Malfew Seklew: Surfessor of Egoism

“SURFESSOR OF EGOISM” [sic] is a delightful and informative and previously uncollected work about (and possibly by) Malfew Seklew. This article appeared in the Manchester Guardian (City Edition) Number 27,469 (September 25 1934) on page 20. Do the initials “M. S.” found at the end of the article indicate that Man Without a Soul was writing about himself? Or does the curious misspelling of “Sirfessor” indicate this article is by another?

Hyde Park, where this article “might” have taken place, is the location of Speakers’ Corner. Decades after egoist Sirfessor Seklew spoke there, so did egoist S. E. Parker. Columbus Circle is at the intersection of Broadway, 8th Avenue, Central Park South and Central Park West in New York City.

Sirfessor Seklew was not the only one to sniff at the description of sausages as “hot dogs” – this objection is also found in the heroic titular character found in Outbursts of Everett True (Baltimore: Underworld Amusements 2015).

The article gives a physical description of the Sirfessor entirely complimentary to the Josh Latta cover of The Gospel According to Malfew Seklew (Baltimore: Underworld Amusements 2014). The Sirfessor is described as “Johnsonian,” after British essayist Dr. Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784). The content of his oration is also in harmony with  the The Gospel According to Malfew Seklew, the very pamphlet the Sirfessor is soapboxing here (expanded with additional material and a new introduction in the Underworld Amusements edition.

Sirfessor Seklew (circa 1860s – 1938) drops the names of men he said he knew. Ulysses S. Grant (1822 – 1885) was General of the Union Army and the 18th President of the United States. Mark Twain (1835 – 1910) was an author. William Morris (1834 – 1896) was an artist and socialist. Charles Bradlaugh (1833 – 1891) was a Member of Parliament for Northampton and founded the National Secular Society. Robert Ingersoll (1833 – 1899) was an orator on the subject of agnosticism. These men all lived at the same time; what the Sirfessor meant by “know” (exchanged letters? close companions?) is not known; Grant and Twain lived in the State of New York when Sirfessor Seklew did; Bradlaugh and Ingersoll shared the freethought that Sirfessor Seklew did; this author concludes it is not impossible that Sirfessor Seklew was telling the gospel truth.

The New York Times (February 10 1938) reported that when a reporter called on the last residence of Sirfessor Fred M. Wilkes that he was met by “Wilkes’ Boswell” who gave his name as “Potter.” This article from the Guardian gives us the full name William Potter, and shows the two together in 1934 and 1938.

The Union of Egoists publishes original research into egoism between the years 1845 and 1945. If you would care to socialize your selfishness by purchasing some of our work or making a donation, I guarantee we will experience the highest form of psychic satisfaction.

– Trevor Blake is the author of Confessions of a Failed Egoist (Baltimore: Underworld Amusements 2014).

It might have been Hyde Park, only it happened to be Columbus Circle, beneath the lights of Broadway and an advertisement for chewing-gum. He stood alongside other lesser orators on his own little soap-box, among vendors of “hot dogs” and, hamburgers, peanuts and coca-cola, with the American flag tightly furled and poking up stiffly beside him like an umbrella in a stand. His warm, comforting accent gave him away as Yorkshire.

He was clearly a man who would stand no nonsense.

“I don’t want any half-baked organisms here,” he was expostulating. “Half-wits, go away! Anyone nasty-minded, go away! I must have the respectful silence of the people or I shall pack up my duds and walk.”

He looked down severely through his rimless spectacles, a small, stoutish man of Johnsonian aspect, with locks of grey hair sprouting beneath a black trilby and a sheaf of papers under one arm. He was trying to remember a name.

“We’ll have to let it go,” he said reluctantly to his disappointed disciples. “If you can’t think about a thing, don’t let it distress you. I don’t let anything disturb me now.”

Then, wiping his brow and tipping his trilby to a rakish angle, he drew himself up for his final peroration.

“To conclude. One law governs all fermentations and combinations. What is that law? Selfishness is the law that governs all life. Every man is composed of trillions of cells, and every cell is an egoist. There’s no such thing as society. The only thing on earth is the individual. I am not only a prophet; I am the voice of nature.”

“But I’m a part of nature, too,” interrupted a man in a straw hat, chewing a cigar and blocking everyone’s view.

“You are a depraved part of nature,” continued the orator serenely.

“Judged by whose intellect?”

“Nature’s intellect.”

