صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

pretences, save those which conduce to material advantage, are to be put aside. Popular philosophy takes the form of proverbs and sententious sayings, which, if not always polite and delicate, are generally terse and to the point. This popular sentiment long ago expressed, in its crude way, the prevailing idea of the way the world wags, in the rough but expressive words, “Every man for himself, and the Devil take the hindmost." It is upon this principle that we usually conduct business in this progressive and hurried age. It may, perhaps, be thought somewhat curious that the habitual putting off of friendship, as Mohammedans put off their slippers on entering the mosque, in proceeding to business, should not have given rise to some suspicion of the nature of the cult that requires such a surrender. It is, however, but the last step in a threefold descent. The first is from the religion we profess to the religion we practise : the second is from the family code to the social code : the third is from the latter to the ethics of “business." Perhaps the graduation of the descent helps to conceal it from most of us. Perhaps the dazzling effulgence which breaks from the shrine of Mammon blinds his worshippers to the nature of the approaches by which they reach his feet. Such, however, is the fact. The principle of business is selfishness in its most open and undisguised form ; selfishness ministering to its own rapacity by a hundred base and shameful tricks and chicaneries ; selfishness assisting itself with deceit and fraud, with overreaching and misrepresentation ; selfishness pluming itself upon superior intelligence when it effects a roguery by playing upon the trustfulness of another; selfishness bardily sneering at integrity and scoffing at honor as an outworn imbecility. There is really nothing too base to be perpetrated in the name of business. It knows no conscience : witness the despatch of ship-loads of rum to poison uncivilized races. It knows no patriotism : witness the eagerness with which in all wars traders have supplied their country's enemies with arms and munitions; and witness, in our own time, the manner in which rebellious Indian tribes have been repeatedly furnished by American citizens with arms wherewith to fight American soldiers. When the North was in death-grapple with the South, it supplied our men in the field with shoes that could not be worn, with shoddy clothing, with fraud in every shape an army contract could cover. In times of peace it calls in adulteration to its aid, and poisons whatever can be sophisticated. The spirit of the age is shown forth in the invention of oleomargarine, or sham butter, and especially in the arguments used to defend and justify the product. The haste to be rich, indeed, debases everything and demoralizes every one. There is no great line of modern development which is not branded by the rank dishonesty this lust produces. It flourishes rankly in governmental affairs. Wherever the sense of responsibility is weakened by the absence of personal headship and ownership, fraud has entered freely. The land system of the country is honeycombed with it. The history of the distribution of the public lands is a history of continued and gigantic robberies. There has never been an issue of land-scrip to any class, soldiers, Indians, or civilians, or to States for educational purposes, which has not been made the machinery for effecting these knaveries. Government timber has been stolen as generally as government land. Railroad

enterprises, too, have frequently been made the cover for extraordinary rapacity and dishonesty in the same directions. All this is known far and wide, . but it signifies nothing. It is in no sense a figure of speech that any man may become rich by positive stealing : that the truth concerning his manner of obtaining his money may be generally known; and that not only will he . not lose caste by his immoral methods, but a large number of people will admire him for his “smartness,” which, being interpreted, perhaps means successful roguery. . . .

