Who is Ragnar Redbeard?

He is the author of a remarkable book, “Might is


Who is Ragnar Redbeard?

Reedy's Mirror

1917-03-23. Vol. 26. Issue 12

Letters From the People

Who is Ragnar Redbeard?

Creston, Ia., March 15, 1917.

Editor Reedy’s Mirror:

Who was or is Ragnar Redbeard? He is the author of a remarkable book, “Might is Right,” printed in Chicago about 1895 or 96. His name on the title page is followed by “LL.D., University of C—.”

A Thousand Books of Fame

The book is the first and the bluntest expression in this country of the doctrine or dogma now designated Nietzscheism. It is well though brutally written and atrociously printed. It declares for no God, no charity, no sympathy. The weakest must go to the wall. The masses are the rabble. For everything we call Christian there is contempt and disgust. The Saviour is a Jewish slave, and so forth.

Issued in the year of the rise of Bryan’s star contemporaneously with “Coin’s Financial School,” this book might be a piece of gigantic irony; but it is too intense for that. Ragnar Redbeard is said in a preface to be the owner of a large ranch in Montana. The writing of the man is quite tremendous. He knew something, but, he says, not much of Nietzsche, Felix Dahn and others. The book, he says, was begun in 1890 before he knew anything about them.

I have made inquiries concerning him in Chicago, where the book was published. I have not been able to learn anything about him. Some old-time anarchists say they think he is dead.

The book, for its rawness, deserves a place alongside of Winwood Reade’s “The Martyrdom of Man.” I find that there was an English edition, maybe two or three, the latest in 1910. Ragnar Redbeard is evidently a pen-name. He is quoted and advertised in The Eagle and the Serpent, the first English periodical, at first a weekly, then a monthly, devoted to the Nietzschean propaganda. The periodical published as news large excerpts from Prof. Thomas Common’s translation of “Thus Spake Zarathustra.”

The editor of the MIRROR seems to have a way of finding out things and possibly he can uncover for me the identity of the man who was the first exponent of Nietzscheanism in all its naked thing-in-itselfness.


[The editor’s copy of “Might is Right” shows the book was entered according to the act of congress in 1897, by Arthur Uing. It has for secondary title, “The Gospel of Chicago.” It is of a fifth edition of 10.000, published by W. J. Robbins & Co., Ltd., 20 Midhope Abbey, Cromer St., Gray’s Inn Road, 1910. It contains an editor’s preface to the 1896 edition, signed “Douglas K. Handyside, M. D., Ph. D.” A preface to the fifth edition, 1903, conveys the information that “the author (who owns a cattle ranch in Montana of 30.000 acres) refuses to revise, correct or make any alterations in the text.” Dr. Redbeard is described as “a literal reincarnation of Wodin.” The book is said to have inspired “Col. Roosevelt’s gospel of Roman strenuousness.” Cecil Rhodes is said to have had it typewritten for better convenience and study. It is the worst-printed book in the world. It is to be had now of Thurland and Thurland, Evanston, Ills. —Editor of the Mirror.]

Ragnar Redbeard in Rhyme

Reedy's Mirror

1917-03-30. Vol. 26. Issue 13

Ragnar Redbeard in rhyme

St. Louis, March 24, 1917.

Editor of Reedy’s Mirror:

Have just read the letter in your issue of March 23, and your note thereupon, about Ragnar Redbeard, LL.D. I have a copy of “Might is Right” and I think it is a remarkable presentation of the “last word” of the evolutionary philosophy. Ragnar Redbeard does not gloss the brutal truth, does not sugar the pill. And all altruism to the contrary, it is the truth. It does, as your correspondent says, reiterate the dogma of Winwood Reade, brother of him who wrote “The Cloister and the Heart,” that “the human soul must die, “as uttered in the last chapter of “The Martyrdom of Man”—a truth that was maintained as well by Francis Newman, the strange brother of Cardinal John Henry Newman of the “Grammar of Assent” and the “Apologia pro Vita Sua.” You might give your readers the essence of Ragnar Redbeard’s philosophy by reprinting the poem with which “Might is Right” is concluded—“The Logic of To-day.” The sub-title of Redbeard’s volume is an inspiration—“The Gospel of Chicago.” It is interesting to contrast the fulminations of the prophet of Chicago with those of “the prophet of San Francisco”—Henry George.


The Logic of To-Day

Inferior organisms succumb and perish or are enslaved. Superior organisms survive, propagate and possess. —Darwin.

“All men are created equal” is an infernal lie.

Not by speechifying and majority votes can the great question of to-day be settled . . . but by iron and by blood. —Bismarck.

Might was right when Caesar bled

Upon the stones of Rome,

Might was Right when Joshua led

His hordes o’er Jordan’s foam,

And Might was Right when German troops

Poured down through Paris gay;

It’s the Gospel of the Ancient World

And the Logic of To-day.

Behind all Kings and Presidents,

All Governments and Law,

Are army-corps and cannoneers

To hold the world in awe.

And sword-strong races own the earth

And ride the Conqueror’s car,

And Liberty has ne’er been won,

Except by deeds of war.

What are the lordsof hoarded gold—

The silent Semite rings?

What are the plunder-patriots—

High-pontiffs, priests and kings?

What are they but bold master-minds,

Best fitted for the fray

Who comprehend and vanish by

The Logic of To-day.