“He’s knocking hell out of that guy, though ho don’t know it,” someone murmured, rejoicing at the retort. “Listen, Professor. Can you tell us how to rejuvenate our youth?” The question was put seriously.

“Surfessor,” corrected the Britisher. “Surfessor of the Society of Social Supercrats and Conscious Egoists. Everything on earth is understood if you read our pamphlets. The purpose of life and how to abolish ignorance and poverty from the face of the earth! How mind moulds matter to its own shape! And why? Because I’ve got a new definition of mind and matter.”

“I’m charging you ten cents because I want you to express your selfishness in a social way. I don’t sell the paper. I sell the brain-power there. Only for high-class organisms. There’s two wore. Will you have them or will you not!”

He offered them as if they were the Sibylline prophecies. An admirer pooled ten cents in order that a copy might be given to the unemployed.

“You have socialised your selfishness to the extent of ten cents,” commented the philosopher, unable to let slip this example of the conscious egoist. “You have experienced the highest form of psychic satisfaction. This is the demonstration of a man who can give his surplus value away.”

Then he pivoted cautiously on his soap-box, hesitating. To the old man the ground seemed far away.

“As I fall on the world, hear it shake,” he said, charging his solid little jump with significance.

“Wait to speak to me, young lady? Yes, Yorkshire. I knew everyone in Bradford worth knowing – Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, Leeds – used to pitch in Victoria, Square. I was the first soap-box orator to give Nietzsche to the world. ‘Forty Years a Soap Boxer,’ title of my next book!”

“William, are you ready?”

An unobtrusive Boswell emerged, from the crowd.

“This is the famous Mr. Potter,” explained the philosopher. “You haven’t heard my seven stages of psychic progression. Well, William has reached the fifth stage.”

Ignoring, traffic signals, the philosopher stepped into Broadway and the traffic drew to a screeching, angry halt.

“The Surfessor is built like a block house,” complained William. “He refuses to be disturbed. It’s a fact. But I’m more of a nervous temperament.”

“I knew General Grant, Mark Twain, William Morris, Bradlaugh, Ingersoll,” continued the Surfessor blandly.

“And don’t forget Emma Goldman,” prompted Mr. Potter mournfully.

“I was a clerk in the sumo office as J. M. Barrie – ‘Nottingham Journal’ – when he was writing ‘When a Man’s Single.’ I once offered Bernard Shaw a job as editor of the ‘Malfew Seklew Journal,’ but since ‘Man and Superman’ he hasn’t done a thing worth a damn, not from our standpoint.”

lie shook his head as if in Shaw’s apostasy all the stupidity of mankind were symbolised.

“There’s no man that would disagree with what the Surfessor says if they understood him, but they don’t understand him,” was William’s explanatory note. “He’s never Americanised himself.”

We neared a restaurant. From the empty ocean of his pocket the Surfessor of Egoism fished out four modest nickels.

“William, go and get us some coffee,” he said with a grandiloquent gesture. “And may the blessing of Malfew Seklew, the most high-class organism that ever flew through space, rest upon your alabaster brow.”

Seeing his obvious poverty we hesitated.

“I do it just because it’s my pleasure, you know,” he said gruffly. “Just giving away surplus value.” M. S.

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Filed under 1845-1945, Events, Malfew Seklew, Sidney E. Parker, Trevor Blake

John Nichols Beffel at the Dill Pickle Club

John Nichols Beffel (1887 – 1973) was a journalist with sympathies to outsiders and anarchists. Among his many credits are pieces in the American Mercury, the Chicago Daily News, the Detroit Free Press, New Trends, the New York World, and the New York Herald Tribune among others. And, apparently, Cartoons Magazine for December 1911 (Volume 16 Number 6), where he provided this sketch of the egoist Mecca, the Dill Pickle Club of Chicago.  Sirfessor Malfew Seklew and Ragnar Redbeard, among others, frequented The Dill Pickle Club.

Beffel sometimes used the pseudonyms Lancey Fitzgibbons, George Moresby, Mary Starland and Daniel Tower. He wrote extensively about anarchist and labor causes, such as the Centralia Masacre, Sacco and Vanzetti, and others. His papers includes an unpublished manuscript on Mikhail Bakunin.

