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of the American Public Health Association



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In different times and countries, patriotism has different work to do. For the last two or three centuries its business has usually been the bridling of tyrants, the dethroning of arbitrary kings and the setting up of constitutional ones, or the getting rid of kings altogether; in short, the extension of popular liberties at the expense of the wearers of crowns and bearers of sceptres. Going farther back, we see another state of things. Toward the end of the middle ages we find the relations of kings and peoples the reverse of what they afterward became. We find oppression divided and diffused in the persons of a multitude of feudal tyrants, and the masses looking to their sovereign as a protector. The feudal oppressor was both his enemy and theirs, and the progress of monarchical centralization was in the interest both of prince and peasant. It was not until feudalism was prostrate that the masses ceased to bless their sovereign as a friend, and began to curse him as a tyrant.

Still farther back in the centuries we find feudalism itself acting a part which could not have been spared in the reorganization of society. The foe of one generation is the friend of another, and there is scarcely a form of government so bad that it has not, at some time, prevented a worse or prepared for a better.

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It is but lately, then, that crowns and sceptres have been denounced as enemies of the rights of man; but the war against them has been waged so hotly, and has left such vigorous traditions behind it, that the same battle-cry is still raised in quarters where the foe has been driven off the field and utterly annihilated; where the present danger is not above but beneath, and where the real tyrant is organized ignorance, led by unscrupulous craft, and marching, amid the applause of fools, under the flag of equal rights. One might be better employed than in hooting and throwing stones at the ghost of dead and buried privilege. But the amusement is safe and popular. Habit has made it second nature, and it gives excellent occasion for the display of oratorical fireworks. The transfer of sovereignty to the people, and the whole people, is proclaimed the panacea of political and social ills, and we are but rarely reminded that popular sovereignty has evils of its own, against which patriotism may exercise itself to better purpose. Here and there one hears a whisper that perhaps the masses have not learned how to use their power; but the whisper is greeted with obloquy.

We speak, of course, of our own country, where no royalty is left to fear, except the many-headed one that bears the name of Demos, with its portentous concourse of courtiers, sycophants, and panders. Those who live on its favors, and pretend most devotion to it, have been heard of late warning us to beware, and telling us that Demos is a "dangerous beast," whose caprices it behooves us to humor, lest he should turn and rend us. Far be it from us to echo this treason. Let others call him beast: we are his subject, and will but touch with reverence a few flaws in his


Once he was a reasonable and sensible monarch, who had a notion of good government, and ruled himself and his realm with wisdom and moderation; but prosperity has a little turned his head, and hordes of native and foreign barbarians, all armed with the ballot, have so bewildered him that he begins to lose his wits and forget his kingcraft.

When a king makes himself oppressive to any considerable part of his subjects, it is not worth while to consider whether he wears one head or millions; whether he sits enthroned in the palace of his ancestors, or smokes his pipe in a filthy ward-room

among blackguards like himself. Nevertheless, if we are to be oppressed, we would rather the oppressor were clean, and, if we are to be robbed, we like to be robbed with civility. Demos is a Protean monarch, and can put on many shapes. He can be benign, imposing, or terrible; but of late we have oftener seen him under his baser manifestations, keeping vile company, and doing his best to shake our loyalty by strange, unkingly pranks. The worst things about him are his courtiers, who in great part are a disreputable crew, abject flatterers, vicious counselors, and greedy plunderers; behind their master in morals, and in most things else but cunning. If the politicians would let him alone, Demos would be the exact embodiment of the average intelligence and worth of a great people; but, deluded and perverted as he is, he falls below this mark, and passes for worse than his real self. Yet, supposing that his evil counselors were all exterminated as they deserve, it would avail us little, for he would soon choose others like them, under the influence of notions which, of late, have got the better of his former good sense. He is the master, and can do what he will. He is answerable for all, and, if he is ill-served, he has nobody to blame but himself. In fact, he is jealous of his nobles, and, like certain other kings before him, loves to raise his barber, his butcher, and his scullion, to places of power. They yield him divine honor, proclaim him infallible as the pope, and call his voice the voice of God; yet they befool and cheat him not the less. He is the type of collective folly as well as wisdom, collective ignorance as well as knowledge, and collective frailty as well as strength. In short, he is utterly mortal, and must rise or fall as he is faithful or false to the great laws that regulate the destinies of men.

A generation or more ago, a cry of "Eureka!" rose over all the land, or rather over all the northern part of it. It was the triumphant acclaim of a nation hailing its king. The enthusiasm had its focus in New England, at that time, perhaps, the most successful democracy on earth—a fact which, however, was mainly to be ascribed to wholesome traditions, which had become part of the popular life. These the jubilants overlooked, and saw the fountain of all political and social blessings in the beneficent sway of an absolute Demos; that is to say, in the uncurbed exercise of the "inalienable right" of man to govern himself. A little cloud,

no bigger than a man's hand, rose presently above the sea, the herald of an invasion of peasants. With this in-pouring of labor came railroads, factories, and a thousand prolific industries, which heads without hands could not have awakened or sustained. Population increased, wealth grew apace; men became rabid in making money, and women frivolous in spending it. The same influences were at work through all the Northern States. A vast industrial development, an immense prosperity, rested safely for a while on the old national traditions, love of country, respect for law, and the habit of self-government. Then began the inevitable strain. Crowded cities, where the irresponsible and ignorant were numerically equal, or more than equal, to the rest, and where the weakest and most worthless was a match, by his vote, for the wisest and best; bloated wealth and envious poverty; a tinseled civilization above, and a discontented proletariat beneath-all these have broken rudely upon the dreams of equal brotherhood once cherished by those who made their wish the father of their thought, and fancied that this favored land formed an exception to the universal laws of human nature. They cried out for elevating the masses, but the masses have sunk lower. They called for the diffusion of wealth, but wealth has gathered into more numerous and portentous accumulations. Two enemies, unknown before, have risen like spirits of darkness on our social and political horizon-an ignorant proletariat and a half-taught plutocracy. Between lie the classes, happily still numerous and strong, in whom rests our salvation.

To these we must look for the sterling ability and worth of the nation, sometimes in wealth, now and then in poverty; but for the most part in neither the one nor the other. They are the natural enemies of the vulgar plutocrat, and the natural friends of all that is best in the popular heart; but, as they neither flatter, lie, nor bribe, they have little power over these barbarians of civilization that form the substratum of great industrial communities.

Liberty was the watchword of our fathers, and so it is of ourselves. But, in their hearts, the masses of the nation cherish desires not only different from it, but inconsistent with it. They want equality more than they want liberty. Now, there is a factitious inequality and a real and intrinsic one. Rank, titles,

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