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|Title: Wit, Humor, Reason, Rhetoric, Prose, Poetry and Story Woven into Eight Popular Lectures||1|
Author: George W. Bain
Release Date: October 12, 2005 [EBook #16858]
Character set encoding: ASCII
*** Start of this project gutenberg EBOOK wit, humor, reason ***
Produced by Bill Tozier, Barbara Tozier, Carol David,
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[Illustration: George W. Bain.]
Wit, Humor, Reason, Rhetoric,
Prose, Poetry and Story
Eight Popular Lectures.
George W. Bain.
the pentecostal publishing company
GEO. W. Bain,
Anna M. Bain.
So far as this life is concerned, I can express no better wish for any young man who reads this book, than that he may be wedded to a wife as loyal, loving and helpful to him as mine has been to me.
In offering this book to the public no claim is made to literary merit or originality of thought. It is published with the same purpose its contents were spoken from the platform, namely, to do good.
With the testimony of many, that hearing these lectures helped to shape their lives, came the thought that reading them might help others when the tongue that spoke them is silent.
As a public speaker the author admits, that how to get a grip on his hearers outweighed the grammar of language; that the ring of sincerity and truth in presenting a proposition appealed to him more than relation of pronoun or preposition; besides in the “high school of hard knocks” from which he graduated artistic taste in literature was not taught.
If it is true that “tongue is more potent than pen,” then the mysterious power of personality and delivery will be missed in the reading, yet it is hoped the simplicity of the setting of anecdote and argument, incident and experience, facts and figures, story, poetry and appeal will suffice to make this volume attractive and helpful to those who read it, and thus the lives of many may be made brighter and better by the life work of the author.
George W. Bain.
I. Among The Masses, or Traits of Character 9
II. A Searchlight of the Twentieth Century 59
III. Our Country, Our Homes and Our Duty 101
IV. The New Woman and The Old Man 137
V. The Safe Side of Life for Young Men 187
VI. Platform Experiences 233
VII. The Defeat of The Nation’s Dragon 273
VIII. If I Could Live Life Over 307
Among the masses, or traits of character.
Whatever criticism I choose to make on human character, I hope to soften the criticism with the “milk of human kindness.” As rude rough rocks on mountain peaks wear button-hole bouquets so there are intervening traits in the rudest human character, which, if the clouds could only part, would show out in redeeming beauty.
To begin with, I believe prejudice to be one of the most unreasonable traits in character. It is said: “One of the most difficult things in science is to invent a lense that will not distort the object it reflects; the least deviation in the lines of the mirror will destroy the beauty of a star.” How unreliable then must be the distorting lense of human prejudice.
I had a bit of experience during the Civil War which gave me something of that whole-heartedness necessary to the service of my kind. In the twilight of a summer evening, making a sharp curve in a road, about a dozen men confronted me. They were dressed in blue, a color I was not very partial to at that time. I had read that “he that fights and runs away may live to fight another day.” It occurred to me that he who would run without fighting might have a still better chance, but the click of gun locks and an order to surrender changed my mind to “safety first” and I was a prisoner of the blue-coated cavalry.
The commanding officer who had me in charge (during my visit) was a Kentucky Colonel. He afterward became a major-general. I looked at him during the remainder of the war from the narrow standpoint of prejudice and cherished revenge in my heart for his having exposed me to the flying bullets of the Confederate pickets, a peril he was not responsible for and of which he knew nothing until I informed him in after years.
A few years after the war our barks met upon the same wave of life’s ocean. We became engaged in the same work of reform, I as an advocate of temperance, he as candidate for the presidency of the United States on the prohibition ticket. From the warmth of friendship, my prejudice melted like mist before the morning sun and I found in General Green Clay Smith a combination of the noblest traits in human character.
Whoever would graduate in the highest franchise of being, and realize the royalty that comes of partnership with sovereignty, must have respectfulness of bearing and feeling toward those from whom they differ. We are greatly creatures of education and environment anyway, and until we can unlock the alphabet of a life and sum up the mingling, blending, reciprocal forces that have been playing upon that life, we have no more right to abuse persons for honest convictions than we have to blame them for their parentage.
You do not know the forces that have given direction to the lives of others; if so, you might know why one is a member of this or that church, this or that political party, why one lives north, another south, one on the land, another on the sea.
Some of you may differ with me, but I believe if General Grant had been born in the South, reared and educated in the South, his father had owned a cotton plantation and many slaves, General Grant would have been a Confederate General in the Civil War; while Robert E. Lee if born, reared and educated in New England would have been a Union General. If my opinion is correct, if all you northern people had lived down south, and we southern people had lived north, we would have gotten the better of the conflict instead of you.
If yonder oak, that came from the finest acorn and promised to be the monarch of the forest, was dwarfed by simply a drop of dew; if yonder rolling river, bearing its commerce to sea, was turned seaward, instead of lakeward, by simply a pebble thrown in the fountain-head; why not have consideration for those whose circumstances and early training set in motion convictions differing from ours. God did not intend all the trees to be oaks, or that all the rivers should run in one direction, but He did intend all to make up at last His one great purpose.
Thomas F. Marshall in an address many years ago, to illustrate the differences between people of different sections, said: “If you call a Mississippian a liar, he will challenge you to a duel; call a Kentuckian a liar, he will stab you with a bowie-knife or shoot you down; call an Indianian a liar, he will say, ‘You’re another;’ call a New Englander a liar, he will say, ’I bet you a dollar you can’t prove it.’”
Mr. Marshall intended his compliment for the Mississippian and Kentuckian, but really his compliment was to the New Englander. If a man calls you a liar, and you are not a liar, the manliest thing to do is to say, “I challenge you, sir, not on to a field of dishonor, where the better aimed bullet will tell who’s a murderer, but I challenge you out into the sunlight of God’s truth where I’ll prove myself a man and you a slanderer.”
I use this to show it is not just to look at character or questions from the narrow standpoint of prejudice.
Then again, we should not judge a person by one trait. There are persons for whom you may do fifty favors, yet make one mistake and they will never forgive you. George Dewey went to the Philippine Islands, remained in the harbor for months, never made a mistake and returned to this country the naval hero of the world; and never were so many babies, horses and dogs named for one man in the same length of time. But one morning the papers came out with the statement that he had deeded to his wife a piece of property some friends had presented to him, and within three days after, when his picture was thrown on a canvas in an opera house in Washington City it was hissed from the audience, and when later on he dared to allow his name used as a candidate for the presidency of the United States, we were ready to smash the hero at once. But we must remember there are very few men able to withstand the world’s praises. Indeed there never was but one man who could be successfully lionized and that man was Daniel.
Captain Smith of the Titanic was held responsible by public opinion for the sinking of the great ship and was harshly criticised by the press. His forty years of faithful, careful service on the sea was erased by the one mistake. It was a tremendous one, but let it be said to his credit that experts had declared that a ship with fifteen air-tight compartments could not sink, that if cut into halves both ends would ride the sea. The bulk-head was made to withstand any contact, and Captain Smith never dreamt of danger from icebergs. But when he saw his idol shattered, he did all a brave seaman could do to save human lives. When the last life-boat was launched he came upon a little child who was lost from its parents. He seized a life-belt, buckled it about his waist and taking the child in his arms, jumped into the icy ocean. Holding the child above the water with one hand, he used the other as an oar, and reaching a boat he placed the little one in the arms of a woman. Then returning to his sinking ship, he threw off the life-belt and went down to his death. Who knows but in the great reckoning day, his reward will be “inasmuch as ye did it unto that little one on the sea, ye did it unto me.”
The great Joseph Cook had a reputation that caused many to look upon him as one who was all brains and no heart. Before meeting Mr. Cook I was very much prejudiced against him because of what I had heard. I lectured for a teachers’ institute at New Wilmington, Pennsylvania, when the great preacher was to follow me the next evening. As I was leaving the county superintendent said to me: “When you reach the main line Joseph Cook will get off the train which you are to take. I wish you would speak to him and give him the name of the hotel where I have reserved a room for him.” When I reached the junction, and the great savage looking lecturer stepped from the train, I said to myself: “You can go to any hotel you please, I’ll tell you nothing.”
Some months later I lectured in Cooper Union Hall in New York City. Just about time to begin the lecture Joseph Cook entered the door and took a seat just inside. When I had talked about ten minutes, he arose and passed out. I thought he was not pleased and the incident did not lessen my unfavorable estimate of the great thinker.
Some three years later Mr. Cook was on our chautauqua program at Lexington, Kentucky. Doctor W.L. Davidson, superintendent of the assembly, requested me to call at the hotel and inform our distinguished visitor of his hour and see to his reaching the chautauqua grounds. With reluctance I went to the hotel and sent my card to his room. He ordered me to be shown up to the room at once. Approaching the door I found it open and Mr. Cook stood facing me. My impression is that politeness was sacrificed in my haste to explain that I was sent to inform him as to the hour of his lecture and to offer to call for him in time to escort him to the grounds.
Extending his hand he said: “Come in and let me make my best bow to you for the service you have rendered the temperance cause. I heard you once for about ten minutes in Cooper Union, when I had an engagement and had to leave. I see you are on the program tomorrow and I shall be there.”
After his first lecture, returning to the hotel I said: “Mr. Cook, if I can be of any service to you while you are in our city, please feel at liberty to command me at any time.”
He replied: “I order you at once. I am anxious to see the home of Henry Clay and the monument erected to his memory.”
Next morning we went to Ashland and then to the cemetery. After visiting the Clay monument, we were passing near where my daughter had been buried only a few months before. When I had called his attention to the sacred spot, Mr. Cook said: “I read Miss Willard’s account of her death, and the beautiful tribute paid her in the Union Signal. Please stop a moment.”
He left the carriage and going to the grave, took off his hat and stood with uncovered head for a few moments. Then taking his seat beside me in the carriage, he laid his hand on mine and said: “Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord.”
With tears rolling down my cheeks I said to myself: “Under the great brain of Joseph Cook beats a tender heart.” Not to know him was to misjudge him, while the close touch of friendship revealed one of God’s noblemen.
Unity in variety is the order of nature. Out of what seems to us a medley of contradictions come amendments and reconstructions that illustrate the benevolent guardianship of God in working out the problem of creation. Out of the most discordant elements God can bring the most harmonious results. Out of the bitterness and bloodshed of our Civil War has come a more harmonious, united, happy and prosperous people.
It was said of General Grant: “He’s an artist in human slaughter. He cares nothing for the loss of men, so he wins the battle.” But, General Grant believed the harder the battle the sooner it would be over. When the end came he gave back the sword of Lee, and said to the worn-out Confederate soldiers: “Take your horses with you, you’ll need them on your farms. Go back to your homes and peace go with you.” That manly strength of character that enables a man to face shot and shell on the battlefield, is not any more sublime than the manly weakness of heart which “weeps with those who weep.”
While we should not judge one by a single trait in character we must not overlook the importance of little traits. In this age of great movements, great schemes and great combinations, our young people are disposed to ignore little things. A little thing in this great big age is too insignificant. Yet, we are told it was the cackling of a goose that saved Rome; the cry of a babe in the bull-rushes gave a law-giver to the Jews; the kick of a cow caused the great Chicago
Little things are suggestive of great things. We read that a ship-worm, working its way through a dry stick of wood, suggested to Brunell a plan by which the Thames river could be tunneled. The twitching of a frog’s flesh as it touched a certain kind of metal led Galvani to invent the electric battery. The swinging of a spider’s web across a garden walk led to the invention of the suspension bridge. The oscillation of a lamp in the temple of Pisa led Galileo to invent the measurement of time by a pendulum. A butterfly’s wing suggested the combination of colors. So little things are suggestive of great things in character.
“Boy wanted” was the sign at the entrance to a store. A boy took the sign down and with it in his hand entered the store.
“What are you doing with that sign?” asked the proprietor.
The boy replied: “Well, I’m here, so I brought in the sign.”
That boy was given the place. Attention to small things has made many a successful man, while a little temper, a little indifference, a little cigarette, a little drink or some other little thing has been the undoing of many a young man.
What are these little traits in human character? They are matches struck in the dark. Do you know what that means, a match struck in the dark? If not, get up some night when it’s pitch dark in the room, run your face up against a half open door, knock the pitcher off the table and spill the cold water on your bare feet, sit down on a chair that’s not there, and you’ll realize what it means to strike a match. If I were to go into a parlor of one of your finest homes at midnight with all the lights out, I would see nothing, but let me strike a match and beautifully decorated walls, fine paintings, and furniture will meet and greet my vision.
You cannot be very long in the company of anyone until a match will be struck. Of one you will say, “that’s good; I’m glad to find such a trait in that person,” but directly another match will flare up and you will find another trait as disappointing as the other was commendable, and you are at a loss to know what “manner of man” you are with.