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Filed under 1845-1945, Trevor Blake

The Egoist Advertisement in The Little Review

Advertisement from The Little Review Volume IV Number 4 (August 1917).  “Lingual Psychology / The Science of Signs” by Dora Marsden appeared in serial form in The Egoist but has yet to be published as a book. – Trevor Blake

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Filed under 1845-1945, Bibliographic, Dora Marsden, Historical Work, The Egoist 1914, Trevor Blake

“A Dream of Beyond—All-Too-Beyond, Woman” by Volcano (J.B. Barnhill)

This short article was published in Volume 4, Number 1 of Georgia and Henry Replogle’s journal Egoism (1890) and was written by John Basil Barnhill (1864-1929) who went by the pseudonyms John Ewrin McCall (when editing The Eagle and The Serpent) and Volcano (when submitting writing to journals). You’ll note that the cover of The Martyrdom of Percy Whitcomb credits the author as “Erwin McCall, aka ‘Volcano'”.

The quote that leads this piece is from a peom by Ellen Sturgis Hooper (1812-1848). She is considered “one of the most gifted poets among the New England Transcendentalists”, and the poem contains a total of six lines and was originally printed in The Dial.

A Dream of Beyond–All-Too-Beyond, Woman.

“I slept and dreamed that life was beauty,
I woke and found that life was duty.”

No, not duty but—tragedy. I dreamed that social reformers no longer found the words of Coleridge a true description of their success with women:

“It seams a story from the world of spirits,
If any one obtains that which he merits
Or any merits that which he obtains.”

I dreamed that the handsomest, loveliest, women lavished all their charms and favors upon plumb-liners, ruthlessly boycotting all reactionaries and conservatives. Alas, it was a dream.


Again I slept and dreamed that men and women were at last appreciated at their true worth and value, that is according to their ability to make the opposite sex happy.

The saint and hero was that one who could make twenty of the opposite sex happy. Such dreams are strands in the rope which connects us with beyond-man.—Arrows of longing for beyond-woman. Man yet will say :

I slept and dreamed that life was duty,
I woke and found that life was beauty.


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Filed under 1845-1945, Egoism, John Basil Barnhill

Dora Marsden and the Malthusian League

The thought that one’s specific interests are only shared by those who share all of one’s interests leads without exception to disappointment. We find our friends where we find them, and sometimes we don’t get to decide who their friends are or would be. We know that Dora Marsden never had any children, but why she never had children will forever remain speculation. What Dora might have thought of the support of the Malthusian League is also speculation. We can only know that she had their support.

The Malthusian League existed from 1877 to 1927. They attributed poverty not to class conflict but to overpopulation, and therefore advocated not socialism but birth control. “Overpopulation is the most fruitful source of pauperism, ignorance, crime and disease … the full and open discussion of the population question in all its necessary aspects is a matter of vital moment in society.” They encouraged “the elimination of unfitness […] not by restriction of marriage, segregation, or by sterilisation (which should be resorted to only in the case of those obviously incapable of self-control, such as lunatics and criminals), but by the inculcation of the great responsibility of parenthood and of the effects of such hereditary transmission, combined with a general knowledge of the most hygenic means of limiting families.” The reader will have to make an individual choice as to this being “family planning” or “eugenics.” What subject would you see banned were you an ecclesiastical adviser?

The leader of The Malthusian League in 1912 was Dr. Alice Vickery. Dr. Vickery was an advocate of birth control at a time when even public discussion of birth control was illegal. She also advocated a reduction in the stigma associated with illegitimacy, and in that she shared a symbolic stage with Leighton Pagan, author of For Love and Money.

The following appeared in The Thirty-Fourth Annual Report of the Malthusian League (London: William Bell 1912).

– Trevor Blake

An event of considerable importance during the year has been the advent of the new feminist newspaper: The Freewoman, under the leadership of Miss Dora Marsden and Miss Mary Gawthorpe, ably seconded by Miss Grace Jardine. This paper made its first appearance on November 23rd, 1911, and it has throughout been characterized by the most remarkable openness of mind and expression, no subject whatever seeming to have been banned. A series of articles on the population question from the feminist and economic standpoints were contributed by Dr. Drysdale [Vol. 1, No. 2 November 30, 1911], and produced the most animated discussion, in which a fair measure of agreement was shown with neo-Malthusian doctrines. Among the opponents it was interesting to note that some granted the laws of Malthus but objected to preventive means, while others advocated prevention for individual reasons and strongly challenged the population doctrine. It is greatly to be regretted that many Socialists still seem determined to heap ridicule and abuse upon the Malthusian doctrine, and their controversial methods make it impossible for any self-respecting person to argue with them. It is their refusal to recognize this doctrine which has hampered their own efforts, and the new Syndicalist movement appears to show that State Socialism is breaking down just as it appeared to be winning.

