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normally he must be in sight of his followers. Cynicism in public life is a curse, and when a man has lost the power of enthusiasm for righteousness it will be better for him and the country if he abandons public life.
Above all, the political reformer must not permit himself to be driven from his duty of supporting what is right by any irritation at the men who, while nominally supporting the same objects, and even ridiculing him as a backslider or an “opportunist," yet by their levity or fanaticism do damage to the cause which he really serves, and which they profess to serve. Let him disregard them; for though they are, according to their ability, the foes of decent politics, yet, after all, they are but weaklings, and the real and dangerous enemies of the cause he holds dear are those sinister beings who batten on the evil of our political system, and both profit by its existence, and by their own existence tend to perpetuate and increase it. We must not be diverted from our warfare with these powerful and efficient corruptionists by irritation at the vain prattlers who think they are at the head of the reform forces, whereas they are really wandering in bypaths in the rear.
The professional impracticable, the man who sneers at the sane and honest strivers after good, who sneers at the men who are following, however humbly, in the footsteps of those who worked for and secured practical results in the days of Washington, and again in the days of Lincoln, who denounces them as time-servers and compromisers, is, of course, an ally of corruption. But, after all, he can generally be disregarded, whereas the real and dangerous foe is the corrupt politician, whom we can not afford to disregard. When one of these professional impracticables denounces the attitude of decent men as “a hodge-podge of the ideal and the practicable,” he is amusingly unaware that he is writing his own condemnation, showing his own inability to do good work or to appreciate good work. The Constitutional Convention over which Washington presided, and which made us a nation represented precisely and exactly this "hodgepodge,” and was frantically denounced in its day by the men of the impracticable type. Lincoln's career throughout the Civil War was such a “hodgepodge,” and was in its turn denounced in exactly the same way. Lincoln disregarded the jibes of these men, who did their puny best to hurt the great cause for which he battled; and they never, by their pin-pricks, succeeded in diverting him from the real foe. The fanatical antislavery people wished to hurry him into unwise, extreme, and premature action, and denounced him as compromising with the forces of evil, as being a practical politician—which
he was, if practicality is held to include wisdom and high purpose. He did not permit himself to be affected by their position. He did not yield to what they advised when it was impracticable, nor did he permit himself to become prejudiced against so much of what they championed as was right and practicable. His ideal was just as high as theirs. He did not lower it. He did not lose his temper at their conduct, or cease to strive for the abolition of slavery and the restoration of the Union; and whereas their conduct foreboded disaster to both causes, his efforts secured the success of both. So, in our turn, we of to-day are bound to try to tread in the footsteps of those great Americans who in the past have held high ideal and have striven mightily through practical methods to realize that ideal. There must be many compromises; but we can not compromise with dishonesty, with sin. We must not be misled at any time by the cheap assertion that people get only what they want; that the editor of a degraded newspaper is to be excused because the public want the degradation; that the city officials who inaugurate a "wide-open” policy are to be excused because a portion of the public likes vice; that the men who jeer at philanthropy are to be excused because among philanthropists there are hypocrites, and among unfortunates there are vicious and unworthy people. To pander to depravity
inevitably means to increase the depravity. It is a dreadful thing that public sentiment should condone misconduct in a public man; but this is no excuse for the public man, if by his conduct he still further degrades public sentiment. There can be no meddling with the laws of righteousness, of decency, of morality. We are in honor bound to put into practice what we preach; to remember that we are not to be excused if we do not; and that in the last resort no material prosperity, no business acumen, no intellectual development of any kind, can atone in the life of a nation for the lack of the fundamental qualities of courage, honesty, and common sense.
FELLOW-FEELING AS A POLITICAL
PUBLISHED IN THE “CENTURY,” JANUARY, 1900
CELLOW-FEELING, sympathy in the broadest 1 sense, is the most important factor in producing a healthy political and social life. Neither our national nor our local civil life can be what it should be unless it is marked by the fellow-feeling, the mutual kindness, the mutual respect, the sense of common duties and common interests, which arise when men take the trouble to understand one another, and to associate together for a common object. A very large share of the rancor of political and social strife arises either from sheer misunderstanding by one section, or by one class, of another, or else from the fact that the two sections, or two classes, are so cut off from each other that neither appreciates the other's passions, prejudices, and, indeed, point of view, while they are both entirely ignorant of their community of feeling as regards the essentials of manhood and humanity.
This is one reason why the public school is so admirable an institution. To it more than to any