It’s a wonder to me when so many characters are so difficult to solve that many young people rush headlong into matrimony without striking a match, except the match they strike at the marriage altar. A girl sees a young man today; he’s handsome, talks well, and she falls in love with him, dreams about him tonight, sighs about him tomorrow and thinks she’ll surely die if he doesn’t ask her to marry him. Yet she knows nothing about his parentage or his character. No wonder we have so many unhappy marriages, so many homes like the one where a stranger knocked at the front door and receiving no response went around to the rear where he found a very small husband and a very large wife in a fight, with the wife getting the better of the battle.
The stranger said: “Hello! who runs this house?”
“That’s what we are trying to settle now,” shouted the little husband.
My young friends, I will admit love is a kind of spontaneous, impulsive, natural affinity, something after the order of molecular attraction or chemical affinity, but while by the natural law of love, a young woman may see in the object of her affection her ideal of perfection in humanity, she owes volitional conformity to a higher law than natural affinity. She owes to herself, to posterity and to her country a careful study of the character of the young man to whom she should link her life and love.
I believe two dark clouds hanging upon the horizon of this republic to be the recklessness with which life is linked with life at the marriage altar, and the recklessness with which we elect men to offices of public trust. While we have many public men, schooled in the science of government, whom the spoils of office cannot corrupt, we have an army of demagogues who rely upon saloon politics for promotion, and on all moral questions reason with their stomachs instead of their brains. This is especially true in the government of our large cities.
Sam Jones, lecturing in a city noted for its corrupt government said: “Take the political gang you have running this city, put them in a cage, then let the devil pass along and look in and he would say, ‘That beats anything I have in my show.’”
We don’t seem to realize that every public man is a teacher, every home is a school, and the education received outside the schoolroom is often more effective than the education inside. All the forces and elements of the organism of society are teachers and all life is learning. The birth of an infant into this world is its matriculation into a university, where it graduates in successive degrees. And do you know in this great school of human life, where I come with you to study the traits of our kind, that we never reach a grade that we are not influenced by what touches us? Here I am past fifty years of age (and then “some"), yet I am constantly being influenced by what touches me.
Start a new song with a popular air and it will spread throughout the whole country. Boys will whistle it and girls will sing it. A number of years ago, when at the station ready to leave home for New England, a lad near me began to whistle and then to sing a new song. It was a catchy tune and took hold of me. On the train I found myself trying to hum that tune, then I tried to whistle it, and failing in both attempts I finally gave it up. Two days after I left the train up in a New Hampshire town and took a street car for the hotel. A blizzard was on, but there stood the motorman, muffled to his ears, whistling the same tune I had heard down in Kentucky, “There’ll be a hot time in the old town tonight.”
When the telephone made its appearance a good Christian man had one installed in his store and during the morning hours of the first day he called up all his friends who had phones, and “Hello! Hello!” took hold of him. He went home to lunch and being a little late he hurried into his chair at the table. With the telephone still on his mind, he bowed his head to return thanks and said: “Hello.” He was a good Christian man, but the telephone had taken hold of him.
The very tone of the voice has a tendency to influence and control character. I wonder so many parents train their voices as they do. They have a kind of snap to the tone which they evidently think makes the children and the servants “get a move” on them. Perhaps it does, but at the same time it falls upon a family like frost upon a field of flowers. You pay three dollars to have your piano tuned, yet you train your voice to sound harsh and hard.
How the tone of the voice controls was illustrated in my own home several years ago. I went home in the early spring and found some one had been among my bees and had left the lids of the hives lifted at the time the bees were making brood. Going to the house I said to my wife:
“Where is Charlie?” He was the colored man in charge of the barn and garden.
Mrs. Bain replied: “I suppose he is about the barn; he doesn’t stay in the house.” I knew that, but somehow we Adams will go to our Eves with anything that goes wrong.
“What’s the trouble?” my wife asked.
I told her about the exposure of the bees, (about the effect of which I knew very little) and said:
“I want Charlie to keep out of that apiary. He’ll kill every bee I have.”
Mrs. Bain in a very gentle manner said: “I did that myself. That’s the way father used to do. I was afraid your bees might starve during the long cold spell, so I made some syrup and placed it in the upper compartments. I lifted the lids so that the light would attract the bees up to the syrup. I’m very sorry I did it, but I thought it would please you.”
I said: “Well, I believe you did the right thing, my dear, and I am very much obliged to you.”
If my wife had said in a harsh tone: “I did that, sir. What are you going to do about it?” then I would have said something.
A little bit of anger let loose in a field of human nature is as destructible to noble impulses and generous feelings as a cyclone is to a town. I was in an Iowa cyclone some years ago and I noticed when it was approaching the people didn’t run out of their homes and throw stones at it. They ran for the storm cellars. When you see a bit of anger coming toward you from brother, sister, husband, wife or friend, don’t throw a dictionary of aggravating words at it; get out of the way and it will quiet down like the troubled waters of Galilee when “Peace be still” fell upon them.
When we realize how sensitive character is to the touch of influences, and how uncertain the character of the influence that may touch us, how very careful we should be as parents as to what shall touch us, how we shall touch others, who may be fed by our fulness, starved by our emptiness, uplifted by our righteousness or tainted by our sins.
Sometimes a boy is sent to school with the idea that the influence of the teacher will mold the character of the boy, when the magnetic touch by which the faculties of the boy are sprung doesn’t come from the teacher, but from some boy on the playground and perhaps not the best boy. Some boys are as potent on the playground as a major-general on a battle-field. Some persons are like loadstones, they draw, others are like loads of stone, they have to be drawn.
I have known down South in the days of slavery, coal black queens of the domestic circle. The cows would come to the cupping as if it were a spiritual devotion. Maiden mistresses would tell them their love stories, when they wouldn’t tell their own mothers. I am a southern man, born and reared mid slavery, and I pay this tribute to the black “mammies” of the South before the war. Down there in that hale, hearty colored motherhood was laid the foundation of future health and strength for many a white baby, when otherwise its mother would have had to see it die. Frail, delicate mothers, who because of slavery had not done sufficient work to develop physical womanhood, were not able to nurse their own infants and gave them to the care of vigorous, healthy colored mothers, who took them to their bosoms and nursed them into strength. But for that supplemental supply of vigor, but for that sympathetic partnership in motherhood, much of the most potent manhood of the South would never have been known.
You who lived in the North before the war, and you who are younger and have read about the auction block, the slave driver and the cottonfield cannot understand the attachment between one of these colored mothers and the white boy or girl she nursed. I know whereof I speak, for I revere the memory of my old black mammy.
There are verses, written by whom I do not know, the words of which I cannot recall except a line here and there, hence I take the liberty to supply the missing lines and revise the verses to express my feelings for the slave mammy of my childhood.
“She was only a dear old darkey,
In a cabin far away,
Down in the sunny Southland,
Where sunbeams dance and play.
Yet oft in dreams I hear her crooning,
Crooning soft and low:
’Sleep on, baby boy,
The sleep will make you grow.’
“Oft when tired of fighting
In a world so full of wrong;
When wearied and worried
With the tumult and the throng,
I seek again the cabin,
Where dwelt a heart of gold
And in dreams she loves and pets me,
As she did in days of old.
“Oh, my dear old colored mammy,
In the cabin far away,
Since you rocked me in the cradle
Seems forever and a day.
Yet in dreams I hear you crooning
Above my cradle nest;
’Sleep on, baby boy,
Mammy watches while you rest.’”
A white baby, whose mother was ill for months, was given to one of these colored mothers to nurse. After the war the white family moved west. As their child grew up the father and mother often told her about Aunt Hannah, how she loved her, petted her, cooked for her, and drove away her own pickaninnies to let “mammy’s baby” sleep.
The girl, when she had grown to womanhood, heard that Aunt Hannah was still living and she longed to see her devoted old colored mammy. Her parents had the same desire, and with other attachments for the old southern home, they went back to Georgia on a visit and to the village where the old woman lived. She was sent for and the old black mammy and the beautiful young girl faced each other. The young lady was disappointed. She expected to see a nice, comely old woman, but there she stod, crippled with rheumatism, gray headed, wrinkled, and poorly clad. The old woman was surprised, for there before her stood a beautiful young woman, with rosy cheeks, blue eyes, auburn locks and queenly form. The father and mother stood near, with tears rolling down their cheeks as memory came surging up like successive waves from out a past hallowed to them, for they could see in that old woman the health and strength of their child.
The old woman broke the silence, saying: “Is dat my chile? Is dat de chile I loved and laid wake wif so many nights and cooked so many sweet things for? Why, bless yo’ heart, honey; dese old hands ust to take yo’ and hug yo’ to dis bosom, but yo’s too nice now for dese old hands to eber touch agin.”
The young girl said: “No, I’m not, Aunt Hannah. You shall take me in your arms as when I was a little child,” and she gave a bound into the old woman’s arms.
That does not mean social equality, but it does mean gratitude neither condition nor color can ever bound. If the reciprocities of that old woman and that beautiful girl were such as to weave enrichments into both hearts, why should not all peoples, and all individuals, see in all others but a multiplication of the one each of us is, and that each is enhanced or diminished in value according to the concentrated worth of the whole? If man would stand in his lot of conformity to man, as that old colored woman stood in her lot, it would lift this world to that height from which we could see the one interest, one reciprocal, interdependent, together-woven, God-allied and God-saved humanity.
But in this we fail. Several men, one of them an Irishman, were standing on a street corner when a negro passed. The Irishman said: “Faith, and if I had been makin’ humanity for a world, I would niver have made a nager.” I suppose in return the negro would not have made the Irishman, nor would the white man have made the Indian or Chinaman, but God made them all and in proportion as we have the philanthropic comprehensiveness to accept them all, and benevolently try to serve them in their places, do we honor the place assigned us in the world’s creation. It is not for us to know why God made this or that; He made everything for a purpose.
A father took his boy to an animal show. The lad had never seen a monkey and as they played their pranks about the cage he said: “Father, did God make monkeys?”
When the father replied: “Yes,” the boy said: “Well, don’t you guess God laughed when he made the first monkey?”
I don’t know about that, but if God made the monkey for a joke it was certainly a success. If God had made the monkey for no other purpose than to create laughter it wouldn’t have been a mistake. The lachrymal glands were placed in us for sorrow to play upon; we are commanded to “weep with those who weep.” In antithesis to this the risable nerves were placed in us for mirthful music, and I pity the one who has broken the keys and cannot laugh.
I believe we owe the Irishman a vote of thanks for the ringing laughs he has sent around the world. An Irishman said to a rich English land-owner:
“Me Lord, I think the world is very unaqually divided; it should be portioned out and each one given an aqual share with ivery other one?”
The Englishman replied: “Well, Pat, if we were to divide today, in ten years I would have ten thousand pounds and you wouldn’t have a shilling.”
“Then we would divide again,” said the Irishman.
On an electric car going out of New York City, a man, who occupied a seat next to the aisle, had a pet monkey in a cage on the seat with him, next to the window. An Irishman boarded the car and seeing all the seats taken he remained standing, holding on to a strap, when suddenly he spied the monkey in the cage. He immediately addressed the man who had the monkey:
“Sir, is that gintleman in the cage paying his fare? If not, I’d like to have the sate.”
The owner of the monkey lifted the cage to his lap and moved over, giving the Irishman a seat.
“What’s the nationality of that gintleman, anyway?” asked Pat.
By this time the other man was very much out of humor and said: “He’s half ape and half Irish.”
“Faith, then he’s related to both of us,” replied the witty son of Erin, and there were two monkeys on that car.
I’ll admit this trait of humor comes in sometimes when it is quite embarrassing, as it was to Sam Jones upon one occasion, when in the midst of a sermon before a large audience, he said:
“All you who want to go to heaven, stand up; I’d like to take a look at you.”
The audience arose in great numbers. When seated again Mr. Jones said: “Now all you who want to go to the devil, stand and let’s have a look at you.”
All was silent for a moment and then a tall, lank, lean fellow from the backwoods arose and said: “Well, parson, I don’t care anything special about seeing the old chap, but I never desert a friend in trouble, specially a minister, so I guess I’ll have to stand with you.”
Dr. Frank Gunsaulus told me of a time when he had to laugh under embarrassing circumstances. He was called upon to preach the funeral of a man who had died from the effects of drink. His friends had made a box for the corpse and had placed in the top a ten by twelve window glass to go over the face, but when the time came to put the top on the box, being double-sighted from drink, they reversed the top and had the glass at the foot of the coffin instead of the head.
The preacher took his place, as he supposed, at the head of the deceased, when looking down his eyes fell upon a pair of feet. With great effort he kept his face straight and conducted the service. At the close he invited the friends to view the remains. One stimulated friend walked up to the coffin, shook his head and turning to another said: “Don’t look at him, Jim. He’s changing very fast and you won’t know him.”