Mr. Fliigel [?] contributed two interesting letters to the discussion, upholding the neo-Malthusian side; and an interesting feature was the declaration by Mr. Upton Sinclair [Vol. 1, No. 9 January 18. 1912], in the issue of January 18, in which he warmly advocated family limitation and said, inter alia: “This new discovery of science gives us the means of putting an end to the horrible social disease of prostitution. The meaning of it is that the man can marry young, the woman can remain self-supporting, and they can have their children later on in life when they are in a position to support them. This is the way, and the only way conceivable, where prostitution can be ended. And yet, to think that our ecclesiastical advisers have caused the passing of laws against the spread of information about it!”

It is to be hoped that The Freewoman will long continue to do its remarkable work in introducing people, and especially women, to express themselves openly on vital questions.

As a result of the above discussion, several new members that join the league, and many inquiries for advice have been received.

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Filed under 1845-1945, Dora Marsden, Freewoman, Historical Work, Journals, Trevor Blake

Dora Marsden on World War One, Suffrage and Nationalism

Under the heading “Cassandra and the War,” the Evening Public Ledger (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) for January 6 1915 quotes Dora Marsden from The Egoist Volume I Number 19 (October 1 1914) speaking about World War I. At the start of this War to End All Wars, the Women’s Political Suffrage Union had stopped publishing their newspaper The Suffragette, announced a pause in their campaign to obtain the vote for women, and begun publishing of a nationalist newspaper called Britannia. Dora was by this time supportive neither of voting nor of nations, but of the powerful, self-responsible individual. – Trevor Blake

It is quite a different phase of the war that Dora Marsden presents in a gloomy and foreboding prophecy. Miss Marsden, once prominent in settlement and suffrage work, “advanced” out of that stage to founding a very radical weekly, The Freewoman. Current opinion quotes the following from a recent article of hers in The Egoist, another radical English weekly:

The war – still the war – has brought the wordy contest about women’s rights to an abrupt finish, and only a few sympathetic words remain to be spoken over the feminist corpse.

Every form of self-responsible power demands – not the last, the first – capable physical self-defense. One might venture to say it would be impossible to find these islands in any “advanced” woman who has not felt herself made into something of a fool buy the unequivocal evidence as to the position of women presented by the war, not merely in the countries actually devastated by the war, here in England. They find that they may busy themselves with efforts to protect their less “protected” sisters; they may have the honor of being allowed to share in their country’s defense by dint of knitting socks; or serve, as one ungalant soldier put it, by providing one of the “horrors of war” as a Red Cross nurse. In the war area itself they form part, along with the rest of the property, of the spoils of the conquered. One cannot easily refrain from the inference that, though they have weakened the pull of the old-womanly competence, the “advanced women” have done very little in the way of furnishing the necessary foundations for its successor.

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Filed under 1845-1945, Freewoman, Historical Work, The Egoist 1914, Trevor Blake

Stand Alone | A Critique of Anarchist Communism: 45th Anniversary Edition | SA1030

Today we officially announce the opening of the Union of Egoists Patreon account and the newest issue of Stand Alone (2016) – A Critique of Anarchist Communism: 45th Anniversary Edition by Ken Knudson. Keep reading to find out how to get a copy of Knudson’s book for $6.66 shipped (US addresses only).

Stand Alone | SA1030 | August, 2017
Subtitle/Theme: A Critique of Anarchist Communism by Ken Knudson
Published by: Union of Egoists/Underworld Amusements

Underworld Amusements

A Critique of Anarchist Communism by Ken Knudson has finally been printed as intended nearly a half-century after it was written.

Bill Dwyer, Editor of the British journal Anarchy, commissioned the essay 1971, but the publication went under before it saw print. Libertarian Analysis sought to publish this essay, but the American quarterly also folded just before it was to appear. A mere excerpt was published in The Voluntaryist by Carl Watner in 1983, but the full essay remained unpublished. Svein Olav Nyberg broke the curse in 1992 when he serialized it across twelve issues of his Egoist e-zine Non Serviam. The essay was then published in parts by egoist-feminist Wendy McElroy at her website

A Critique of Anarchist Communism argues that “Anarchist Communism” is a contradiction in terms. Knudson argues as an Egoist Anarchist inspired by the writings of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, William B. Greene, Benjamin R. Tucker and Max Stirner. A Critique of Anarchist Communism opens wide the divide between socialism and individualism. Not merely a critique, but ultimately an offering of an alternative: mutualism.