A chief danger of the situation consists in the fact that all the most potent evils of materialism tend to feed and fatten upon their own substance, and to perpetuate themselves after the manner of certain low organisms in the physical world. It would not, for instance, require more than one or two generations of undisciplined self-seekers to establish a breed of egoists more selfcentred, more void of sympathy, than any form of advanced civilization has yet known, and the influence of such men and women upon any society can be easily perceived. Toleration of fraud and mendacity, for a comparatively brief period, would produce equally marked consequences. Nor is the effect less in minor phenomena. In a country where the ballot is the ultimate expression of popular will, it is only necessary greatly to stimulate the rapacity of the masses to bring about, in due course, legislation involving confiscation of the possessions of the rich. In the Greek republics this kind of social war frequently occurred, and naturally, when matters reached that extremity, the only law capable of enforcement was that of force majeure; so sometimes the poor overcame the rich, and sometimes the rich overcame the poor, and whichever side was victor practised hideous cruelties upon the vanquished. The history of the Paris Commune proves that the lowest depths of savagery are not beyond the possible descent of civilized societies, and we cannot therefore solace ourselves with the flattering assurance that like causes would not produce like effects among us. The decline in the sense of duty tends to similar consequences. When responsibility decays, regard for the rights of others is sure to be weakened. Communities which tolerate the practice of abuses upon themselves are apt to manifest loose morality in general. Good citizenship implies self-respect and full recognition of the neighbor's rights, together with equally clear perception of one's own and one's fellow's obligations. Those who are careless of what is due to themselves will be not less apathetic concerning what is due to the commonwealth. But incivism is the fruit of unsocial selfishness. Whoever refuses to do his duty as a citizen does so because he is absorbed in his personal occupations, and, as a rule, is thus absorbed by the greed of gain. As all force is masterful, selfish and greedy men exercise a strong influence on the community, and their concentration of purpose usually secures their ends. But let the masses also acquire this energy of acquisitiveness, and apply it through the ballot, and the strong purpose of the selfish minority must be borne down by the pressure of the much greater though similar force. What redemption there could be for a community or a nation so circumstanced it is difficult to see. All reversion tends to spread. Savagery superimposed upon civilization can only be met by savagery.

James Herbert Morse.

Born in Hubbardston, Mass., 1841.


M HE moon last night was shining

1 Brightly on land and sea, And I from the pine grove could see her,

As I leaned against a tree.

I doffed my hat, though 'twas midnight,

As she slowly rode through the sky, And I said to her softly and sadly:

“Pale moon, far off and high,

“ Thou seest a thousand churchyards,

All still they lie, and white;
And thou pourest thy holy splendor

O'er all of them, night by night.

“There is one on a hillside lying,

'Tis little and lonely and bare; But O shine down more softly,

Sweet moon, when thou comest there!"

I came to an inland river, —

For on, from state to state, With a burden not easy to carry,

I have wandered much of late,

'Twas midnight. Amid the alders

I sat down, the river nigh,
And my shadow sat there beside me,

For the moon was full and high.

The river seemed sighing and sobbing:

"O River, why sighest thou so ?"“ There are so many tombstones

On my banks, wherever I go!”.

". Then thy sighing and thy sobbing,

O River, I cannot blame.”
And I dropped my head on my bosom,

My shadow did the same.

George Alfred Townsend.

BORN in Georgetown, Del., 1841.


(Crutch, the Page. Tales of the Chesapeake. 1880.] " AND now,” said Mr. Bee, “as we wair all up late at the club last night,

A I propose we take a second julep, and as Reybold is coming in he will jine us.”

“I won't give you a farthing !” cried Reybold at the door, speaking to some one. “Chips, indeed! What shall I give you money to gamble away for? A gambling beggar is worse than an impostor! No, sir! Emphatically no!”

“A dollar for four chips for brave old Beau !” said the other voice. “I've struck 'em all but you. By the State Arms! I've got rights in this distreek! Everybody pays toll to brave old Beau ! Come down !"

The Northern Congressman retreated before this pertinacious mendicant into his committee-room, and his pesterer followed him closely, nothing abashed, even into the privileged cloisters of the committee. The Southern members enjoyed the situation.

“ Chips, Right Honorable! Chips for old Beau. Nobody this ten-year has run as long as you. I've laid for you, and now I've fell on you. Judge Bee, the fust business befo' yo'committee this mornin’is a assessment for old Beau, who's away down! Rheumatiz, bettin' on the black, failure of remittances from Fauqueeah, and other casualties by wind an' flood, have put ole Beau away down. He's a institution of his country and must be sustained !”

