Page images
PDF
EPUB

As a social philosopher he is no less work, he finds it easy to lose faith in govclear-visioned than as a poetic dreamer, ernment.” He is then ripe for revoluand in prose no less than in verse he is tion and anarchy. striking sturdy blows for a newer, a higher and a finer social order—the order of the

“A man wanting to live by work, yet Golden Rule—the day of practical fra- finding no work to do all the dramas of ternity for which so many of our truest the poets furnish no spectacle more tragic

than that man's case. Here the man is in men and women are valiantly striving. An example of his recent prose thought world where he must eat bread. Social

a world, not of his own choosing--in a along economic lines is found in a contribution by him to a recent issue of the conditions forbid him to work, and the Cosmopolitan entitled “When I Am Dic- laws forbid him to be idle. For he is tator.” After pointing out the fact to gravely told that he must not be a vagrant. which statesmen seem to be so perversely

He is reminded that every man must have blind: that enforced idleness of any con

a visible means of support: otherwise the siderable portion of the citizens of a state jail swallows him. It is illogical, if not constitutes one of the gravest possible grotesque, in a government to punish a menaces to national integrity, lowering vagrant, when the government has not the moral ideals, weakening the efficiency secured to him the opportunity to make and embittering the life of the individual,

a living by work.” he urges the importance of lifting from the Mr. Markham holds that it is clearly man out of work “the fate of hunger and the part of wisdom and sound statesmanthe fear of to-morrow.” He then continues: ship no less than the august duty imposed

“It is the first duty of a government by justice and the Christ ideal, to give to to see to it that all her people have the every man the opportunity to engage in opportunity to live by labor. She must productive labor-labor that shall create

wealth and sustain self-respecting mankeep open the gates of opportunity, so

hood. that every man and every woman may have the material resources for living a “This would not be paternalism: it complete life. A government that fails would be fraternalism. And we need in this fails in the vital thing."

to make government the organ of the

fraternal principle. Paternalism is

pathetic fact of the modern world,” the system that relieves a man of individual thetic fact of the modern world,” the effort—that puts bread into his open and “ever-growing army of enforced idlers going onward in the shadow of civiliza- waiting mouth. This was the bread

and circus' idea of the Romans. But “There are always tens of thou- the wise father dividing the farm among sands of these able-bodied men” knock- his boys, so that all, both strong and weak, ing vainly at the door of opportunity, a shall have a chance to live-that is frafact that explains the phenomenon that ternalism. Fraternalism is justice, it is when there is a strike there is always an Christianity; and towards this ideal we army of men ready to take the strikers' places. He also shows that this army of

must press more and more with the pro

cess of the suns." idle men must come to be one of the great menaces to public safety, for “a man must In closing this brief sketch of our poetdo one of three things—work, beg or steal. prophet, we cannot refrain from giving If the labor market denies a man labor, the following little poem instinct with a and the law forbids beggary,” there is great truth that should be indelibly nothing left him but the dread alternatives stamped on the consciousness of every of stealing or dying of starvation. “In American in the present crucial hour in a government where a man cannot find our history:

а

tion.”

"Voices are crying from the dust of Tyre,

"A bittern booms where once fair Helen laughed; From Baalbec and the stones of Babylon- A thistle nods where once the Forum poured; We raised our pillars upon Self-Desire,

A lizard lifts and listens on a shaft, And perished from the large gaze of the sun. Where once of old the Colosseum roared. “Eternity was on the pyramid,

“No house can stand, no kingdom can endure, And immortality on Greece and Rome;

Built on the crumbling rock of self-desire: But in them all the ancient Traitor hid,

Nothing is living stone, nothing is sure, And so they tottered like unstable foam.

That is not whitened in the Social Fire." "There was no substance in their soaring hopes; The voice of Thebes is now a desert cry;

B. 0. FLOWER. A spider bars the road with filmy ropes,

Where once the feet of Carthage thundered by. Boston, Mass.

[ocr errors]

DEMOCRACY'S CALL TO THE STATESMANSHIP OF

TO-DAY.