This 12th issue of the Stand Alone journal finally publishes the original essay as a single work, with a new Foreword by Mr. Knudson.

80 pages, 5.5″ x 8.5″, Perfect bound

Any patrons who have signed up for $6.66 or more per month in the months of July or August will get a copy of this new issue of Stand Alone (to be shipped the first week of September). This offer is limited to US addresses at $6.66 and up, but international customers can get it for the addition of the actual cost of shipping (we’ll co-ordinate that when the time comes). Otherwise, you can just buy it for $6.89 from or Underworld Amusements

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Filed under 1946-Today, Book, Max Stirner, Stand Alone

Stirner’s Materialist Critique of Humanism

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by | August 7, 2017 · 6:57 am

References and Allusions to Max Stirner

References and quotations from Stirner appear in odd places. Collected below are a few of those references. Originally gathered by Dan Davis for the Egoist Archive.

** New additions from The Independent Ego @worthy248

The Failure of Christianity by Emma Goldman

First published in April 1913, in the Mother Earth journal:

Our age has given birth to two intellectual giants, who have undertaken to transvalue the dead social and moral values of the past, especially those contained in Christianity. Friedrich Nietzsche and Max Stirner have hurled blow upon blow against the portals of Christianity, because they saw in it a pernicious slave morality, the denial of life, the destroyer of all the elements that make for strength and character. True, Nietzsche has opposed the slave-morality idea inherent in Christianity in behalf of a master morality for the privileged few. But I venture to suggest that his master idea had nothing to do with the vulgarity of station, caste, or wealth. Rather did it mean the masterful in human possibilities, the masterful in man that would help him to overcome old traditions and worn-out values, so that he may learn to become the creator of new and beautiful things.

Both Nietzsche and Stirner saw in Christianity the leveler of the human race, the breaker of man’s will to dare and to do. They saw in every movement built on Christian morality and ethics attempts not at the emancipation from slavery, but for the perpetuation thereof. Hence they opposed these movements with might and main.

The Rebel by Camus

In The Rebel the second chapter on “Metaphysical Rebellion” has a section on “Absolute Affirmation” – which has a subsection on Stirner entitled “The Unique”. In the American Vintage Book edition this comprises pages 62-65 inclusive. There is also a brief reference to Stirner on page 154.

Human Action by Ludwig Von Mises

pg. 151

If one assumes that there exists above and beyond the individual’s actions an imperishable entity aiming at its own ends, different from those of mortal men, one has already constructed the concept of a superhuman being. The one cannot evade the question whose ends take precedence whenever an antagonism arises, those of the state or society or those of the individual. The answer to this question is already implied in the very concept of state or society as conceived by collectivism and universalism. If one postulates the existence of an entity which ex definitione is higher, nobler, and better than the individuals, then there cannot be any doubt that the aims of this eminent being must tower above those of the wretched individuals. (It is true that some lovers of paradox-for instance, Max Stirner- took pleasure in turning the matter upside down and for all that asserted the precedence of the individual.) If society or state is an entity endowed with volition and intention and all the other qualities attributed to it by the collectivist doctrine, then it is simply nonsensical to set the shabby individual’s trivial aims against its lofty designs.

How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World by Harry Browne

pg. 19

It is not realized in the full amplitude of the word that all freedom
is essentially self-liberation—that I can have only so much freedom
as I procure for myself by my ownness.
—Max Stirner

pg. 114

Might is a fine thing, and useful for many purposes; for “one goes
further with a handful of might than a bagful of right.”
—Max Stirner

The Virtue of Selfishness by Ayn Rand

Too often, the ethical-political meaning of individualism is held to be: doing whatever one wishes, regardless of the rights of others. Writers such as Nietzsche and Max Stirner are sometimes quoted in support of this interpretation. Altruists and collectivists have an obvious vested interest in persuading men that such is the meaning of individualism, that the man who refuses to be sacrificed intends to sacrifice others.

