October 7, 8, 9, 1886—these three exciting days of the great tragedy, when
the Chicago martyrs addressed Judge Gary's court in support of their demand
for a new trial, come back to me fraught with the most vivid impressions.
Each historical figure stands clearly out from a confused blending of drawn,
tense faces and bodies motionless with wrapt attention. I see again the impassive face, the cold severe countenance of the unjust judge; the sneering,
exultant face of the monster, Grinnell; the scowling features of the ruffian,
Bonfield; the coarse, expressionless face and form of the beer-soaked Schaack;
the pale, earnest face of Captain Black. I hear once more the voices of the
condemned, varying with the speakers and the emotions expressed. In that
crowded courtroom I sit amid sorrowing friends while our convicted comrades
rise to make their final plea to the court. One after another they stand before
the bar of the court, their proud, earnest faces and erect, manly forms distinguishing them, even to the attention of strangers present,.as men far removed
from criminal taint.
I am deeply impressed with the bold yet dignified bearing of Comrade
Spies, whose handsome, sarcastic face reveals the emotion of his mind. His
speech is strong, defiant; replete with historical references and philosophical
generalizations. It is easy to see in the mocking smile of the State's attorney
as well as in the uneasy movements of his assistants, that the keen shafts of
the gifted editor in chief are striking home.
Then follow in the order named, Schwab, Neebe, Fischer, Lingg, Engel
and Fielden. Schwab's pale face ia a picture as he earnestly speaks in his own
defense. Scathingly he rebukes the attorneys for the prosecution for the part
they have taken in the damnable conspiracy; quietly he tells the court of his
impressions and varied experiences in Europe as well as in this country; of
his absence from the scene of the bomb throwing and of his innocence of
crime. His speech makes a visible impression upon all present. Oscar
Neebe's speech is broken, but not with emotion. He proudly tells the listening court and spectators of the " crimes " he has committed in organizing the
bakers and brewers; in shortening their hours of toil and increasing their
daily wages. He boldly pleads that he may share the terrible death which
is to be meted out to his comrades so that his children may kneel on his grave
and honor his memory.
Comrade Fischer comes next, and he is as I have always known him—
calm, powerful, even majestic in his look and bearing. His tall form is
stretched to its full height, and he looks down upon the cringing crowd with
an expression of pity in his steady grey eyes. The close confinement and the
excitement of the trial have apparently made no impression upon him ; a little
paler than his wont, perhaps, but that is all. Fischer's speech is not long.
He is not an orator, but is, in every fiber of his being, the man of action.
Lingg's fiery address in German is translated sentence by sentence by