A CONVERSATION WITH EDWIN MARKHAM.

By B. O. FLOWER.

WE

E WERE seated in one of the poet I thus took up the thread of the con

great hostelries of New York versation that had engaged us in the street: city. Without, the roar and tumult of "It has often been noted by historians life swept by. Only the faint sound of that some one thought or ideal becomes the ceaseless murmur reached us. But the keynote or master-concept of an age a few moments before, when entering in periods of great moral awakening. It the building, we paused, arrested as it seems to me that all things point to a new were by the din of the conflict, the re- civic renaissance that may do much not morseless battle of modern metropolitan only to bring our republic back to the old life, and at that moment there had been ideals of democracy, but also to a higher borne in upon our minds the meaning of ideal of statesmanship. What are your the struggle. Here millions were in con- views on this point and what do you conflict. Some were money-mad and striv- ceive to be the master-demand of twening under the spell of the master-passion tieth-century statesmanship?” to acquire gold. Others were no less “Everyone seems to feel,” replied the fiercely struggling for a bare livelihood poet, “a great seismic wave passing over or to keep the hunger wolf from frail and the whole world. This is distinctly the tender lives; while above and beyond, in age of social awakening. A new sense the din of the battle we seemed to hear is breaking through the crust of customthe sound and echo of that other conflict the sense of solidarity, perhaps the most which bears with it the fate of the republic powerful emotion in the heart of man. -the battle between reaction and im- We are all coming to see that we belong perialism, fed by the selfish desires of together; that humanity is one; that in privileged interests, and the democracy a very deep and vital sense humanity has of the Declaration of Independence—the but one hope, one destiny. This sense democracy of Jefferson and Lincoln, is the basis of the democratic passion, based on the idea of freedom, justice and and out of this passion will finally spring fraternity

that new order which was foretold by We had been discussing recent events St. John on Patmos and struggled for by and their portents, and turning to the Mazzini, Garibaldi, Jefferson, Lincoln,

the race.

and all the social heroes and apostles of bility ceases representative government

Poor is the statesmanship that becomes anarchy and we are fairly on our is empty of this ideal, dead to this passion.” way to such scenes as were enacted during

“Do you not conceive it to be neces- the French Revolution, when the Paris sary," I ventured to ask, “in order to mob, breaking into the Assembly or Conbreak up the new despotism of corporate vention, dictated the passage of laws. wealth and machine-rule, that the initia- The control of the electors over the reptive and referendum be introduced into resentative is direct, and if he does not our political life, so that they may be satisfy them he can be replaced, but it is as easily applied as they are in the repub- not to be forgotten that he represents not lic of Switzerland?”

merely the people of his own district but “I certainly do,” replied Mr. Mark- in due proportion the people of the entire ham. “If we had men wholly conse- state. If responsibility is taken from crated to the common welfare - men him by compelling him to vote for measguided by conscience and richly endowed ures solely because they have secured a with wisdom, then we might trust our- certain number of petitioners, or if he is selves to the ideal of a purely representa- at liberty to refer measures of all sorts to tive government; but as long as the peo- popular vote, he ceases to be a repreple must fight their servants in order to sentative and becomes a mere machine receive any fragment of justice, it is neces- of record. When responsibility vanishes sary for the people to come closer and representative government is at an end closer to the management of public af- and all the safeguards of debate and disfairs. As life now is, it is of the first im- cussion, of deliberate action, of amendportance that the initiative, referendum ment or compromise, are gone forever, and right of recall be introduced as effec- legislative anarchy would ensue, and we tive measures for public safety. The might easily find ourselves in a position more truly democratic we can make our where the mob of a single large city would government, the more certain we are of dominate legislation and laws would be peaceful progress. No doubt we must thrust upon us ruinous to the state itself get closer to the source of political life, and to the best interests of the entire peowhich is the people. Our country now ple of the state. is largely in the hands of the land-barons “Are those the Senator's words or and the trust-barons. It is becoming a merely an abstract ?" asked the poet. government of the corporations, by the “They are his verbatim utterances. I corporations, and for the corporations.” personally heard the address, which Mr.