The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson

“The Eye in the Pyramid”, “The Golden Apple”, “Leviathan”

pg. 53

Anarchism was frequently associated with assassinations. It had an appeal for freethinkers, such as Kropotkin and Bakunin, but also for religious idealists, like Tolstoy and Dorothy Day of the Catholic Worker movement. Most anarchists hoped, Joachim-like, to redistribute the wealth, but Rebecca had once told him about a classic of anarchist literature, Max Stirner’s The Ego and His Own, which had been called “the Billionaire’s Bible” because it stressed the advantages the rugged individualist would gain in a stateless society-and Cecil Rhodes was an adventurer before he was a banker. The Illuminati were anarchists.

pg. 495

The next day, he had burned his naturalization papers and put the ashes in an envelope addressed to the President of the United States, with a brief note: “Everything relevant is ruled irrelevant. Everything material is ruled immaterial. An ex-citizen.” The ashes of hie Army Reserve discharge went to the Secretary of Defense with a briefer note: “Non Serviam. An ex-slave.” That year’s income tax form went to the Secretary of the Treasury, after he wiped his ass on it; the note said: “Try robbing a poor box. Der Einziege.” His fury still mounting, he grabbed his copy of Das Kapital off the bookshelf, smiling bitterly at the memory of his sarcastic marginal notes, scrawled “Without private property there is no private life” on the flyleaf, and mailed it to Josef Stalin in the Kremlin.

pg. 577 –







New additions:

Mein zwanzigstes Jahrhundert by Ludwig Marcuse

“[Horkheimer] was a Hegelian and militant sociologist, believing in the objective spirit, and had expected a study from me which would have worked on Jahn as an illustration of the Left Hegelian science of society. I, on the other hand, belonged at an early age to the diverse opposition: the early Romantics, Stirner, Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche. . . . I had a warm inclination toward Pollock and Horkheimer, a high respect for their Zeitschrift and their collective volume, “Authority and Family,” which the Institut had published- and was sad not to be able to work with them.”
–Ludwig Marcuse, Mein zwanzigstes Jahrhundert (Munich, 1960), pp. 239-240

Society and the Spectacle by Guy Debord

“The thought of history can be saved only by becoming practical thought; and the practice of the proletariat as a revolutionary class cannot be less than historical consciousness operating on the totality of its world. All the theoretical currents of the revolutionary workers’ movement grew out of a critical confrontation with Hegelian thought–Stirner and Bakunin as well as Marx.”
Society and the Spectacle by Guy Debord Chapter 4 “The Proletariat as Subject and as Representation” Tenet 78.

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Filed under Max Stirner

Giving “The Eagle and The Serpent” and John Basil Barnhill their due. 1913

What follows is a dialogue between readers of an English journal titled T.P.’s Weekly. Those readers just happen to include some of the earliest translators of Nietzsche into the English language, and making sure John Basil Barnhill (who may or may not have been ill, I’ve yet to substantiate that) got credit for his publishing Thomas Common in his journal The Eagle and The Serpent (1898).

The titular “T.P.” of the journal was Thomas Power O’Connor. Wikipedia’s first paragraph on him:

Thomas Power O’Connor (5 October 1848 – 18 November 1929), known as T. P. O’Connor and occasionally as Tay Pay (mimicking his own pronunciation of the initials T. P.), was a journalist, an Irish nationalist political figure, and a member of parliament (MP) in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland for nearly fifty years.

The website Conrad First gives a little background on the journal:

Launched on 14 November 1902, T.P.’s Weekly was the latest publishing venture of Radical M.P. T. P. O’Connor, founder of London’s halfpenny The Star and the penny weekly M.A.P. (Mainly About People) (1898) and Weekly Sun (1891). Priced one penny, T.P.’s Weekly promised “to bring to many thousands a love of letters”, securing to this end contributions from a distinguished array of writers: George Bernard Shaw, Arnold Bennett, H. G. Wells, and G. K. Chesterton. In practice, O’Connor delegated most of the running of the magazine to Wilfred Whitten (whose byline “John O’London” supplied the title of another contemporary literary magazine, John O’London’s Weekly). Whitten was succeeded in 1914 by Holbrook Jackson, under whose editorship the journal changed name in 1916 to To-Day. Shortly after the journal folded in January 1917, it was succeeded by another, unrelated magazine bearing the same name, which continued until 1924.

NOTE: We have done a rough job transcribing some of the text from old scans, though there may still be errors. Others, due to time constraints, we have left in image form. We may go back and transcribe these later, or if a volunteer would like to do it, please contact us.

The following was printed in the May 2, 1913 issue of T.P.’s Weekly. It was been written by a Bernard Lintot.