Cain’s knottedclub I scepter still—

The “rights of Man” is fraud:

Christ’s Ethics are for creeping things—

True manhood smiles at “God.”

For Might is Right when empires sink

In storms of steel and flame;

And it is Right when weakling breeds

Are hunted down like game.

Then what’s the use of dreaming dreams—

That “each shall get his own”

By forceless votes of meek-eyed thralls,

Who blindly sweat and moan?

No! a curse is on their cankered brains,

Their very bones decay:

Go! Trace your fate in the Iron Game,

Is the Logic of To-Day.

The Strong must ever rule the Weak,

Is grim Primordial Law—

On earth’s broad racial threshing floor,

The meek are beaten straw—

Then ride to Power o’er foemen’s necks,

Let nothing bar your way;

If you are fit you’ll rule and reign,

Is the Logic of To-day.

You must prove your Right by deed of might—

Of splendor and renown.

If need be, march through flames of hell

To dash opponents down—

If need be, died of scaffold high

In the morning’s misty grey:

For “Liberty or Death” is still

The Logic of To-day.

Might was Right when Gideon led,

The “chosen” tribes of old,

And it was right when Titus burnt

Their Temples, roofed with gold:

And Might was Right from Bunker Hill

To far Manila Bay.

By land and flood it’s writ in blood—

The Gospel of To-day.

“Put not your trust in princes”

Is a saying old and true,

“Put not your hope in Governments”

Translateth it anew.

All “Books of Law” and “Golden Rules”

Are fashioned to betray.

“The Survival of the Strongest”

Is the Gospel of To-day.

Might was Right when Carthage flames

Lit up the Punic foam,

And when the naked steel of Gaul

Weighed down the spoil of Rome;

And Might was Right when Richmond fell

And at Thermopylae—

It’s the Logic of the Ancient World

And the Gospel of To-day.

Where pendant suns in millions swing,

Around this whirling earth,

It’s Might, it’s Force that holds the brakes,

And steers through life and death:

Force governs all organic life,

Inspires all Right and Wrong.

It’s Nature’s plan to weed-out man

And test who are the Strong.

“Ragnar Redbeard” a St. Louisan?

Reedy's Mirror

1917-04-13. Vol. 26. Issue 15

“Ragnar Redbeard” a St. Louisan?

New York, April 3, 1917.

Editor of Reedy’s Mirror:

I notice in the March 23rd and 30th issues the letters from Mackey Stirner and Rousseau Jones—both pen names evidently—concerning “Might is Right,” by Ragnar Redbeard.

In 1905, N. P. L. Rosch, now deceased, gave to me the proof sheets of “Might is Right” to read, stating he was the author and that the book would be printed by some publishing concern in Chicago and requested me to make no mention of his being the author.

Mr. Rosch subscribed literally to the doctrine that “Right is Might” and many is the argument I have had with him concerning that subject.


[Nicholas P. L. Rosch read to the editor of the Mirror about 1905 what was probably the “proof” referred to by O. A. M. It was a ferocious assault upon Democracy, Christianity, charity, virtue, and all the accepted sanctities. On first reading “Might is Right,” the editor suspected Rosch, but lacked evidence. He does not now recall that Rosch’s booklet in proof bore the title “Might is Right,” but Rosch may very well have been “Ragnar Redbeard.” He did not want the substance of the proofs he passed around made generally known.

Rosch was at one time associated in the practice of law with John Peter Altgeld, in Chicago. He came to St. Louis about 1905 and first gained some local distinction in a small way as an attorney for some of the followers of the late Senator Tom Kinney. He organized a Democratic club in the brewery region and not proving tractable to the political bosses his club was broken up and he was slugged. He published broadsides attacking Democratic politicians and distributed them at conventions. He had talent as a vituperative writer. He took up the cause of prohibition and wrote and drew for it, violently. Once he ran for the Democratic nomination for Circuit Attorney on a campaign fund about nine dollars. Later he went to Venice, Ills., and started a paper called The Gondola, that lasted about three weeks. It was too hot for Venice. Rosch died somewhat more than a year ago—having returned to the fold from which he had strayed—Roman Catholicism.

Messrs. Thurland and Thurland, publishers of “might is Right,” Evanston, Ills., are inclined to doubt Mr. Rosch’s authorship. Mr. Rosch was a customer of theirs away back in the ‘90s. He received copies of the book from the earliest edition imported from England. He ordered a copy once to be sent to Tom Watson of Georgia. It had a notable effect on Watson. Governor Altgeld once quoted from the book in an oration against government by judges, but the newspapers suppressed the quotation. Messers. Thurland and Thurland give some history of the book:

“The first publisher in London was named Bowman or Bowerman and the book was sold by Foyle, Charing Cross Road, and by Simpkins Marshall. In Chicago it was brought out at first by Mueller & Co., Garden City Block. This firm bankrupted about 1900. The University of Chicago wrote us some years ago as to the personality of the author, who was said to have been a teacher there for two years. Prof. Von Otto Ammon of Berlin translated “Might is Right” into German, eighteen years ago, in condensed form. The first copies of the book were typewritten and stitched together with wire and bound in cloth. Perhaps Mr. Rosch had one of these. We are inclined to think the style in which the book is printed is in the nature of a disguise—the author apparently did not want to be known. Bernard Shaw once said the book would produce a thousand revolutions yet.”]

Mittheilungen No. 16. April 22, 1899. Including Might is Right translated by Von Otto Ammon