(The Murder of Charles de Young)
Of the verdict rendered by the trial of the younger Kalloch for the murder of Charles de Young, we care to say but little. For some forty days (as befits the Lenten season) the attention of the layest community on this verge of the New World has been fixed on this most disgraceful affair.
Murder had followed murder in such close succession in San Francisco, and murderers had been so long encouraged by a verdict of acquittal rendered by “a jury of their peers” (that is to say, the equals of the murderers aforesaid), that the respectable portion of the community had long lifted its voice loudly and howled for “justice”—a commodity, it seems, which has yet to be imported.
The Press of the city, to our shame be it spoken, from motives of the most despicable “business jealousy,” did not demand or desire any justice in this particular case. The proprietors of the leading dailies had got rid of a wary, enterprising and astute rival, and they wished to befriend his assassin to the best of their ability. They certainly have no love for any of the Kalloch brood, and would probably exterminate it tomorrow, and thus efface all traces of their latest iniquity, if they could; but as vermin must unhappily be humored by dirty people, they, the aforesaid proprietors of the dailies, have conscientiously done their best to tickle the parasites that annoy, but, at the same time, pay them, in some instances, with “small advertisements.”
But let these ghouls gloat as they will over the unavenged death of Charles de Young. The better part of San Francisco’s people will mourn his loss, and will regard the acquittal of his murderer with indignation, if not with despair.
It is unnecessary to enter into details. With testimony that occupies miles of print we do not care to meddle. But we do not hesitate to affirm that the greater part of this testimony was bogus, and we assert with equal confidence that nearly all of the false swearing was on the side of the defendant.
No man of any sense of intelligence doubts for an instant that Kalloch killed de Young without the latter having a chance to defend himself. That de Young would have defended himself very effectually had he had the opportunity no one will deny who knew “Charlie’s” grit. His murderer stole upon him like a thief in the night. Had he shown any valor or chivalry we could partly condone his crime—but he didn’t.
Of course, Kalloch’s friends will reply that de Young attempted to assassinate the former’s father in an exceptionally cowardly manner. We grant them that this is true, but “two wrongs cannot make a right.” If we were to admit any other theory, we might as well at once import and countenance the Italian vendetta, or the deadly “feuds,” which have so often told their bloody tale of horror in our own Southern states.
Personally, we never had any great admiration for Charles de Young. He was enterprising, shrewd, and, above all, successful. But, at the same time, he was cruel and unscrupulous so far as his public business as a journalist was concerned. There is no getting round the fact that he “lived by the sword,” and the Bible is right in telling us that he who thus lives shall also “die by the sword.”
But it would be absurd to allow any personal opinion of a man’s character to stand between his corpse and his murderer. The people of San Francisco cannot afford to let this infamous verdict pass without expressing their abhorrence of the sentiment which procured it; much less can they afford to applaud that sentiment. If men like Kalloch are to go scot-free from the halls of “Justice” (God save the mark!) then it were better for all of us to either travel about in a bullet-proof suit of armor, or keep a neatly inscribed coffin in constant readiness for emergencies.
We may heartily congratulate ourselves upon the fact that only the riff-raff and rabble of the town—the Sand-lotters, Communists, and trash of that sort—are pleased with the verdict. The unsavory truth that they dragged the acquitted murdered through the streets in a carriage is only another and stronger warning to better people to “beware of the dog” that of late has been snarling at every civilized government in the world.
We are not in any way afraid to give out our opinion that the verdict was the result of corrupt influences, and it is more than probable that the time will yet come when we shall be able to vindicate this opinion before the public.
In conclusion, we have only to say that the conduct of the Chronicle has, throughout the trial, been uniformly in good taste. It has never commented editorially on the case, but has fairly reported the proceedings as “news matter” only. Now, when the verdict is given, its short editorial on the subject sounds like the single passionate sob of grieved and injured man, who cannot hope that his wrongs will be redressed. How to regard the jubilee of the Chronicle’s business rivals we gladly leave to the better judgment of all good men and women.
San Francisco News Letter and California Advertiser
March 26, 1881