In the preface to the final volume of the edition, Dr. Oscar Levy pays a fine tribute to those who have worked with him on the production of the eighteen volumes. And he gives in the following passage a brief history of the efforts to introduce Nietzsche into England:

It was in the year 1893 that Nietzsche’s name is first mentioned in one of the books of the unfortunate English poet John Davidson. In the following year a group of German, English, and Scottish admirers of Nietzsche arranged to bring out an authorised version of the German thinker’s works, three volumes of which were actually published in 1896 and 1 897. The reception of these books was so discouraging that no further arrangements could be made by the publishing firm, which shortly afterwards, owing chiefly to the extensive liabilities incurred by the Nietzsche edition, had to give up business. In the next six years — from 1897 to 1903 — in spite of various endeavours by some indefatigable defenders of the faith, it was found absolutely impossible to get ahearing for Nietzsche either with the public, the Press, or the publishers. Their hopes went down to freezing- point when, in 1903, The Dawn of Day was given to the public, only to meet again with a cold reception. But in 1907 the party had somewhat recovered its spirit, and as a last experiment brought out a translation of Beyond Good and Evil — this time at private risk, for no publisher could be induced to take up an author twice repudiated. This translation was one which had been made nearly ten years ago, but until then had never seen, and was never expected to see, the light of publicity. It turned out to bea success — a half-hearted success perhaps, but one that at last told the few inmates of the Nietzschean ark that the waters of democracy had diminished, and that at least some higher peaks of humanity were free from the appalling deluge. The success encouraged them once more to take up their old project of the publication of the come first four volumes of this, the present translation, left the press and were favourably received, though yet by a small and none too enthusiastic public. Towards the end of the same year three more volumes were published. In 1910 and 1911 the remaining ten volumes of the translation appeared, while most of the previously published volumes went into a second and even a third edition. No volume was published in 191 2, but with the index the last and, as is to be hoped, a very useful volume is added to this, the most complete and voluminous translation of any foreign philosopher into the English language.

In the above passage Dr. Oscar Levy does not, of course, set out to write a complete history of the development of interest in Nietzsche in this country. But I think he might have mentioned the pioneer work done by the first and only journal devoted to the Nietzschean philosophy ever published in this country. “The Eagle and The Serpent.”  And I think he is wrong also in imagining John Davidson to be the first English writer to mention Nietzsche. I do not know who whom the honour will be finally due, but I do know that “George Egerton” (Mrs. Golding Bright) mentions the philosopher in “Keynotes,” which was first published in the year 1892.

The following letter from A.G. Field was printed in the May 23, 1913 issue of T.P.’s Weekly.

Friedrich Nietzsche in England.

To the Editor of T.P.’s WEEKLY.
Sir, – The generous reference by Bernard Lintot, in T. P.’s WEEKLY of May 2nd, to the early promulgation of Nietzschean principles by the magazine “The Eagle and the Serpent,” will bring happiness to at least one heart. Stretched on his sick-bed in a Washington hospital, threatened with desquamative nephritis, lies at this moment John Basil Barnhill, one of literature’s pioneers; one of those who penetrate axe in hand into the thickets of popular ignorance. Such men gain nothing for themselves, except the jungle fevers and the warrior’s wounds and hunger. Among a crowd of original and valuable ideas moving him to a perpetual action, two were most persistent—a desire to place Bizet on his proper plane among thinkers as well as among musicians, and an unconquerable resolution to bring Nietzsche into the ken of the English-speaking peoples.

Well do I remember his translations of and writings on Nietzsche, for I myself made some of the former and circulated many of the latter. Bernard Lintot gives due and adequate praise to the monumental work of Dr. Levy, but he rightly adds some corrections to Dr. Levy’s curious notes on the early work in connection with Nietzsche. Why is Thomas Common so absolutely ignored ? But there were prophets even before Common. Among the hardy few none more full of the radiancy of hope and courage than John Basil Barnhill, who finally, in the pages of “The Eagle and the Serpent,” attempted to popularise , the Neitzschean philosophy. When he saw that the pioneer work was over, and that the “morning red ” had indeed dawned over England, he stopped his journal and commenced his pioneer work on Vauvenargues, Rivarol, and Chamfort. The first English translation of any quantity of Chamfort’s caustic epigrams was made by me and issued by Barnhill in the pages of one of his ephemeral magazines. This quixotic spirit was all the while ‘ on Bizet, reading the deepest philosophical meaning into the junction of his striking musical ideas with a plot taken from Merimée’s novel. Readers of “T.P.’s ‘already know that when Nietzsche broke with Wagner on the ground of that composer’s apostasy from a pagan dramatic movement to a Christian, or “slave,” principle, he attempted to aggrandise Bizet and particularly Bizet’s great work, “Carmen,” at the expense of Wagner. Those wrangles seem singularly old and dead to us to-day; yet the conviction that something unappreciated in Bizet rests yet to be brought home to the people inspires Barnhill on his sick-bed. He writes me from the hospital : —