The great preacher is to be excused if he did laught at that funeral.
It’s good to laugh, and yet, while I pay tribute to the trait of humor, I would have the undergirding trait of all traits of character, the trait of principle. Though you may use policy now and then, never use a policy you must get off the heaven-bound express train of principle to use.
I don’t like that word policy. There is another and better name for the trait I would present just here, and that is tact. It means the doing of a right thing at the right time and in the right place. Some young men win first honors in college and fail in the business of life for want of tact. Here is where the Yankee excels. The Southerner is genial, generous and has many traits of character to be admired, but he must doff his hat to Yankee character for the development of tact.
Sam Jones, who rarely ever failed to get the best of whoever tried repartee with him, met more than his match when he ran up against Yankee tact. He was raising money to pay off the debt on a church.
A liberal member said: “Mr. Jones, I have given about all I can afford to give, but if you will get one dollar from that old man on the end of the back bench of the ‘amen corner,’ I’ll give you ten dollars more.”
“Has he any money, and is he a member of the church?”
“Yes,” was the answer to both questions.
The great evangelist said: “Well, that’s easy,” and started for the dollar.
Approaching the old man he said: “Brother, I’m collecting money for the Lord. You owe him a dollar. I’m told you are an honest man and always pay your debts, so hand over that dollar.”
“How old are you, sir?” asked the old man.
When Sam gave his age at about forty, the old brother said: “I’m nearly double your age, sir, and will very likely see the Lord before you do, so I’ll just give him the dollar myself.”
I lectured in New England a few years ago when before me sat a Yankee with his two sons. He sat between them and when I made a point which he approved, he would nudge the boys. He seemed to be driving my advice in with his elbows. At the close of the lecture I took his hand and said: “I see you have your boys with you.”
He replied: “Yes, I always take the two boys with me when I attend a lecture. I presume when a speaker has prepared himself he is going to get about the best things out of his subject, and will put them in a way to take hold and benefit young men. If I were going to get the same information out of books I might have to spend a dollar or two, when I only paid fifteen cents each for them to hear your lecture.”
This trait of tact, however, is moving south, and even the colored race is getting hold of it. An old negro who was born on the plantation where he lived when set free, remained after the war in his cabin and worked for the son of his old master. In his old age his memory began to fail and he would neglect to do things he was told to do. The young man was patient with the old negro for quite a while but finally said to him:
“Uncle Dan, you must do better or you and I will have to separate.”
The old servant said: “Mars Jim, I does the best I can. I is mighty sorry I forgits things and I’se gwine to try to do better.”
But he grew worse and one evening when he failed to do a very important chore, the young man said: “I told you what would happen if you did not do better and the time has come when you and I separate.”
Uncle Dan replied: “I’se mighty sorry, Marse Jim. I was here when you was born, and when you growed big enuf I ust to take you on de mule out to de field wif me, and I members how you ust to take de lines and dribe de ole mule. Den when de war broke out and ole Master jined de army, I stayed here and took care ob ole Missus and you chilluns. I shore is mighty sorry we’s got to part, but if you says so den its got to be, but look here, Mars Jim, if we’s got to part, whar’s you counting on moving to?”
By this time tact had done its work, aggravation had melted into forgiveness and the young man said: “I’m not going to move anywhere, Uncle Dan, nor shall you. We’ll both stay here on the old plantation together.” That was certainly tact on the old man’s part.
A young negro, who craved a ride on a railroad train but had no money, crept under the baggage car and fixed himself on the truck. The train started and when at full speed the engine struck a mule and tore the animal to pieces. Part of the mangled remains was carried into the running gear of the baggage car. The engineer stopped the train and commenced pulling out pieces of mule here and there until he reached the baggage car, when, looking under for more of the mule, he saw the white eyes of the negro.
“Come out, you imp, what are you doing under there?” said the engineer.
Back came the tactful reply: “Boss, I wus de fellow what wus ridin’ dat mule.”
The engineer said: “Well, I guess you’ve paid your fare; climb into the cab and help me run this train.”
I commend to you the cultivation of tact, but don’t let it lead you into the meanest trait of character—selfishness. To say,
“Of all my father’s family
I love myself the best,
If Providence takes care of me, who cares what takes the rest?”
In the days when there was a community hearse in a country neighborhood, and carpenters made the coffins, a young man, who was ashamed of the old worn-out hearse, went about soliciting money to purchase a new one. Presenting the purpose to an old man of means, he received from this selfish citizen the reply:
“I won’t give you a dollar. I helped to buy the old hearse twenty years ago, and neither me nor my family have ever had any benefit from it.”
Against this trait of selfishness I place the most beautiful of all traits—sympathy. I would rather have the record of Clara Barton in the great reckoning day than that of any statesman whose portrait hangs in a hall of fame.
During our Civil War she went from battlefield to battlefield, and was just as kind to the boy in gray as she was to the boy in blue.
After the Civil War Queen Victoria desired to communicate with Clara Barton regarding the same mission of mercy for the German army, where the Queen’s daughter was then engaged. But Clara Barton was already on the ocean, and soon after was in the war zone with the German army. She was with the first who climbed the defenses of Strassburg, where she ministered to the wounded and dying. At the close of her work there she took ten thousand garments with her to France. There she waited till the Commune fell and again she was with the first to reach the suffering. In our own war with Spain she went to Cuba, and though then past sixty years of age, she stood among the cots of our wounded and sick soldiers, soothing their sufferings and cheering their hearts.
Still later on in storm-swept Galveston, Texas, she fell at her post of duty and was borne back by loving hands to her home, where she recovered and again resumed her work of love and mercy, to carry it on to the end of her long and useful life.
No wonder the King and court of Germany bestowed upon her medals of remembrance; no wonder the Grand Duchess of Baden placed upon her the “Red Cross of Geneva;” and in the great day of reward, He who bore the cross for us all will place upon Clara Barton the crown of eternal life.
When my wife was president of the House of Mercy, in Lexington, Kentucky, a home for the rescue of fallen girls, she went in her carriage to a dentist with one of the unfortunate inmates.
Soon after a business man of the city said to me: “I hardly see how you can give your consent to have your wife do such work. I saw her recently in her carriage with a girl I would not have my wife seen with for any amount of money.”
My reply was: “I would rather my wife should go through the golden gates, bearing in her arms the spirit of a poor girl, snatched from the hell of a harlot’s home, than to be the leader of the fashionable four hundred of New York City.”
There is a beautiful story told of one of the most influential and wealthy men of England. He inherited fame as well as fortune, had an Oxford education and early in life he was elected a member of Parliament. One evening he sat in his fine library, watching the wood fire build its temples of flame around the great andirons, and as he heard the beating of the wild winter storm against the window pane, his heart went out to the homeless hungry poor of the city. Ordering
On Sunday afternoons, while aristocracy lined the boulevards, this son of fortune would take his physician in his carriage and go through the slums, seeking the sick and suffering. One afternoon, while he stood outside a tenement door, awaiting the return of the doctor from a visit to a poor sick soul inside the tenement, he became deeply moved by the ragged children playing in the gutters and reaching into garbage barrels for crusts of bread. He said: “Ah! here’s the riddle of civilization. I wish I could help to solve it; perhaps I can.”
He began the establishment of “ragged schools” and into these ware gathered thousands of poor children. Then followed night schools for boys who had to work by day. To these schools he added homes for working women, and for these women he persuaded Parliament to give shorter hours of service. He tore down old rookeries, built neat dwellings instead, beneath the windows planted little flower gardens, and rented them to the poor at the same price they had paid for the rookeries.
When he began to fade, as the leaf fades in its autumn beauty, and the day of his departure was at hand, he said: “I am sorry to leave the world with so much misery in it, but I have lived to prove that every kind word spoken, and every good deed done, sooner or later returns to bless the giver.”
As the end drew near he said to his daughter: “Read me the twenty-third Psalm, for ’though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil.’”
A few days later Westminster Abbey was crowded with England’s nobility to do him honor. When the funeral procession reached Trafalgar Square, thousands of working women stood, with uncovered heads and tearful eyes, to pay their tribute. Children came from the “ragged schools” bearing banners with the motto: “I was naked and ye clothed me.” From the hospitals came the motto: “I was sick and ye visited me,” while the working girls came with a silk flag on which they had embroidered with their own fingers: “Inasmuch as ye did it unto the least of these, ye did it unto me.”
Thus loaded down with the fruits of the Spirit, Lord Shaftsbury died, and yet lives in memory as the noblest embodiment of Christian charity.
That’s sweet music when nature hangs her wind-harps in the trees for autumn breezes to play thereon; that must have been sweet music when Jenny Lind so charmed the world with her voice, and when Ole Bull rosined the bow and touched the strings of his violin; that was sweet music when I sat in the twilight on the stoop of my childhood’s home and heard the welkin ring with the songs of the old plantation; but the sweetest music in this old world is that which thrills the soul when spoken in “words of love and deeds of kindness.” Cultivate the trait of sympathy. The good things you are going to say of your friend when he’s dead, say them to him while he’s alive. Take care of the living; God will care for the dead.
To the trait of sympathy I would add two grand traits—decision and courage.
“Tender handed touch a nettle.
And it stings you for your pains;
Grasp it like a man of mettle,
Silk it in your hand remains.”
The decision to throw over the tea in Boston harbor, to write “Charles Carroll of Carrolton,” and the courage to say, “Give me liberty or give me death,” gave us this government by and for the people.
“If you come to a river deep and
And you’ve no canoe to skim it;
If your duty’s on the other side,
Jump in, my boy, and swim it.”
Have the courage to stand for what you believe to be right. You may have to go ahead of public sentiment at times, but you will be rewarded in having your conviction and conscience with you.
A number of years ago in Boston, I gave a temperance address on Sunday afternoon in Music Hall. At the close of the lecture a friend said to me: “You said some good things but though from the old bourbon State of Kentucky, you are ahead of public sentiment in Boston.”
I replied: “Public sentiment does not always indicate what is right even in Boston. On your beautiful Commonwealth Avenue yesterday afternoon I met an elegantly dressed lady, I suppose a wealthy one from her jewels and dress. She had a poodle dog in her arms, with a blue ribbon on its neck. Yet, the same woman wouldn’t be caught carrying her six-weeks’ old baby down the street for any consideration.”
Such is public sentiment in fashionable society in our cities, and yet the highest type of the world’s creation is a pure, sweet mother with a babe in her arms, and another holding her apron strings. I think it would be a blessing to home life if an avenging angel should go through this country, smiting every English pug and poodle dog bought to take the place of babies. In their places I would put bright-eyed, rosy cheeked children to greet fathers when they return home from their day’s labor.
Battle for the right, remembering that far better is a fiery furnace with an angel for company, than worshiping a brazen image on the plains of Dura.
Some young man may now be saying in his mind, “For me to always stand for the right would be to meet difficulties at every step of the way.” Don’t get alarmed over difficulties. Half of them are imaginary.
I made my first trip to California thirty-five years ago. One morning I stood on the eastern edge of the plains with a sleeping car berth at my service and a through ticket to San Francisco in my pocket, while the iron horse stood there all harnessed and ready for the journey. Wasn’t I in good condition for the trip? Yes, but I saw trouble before me. One can always see trouble who looks for it. I had never been across the plains and before the time for the train to start I walked to the front of the engine and looking along the track as it reached out across the prairie I saw trouble. What was it? Why, six miles ahead the track wasn’t wide enough. Yes, I saw it. Then on six miles more the rails came together, with my destination nineteen hundred miles away. Soon the train moved and as we neared the difficulty, the track opened to welcome us. Not a pin was torn up nor a rail displaced. Again I looked ahead and a mountain was on the track, but before I had time to get off the mountain got off. Next came a precipice and the engine making directly for it, but we dodged that and I concluded our train had right of way, so I stuck to the Pullman car and went through all right.
Ever since God made the world principle has had right of way. Get you a through ticket, get on the train, battle for the right and you’ll come out victorious in the end.
Napoleon said: “God is on the side of the strongest battalions.” He entered Moscow with one hundred and twenty thousand men. Snow began to fall several weeks earlier than usual, the highways were blocked, frost fiends ruled the air, the great French army was broken into pieces and Napoleon had to fly for his life. God taught Napoleon as well as the commander of the great Spanish Armada, that victory is in the hands of Him who rules weather and waves.
The next trait I would mention is contentment. Many persons make themselves miserable by contrasting the little they have with the much that others have, when if they would compare their blessings with the miseries of others it would add to their contentment. Let me give you an old but a good motto: “Never anything so bad, but it might have been worse!”
It is told of a happy hearted old man that no matter what would happen he would say: “It might have been worse.” A friend, who wanted to see if the old man would say the same under all circumstances, went into a grocery store where he was seated by a big fire and said:
“Uncle Jim, last night I dreamt I died and was sent to perdition.”
