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THERE are questions which we of the great civilized nations are ever tempted to ask of the future. Is our time of growth drawing to an end? Are we as nations soon to come under the rule of that great law of death which is itself but part of the great law of life? None can tell. Forces that we can see and other forces that are hidden or that can but dimly be apprehended are at work all around us, both for good and for evil. The growth in luxury, in love of ease, in taste for vapid and frivolous excitement, is both evident and unhealthy. The most ominous sign is the diminution in the birth-rate, in the rate of natural increase, now to a larger or lesser degree shared by most of the civilized nations of central and western Europe, of America and Australia; a diminution so great that if it continues for the next century at the rate which has obtained for the last twenty-five years, all the more highly civilized peoples will be stationary or else have begun to go backward in population, while many of them will have already gone very far backward.
There is much that should give us concern for the future. But there is much also which should give us hope. No man is more apt to be mistaken, than the prophet of evil. After the French Revolution in 1830, Niebuhr hazarded the guess that all civilization was about to go down with a crash, that we were all about to share the fall of third and fourth century Rome - a respectable but painfully overworked comparison. The fears once expressed by the followers of Malthus as to the future of the world have proved groundless as regards the civilized portion of the world; it is strange indeed to look back at Carlyle's prophecies of some seventy years ago, and then think of the teeming life of achievement, the life of conquest of every kind, and of noble effort crowned by success, which has been ours for the two generations since he complained to high Heaven that all the tales had been told and all the songs sung, and that all the deeds really worth doing had been done. I believe with all my heart that a great future remains for us; but whether it does or does not, our duty is not altered. However the battle may go, the soldier worthy of the name will with utmost vigor do his allotted task, and bear himself as valiantly in defeat as in victory. Come what will, we belong to peoples who have not yielded to the craven fear of being great. In the ages that have gone by, the great nations, the nations that have expanded and that have played a mighty part in the world, have in the end grown old and weakened and vanished; but so have the nations whose only thought was to avoid all danger, all effort, who would risk nothing, and who therefore gained nothing. In the end the same fate may overwhelm all alike; but the memory of the one type perishes with it, while the other leaves its mark deep on the history of all the future of mankind.
A nation that seemingly dies may be born again; and even though in the physical sense it die utterly, it may yet hand down a history of heroic achievement, and for all time to come may profoundly influence the nations that arise in its place by the impress of what it has done. Best of all is it to do our part well, and at the same time to see our blood live young and vital in men and women fit to take up the task as we lay it down; for so shall our seed inherit the earth. But if this, which is best, is denied us, then at least it is ours to remember that if we choose we can be torch-bearers, as our fathers were before us. The torch has been handed on from nation to nation, from civilization to civilization, throughout all recorded time, from the dim years before history dawned, down to the blazing splendor of this teeming century of ours. It dropped from the hand of the coward and the sluggard, of the man wrapped in luxury or love of ease, the man whose soul was eaten away by selfindulgence; it has been kept alight only by those who were mighty of heart and cunning of hand. What they worked at, providing it was worth doing at all, was of less matter than how they worked, whether in the realm of the mind or the realm of the body. If their work was good, if what they achieved was of substance, then high success was really theirs."
1 Address delivered at Oxford University, Oxford, England, June 7, 1910. From African and European Addresses. Copyright, 1910. G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York and London, publishers.
their cabins, 8, 9; the society
and the duties and rights of, 9;
and mutual assistance, 10; their
112-19; corruption in, 116; utensils, 11; their life, one long
nationality formed in, 204. tary organization, 13–15; ex-
hyphenated, 190–210, 218; two lawless characters among, 15,
16; forms of punishment among,
religion, 16, 17; summary of
193; American life incompatible Barry, Gener 201.
Bear, 12, 19, 21, 24, 29.
woodsmen, 12, 19, 21, 24; on Bertela, Aurelio, 238.
Billings, Josh, 229.
Birds, on Long Island, 289, 290.
Birth-rate, diminution in, 305.
Boone, Daniel, and the founding
of Kentucky, 18-23.