The laughter was general and cordial amongst the Southerners, while the intruder pressed hard upon Mr. Reybold. He was a singular object; tall, grim, half-comical, with a leer of low familiarity in his eyes, but his waxed mustache of military proportions, his patch of goatee just above the chin, his elaborately oiled hair and flaming necktie, set off his faded face with an odd gear of finery and impressiveness. His skin was that of an old roué's, patched up and calked, but the features were those of a once handsome man of style and carriage.

He wore what appeared to be a cast-off spring overcoat, out of season and color on this blustering winter day, a rich buff waistcoat of an embossed pattern, such as few persons would care to assume, save, perhaps, a gambler, negro buyer, or fine “buck" barber. The assumption of a large and flashy pin stood in his frilled shirt-bosom. He wore watch-seals without the accompanying watch, and his pantaloons, though faded and thread bare, were once of fine material and cut in a style of extravagant elegance, and they covered his long, shrunken, but aristocratic limbs, and were strapped beneath his boots to keep them shapely. The boots themselves had been once of varnished kid or fine calf, but they were cracked and cut, partly by use, partly for comfort; for it was plain that their wearer had the gout, by his aristocratic hobble upon a gold-mounted cane, which was not the least inconsistent garniture of his mendicancy.

“Boys,” said Fitzchew Smy, “I s'pose we better come down early. There's a shillin', Beau. If I had one more sech constituent as you, I should resign or die premachorely!”

“There's a piece o' tobacker,” said Jeems Bee languidly, “all I can afforde, Beau, this mornin'. I went to a chicken-fight yesterday and lost all my change.

“Mine,” said Box Izard, “is a regulation pen-knife, contributed by the United States, with the regret, Beau, that I can't 'commodate you with a pine coffin for you to git into and git away down lower than you ever been.”

“Yaw's a dollar,” said Pontotoc Bibb; “it'll do for me an' Lowndes Cleburn, who's a poet and genius, and never has no money. This buys me off, Beau, for a month.”

The gorgeous old mendicant took them all grimly and leering, and then pounced upon the Northern man, assured by their twinkles and winks that the rest expected some sport.

And now, Right Honorable from the banks of the Susquehanna, Colonel Reybold-you see, I got your name; I ben a layin' for you !-come down handsome for the Uncle and ornament of his capital and country. What's yore's ?

“Nothing,” said Reybold in a quiet way. “I cannot give a man like you anything, even to get rid of him.”

“You're mean," said the stylish beggar, winking to the rest. “You hate to put your hand down in yer pocket, mightily. I'd rather be ole Beau, and live on suppers at the faro banks, than love a dollar like you!”

“I'll make it a V for Beau,” said Pontotoc Bibb, “if he gives him a rub on the raw like that another lick. Durn a mean man, Cleburn!”

“Come down, Northerner,” pressed the incorrigible loafer again; “it don't become a Right Honorable to be so mean with old Beau.”

The little boy on crutches, who had been looking at this scene in a state of suspense and interest for some time, here cried hotly:

“If you say Mr. Reybold is a mean man, you tell a story, you nasty beggar! He often gives things to me and Joyce, my sister. He's just got me work, which is the best thing to give; don't you think so, gentlemen ?”

Work,” said Lowndes Cleburn, “is the best thing to give away, and the most onhandy thing to keep. I like play the best-Beau's kind o'play!”

“Yes,” said Jeroboam Coffee; “I think I prefer to make the chips fly out of a table more than out of a log."

“I like to work !” cried the little boy, his hazel eyes shining, and his poor, narrow body beating with unconscious fervor, half suspended on his crutches, as if he were of that good descent and natural spirit which could assert itself without bashfulness in the presence of older people. “I like to work for my mother. If I was strong, like other little boys, I would make money for her, so that she shouldn't keep any boarders—except Mr. Reybold. Oh! she has to work a lot; but she's proud and won't tell anybody. All the money I get I mean to give her; but I wouldn't have it if I had to beg for it like that man!

« السابقةمتابعة »