Prompt the reply came: “Well, it might have been worse.”
When some one asked, “How could it have been worse,” he answered: “It might have been true.”
Doctor A.A. Willetts, “the Apostle of Sunshine,” used to say: “There are two things I never worry over; one is the thing I can help, the other is the thing I can’t help.” “Count your blessings,” was a favorite expression of the same beloved old man.
There are more bright days than cloudy ones, a thousand song birds for every rain-crow, a whole acre of green grass for every grave, more persons outside the penitentiary than inside, more good men than bad, more good women than good men; slavery, dueling, lottery and polygamy are outlawed, the saloon is on the run, the wide world will soon be so sick of war that universal peace, with “good will among men,” will prevail, labor and capital will be peaceful partners and human brotherhood will rule in righteousness throughout the world.
“O, this is not so bad a world,
As some would like to make it,
And whether it is good or bad,
Depends on how we take it.”
Fanny Crosby, whose gospel hymns are continually singing souls into the kingdom, when but six weeks old lost her sight and for ninety-two years made her way in literal darkness, without seeing the beauties of nature about her, the blue sky with its sun, moon and stars above her, the faces of her loved ones, and yet at ninety-two she said: “I never worry, never think disagreeable things, never find fault with anything or anybody. If in all the world there is a happier being than myself, I would like to shake that one’s hand.” No wonder out of such contentment came such songs as, “Jesus is calling,” “I am Thine, O Lord,” “Safe in the arms of Jesus.”
How different the cultured young woman, with all her senses preserved, who after passing through a flower garden where perfect sight had feasted on the beauty of the scene said:
“To think of summers yet to come,
That I am not to see;
To think a weed is yet to bloom,
From dust that I shall be.”
Poor soul! Instead of enjoying the summer she had, she was coveting all the summers between her and eternity. Instead of thanking God for the immortality of the soul when done with the body, she was disappointed because she couldn’t carry the old body along with her. Don’t let these things trouble you. Live one summer so you will be worthy to breathe the air of the next if you live to see it; take care of your body so it will make a decent weed if God chooses to make one out of your remains.
Enjoy what you have, don’t covet what you have not, thank God for your home on earth, follow Fanny Crosby’s receipt for contentment and you will be happy enough to shake hands with her in the “Land of the Leal.”
Before I close would you like to have me point you to greatness? In attempting to do so, I would not point you to Congress hall or Senate chamber. You can find greatness anywhere.
That was greatness when John Bartholamew held the throttle of an engine going over the Sierra mountains, with a train load of passengers depending upon his skill and caution, and swinging round a curve he saw the wood-work of a tunnel before him on fire. To attempt to stop the train then, would be to halt in the flames. He threw on more steam and sent the train whizzing through the furnace of fire. Passing out on the other end he was badly burned, but still held the rein of his iron horse. A poem dedicated to this brave engineer closes with the verse:
“I ’spose I might have jumped
In thought of saving sinew and bone,
And left them women and children
To take the ride alone.
“But I thought on a day of recknin’,
And whatever old John done here,
The Lord ain’t going to say to him there,
‘You went back as an engineer.’”
History of life on the ocean tells us of a ship doomed to go down with four hundred human beings on board. The pumps were not equal to the task of holding the water down to the safety line. The captain said: “We will draw lots for the life-boats, one hundred and twenty will go in them and the remainder must go down with the ship.”
One after another drew his lot. A sailor, who had drawn the lot of death, walked to the railing and said to a comrade in a life-boat: “When you reach the shore, see my wife, tell her good-bye for me and help her in getting my back pay, for she will need it,” and he stepped back and took his place with the doomed.
Finally the old mate thrust in his brawny hand and drew a lot for the life-boats. He stepped aside to watch those to follow in the drawing, when a very popular officer of the ship drew his lot. He was doomed to go down with the ship. Though a brave man, the thought of his loved ones at home overcame him, and dropping upon his knees he said: “O God, have mercy upon my wife and little children.”
The old mate went up to him and taking his hand said: “We have been in many storms together and have been good friends for years. You have a wife and three sweet little children, while I have no one that will rejoice at my coming, nor will any one weep if I never return. It might have been my fate to go down instead of you, and it shall be. You take my lot, and I’ll take yours.”
The offer was refused, but the mate forced his friend into a boat saying, “Good-bye, I’ll die for you like a man.”
The greatness of this world doesn’t all belong to your Solons, Solomons, Washingtons, Napoleons, Grants, Lees or Gladstones, but yonder in the humbler walks of life are heroes and heroines, who in the final reckoning day, will pale the lustre of some whose names are engraved on marble monuments and whose praises are perpetuated in poetry and song.
If you ask me to point you to greatness I do not direct your minds to historic heights, but that you may win your share of greatness I close this address by saying, wherever your lot in life be cast,
“In the name of God advancing,
Plow, sow and labor now;
Let there be when evening cometh,
Honest sweat upon thy brow.
Then will come the Master,
When work stops at set of sun,
Saying, as He pays the wages,
‘Good and faithful one, well done.’”
A searchlight of the twentieth century.
But a little more than a century ago, the old world laughed at the new. Writers of the old world called our American eagle, “a paper bird, brooding over a barren waste;” yet in what they then called a barren waste, railroads now carry more of the products of the earth, than all the railroads of all the lands, of all the peoples on the face of the earth.
When New England people believed there would never be anything worth having west of the Connecticut River, what if some seer had prophesied that in nineteen hundred there would be a city on Manhattan Island named New York that would rival London, two southwest, Baltimore and Washington to equal Venice, Philadelphia to match Liverpool, Pittsburg and Buffalo to surpass Birmingham, and beyond these a city called Chicago, which in grit and growth would beat anything the old world ever dreamt of; while on still farther west, would be a State named Iowa, in which in nineteen hundred and fourteen, would be produced enough cattle to beef England, enough potatoes to feed Ireland and hogs to “beat the Jews.”
What if he had continued; that in the libraries of the barren waste, there would be ten million more books, than in the combined libraries of Europe; that its college students would outnumber the college students of England, France and Germany combined; that its wealth would be great enough to purchase the empires of Russia and Turkey, the kingdoms of Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Switzerland, with South Africa and all her diamond mines thrown in, and then have enough left to buy a dozen archipelagoes at twenty millions each, and still have the wealth of the republic growing at the rate of five millions of dollars every twenty-four hours. What a land in which to live! Think of it; less than a century and a half ago, Liberty and England’s runaway daughter, Columbia, took each other “for better or for worse, forever and for aye” and started down time’s rugged stream of years. George Washington, then Chief Magistrate, performed the ceremony, and what he joined together time has not put asunder. It was not a wedding in high life, such as shakes the foundation of fashionable society today, but rather more like the swearing away of a verdant country couple, in some Gretna Green, with no other capital than youth, health and trusting confidence. We have had some domestic discords; once a very serious family row, but I of the South, join you of the North, in thanks to God, the application for divorce was not granted, and we are still a united republic.
The memories which followed that civil strife were so bitter, doubtless many of you northern brethren believed the men who surrendered at Appomattox were not any too sincere, and if we should ever have war with any foreign country, the north, east and west would have to furnish the patriotism, for the South would never again march under the stars and stripes. But when the Spanish-American war broke out, the first boy to pour out his heart’s blood for his country’s
If I were to close here, what an optimistic picture would be left in the glow of the century’s searchlight. But alas! we have unsolved problems of imperial moment, and my purpose is to throw the searchlight upon a few of these unsolved problems.
First, being a southern man, I shall turn it upon the Race Problem.
A century ago the Indian question was a perplexing problem, but it cuts but little figure now, for the Indian is nightly pitching his moving tepee a day’s march nearer the sunset shore, where one more shove, and,
“Mad to life’s history
Glad to death’s mystery,”
the red race will go, to where the pale face will cease from troubling, and the weary spirit will find its rest at last.
The Chinese question is of equal insignificance, since our doors are closed and barred against the almond eyes of the Orient.
The Negro question seems to be the race riddle of our civilization and it will take much tact, patience and wisdom to solve the problem. It may be a revelation to some of you to know, that at the rate the negro race has grown since the Civil War, when the twentieth century goes out, there will be sixty millions of negroes in one black belt across the Southland. I say across the Southland because, the main body of the negro race will never leave the track of the southern sun. The South held the negro in slavery, the North set him free. We supposed at the close of the war, he would leave the South and go to live among his liberators. But after half a century, he is still clinging to the cotton and the cane, or sitting in his log house home, the “shadowed livery of the burning sun” upon his brow, the plantation song still lingering on his lips, the banjo tuned to memory’s melodies on his knee, a clump of kinky-headed pickaninnies playing in the sand about his cabin door, and there he sits multiplying the Southland and problemizing the century.
I have not time to discuss at length the solution of the problems before us, but I hope to present them in such a manner as will help you to appreciate their importance and how they are linked with the destiny of the republic.
It seems to me exaltation of character, dignification of labor, material prosperity, leaving social equality to take care of itself, makes up the best solution of the negro problem. Social equality does take care of itself even among the white races. Some of you may have a white servant who is a good woman, a Christian woman, you expect to meet her in heaven (if you get there), but she is not admitted to your social set.
There is a vast difference between social rights and civil rights. Near Lexington, Ky., where I claim my home, is the country residence of J.B. Haggin, the multi-millionaire horseman. Soon after the completion of his mansion home, he gave a reception which cost thousands of dollars. The “first cut” of society came from far and near, but I was not invited, nor did I feel slighted, for I had no claim upon the millionaire magnate socially. But when I meet the great turf-king on the turnpike, he in his limozine and I in my little runabout, I say, “Mr. Haggin, give me half the road, sir.” Inside his gates I have no claim, but outside, the turnpike’s free, and J.B. Haggin can’t run over me. So the negro has no claim on the white man for social equality, but he has a right to the key of knowledge and a chance in the world.
Slavery was not an unmixed evil. Like the famed shield it had two sides. While it had its blighting effects it had its blessings. In bondage the negro was taught to speak the English language, and in childhood had the association of white children with their southern home training. They were taught two valuable lessons, industry and obedience, without which liberty means license. The negro was compelled to work and obey, two lessons the Indian never had and never respected. Beside these valuable lessons the negro was taught the fundamental principles of Christianity and at the opening of the war nearly every negro belonged to some church. Their preachers used to get their dictionary and Bible very amusingly mixed at times. Elder Barton exhorting his hearers said: “Paul may plant and Apolinarus water, but if you keeps on tradin’ off your birthright for a pot of Messapotamia you’se gwine to git lost. You may go down into de water and come up out ob de water like dat Ethiopian Unitarium, but if you keeps on ossifyin’ from one saloon to another; if you keeps on breakin’ the ten commandments to satisfy your appetite for chicken; if you keeps on spendin’ your time playing craps, the fourteenth amendment ain’t gwine to save you. Seben come elebin never took a man to Heben. I want you to understand dat.” Yet from such crudeness of expression has come preaching, remarkable for thought as well as scholarship and eloquence, while out of the suffering of slavery, through the law of compensation, we have matchless melodies in negro choirs and negro concert companies.
Leaders of thought may differ as to the methods of solution, but upon one thing all must agree. The net-work of our republic is such that if one suffers all suffer, and the negro is so interwoven with the various interests of our National life, we must level the race up or it will level the white race down. The lower classes must be lifted to the tableland of a better life, where they can breathe the pure air of intelligence and morality, or they will pollute the whole body politic. They must also acquire property. Economy is a lesson the negro race needs to learn. This lesson was well presented to a drunken white man by a sober old negro. The white man spent his money for liquor, and then started for home. Reaching a river he must cross by ferry, he found he had spent his last penny for drink. Seeing an old colored man seated at a cabin door near by, he turned toward the cabin. Nearing the old man he said:
“Uncle, would you loan me three cents to cross the ferry?”
“Boss, ain’t you got three cents?”
“I ain’t got one cent,” replied the white man.
“Well, you can’t git the three cents. Ef you ain’t got three cents, you’se just as well off on one side de river as you is on de other.”
I said we may differ as to methods for solving this race problem. Remembering as I do the days of slavery, how in Christian homes the most merciful masters and the most faithful slaves were found, I believe the best solution lies in the golden rule of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I now give the searchlight a swing and it falls upon the City Problem.
At the opening of the nineteenth century three per cent. of the people of this country lived in cities, ninety-seven per cent. in the country. At the rate migration is now going from country to city in twenty years there will be ten millions more people in the cities than in the country. This means a change of civilization, and new problems to solve. It means a day when cities will control in state and national elections, and if ignorance and vice control our cities, then virtue and intelligence as saving influences will not suffice to save us. The ignorance prominent in the machinery of large cities is illustrated by the police force of New York City. When applicants for positions on the police force were being tested a few years ago, the question was asked: “Name four of the six New England States.” Several replied: “England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.” Another question was: “Who was Abraham Lincoln?” As many as ten answered: “He was a great general.” One said: “He discovered America;” another said: “He was killed by a man name Garfield;” and another’s answer was, “He was shot by Ballington Booth.”