I asked your views on this question Lodge read from manuscript. He also largely because of the extraordinary state- presented a copy to the press and the ment recently made by United States Sen- address was published in full in the Bosator Henry Cabot Lodge in an attack ton Transcript. Indeed, it was on the upon Direct-Legislation which he made presses of the Transcript when the Senat the celebration of the two hundredth ator was delivering it at Brookline; so it anniversary of the town of Brookline. is not only his verbatim utterance but his After extolling the town-meeting system view expressed with deliberation.” for the government of small communities, “It seems to me, then, that Senator he said:

Lodge," said Mr. Markham, “is sadly “On the other hand the methods of wanting in that faith in the people that the town-meeting should never be per- marked our great democratic statesman, mitted to trench upon the representative Lincoln, who constantly insisted that the government of state or nation. ... The people can be trusted; that the great essence of representative government is heart of the world is just. The Senator responsibility, and when that responsi- says that the legislator represents the people, but he more frequently represents a direct expression of the will of the peosome soulless corporation or base political ple. This would doubtless be gratifying boss. Direct-Legislation would surely to privileged interests and to the repredo something to destroy this growing sentatives of commercial piracy, but it is danger to the nation."

reactionary and anti-democratic.” Under democratic government,” I “You will notice, Mr. Markham," I ventured, “of course the people are the observed, “that the Senator is solicitous fountain-head or source of rule and the lest the people's representatives should representative is merely their public become mere machines of record for regservant, while under aristocratic, mon- istering the people's desires. If they fail archal, or other form of class-government to register the people's desires, are they the people are the pawns or subjects of in any true sense their representatives? the ruling power and not the sovereigns As a matter of fact, whatever else they or real masters. This, in fact, is a chief are, they are not the representatives of difference between democracy and class- the people or what they pretend to be. rule, and in the light of present conditions, Now one of the chief objections that in where the absolute mastership is in the recent years has been advanced against hands of the party-boss and the machine the people's misrepresentatives in our controlled by privileged interests, nothing municipal government, in legislatures, could be more absurd, fallacious or essen- in Congress, and especially in the United tially out of harmony with the genius and States Senate, where Mr. Lodge is a leadspirit of free government than the stand ing member, is that the officials are merely taken by Senator Lodge, who for some machines for registering the commands years has been politically speaking or wishes—not of the people, it is true, the boss or feudal lord of Massachu- but of the great public-service corporasetts.”

tions, such as the railways and the exYes,” replied the poet, “we have been press companies, the Standard Oil Comsupposing that our officers are our serv- pany, the Wall-street gamblers and other ants, but we are now awakening to the privileged interests that make the political fact that our officers are the servants of boss and the controlled machine well

commercial feudalism. The nigh invincible by reason of the campaign Senator says that the people have the contributions and other favors. I have power to recall their faithless representa- never heard of Senator Lodge being in tive, but, alas! he cannot be recalled until the least concerned on account of the perhe has plundered the public cupboard. sistent manner in which his colleagues Perhaps even at the end of his term of have disregarded the welfare, the wishes office the boss, the ‘kept' editor and the and the demands of the people when controlled machine may thrust him back making themselves mere machines of into the plundered house to again betray record to register the wishes or the comthe people in the interests of his real mas- mands of corporate wealth. ters. Something must be done to give “We have surely gone far from the old the people a more certain control of the democratic moorings and well into the political machine now run in the interests domain of class-rule, if the people's servof unjust privilege and commercial piracy. vant is not expected to carry out the We are in a government where our polit- wishes of the people. If he is to be the ical philosophy is based on the idea that creature of the political boss or the tool the people are the one fountain-head of of corporate wealth, which is now frepolitical authority, the one source of all quently the case, he ceases to be the poputhat shall be law and government. The lar representative and becomes the bedistinguished Senator's views, if adopted, trayer of the people, and the whole theory would serve to hinder, if not to frustrate, of our government is set at defiance. And

our

new

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »