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easy enough to devise a scheme of government which shall absolutely nullify all these qualities and ensure failure to everybody, whether he deserves success or not. But the best scheme of government can do little more than provide against injustice, and then let the individual rise or fall on his own merits. Of course something can be done by the State acting in its collective capacity, and in certain instances such action may be necessary to remedy real wrong. Gross misconduct of individuals or corporations may make it necessary for the State or some of its subdivisions to assume the charge of what are called public utilities. But when all that can be done in this way has been done, when every individual has been saved so far as the State can save him from the tyranny of any other man or body of men, the individual's own qualities of body and mind, his own strength of heart and hand, will remain the determining conditions in his career. The people who trust to or exact promises that, if a certain political leader is followed or a certain public policy adopted, this great truth will cease to operate, are not merely leaning on a broken reed, but are working for their own undoing.
So much for the men who by their demands for the impossible encourage the promise of the impossible, whether in the domain of economic legislation or of legislation which has for its object the promo
tion of morality. The other side is that no man should be held excusable if he does not perform what he promises, unless for the best and most sufficient reason. This should be especially true of every politician. It shows a thoroughly unhealthy state of mind when the public pardons with a laugh failure to keep a distinct pledge, on the ground that a politician can not be expected to confine himself to the truth when on the stump or the platform. A man should no more be excused for lying on the stump than for lying off the stump. Of course matters may so change that it may be impossible for him, or highly inadvisable for the country, that he should try to do what he in good faith said he was going to do. But the necessity for the change should be made very evident, and it should be well understood that such a case is the exception and not the rule. As a rule, and speaking with due regard to the exceptions, it should be taken as axiomatic that when a man in public life pledges himself to a certain course of action he shall as a matter of course do what he said he would do, and shall not be held to have acted honorably if he does otherwise.
All great fundamental truths are apt to sound rather trite, and yet in spite of their triteness they need to be reiterated over and over again. visionary or the self-seeking knave who promises the golden impossible, and the credulous dupe who is
taken in by such a promise, and who in clutching at the impossible loses the chance of securing the real though lesser good, are as old as the political organizations of mankind. Throughout the history of the world the nations who have done best in self-government are those who have demanded from their public men only the promise of what can actually be done for righteousness and honesty, and who have sternly insisted that such promise must be kept in letter and in spirit.
So it is with the general question of obtaining good government. We can not trust the mere doctrinaire; we can not trust the mere closet reformer, nor yet his acrid brother who himself does nothing, but who rails at those who endure the heat and burden of the day. Yet we can trust still less those base beings who treat politics only as a game out of which to wrong a soiled livelihood, and in whose vocabulary the word "practical" has come to be a synonym for whatever is mean and corrupt. A man is worthless unless he has in him a lofty devotion to an ideal, and he is worthless also unless he strives to realize this ideal by practical methods. He must promise, both to himself and to others, only what he can perform; but what really can be performed he must promise, and such promise he must at all hazards make good.
The problems that confront us in this age are,
after all, in their essence the same as those that have always confronted free peoples striving to secure and to keep free government. No political philosopher of the present day can put the case more clearly than it was put by the wonderful old Greeks. Says Aristotle: "Two principles have to be kept in view: what is possible, what is becoming; at these every man ought to aim." Plato expresses precisely the same idea: "Those who are not schooled and practiced in truth [who are not honest and upright men] can never manage aright the government, nor yet can those who spend their lives as closet philosophers; because the former have no high purpose to guide their actions, while the latter keep aloof· from public life, having the idea that even while yet living they have been translated to the Islands of the Blest.. .. [Men must] both contemplate the good and try actually to achieve it. Thus the state will be settled as a reality, and not as a dream, like most of those inhabited by persons fighting about shadOws."*
* Translated freely and condensed.
THE AMERICAN BOY
PUBLISHED IN "ST. NICHOLAS," MAY, 1900
F course what we have a right to expect of the American boy is that he shall turn out to be a good American man. Now, the chances are strong that he won't be much of a man unless he is a good deal of a boy. He must not be a coward or a weakling, a bully, a shirk, or a prig. He must work hard and play hard. He must be clean-minded and clean-lived, and able to hold his own under all circumstances and against all comers. It is only on these conditions that he will grow into the kind of American man of whom America can be really proud.
There are always in life countless tendencies for good and for evil, and each succeeding generation sees some of these tendencies strengthened and some weakened; nor is it by any means always, alas! that the tendencies for evil are weakened and those for good strengthened. But during the last few decades there certainly have been some notable changes for good in boy life. The great growth in the love of athletic sports, for instance, while fraught with