The growth of large cities means the growth of slum-life. Hear me, you who live out in the uncrowded part of the country. Maud Ballington Booth tells of finding five families, living in one attic room in New York City, with no partitions between. Here they “cook, eat, sleep, wash, live and die,” in the one room. In our large cities are armies of children, whose shoulders “droop with parental vice,” whose feet are fast in the mire of miserable conditions, whose hovel homes line the sewers of social life, and who are cursed and doomed by inheritance.
Some twenty or more years ago, a Chicago paper that had money behind it, and could have been sued for damages said: “The man who controls the purse strings of this city, the school board and board of public works, is the vilest product of the slums, a saloon keeper, a gambler, a man a leading citizen of this city would not invite into his home.” That man then controlled the purse strings of the great city of Chicago. I am glad to say a better man holds the place today. Hannibal could not save Carthage; Demosthenes could not save Greece; Jesus himself could not save Jerusalem. Can we save the cities of this republic?
Yet our lads and lassies are eager to leave the country and go to large cities, where gas-lit streets are thronged with humanity and entertainments provided every hour.
A country boy said to me: “Mr. Bain, you go everywhere; you see everything; I live out here in the country and see nothing.” I have tried it all. For about twenty-eight years I lived in the country. Since then my life has been in cities and on railroad trains between the oceans. My experience is, there is no life that keeps the heart so pure and the mind so contented as life in the country.
Some years ago I gave two addresses at Ocean Grove, New Jersey, on Saturday evening a popular lecture, and on Sunday an address to young men. I had the popular lecture made but not the Sunday talk. For three months I promised myself to get that lecture but kept on delaying. As I neared the time I hoped something would prevent my going. The time came, I was at Ocean Grove, knew I would have a great audience, for the day was ideal, and still I did not have the lecture except in skeleton form. After breakfast Sunday I began to walk the floor, working out clothing for that skeleton and racking my brain for climaxes. My wife was with me and she never would worry over my having nothing to say. Into every sentence I would weave she would inject a piece of her mind about home or children or some woman’s dress or bonnet. I said: “This is a trying time with me, won’t you take a stroll along the beach and let me be alone today?” Like a good wife she gratified my request, and left me to work and worry over that lecture. At four o’clock p.m., I could not see daylight, and in the darkness cried out: “O Lord, if you will help me this time I won’t ask you again for awhile.” The Lord did help me. My friends said I never did so well as that evening. At the close of the lecture the audience arose and handkerchiefs, like so many white doves, fluttered in the air. In the midst of that scene, an old superannuated minister of the New York Methodist Conference planted a kiss on my cheek, and I have wondered often, why a man should have thought of that instead of a woman.
At the close of the service a friend said: “That must have been the proudest moment of your life, for surely I never witnessed such a scene.”
I said: “No, I can recall one that was greater than the white lilies.”
Away back in Bourbon county, Kentucky, when I was not quite twenty I was married to a girl of nineteen. Soon after, we went to housekeeping in a country home. It was supper time. I had fed the chickens and horses, and washed my face in a tin pan on the kitchen steps, when a sweet voice said: “Come, supper’s ready.” As I entered the dining room my young wife came through the kitchen door, the coffee pot in her hand, her cheeks the ruddier from the glow of the cook stove, her face all lit up with expectancy as to what her young husband would think of his first meal prepared by his wife. All the operas I have heard since, and all the cities I have seen, dwindle into insignificance compared with that pure, peaceful home in the country.
Another sweep of the searchlight brings us to the Immigration Problem. We are today the most cosmopolitan country of the world. At the rate of a million a year immigrants are pouring in upon us, and no wonder they come, when they read of the marvelous fortunes made in the new world; of Mackay a penniless boy in the old world, worth fifty millions at middle life in America; A.T. Stewart peddling lace at twenty, a merchant prince at fifty; Carnegie a poor Scotch lad at eighteen, a half billionaire at seventy. These with many more such results on a smaller scale, rainbow the sky that spans the sea, and from the other end, this end is seen pouring its gold and greatness into the lap of the land of the free. So they come, and though they do not find all they expected, they do find far more here than they left behind, and writing letters back over the ocean, they set others wild with a desire to live in America. Many of them are excellent people; their children go into our public schools and come out with ours, one in thought, one in purpose, one in feeling. A little boy in Chicago said:
“Papa, you were born in England?”
“And mama was born in Scotland?”
“And you had a king at the head of your armies?”
“Well! we licked you all the same.”
The children of our foreign born citizens in our public schools are intensely American. A boy who was born in this country but whose parents were foreign born, was for some misdemeanor chastised by his father. When his playmates teased him he said: “Oh, the whipping didn’t count for much, but I don’t like being licked by a foreigner.”
There is another class coming to our country not only injurious but dangerous. They bring with them the heresies of the lands they hail from. They do not come to be American citizens. There is not an American hair in their heads, or an American thought in their minds. Every drop of blood in their veins, beats to the music of continental customs, and they come prepared to sow and grow the seeds of anarchy. Many come with tags on their backs giving their destination; not to build American homes; not to learn our language; not to obey our laws, or honor our institutions, but to undermine the honest laboring classes who toil to build homes and educate and clothe their children. I say, take off their tags and let them tag back home. Out of this class came the men who cheered to the echo a speaker in Chicago when he said: “I am in favor of dynamiting every bank vault in this city and taking the money we are entitled to.” Out of such schools of anarchy, came the man who crossed the sea from Patterson, New Jersey, to send a bullet through the heart of King Humbert, and out of this class came the teachers, who shrouded our land with shame and sorrow in Buffalo, New York.
Just here, I congratulate the spirit of William McKinley upon its auspicious flight to the spirit world. There is no better time and place for one to die, than at the summit of true greatness, “enshrined in the hearts of his countrymen, at peace with his God,” the sun of his life going down, “before eye has grown dim or natural force has abated.” Take him from the time he entered the army, where his commanding general said: “A night was never so dark, storm never so wild, weather never so cold as to interfere with his discharge of every duty.” From this time on, as lawyer, commonwealth’s attorney, congressman, governor, and president, he was a Jonathan to his friends, a Ruth to his kindred, a Jacob to his family, a Gideon to his country. Take him in private life where an intimate friend said: “I never heard him utter a word his wife or mother might not have heard; I never heard him speak evil of any man.” Take him when stricken down by an assassin, hear him say: “Let no man harm him; let the law take its course; good-bye to all; God’s will be done,” and in his last conscious moments chanting “Nearer my God to Thee,” and you have one of the most touching stories of this old world. All honor to our martyred president, William McKinley.
What a shame that in a land whose constitution guarantees life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to the humblest citizen, the life of its chief executive is not safe, though guarded by detectives and surrounded by devoted friends. Until the country is rid of organized anarchy it would be well to abandon free-for-all hand-shaking.
When Senator Hoar made his speech in the United States Senate against anarchy he said: “It would be well if the nations of the earth would combine together, purchase an island in the sea, place all anarchists on that island, and let them run a government of their own.” An Irishman said: “I’m not in favor of any sich thing; I am in favor of gathering thim up all right, takin’ thim out in the middle of the ocean, dumpin’ them out, and letin’ thim find their own island.”
Out of the personal liberty league, which is but another form of anarchy, came the man who in an address a few years ago said: “This republic is our hunting ground and the American Sabbath shall be our hunting day. Down with the American Sabbath!”
It has been well said: “The Sabbath is the window of our week, the sky-light of our souls, opened by divine law and love, up through the murk and cloud and turmoil of earthly life to the divine life above.” Whoever would destroy the Sabbath day is undermining the republic, and any man who does not like the restrictions of our Sabbath, can find a vessel leaving our ports about every day in the year. He can take passage any day he chooses, and as the vessel steams out we can afford to sing, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.”
Another move of the searchlight and we have The Expansion Problem.
Yonder in the Philippine Islands are seventy different tribes, speaking many languages. How to mold them into one common whole, loyal to one flag is a mighty problem; and yet I am one of those who believe God intends this American republic shall be a standard-bearer of civilization to the darkest corners of the earth. I do not mean by this that I advocate imperialism from the standpoint of wider domain. Indeed I am disposed to dodge the question of imperialism, as I dodged the money question in Colorado when the question was the issue in politics. I gave three addresses for the Boulder, Colorado, Chautauqua when the money question was the all-absorbing one in the west. At the close of my second address I was introduced to the superintendent of the railroad that runs over the Switzerland trail. He said: “I understand your wife is here, and I will be pleased to have you and Mrs. Bain as my guests tomorrow.” I knew that meant a free ride and I accepted. The next morning we were at the station at the appointed hour and after a wonderful ride mid scenic grandeur up to where eagles nest, and blizzards hatch out their young, our host said: “I want you to have the most thrilling ride you ever had, and at the next station be ready to leave the train.” As the brakes gripped the wheels, and the train rested on the eye-brow of the mountain height, we stepped off. A hand car was taken from the baggage car and the train moved on up the trail. While Mrs. Bain was captivated by the mountains, I was looking at that hand car, without any handles on it, a flat truck with four wheels. The superintendent said: “Will you help me lift this on to the track?” I said: “Yes, but what are you going to do with it?” When he said: “Going down the mountain to where we came from,” I said, “What will we hold to?” “To each other,” he replied, and I could see he was enjoying Mrs. Bain’s placidness and my apprehension of trouble ahead.
Determined to sustain Kentucky’s reputation for courage I said no more, but hoped Mrs. Bain would come to my relief since she knew her husband was given to dizziness when riding backwards or swinging round sudden curves. She said: “Isn’t this a grand sight?” I said: “Yes, it’s grand, but we are going down the mountain on this hand car.” “That will be fine,” was all the comfort she gave me.
Though I have traveled close to a million miles behind the iron horse I cannot ride backwards on a railroad train. In that respect I am like the husband who when about to die said to his wife: “I want to make a special request of you, and that is, see that I am buried face down; it always did make me sick to travel backwards.” When a boy I could not swing as could other boys. My head is not level on my shoulders. I have never crossed the ocean and never will. I cannot ride the rolling waves. Some years ago when out on a little coast ride for pleasure, (if that’s what you call it) I said to the captain: “How long till we reach the shore?” When he answered forty minutes, I felt I couldn’t live that long. But I did, and when the boat touched the wharf I felt as the old lady did who landed from her first ocean trip saying: “Thank the Lord, I’m on vice-versa again.”
When Mrs. Bain had seated herself on one side of that hand car I fixed myself on the other, gripping the edge of the car. Off went the brake and we started. In a few minutes I said to myself: “Farewell vain world, I’m going home.” As we ran along the wrinkle of the mountain, and swung out toward the point of a crag with seemingly no way to dodge the mighty abyss below, I was reminded of the preacher’s mistake, when in closing a meeting with the benediction he said: “To Thy name be ascribed all the praises in the world with the end out.” Around frost-filed mountain crags, over spider bridges, through sunless gorges, we went down that mountain like an eagle swooping from a storm. When we reached Boulder, Mrs. Bain jumped from the car like a school-girl and while she was thanking our host, I was thanking kind Providence that we were back in Boulder. On our way to the hotel I said: “Were you not frightened when we started down that mountain?” “Why not at all,” Mrs. Bain replied; “I knew the superintendent would not invite us to take the ride unless it was safe.”
I said: “Well, you had more confidence in him than you have in me. When I call at the door with a new horse in the carriage or phaeton, you won’t get in until you know all about the horse.”
“Yes,” she said, “but I know you.”
I do not regret having had that thrilling experience, but I do feel by that hand car ride, as the Dutchman felt about his twin babies. He said: “I wouldn’t take ten thousand dollars for dot pair of twins, and I wouldn’t give ten cents for another pair.”
That evening I gave my last lecture at Boulder and in closing said: “I suppose you who live mid these mines would like to know how I stand on the money question.” They cheered, showing their desire to know my views on the then popular question, and I proceeded to dodge by saying: “Last evening I stood on yonder veranda watching the sun as it went down over the mountain’s brow, leaving its golden slipper on Flag Staff Peak. Colorado clouds, shell-tinted by the golden glory of the setting sun, were hanging as rich embroideries upon the blue tapestry of the sky, and soon the full moon began to pour its silver on the scene. As I stood gazing at the picture painted by the gold of the sun, and silver of the moon, I felt whatever may have been my views on the money question, the sun’s gold-standard glory, and the moon’s free-silver coinage, as seen from these Colorado Chautauqua grounds make me henceforth a Boulder bi-metalist.”
