Publication information
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Source: Minneapolis Journal
Source type: newspaper
Document type: editorial
Document title: “Prompted by a Look”
Author(s): anonymous
City of publication: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Date of publication: 18 September 1901
Volume number: none
Issue number: none
Pagination: 4

“Prompted by a Look.” Minneapolis Journal 18 Sept. 1901: p. 4.
full text
The Marble Faun; McKinley assassination (personal response); anarchism (compared with political speech).
Named persons
Donatello; Emma Goldman; Nathaniel Hawthorne; William McKinley; Miriam Schaefer.


Prompted by a Look

     In Hawthorne’s romance, “The Marble Faun,” after Donatello has flung the Capuchin monk over the precipice of the Capitoline Hill, occurs this passage:
     “What have you done?” said Miriam, in a horror-stricken whisper.
     The glow of rage was still lurid on Donatello’s face, and now flashed out again in his eyes. “I did what ought to be done to a traitor!” he replied. “I did what your eyes bade me do, when I asked them with mine, as I held the wretch over the precipice!”
     These last words struck Miriam like a bullet. Could it be so? Had her eyes provoked or assented to this deed? She had not known it. But, alas! looking back into the frenzy and turmoil of the scene just acted, she could not deny—she was not sure whether it might be so or no—that a wild joy had flamed up in her heart, when she beheld her persecutor in his mortal peril. Was it horror?—or ecstasy?—or both in one? Be the emotion what it might, it had blazed up more madly when Donatello flung his victim off the cliff, and more and more, while his shriek went quivering downward. With the dead thump upon the stones below had come an unutterable horror. “And my eyes bade you do it?” repeated she. And then, after a little, she knew that she had prompted a deed which knotted them together for time and eternity like the coils of a serpent.
     The prompting to crime, to assassination, whence is it? Hawthorne’s fine description of the silent prompting of Miriam’s silent look becomes a closer portrayal of the truth the more one reads it. The flaming appeal of the anarchist is not necessary to vitalize the arm which wields the destroying weapon of the assassin. In this country there are smooth statesmen who have wrought the English language into all fantastic shapes in depicting other men whom they declare to be enemies of the people and bent upon using every device to enslave and tyrannize over them and rob them of their rights. They do not say these should be taken out of the way. They do not call for blood. But they use language for all it is worth and expression for all it is worth to prompt others to cultivate the spirit which in its blossoming spells assassination.
     Emma Goldman has used no stronger language to prompt assassination than many an American politician used last year to disparage McKinley and hold him up for public objurgation. These were so many Miriams who gave looks, if they did not give daggers and pistols to those they prompted. They all belong to a greater or lesser degree to that “confraternity of guilty ones, all shuddering at each other.” Their victim lies to-day pale in death and with burial chants intoned in sobbing minors about him. Are they affrighted by their work? They may well be affrighted. Are they silent now? They may well be silent and keep silent forever after this.



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