“If this ward were provided with an orchestra playing.’ Carmen,” or even a gramophone reading Maupassant’s On’ Merimée’s inimitable stories to me, I could tolerate it and get well. As it is J am still thinking out—not working as it very much, that is at present impossible-my great work on Bizet, I have now reached the section ‘Carmen Nights’—a series of tragic tales told me by the world’s wastrels whom I have taken on various occasions to hear the opera. A veritable Magnificat of Bizet. No really sympathetic life of him exists in English. Of course, he got a stupendous puff from Nietzsche, and others from Runciman: ‘The second act is so brilliant that it positively sheds light.” Can you help me to assemble the critiques of the French and Germans who have appreciated Bizet’s greatness? Perhaps this is a lifelong task I am suggesting?”

And so the untiring brain works on, on-always engaged in some unbusinesslike and non-paying proposition; always offering its service to humanity and sacrificing to the manes of the neglected and unappreciated.

Barnhill is assailed by a fear that his present illness may develop into something fatal, but he faces it as boldly as he has faced other contingencies almost as terrible. Finding his principles Nietzschean and other, discordant with a professional position from which he was drawing a comfortable salary, he abandoned not his principles but his salary. To-day he writes: —

“Doctors say this is probably Bright’s disease. I have accepted the challenge of Mr. Bright and I intend to fight him to a finish. Personally, I think I may come out victor, if not, well—as Brutus says:
Therefore, our everlasting farewell take—
For ever, and for ever, farewell, Cassius!
If we do meet again, why, we shall smile;
If not, why then, this parting was well made.

It is not remarkable that Barnhill’s pioneer work for Nietzsche, which I, a Socialist and anti-Nietzschean, declare to have been of the first importance to the thinking world, should have been neglected. He belongs to the class who are always, partly through their own defects of advertising ability, neglected and ignored. His father fought and died in the American Civil War, and yet he draws no pension, in a land where the distinction consists in not having a pension. He has lectured and fought for the Democratic party for twenty years, and now the party is in power it does not even offer him a vice-consulship, say, at Leeds, Cardiff, or Bristol, where his old friends and fellow pioneers could see him and hear the old accents.

A few of those who have read this man’s writings, or even who now hear of his work for the first time, might like to send him a line of affection and encouragement. In that case I would be glad to forward it, or give any necessary information.

28, Ilminster Gardens, S.W.

The following letter from Oscar Levy was printed in the May 30, 1913 issue of T.P.’s Weekly.

Dr. Oscar Levy and Nietzsche Pioneers.

Sir,—I am very much obliged to Mr. A. G. Field for drawing, my attention to Mr. John Basil Barnhill, the former editor of “The Eagle and the Serpent,” the earliest Nietzschean periodical in England. I knew of this periodical, but not of its editor.

At the same time—as Mr. Bernard Lintot in his generous appreciation of my Nietzsche translation already suggested—I was only giving a. short retrospective sketch of “The Nietzschean Movement in England ” in my introductory essay to the index volume of the Nietzsche translation. I did not intend to write a historical survey of the whole movement, for the simple reason that I could not have done it, even if I had tried. I have no knowledge f.i. of Mr. J. B. Barnhill and his work. The only competent person to do justice to this task would he my friend Mr. Thomas Common, of Edinburgh, who from the beginning has taken an active and leading part in the movement. which I myself only joined at a much later state.

It would, therefore, have been more than ungrateful on my part if, as Mr. A. G. Field suggests, I had tried to ignore in my preface Mr. Thomas Common, of whom I knew. If I may be allowed to refer Mr. A. G. Field to page 21 of this preface, he will see that I paid my tribute not only to Mr. Thomas Common, but likewise to Mr. William Haussmann for their steadfast and courageous work in our cause. Both Mr. Common and Mr. Haussmann ( who is a German-American living in Philadelphia) stood sponsor for the first edition of Nietzsche, with which I myself had nothing to do. This edition, published by Henry and Co. and later on by Fisher Unwin, had unfortunately to be discontinued. But both Mr. Common and Mr. Haussmann have likewise given active and generous help to my edition, and to omit their names would have been on my part decidely unjust, or what is called in English “unsportsmenlike.”


The following was printed in the June 6, 1913 issue of T.P.’s Weekly. It was written by Bernard Lintot.

The following letter from Thomas Common was also printed in the June 6, 1913 issue of T.P.’s Weekly.

Nietzsche Pioneers.



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