On leaving the platform an old miner said: “How do you stand on the money question? You got your views so mixed up with the sun and moon I couldn’t understand you.”
So if some one should say to me: “Do you believe in imperialism of humanity:” If asked: “Do you believe in expansion,” my answer is; “I believe in the expansion of human brotherhood.” “I believe there’s a destiny that shapes our ends,” and since the Philippine Islands were pitched into our lap in a night, it may be it was done that the home, the church and the school might have a chance under civil liberty in the Philippine Islands. With boundless resources and immense means, are linked great responsibilities, and we who live in freedom’s land, and humanity’s century, are under obligations to help carry the light of Christian civilization to the darkest corners of the earth.
Along with the Christian missionary goes that other “pathfinder of civilization,” the commercial traveler, who is known as the “evangel of peaceful exchange” that makes the whole world kin. When the Filipinos are fit for self-government, let us do as we did Cuba, make them as free as the air they breathe, but keep the key to Manila Bay as our doorway to the Orient; for whatever may be said of the old “Joss House” kingdom with all her superstitions, she possesses today the “greatest combination of natural conditions for industrial activity of any undeveloped part of the globe.” By building the Suez Canal England secured an advantage of three thousand miles, in her oriental trade over the United States. The Panama Canal wipes out this advantage and places the trade of New York a thousand miles nearer than that of Liverpool.
Now let the United States build her own merchant marine, then with her own ships, loaded with her own goods, in her own harbor at Manila, she has easy access to the Orient, with its seven hundred and fifty millions of people, who purchased last year more than a billion and a half dollars worth of the kind of goods we have to sell, and much of it cotton goods, which means future employment for the growing millions of negroes in the South. While it may be best to confine our territorial domain within our ocean ditches, we must encourage commercial expansion, for we have already one hundred millions of people; soon we will have one hundred and fifty millions, and experts tell us when the present century closes there will be three hundred millions in this country. If this republic would build for the future she must strive to create a world-wide business fraternity, through which will go and grow the spirit of the noblest civilization of the world.
Another swing of the searchlight and it falls upon The Labor and Capital Question.
After all the years of education, agitation and legislation, we find capital combining in great corporations on one hand, and labor organizing in great trade unions on the other. Like two great armies they face each other, both determined to win. While capital is expanding on one side, the wants of the laboring classes are expanding on the other. They see excursion trains bound for world’s fairs; they
Over an inn in Ireland hangs a picture representing the “FOUR ALLS;” a king with a scepter in his hand saying, “I rule all;” a soldier with a sword in his hand saying, “I fight for all;” a bishop with a Bible in his hand saying, “I pray for all,” and a working man with a shovel in his hand saying, “I pay for all.”
“God bless them, for their brawny
Have built the glory of all lands;
And richer are their drops of sweat,
Than diamonds in a coronet.”
I must say, however, all the fault for present conditions must not be charged to capital. There are faults within I wish the laboring world would see and correct. I travel the country over and note the men who file in and out the saloons. Are they bankers or leading business men? No, they are laborers from factories, furnaces, fields and work-shops, spending their money for what is worse than nothing and giving it to a business that pays labor less and robs more than any other capitalization in the world.
The New York Sun says: “Every successful man in Wall Street is a total abstainer. He knows he must keep his brain free from alcohol when he enters the Stock Exchange, where his mind goes like a driving wheel from which the belt has slipped.” The laboring man needs brain as clear and nerves as steady as the capitalist if he expects to win in this age of sharp competition.
What the laboring classes in this country spend for liquor in twelve months would purchase five hundred of the average manufactories of the land; what they spend in ten years would purchase five thousand, and what they spend in twenty years would control the entire manufacturing interests of the country.
A few years ago a strike occurred with the Pullman Palace Car Company. What the laboring classes spend for intoxicating liquors in three months would purchase the Pullman Palace Car Company and all its rolling stock. Instead of a strike, in which laboring men are out of work and families suffering for the necessaries of life, why not stop drinking beer and whiskey for ninety days, buy the whole business and let the Pullman Company do something else. How to husband the resources of the poor is far more important than the right use of the fortunes of the rich. There is less danger in the massing of money by the rich than there is in wasting the wages of the working world in saloons.
Now I have already thrown the searchlight upon enough problems for you to realize I have given you an incongruous picture. You must be impressed with the conflicting forces at work upon our republic. Never have we had so many advocates of peaceful arbitration for differences between nations and never such armament for war; never such an accumulation of comforts, never such a multiplication of wants; never so much done to make men honest, never so many thieves. In 1850 seven thousand in our penitentiaries; in 1860 twenty thousand; in 1870 thirty-two thousand; in 1880 fifty-eight thousand; in 1890 eighty-two thousand, and in 1900 one hundred thousand. In London, England, last year with over seven millions of people, twenty-four murders; in Chicago, one hundred and eighteen. There are more murders in this republic than in any civilized land beneath the sky. Yet in face of all these unsettled questions, with advancement along all social, moral, intellectual and religious lines I have faith to believe this twentieth century American citizenship will prove itself sufficiently thoughtful, testful and tactful to deal with all national issues as one by one they come within reach of practical politics, and that this country is big enough, brave enough, wise enough and just enough to solve every problem vexing us today.
Some have not this faith. They see an army of three hundred thousand tramps eating bread by the sweat of other men’s brows; the slums of great cities, cradles of infamy where children are trained to sin; the “fire-damp of combination trusts” stifling the working world; gambling brokers cornering the markets in the necessaries of life; the wages of working girls being such as to lead many from life’s Eden of purity; a great battle on between labor and capital and in this combination of threatening dangers they see the overthrow of free government.
If these pessimists would take a view from the nether standpoint and see what we have come through as a country their fears would be dispelled.
Look backward fifty years from today and see the republic wrapped in the throes of civil strife; the soil of our Southland soaked with blood and tears; the nation overwhelmed with debt; four million negroes turned loose penniless in the South to beg bread at the white man’s door, and he already on “Poverty row;” Abraham Lincoln dead in the White House, shot down by an assassin; the Secretary of War bleeding from three stab wounds the same night; and Columbia reeling on her throne.
Now see the harmonious association of all sections; a firmer establishment of this “government of the people, by the people and for the people” than was ever known. Look over the ocean and see Turkey’s massacre of the Armenians, Russia with her Siberian horrors, Spain with her cruelty to the Moors and Jews; or look closer home over the Mexican border and see the government torn to tatters and public men shot down like dogs. Then turn and note our
I was in New York City for two weeks at the time of the Titanic disaster. On Saturday evening before the ocean tragedy I stood on the elevated at the corner of Thirty-third and Broadway. The “Great White Way” was thronged with pleasure-seekers, crowding their way to theatres and picture shows. It seemed to me I never saw the great city so gay. But, on Monday morning after, there came on ether waves the appalling news that the finest ship in the world had gone down, and sixteen hundred human beings had gone with it. I never witnessed such a transformation. It seemed to me every woman had tears in her eyes, and every man a lump in his throat. Actors played to empty houses that evening; a pall hung over the great Metropolis. But when details came, with them came the triumph of humanity. The rich had died for the poor, the strong had died for the weak.
John Jacob Astor had turned away from his fine mansion on Fifth Avenue, his summer home at Newport, his hundred millions of dollars in wealth, and was found spending his last moments saving women and children. All honor to the brave young bridegroom who carried his bride to a life boat, said, “good-bye sweetheart,” kissed her and stepping back went down with the ship. All hail to that loyal loving Hebrew wife and mother, Mrs. Straus, who holding to her husband’s arm said: “I would rather die with you than live without you.” Like Ruth of old, she said: “Where thou goest, I will go; where thou diest I will die, and there will I be buried.” There side by side at the ocean gateway to eternity these old lovers went down together.
Ah! this republic will never perish while we have such manhood and womanhood to live and die for its honor.
It has been said: “We live in a materialistic age; that all human activities are born of selfishness; that manhood is dying out of the world.” All over the land at midnight, men lean from the saddles of iron horses, peering down the railroad track, ready to die if need be for the safety of those entrusted to their care. Firemen will climb ladders tonight and their souls will go up in flames, like Jim Bludsoe’s, to save the lives of imperiled women and children.
Look at the orchestra on board the Titanic. When the supreme moment of danger came, they rushed to the deck, not to put on life belts, not to get into lifeboats but to form in order, and send out over the icy ocean, the music of the sweet song, “Nearer, my God, to Thee.” When the ship lifted at one end and started on its headlong dive of twenty-seven hundred fathoms to the depths of the salty sea, those brave men, without a discordant note, sent out the sweet refrain;
“Now let the way appear
Steps unto Heaven;
All that Thou sendest me,
In mercy given;
Angels to beckon me,
Nearer, my God to thee;
Near to Thee.”
May we not hope those brave musicians and those who died that others might live, “On joyful wings cleaving the sky,” ocean and icebergs forgot did upward fly, and on their flight to the spirit world continued the song, “Nearer, my God, to Thee.”
Manhood is not dying out of the world.
Students of history are asking, “Will the fate of Rome be repeated in the history of this republic?” The answer is, we have saving influences in this republic Rome never knew. Rome never had an asylum for her blind or insane; she never had a home for widows and orphans; her “golden house” of Nero never had an equal, but nowhere in her dusty highways could be found footprints of mercy. In Rome the soldier was the cohesive power, while socially everything was isolated. In this republic there is an interlacing and binding together in bonds of human brotherhood. A Methodist here bound to Methodists everywhere, Presbyterian to Presbyterian, Baptist to Baptist, Disciple to Disciple, Lutheran to Lutheran, Catholic to Catholic, Masons, Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias, Red Men, Maccabees, Woodmen, Christian Endeavor Societies, Epworth Leagues, Y.M.C.A.’s, W.C.T.U.’s, and many other fraternities, making up an interdependent, together-woven, God-allied and God-saving influence ancient empires never dreamt of. These are the moral lightning rods that avert from this republic the wrath of God.
Am I putting too much stress upon the humanity side of national life? Do you tell me money is the great question of this country, tariff the great question? Bring me the Bible and what do I find? Only a very few pages given to the creation of the material universe, with all its gold and silver, suns and systems, but I find page after page, chapter after chapter, and book after book, given to the healing of the lame, the halt and the blind, teaching a kindred spirit of sympathy to meet the common woes of humanity.
What I am about to say may seem more like sermon than lecture, but I believe it will be the best thing I have said when the lecture closes. In the formula of human touch, laid down in the life of Jesus of Nazareth, there is more saving influence for national endurance than in all the wealth of our country’s treasury.
From the time His beautiful mother wrapped Him in coarse linen, and cradled Him on cattle straw in that Bethlehem barn, on up to His death on the cross, He was ever touching the masses, healing their diseases, soothing their sorrows and teaching the lesson, “the more humanity you place at the bottom the better citizenship you will have at the top.” In the golden rule of this human touch lies the hope of this home of the free.
A little boy boarded a car in New York City. A few feet from him sat a finely-dressed lady and as the boy stared at her, he moved nearer and nearer until he was close beside her.
“What do you mean by getting so close to me? Don’t you see you have put mud on my dress from your shoes? Move away,” said the lady.
The little urchin replied: “I’m so sorry I got mud on your dress; I didn’t mean to do it.”
“Where are you going, all by your little self, anyway?”
“I’m going to my aunt’s where I live.”
“Have you no mother?”
“No mam; she died four weeks ago. I ain’t got any mother now, and that’s why I was settin’ up close to you to make believe you wuz my mother. I’m sorry ’bout the mud, you’ll ’scuse me, won’t you, good lady?”
The woman extending her hand said: “Yes I will; come here,” and soon her arm was about him, and tears in her eyes, and the boy could have wiped his feet on any dress in that car without rebuke. We want more of human touch in national and individual life.
A tramp called at a fine home for his supper. The owner said: “You can have something to eat provided you do some work beforehand.”
“What can I do,” asked the “hobo.”
A set of harness was given him to clean. The gentleman went to his supper, and soon after a blue-eyed, golden-haired girl of four years came out, and approaching the tramp, said: “Good evening, sir. Is you got a little girl like me?”
“No, I am all alone in the world.”
“Ain’t you got no mama and papa?”
“No, they died a long time ago,” and the tramp wiped away a tear as memory came rolling up from out the hallowed past.
“Oh! I’m so sorry for you, ’cause I have a home and papa and mama.”
The man of the house came out, and looking at the harness said: “That’s a good job; you must have done that work before. Come in and you shall have a good supper.”
The little tot ran around to the front gate, where a pair of horses, hitched to a carriage, waited to take the family on a drive. The tramp finished his supper and passing out, the little one in the carriage said: “Good-bye, mister. When you want supper again you come and see us, won’t you;” and turning to the driver she said: “He ain’t got no papa, nor mama, no little girl and no home.”
The tramp, who heard these words taking off his old hat bowed low to the little one who had spoken the kind words.
