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very doubtful for the entire group. Then the
truth came out.

Things, always bad, had become unbearable
at the Black Mill. The violence and cruelty
of the Black Miller seemed as if they had
reached their height; and when he threatened,
as he did, to murder them all, one by
one, the bravest or the most hopeful could
not believe that threat a mere empty sound,
meaning nothing. Then the degrading
irregularities by which poor Barbara had been so long
humiliated were now flaunted openly before her
eyes, and the last remnant of home, honour, and
respect, destroyed; for preparations were being
made, without disguise, for turning wife and
family out of the mill, to instal in their stead the
woman Hopfgärtner and her unlawful children.
In short, what with cruelty, vice, and meanness
carried to the very verge of starvation, it had
become a hand-to-hand struggle for life or death
between the family and the father.

The day-labourer Wagner bore as little good
will to the Black Miller as any other; and such
service as he proposed to himself to offer the
family, would bind the young sons to him for
ever, unlock the family coffers, and make him
master and independent for life. They were
a poor, frightened, broken-necked race, only fitted
to be the prey of a bolder spirit like himself. The
sons fell into the snare, and at last were won over
to consentnot to a murder, but to a blow in
self-defence, for the protection of their beloved
mother. But at first only by the milder means of
sorcery and magic. The witch-wife Anna
undertook this part of the business, and hung up
a pair of the father's stockings in the chimney;
by which, according to the laws of witchcraft,
his life would have wasted away as the stockings
shrivelled and consumed. But finding that these
charms and conjurations had no effect, the matter
was trusted to the man's surer hand. Steel might
do what sorcery was incapable of, and Wagner
must murder the old man before the old man
had time to murder them. When they had
consented to this, Wagner prepared for his part with
as much indifference as if he had been bidden to
slaughter a sheep or an ox, earning his hundred
guldens for the job quite as tranquilly as by any
other manner of labour possible to him. In the
still and heavy darkness of that terrible August
nightthe whole family aware of what was
taking place by the door of the miller's sleeping
roomWagner struck down their old tyrant
in the midst of his sins, the sons aiding actively,
the mother more passively, with her prayers.
Then they carried the corpse to the saw-mill,
where they buried it; but a year or so afterwards
they dug it up againafter the mill had
been "searched" by the friendly magistrate
and flung it down that rocky rift where the
soldiers of the new commissioners found it.

Now that the thing was discovered and known,
all evasion was at an end. Wagner confessed to
every particular, with the same brutal indifference
as had characterised him all along; and
the wife and sons excused themselves as well as
they could, on the plea of necessity and self-
defence, for it was either his life or theirs. But
justice has little inclination for psychology in
any of its forms, and rarely enters into causes
when it can deal with results. It took somewhat
into consideration though the bad character of
the man, and the tremendous provocation which
the family had received, and assigned a lighter
sentence than would otherwise have been awarded
to parricide and assassination. Conrad and
Wagner, as chief actors, were condemned to
civil death, with solitary confinement for life,
heavily chained and fettered, the "bullet" super-
added; Frederic, as an accomplice of the first
grade, to fifteen years' imprisonment; Barbara,
as an accomplice of the second grade, to eight
years' imprisonment; Anna Wagner to one
year's confinement in the House of Correction;
but Margaret and Kunigunde,the two daughters,
were declared innocent, and left to their own
misery and desolation.

The history of this crime is recorded in
Hitzig's New Pitaval, and has served as
occasion for much German philosophy and reasoning.
Moralists and divines have been sadly puzzled
where to draw the line between self-defence
that is lawful, and self-defence that is criminal:
whether a known aggression, planned and to
come, may be evaded by the same action as
would be recognised and allowed if the strife
had really begun. It has also been made a
question of the difference lying between public
and private tyranny; and whether, what has
been admired when directed against a public
tyrant, may at any time be admitted when
turned against a domestic despot.

THE IRON AGE OF AGRICULTURE *
*See Agricultural Encampments in No.136, and Show Cattle in No. 138.

WHEN the last bull has been handled, the last
pony trotted out, the last aldermanic pig
compelled to cease snoring, stand up, and show
himself when, in fact, the live-stock department has
been examined to the best of the stranger's power
although he may not, perhaps, be able to equal
the Australian colonist at Leeds, who thought he
had individualised every horned animal in the
yardhe will probably turn from nature and
art in feeding and breeding to pure art in iron,
steel, and wood, and proceed to the long
streets of sheds filled with productions of
the agricultural engineers; first surveying the
outlying machinery at rest or in motionsteam
engines and barn machinery, and strange, new,
ponderous objects which, too lofty to go under
cover, form an outer girdle along a considerable
segment of the enclosing fence. This is the
iron age of agriculture, and these are the results
and the aids of what the French call the intensive
system of cultivation; these are the produce of
railroads, chemical manures, deep drainage,
steam-driven factories; of an unlimited demand
for meat and bread; and of free tradeor the
late Protectionist farmer draws his stores of
seed and cattle-food from every quarter of the

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