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only the boldest and wisest could so carry themselves as to win success and honor; and from the struggle he won both death and honor, and stands forevermore among the greatest of mankind.
Character is shown in peace no less than in war. As the greatest fertility of invention, the greatest perfection of armament, will not make soldiers out of cowards, so no mental training and no bodily vigor will make a nation great if it lacks the fundamental principles of honesty and moral cleanliness. After the death of Alexander the Great nearly all of the then civilized world was divided among the Greek monarchies ruled by his companions and their successors. This Greek world was very brilliant and very wealthy. It contained haughty military empires, and huge trading cities, under republican government, which attained the highest pitch of commercial and industrial prosperity. Art flourished to an extraordinary degree; science advanced as never before. There were academies for men of letters; there were many orators, many philosophers. Merchants and business men throve apace, and for a long period the Greek soldiers kept the superiority and renown they had won under the mighty conqueror of the East. But the heart of the people was incurably false, incurably treacherous and debased. Almost every statesman had his price, almost every soldier was a mercenary who, for a sufficient inducement, would betray any cause. Moral corruption ate into the whole social and domestic fabric, until, a little more than a century after the death of Alexander, the empire which he had left had become a mere glittering shell, which went down like a house of cards on impact with the Romans; for the Romans, with all their faults, were then a thoroughly manly race—a race of strong, virile character. they have contributed heavily to campaign funds; will permit loose and extravagant work because a contractor has political influence; or, at any rate, will permit a public servant to take public money without rendering an adequate return, by conniving at inefficient service on the part of men who are protected by prominent party leaders. Various degrees of moral guilt are involved in the multitudinous actions of this kind; but, after all, directly or indirectly, every such case comes dangerously near the border-line of the commandment which, in forbidding theft, certainly by implication forbids the connivance at theft, or the failure to punish it. One of the favorite schemes of reformers is to devise some method by which big corporations can be prevented from making heavy subscriptions to campaign funds, and thereby acquiring improper influence. But the best way to prevent them from making contributions for improper purposes is simply to elect as public servants, not professional denouncers of corporations,—for such men are in practice usually their most servile tools,—but men who say, and mean, that they will neither be for nor against corporations; that, on the one hand, they will not be frightened from doing them justice by popular clamor, or, on the other hand, led by any interest whatsoever into doing them more than justice. At the Anti-Trust Conference last summer Mr. Bryan
Alike for the nation and the individual, the one indispensable requisite is character—character that does and dares as well as endures, character that is active in the performance of virtue no less than firm in the refusal to do aught that is vicious or degraded.
THE EIGHTH AND NINTH COMMANDMENTS IN POLITICS
PUBLISHED IN THE "OUTLOOK," MAY 12, 1900
THE two commandments which are specially applicable in public life are the eighth and the ninth. Not only every politician, high or low, but every citizen interested in politics, and especially every man who, in a newspaper or on the stump, advocates or condemns any public policy or any public man, should remember always that the two cardinal points in his doctrine ought to be, "Thou shalt not steal," and "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor." He should also, of course, remember that the multitude of men who break the moral law expressed in these two commandments are not to be justified because they keep out of the clutches of the human law. Robbery and theft, perjury and subornation of perjury, are crimes punishable by the courts; but many a man who technically never commits any one of these crimes is yet morally quite as guilty as is his less adroit but not more wicked, and possibly infinitely less dangerous, brother who gets into the penitentiary.
As regards the eighth commandment, while the remark of one of the founders of our government, that the whole art of politics consists in being honest, is an overstatement, it remains true that absolute honesty is what Cromwell would have called a "fundamental" of healthy political life. We can afford to differ on the currency, the tariff, and foreign policy; but we can not afford to differ on the question of honesty if we expect our Republic permanently to endure. No community is healthy where it is ever necessary to distinguish one politician among his fellows because "he is honest." Honesty is not so much a credit as an absolute prerequisite to efficient service to the public. Unless a man is honest we have no right to keep him in public life, it matters not how brilliant his capacity, it hardly matters how great his power of doing good service on certain lines may be. Probably very few men will disagree with this statement in the abstract, yet in the concrete there is much wavering about it. The number of public servants who actually take bribes is not very numerous outside of certain well-known centres of festering corruption. But the temptation to be dishonest often comes in insidious ways. There are not a few public men who, though they would repel with indignation an offer of a bribe, will give certain corporations special legislative and executive privileges because