A few minutes later while standing on a street corner, wondering where he could spend the night, some one shouted, “Horses running away!” The driver had left the team and the horses started with the little girl alone in the carriage, screaming for help. Men ran out but the mad horses cleared the track. The tramp fixed himself, and as the team swept by, he gave a bound and caught the bit of the nearest horse. The horses reared and plunged but the tramp held on, until he swerved them to the sidewalk. As the near horse struck the curb he fell and the tramp was crushed beneath the horse. A physician came and as he bent over to examine the heart, the tramp said: “Was the little one saved?”
The child was brought and as her sweet blue eyes tenderly looked at the face of the dying man he smiled, and then the spirit took its flight, to where He who died to save the world, looked with compassion upon the tramp who gave his life for “one of these little ones.”
Oh, the beauty and power of human touch!
The Panama Canal is considered the glory crowning achievement of this century; but the building of a highway of sympathy over which to send help to the hopeless is a far greater achievement. If this republic is to endure with the stars; if it is to go down the ages like a broadening colonade of light, and stand in steady splendor at the height of the world’s civilization; it will not be because of its money standard, its tariff or expansion policy, but because the heart-beat of human brotherhood sends the blood of a common father bounding through the veins of the concentrated whole of humanity, binding high and low, rich and poor, weak and strong together.
“Work brothers; sisters work; work
hand and brain,
We’ll win the golden age again;
And love’s millennial morn shall rise
In happy hearts and blessed eyes.
We will, we will, brave champions be
In this the lordlier chivalry.”
OUR COUNTRY, OUR HOMES AND OUR DUTY. A PLEA FOR THE HOME AGAINST THE SALOON.
The sweetest word in the language we speak is home. No matter in what clime or country, whether where sunbeams dance and play or frost fiend rules the air, there’s no place like home. At the World’s Fair in Chicago I visited the Eskimo village. To a woman who could speak English I said: “How do you like this country?”
“Beautiful, beautiful country. Oh, the flowers, the green grass, the lovely homes!” was her reply.
But when I ventured to ask: “Will you remain here after the fair and not return to your land of ice and snow,” she shook her head and said: “No, I want to go home. I am so homesick.”
“Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.” In Lexington, Kentucky, there is a modest looking house, nestled mid linden and locust trees. Visitors who pass in quest of historic spots about the far-famed city, seldom give even a glance at that humble abode. Yet when I am far away, whether in the wonderful west with its scenic grandeur, or in the east surrounded by mansions of millionaires, my heart goes back in memory’s aeroplane to the old Blue Grass town, where six generations of my family sleep, the dearest spot on earth to me—“home, sweet home.” When years ago I was nearing the end of a three months’ lecture tour in California, a friend invited me to join him on a visit to Yosemite Valley, saying: “You will see the grandest scenery and biggest trees in the world.” My reply was: “I thank you very much, but my engagements in the golden west close on the eighth and I will start east on the ninth; my old Kentucky home is grander to me than Yosemite Valley and my baby bigger than any tree in California.”
Someone has said the nearest spot to heaven in this world is a happy home, where the parents are young and the children small. I don’t know about that. It seems to me a little nearer heaven is the home where husband and wife have lived long together, where children honor parents and parents honor God; where the aged wife can look her husband in the face and give him the sentiment of the dame of John Anderson:
“John Anderson, my jo John,
When we were first acquent;
Your locks were like the raven,
Your bonnie brow was brent;
But now your brow is beld, John,
Your locks are like the snaw;
But blessings on your frosty pow,
John Anderson, my jo.
“John Anderson, my jo, John,
We clamb the hill thegither;
And mony a cantie day, John,
We’ve had wi’ one anither:
Now we maun totter down, John,
And hand in hand we’ll go,
And sleep thegither at the foot,
John Anderson, my jo.”
James A. Garfield said: “It’s by the fireside, where calm thoughts inspired by love of home and love of country, the history of the past, the hope of the future, God works out the destiny of this republic.”
A Spartan general pointing to his army said: “There stand the walls of Sparta and every man’s a brick.” Can I not point to the homes of our country and say: “There stand the walls of this republic and every home’s a brick.” Suppose a battery, planted on some eminence outside this city, were to send a shell through some building every hour; how long until your beautiful city would be one of crumbling walls and flying population? On yonder heights of law are planted two hundred thousand rum batteries, sending shells of destruction through the homes of the people and every day hundreds of homes are knocked out of the walls of the republic.
Do you realize what it means when an American home is destroyed by drink? Some years ago on Sunday afternoon I visited an eastern penitentiary by invitation of the chaplain. Passing a row of cells my attention was called to a man whose face bore the marks of intelligence and refinement. The chaplain said: “That man is an ideal prisoner and a born gentleman, though here for life. He is the graduate of an eastern college. He married an accomplished young woman. In social life he was led into the drink habit, and it grew upon him until at times he became intoxicated. When under the influence of liquor his reason was dethroned, and one night in a brawl he killed a man. He was given a life sentence. Asking permission to speak he said: ’I have no complaint to make of the verdict, but beg the privilege of saying, God who knows the secrets of all hearts, knows I am not a murderer at heart, for I don’t know how nor when I killed my friend.’ A few days after he entered this prison his wife came to visit him. She had with her a sweet little golden-haired child. As he entered the office in his striped
This is but one of the thousands of homes destroyed every year by the drink curse. If I could draw aside the veil and let you look into the desolate homes of your own city tonight, you would feel Ex-Governor Hanley of Indiana did not give an overwrought picture when he said: “Personally, I have seen so much physical ruin, mental blight and moral corruption from strong drink that I hate the traffic. I hate it for its arrogance; I hate it for its hypocrisy; I hate it for its greed and avarice; I hate it for its domination in politics; I hate it for its disregard of law; I hate it for the load it straps on labor’s back; I hate it for the wounds it has given to genius, for the human wrecks it has wrought, for the alms-houses it has peopled, for the prisons it has filled, for the crimes it has committed, the homes it has destroyed, the hearts it has broken, the malice it has planted in the hearts of men, and the dead sea fruit with which it starves immortal souls.” With proof of the truth of this phillipic on every hand, it is a strange anomaly in our government that the degrading influence of the saloon is linked by law to the elevating influence of school, church and home.
When Jesus was on earth He came to a fig tree, dressed in rich leaves but barren of fruit; it was in fig season but the tree had only leaves. We read that Jesus cursed the tree and it withered. We have in this country a upas tree named the liquor traffic. It is not a barren tree, but far worse than barren. Its branches bend with the weight of its fruit, but not a pint, nor a quart, nor gallon, nor barrel from its boughs ever benefited a single mortal by its use as a beverage. Its leaves drip with poison and the bones of its dead victims would build a pyramid as high as Appenines piled on the Alps. Jesus withered the tree that produced nothing. We license and cultivate the tree whose fruitage the Bible compares to the bite of a serpent, the sting of an adder and the poison of asps.
In the earlier days of the temperance movement, when we discussed the question along moral lines, the license advocates made it an economic question, but since the commercial world is fast becoming a great temperance league, and great industries are blacklisting the saloon as an enemy of legitimate business, the liquor advocates are taking refuge behind the Bible, and claiming that He who cursed the tree that was barren, planted the one whose root and heart, bark and branches are poisoning the blood of the nation. They pervert scripture, take isolated passages and present an ominum gatherum of quotations to prove the Bible indorses the use of strong drink. By the same process I can prove one of these Bible license scholars should hang himself and be in haste about it. I read on one page of the Bible, “Judas went out and hanged himself.” On another page I read, “Go thou and do likewise.” And on another, “Whatsoever thou doest, do it quickly.”
Against these sacrilegious uses of scripture, I place the estimate of the fruit of this upas tree from one whose words are unmistakable, and whose wisdom none can question. Solomon said: “Wine is a mocker.” Was there ever a word of more weight in its application? When a boy in school nothing so vexed me and made me want to fight, as for a boy to mock me. I remember when one of the prettiest girls in school made faces at me and mocked me; from that hour I could never see any beauty in that girl’s face, nor have I quite forgiven her to this day. When the Jews wanted to heap the greatest indignity possible upon Jesus, when they had driven the nails in His hands, pierced His side, placed the crown of thorns upon His head and pressed the bitter cup to His lips, they stood off and mocked Him.
Is wine a mocker? Did Solomon know what he was talking about when he gave it that detestable name? He added still another word and called it a deceiver. Does it deceive and mock? It meets a young man at a social feast, garlands itself with the graces of hospitality, sparkles in the brilliant jewels of fashion, smiles through the faces of female beauty, furnishes inspiration for the dance and mingles with music, mirth and hilarity. Gently it takes the young man by the hand, leads him down the green, flowery sward of license, filled with the rich aroma of the wild flowers of life. When it has firmly fixed itself in his appetite, it begins to strip him of his manhood as hail strips the trees, and when, with will-power gone, nerves shattered, eyes bleared and face bloated, he stands with the last vestige of manly beauty swept from the shattered temple of the soul, it stands off and mocks him. It goes to a home, tramples upon the pure unselfish love of a wife, enthrones the shadow of a drunkard’s poverty upon the hearth-stone, makes the empty cupboard echo the wail of hungry children for bread, with its bloody talons marks the door lintels with the death sentence of an immortal soul, and then stands off and mocks the home. It goes to the Congress of the United States and says: “Put upon me the harness of taxation and I’ll pull you out of the mire of national debt, and make the administration of the party in power a financial success.” Then with a government permit, it proceeds to take out of the pockets of the people five times as much as it pays the government; creates three-fourths of the country’s crimes, four-fifths of its pauperism, sixty per cent. of its divorces, dooms to poverty and shame a great army of children, blights rosebuds of beauty on cheeks of innocence, shatters oaks of manhood, leaves its polluting taint upon all that it touches, and then stands off and mocks the republic. Was there ever more meaning condensed into one brief utterance than in Solomon’s warning, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging, and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise?” Is it wisdom in this republic to deliberately, for revenue, set in motion causes that neutralize its progress, waste its forces and destroy the fireside nurseries of the nation’s destiny?
If I were an artist I would now place before you a picture of an ideal American home. I would not make it the fine mansion on the avenue, nor would I make it “the old log cabin in the lane.” I would make it a neat country home with garden of flowers, orchard of fruits, a barn lot with bubbling spring and laughing brook. In the door of this home I would place an American mother with the youngest of four children in her arms; the oldest son driving his tired team to the barn, the second one the cows to the cupping, the daughter spreading the cloth for tea, and the head of the house sinking the iron-bound bucket in the well for a draught of cold water when day’s work for loved ones is o’er. Approaching the door a commission appointed by Congress on political economy lift their hats as the spokesman says: “Madam, are you mistress of this mansion?”
“I am the wife and mother of this humble home, gentlemen; the man at the well is my husband.”
“Madam, we are commissioned by Congress to investigate the home life of the country and would like to learn what this home is doing for the republic.”
“Come in, gentlemen, and be seated, while I call my husband. We feel honored by your visit and would be pleased to have you take tea with us.”
The invitation is readily accepted and after a good country supper the investigation proceeds. In answer to the question as to the relation of the home to the welfare of the republic, the head of the house says: “Gentlemen, we are trying to keep our home pure; it is our purpose to make our boys patriotic American citizens and our daughters true American women. We love God and endeavor to keep His commandments, and this is about all I can say about our home.”
“That is well so far, but may we ask what sacrifice would this home be willing to make for the republic if its flag were in peril?”
The wife exclaims: “You alarm us by your question. Is our country in danger?”
“Yes, madam. The combined forces of the Old World are nearing our shores and the republic is in peril.”
“Wait, gentlemen, until we talk it over.”
The family retires for consultation and soon the mother appears, and with tears in her eyes says: “Gentlemen, we’ve decided. Take our oldest boy, who is eager to go. Take him to the battlefield; if he falls in defense of his country’s flag, come back, we’ll kiss the second one and tell him, ‘go fill your brother’s place.’ Gentlemen, we love our country next to our God and this home is pledged to this country’s honor.”
I say, any country that has such mothers for its patriotism, such guardians for its homes, should protect these homes and mothers with all the power of police, all the majesty of law, and any evil that attempts to destroy these homes ought not to be licensed, but should be buried as the old Scotch woman would bury the devil—with “face down, so the more he scratched the deeper he would go.”
I am sick of the hollow sentiment, “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world,” insofar as it relates to the drink problem. If the hand that rocks the cradle did rule the world, there would not be two hundred thousand rum-fiend vultures soaring over the cradle homes of our country today. If a mother could keep her boy in the cradle she might rule the world, but the trouble is, the boy gets too big for the cradle and jumps out. In the cradle he’s mama’s child, coos if mama coos, and laughs when mama laughs; but out of the cradle he’s papa’s boy, swears if papa swears, smokes if papa smokes, drinks if papa drinks. If papa does none of these things, then the world, ruled by hands that don’t rock cradles, steps in with licensed schools of vice to teach him to drink.
