The Story of the Outlaw: A Study of the Western Desperado by Emerson Hough

The Story of the Outlaw: A Study of the Western Desperado

byEmerson Hough

Kobo ebook | March 8, 2015

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Energy and action may be of two sorts, good or bad; this being as well as we can phrase it in human affairs. The live wires that net our streets are more dangerous than all the bad men the country ever knew, but we call electricity on the whole good in its action. We lay it under law, but sometimes it breaks out and has its own way. These outbreaks will occur until the end of time, in live wires and vital men. Each land in the world produces its own men individually bad—and, in time, other bad men who kill them for the general good. There are bad Chinamen, bad Filipinos, bad Mexicans, and Indians, and negroes, and bad white men. The white bad man is the worst bad man of the world, and the prize-taking bad man of the lot is the Western white bad man. Turn the white man loose in a land free of restraint—such as was always that Golden Fleece land, vague, shifting and transitory, known as the American West—and he simply reverts to the ways of Teutonic and Gothic forests. The civilized empire of the West has grown in spite of this, because of that other strange germ, the love of law, anciently implanted in the soul of the Anglo-Saxon. That there was little difference between the bad man and the good man who went out after him was frequently demonstrated in the early roaring days of the West. The religion of progress and civilization meant very little to the Western town marshal, who sometimes, or often, was a peace officer chiefly because he was a good fighting man. We band together and "elect" political representatives who do not represent us at all. We "elect" executive officers who execute nothing but their own wishes. We pay innumerable policemen to take from our shoulders the burden of self-protection; and the policemen do not do this thing. Back of all the law is the undelegated personal right, that vague thing which, none the less, is recognized in all the laws and charters of the world; as England and France of old, and Russia to-day, may show. This undelegated personal right is in each of us, or ought to be. If there is in you no hot blood to break into flame and set you arbiter for yourself in some sharp, crucial moment, then God pity you, for no woman ever loved you if she could find anything else to love, and you are fit neither as man nor citizen. As the individual retains an undelegated right, so does the body social. We employ politicians, but at heart most of us despise politicians and love fighting men. Society and law are not absolutely wise nor absolutely right, but only as a compromise relatively wise and right. The bad man, so called, may have been in large part relatively bad. This much we may say scientifically, and without the slightest cheapness. It does not mean that we shall waste any maudlin sentiment over a desperado; and certainly it does not mean that we shall have anything but contempt for the pretender at desperadoism. Who and what was the bad man? Scientifically and historically he was even as you and I. Whence did he come? From any and all places. What did he look like? He came in all sorts and shapes, all colors and sizes—just as cowards do. As to knowing him, the only way was by trying him. His reputation, true or false, just or unjust, became, of course, the herald of the bad man in due time. The "killer" of a Western town might be known throughout the state or in several states. His reputation might long outlast that of able statesmen and public benefactors.
Title:The Story of the Outlaw: A Study of the Western DesperadoFormat:Kobo ebookPublished:March 8, 2015Language:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1465611843

ISBN - 13:9781465611840

Appropriate for ages: All ages

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