] that the yellow press with one accord determined
to exploit him after the Buffalo affair last September. It is said
that all Most assignments given to reporters on the Journal and
the World were marked respectively in the corner “P. F.” and “C.
S.,” which meant that an interesting “story” or interview with Most
could be prepared right in the office, as it invariably was. P.
F. means “pure fake” and C. S. signifies “color strongly.”
Die Freiheit (Liberty) contains about
one-third as much matter as The Truth Seeker. Herr Most writes a
most peculiar style of German. He excels in lurid invective. His
paper can be understood and appreciated only by one who adds to
a knowledge of German a knowledge of New York life and both German
and American slang. Nobody understands and relishes pure High German
better than John Most, but it suits his fancy to get up the greater
part of the Freiheit in a strange macaronic tongue that is very
puzzling to a newly-arrived German, be he ever so learned.