When General Grant was President of the United States he appointed an old colored man mail-carrier over a route in the mountains of Virginia. One day, when in a lonely spot, two robbers faced the negro and demanded the mail. The old man, lifting himself in his saddle said:
“Gentlemen, I is de mail-carrier of de United States; you touch dis darkey and you’ll have de whole army of dis government on you in twenty fo’ hours.”
Blessed will be the day when every mother in our land can say to the saloon: “You touch my home and you’ll have the police power of this republic on your heels in twenty-four hours.”
But, who is the government? We are told that in the early history of this country, a country magistrate rode horseback from Maryland to Washington to consult the government. Going to the White House he was informed the government was not there. At the Capitol he was informed the people are the government. He returned home, called the voters of his county to a meeting in the courthouse and said: “Gentlemen, I have a very important question I want to present to the government.” So I desire to talk to the government, you voters who are to decide the policy of this republic regarding the liquor traffic.
An Irishman brought before the court for an assault upon a saloon keeper was questioned by the judge, who said: “Mr. Dolan, what have you to say; are you guilty or innocent of the charge made against you?”
The Irishman replied: “By me soul, judge, I couldn’t tell ye. I was blind, stavin’ drunk on the manest whiskey ye iver tasted, yer honor.”
“I do not use whiskey of any kind,” said the judge.
“Ye don’t. Thin I don’t think ye are doin’ yer duty by such constituents as meself. Ye license men to sell the stuff; ye ought to taste the stuff ye license men to sell, thin ye would know how it makes a gintlemen behave himself.”
The judge rapped for order in the court and repeated the question, “Are you guilty or innocent of the charge?”
“Judge, I’ll state the case and let yer honor decide for me, which ye are hired to do anyway. I was standin’ by the corner of the strate on me way home from work, when I spied the bottles in the window of the saloon. The sight of thim bottles made me thirsty, so I wint in and took a drink. Jist thin three other thirsty ones came in and I took a drink with thim; thin they took a drink with me and we kept on drinkin’ till we thought we were back in auld Ireland at Donnybrook Fair. Whenever we saw a head we struck it and I suppose this gintlemin’s head came my way. Now here’s the case, judge. If I hadn’t taken the whiskey, I wouldn’t a been in the row, for I’m always paceable whin sober; if the saloon hadn’t been there I wouldn’t have taken the whiskey; and if the Court hadn’t licensed the saloon it wouldn’t have been there. Ye can take the case, sir.”
What makes the drunkard? The drink. What supplies the drink? The saloon. What makes the saloon? The law. Who makes the law? The legislator. Who makes the legislator? The voter. It’s the “House that Jack built,” only I will change the verbage a little. Intemperance is the fire the devil built. Strong drink is the fuel that feeds the fire the devil built. Distilleries, breweries and saloons are the axes that cut the fuel that feeds the fire the devil built. License laws are molds that cast the axes, that cut the fuel that feeds the fire the devil built. License voters and legislators are the patentees who invented the molds that cast the axes that cut the fuel that feeds the fire the devil built. Prohibition ballots are the sledge hammers destined to destroy the molds that cast the axes that cut the fuel that feeds the fire the devil built.
There is a chain of responsibility running through the drink question which many good men fail to recognize. You know a chain is made up of links welded together. The drunkard is only one link; he is not a chain. When you link him to the drink then you begin the chain; the drunkard comes from the drink. That is not all of the chain however; the drink is linked to the saloon. If you have the saloon, you have the drink, you have the drunkard. This is not all of the chain; you have the license law. If you have the license law, you have the saloon, you have the drink, you have the drunkard. There is yet another link; the license law is linked to the license voter. The drunkard comes from the drink, the drink comes from the saloon, the saloon from the law, and law from the license voter. Who are the license voters? Many of them are Christian men on their way to heaven; but the trouble with them is the other end of the chain is going another road. “No drunkard can enter the kingdom of heaven.”
I know it is a common remark that this is a free country, and if a man chooses to drink, let him do so and take the consequences. If one could take alone the consequences of his sin there might be some claim to personal liberty. But when a man’s liberty involves another life the scene changes. A young man may commit a sin in social life and by reform be forgiven, but when that other life involved in his sin, is seen in after years, walking the streets in painted shame, reproducing the consequences of that man’s sin, memory and conscience will combine to give him waking hours while the world sleeps. A man may never enter a saloon, never take a drink of intoxicating liquor, but if he votes for the saloon his life becomes involved in the consequences of the saloon. What are the consequences? Here is a sample. After a three days’ blizzard in one of our large cities a reformer visited a morgue and seeing a large clothes-hamper full of dead babies he said: “What does this mean?”
The reply came: “They were gathered from the drunkards’ hovels of the city this morning.”
The visitor tells us: “Their bodies were frozen, and several arms were sticking up out of the basket as if reaching out after life and love.”
The streets of our city slums are rivers along whose shores at midnight can be heard the death gurgle of helpless little ones, while poverty’s row is full of children cursed by inheritance, who are not living but merely existing by scraping the moss of bare subsistence from empty buckets in wells of poverty; and the air is freighted with oaths and obscenities from demonized men and demi-monde women who pour the poison of their blood into the social life of city slums.
I was both grieved and amazed when I read from the pen of a brilliant Kentucky editor an editorial denouncing as tyrannical a sumptuary law that “denies to a citizen the right to order his home, his meat, his drink, his clothing, according to his conscience.” I wonder if the great editor ever considered the sumptuary law of the saloon. Every woman who fills the holy office of wife and mother has a right to a home. The sumptuary law of the saloon says to hundreds of thousands of such women: “You shall not have a home; you shall live in a hovel. You shall not order your home, your food, your drink, your clothing, according to your conscience, but according to the best interest of the saloon these comforts shall be ordered. You shall work all day in the harness of oppression and when night comes instead of restful sleep, you shall watch the stars out and wait the return of husband and sons.” What about this inhuman denial of the right to order meat, drink, clothing and home life? Such is the sumptuary law of the saloon.
Every child in this country has a right to an education and a chance in the world. The saloons say to hosts of children: “You shall have neither education nor opportunity. You shall go to the streets and sweat-shops to earn bread. You shall live in ignorance and mid evil environment that we may gather in the wages of your fathers.” How does this sumptuary law of the saloon compare with a sumptuary law that forbids the sale of what is of no earthly or eternal benefit to any one who uses it.
The same distinguished editor said: “When women gather around voting booths on election days with sandwiches and coffee, they present an indecent spectacle to the public.” The man who goes with gun in hand and shoots down another in defense of his country is a hero. The mother lion or bear that defies the hunter’s bullets and dies in defense of her young we can but respect; but when woman, who has suffered so long in silence, goes near where the welfare of her home is at stake and out of the sore, sad sorrow of her heart appeals to men for protection to her home from the ravages of the saloon, she is not paid the respect given to a mother hen or bird or bear by the advocate of the liquor traffic. When the niece of Cardinal Richelieu was demanded by a licentious king, the Cardinal said: “Around her form I draw the awful circle of our kingly church; set a foot within and on thy head, aye, though it wear a crown, shall fall the curse of Rome.” Shall the crown of gold on the distiller’s and brewer’s brow hush into silence the lion-hearted manhood of our republic when its sons and daughters are demanded to feed the maw of the liquor traffic?
One of the famous pictures of the masters is of a woman bound fast to a pillar within the tide-mark of the ocean. The waves are curling about her feet. A ship is passing under full sail but no one seems to see or heed the woman in peril. Birds of prey hover above her, but she sees neither bird, nor ship, nor sea; knowing her doom is sealed, she lifts her eyes to heaven and prays. This picture represents thousands of women tied fast to their doom within the tide-waves of the ocean of intemperance. The ship of state passes by, bearing its share of the ill-gotten gains of the liquor traffic, but heeds not the moans and cries of struggling, strangling, dying woman. Oliver Cromwell said: “It is relative misgovernment that lashes nations into fury.” The long suffering in silence by the womanhood of this country from the misgovernment that has heaped upon woman the woes of strong drink by the licensed saloon, whether a tribute to the patience of woman or not, is to the eternal shame of man, whose inhumanity to woman through the liquor traffic is making “countless millions mourn.”
To this misgovernment is due the unrest among women and the impetus behind the equal suffrage movement today. There needs to be a saving influence brought into our political life, and I have faith to believe that woman’s ballot will provide that influence. Having proved her dignity in every new field of activity she has entered, I believe the same flowers of refinement will adorn the ballot box when she holds in her hand the sacred trust of franchise. Her life-long habit of house-cleaning will be carried to the dirty pool of politics, where the saloon is entrenched, and the demagogue and demijohn will be carted away to the garbage pile of discarded rubbish.
Now and then I am asked: “What will become of the men who are engaged in the liquor business if the country goes dry? What will become of their families?” I answer by asking: What becomes of the men the saloons put out of business? What becomes of their families? When prohibition puts a man out of business, it leaves him his brain, blood, bone, muscle, nerves and whatever manhood he has left in store, while his long rest from active toil has given him a reserve force for active, useful business. When the saloon puts a man out of business, he goes out with shattered nerves, weak will, poisoned blood and so unfitted for service no place is open for him to earn a living. Recently a man put out of business by prohibition said to me: “This town went dry seven years ago, and going out of the saloon business has been such a benefit to me and to my family, I shall work and vote to put all other saloon-keepers in this state out of business for their own good.”
On the other hand, I have in mind a man who once chained the Congress of the United States by his eloquence. Clients clamored for his service, and prosperity crowned his practice in the courts. In drinking saloons he lost his clientage and in penniless poverty he died—unwept, unhonored, unsung. The ex-saloon-keeper to whom I referred is city marshall and very popular, while the man put out of business by the saloon has no chance:
“Where he goes and how he fares,
Nobody knows and nobody cares.”
Along with the question of what will become of the men put out of business by prohibition, comes the question, what will the farmers do with their corn if distilleries are closed? Less consumption of whiskey means more consumption of cornbread and that means more corn. Less consumption of whiskey means greater consumption of bacon, and more bacon means more corn to feed hogs. When a liquor advocate said to an audience of farmers: “If this state goes dry what will you farmers do with your corn,” an old, level-headed farmer shouted: “We’ll raise more hogs and less hell.”
Prohibition means more of everything good, and less of everything bad; more manhood, less meanness; more gain, less groans; more bread, less brawls; more clothing, less cussedness; less heartaches and more happiness. Turn saloons into bake shops and butcher stalls, distilleries into food factories, breweries into stock pens, and the country will be a thousandfold better off than feeding its finances by starving its morality.
This question lifts itself head and shoulders above every other question touching practical politics today. You nowhere read of a nation going to destruction because of too much gold or too little silver, too much tariff or too little tariff, but always because of the vices of its people. The nation that bases perpetuity upon moral character will endure with the stars, while walls thick and high as Babylon’s will not save a drunken republic.
“Vain mightiest fleets of iron found,
Vain all her conquering guns,
Unless Columbia keeps unstained
The true hearts of her sons.”
Beautiful Constance of France was dressing for a court ball. While standing before a mirror, clasping a necklace of pearls, a spark from the fireplace caught in the folds of her gown. Absorbed in her attire, she did not detect the danger until a blaze started. Soon, rolling on the floor in flames, she burned to death. When the news reached the ballroom the music hushed, the dance halted, and “Poor Constance! Poor Constance!” went from lip to lip, but soon the music started and the dance went on. While I am talking now the youth, beauty and sweetness of American life is in peril from the flames that are kindled by the licensed saloon. From an inward fire men are being consumed and homes destroyed. Will we say, “Poor Columbia!” and keep step to the mocker’s march to the nation’s death; or will we put out every distillery and brewery fire and make this in reality “the land of the free and the home of the brave?”
In the name of all that is pure and true and vital in national life, I plead with every lover of home and country to come to the help of the cause that must succeed if this republic is to live. I plead with Christians in the name of the church, bleeding at every pore because of the curse of drink. If everyone whose name is on a church roll would step out in line of duty on this question, very soon God would stretch out His arm and save this republic from the liquor traffic. God has been ready a long time; His people have not been ready to do their part. Too many Christians are like the horse Sam Jones used to tell of.
He said: “We have a horse in my neighborhood in Georgia, which if hitched to a load of stone or cotton balks and won’t go a step; but in light harness in the shafts of a race cart he will pace a mile in two-thirty. We have too many Christians who are like this horse; they trot out to church Sunday morning, but hitch them to a prayer meeting and they won’t pull a pound.”
Dr. McLeod, the stalwart Scotch preacher, on his way to a session of his church had with him a small hunch-back member of his church, a dwarf in size but an earnest worker. Crossing a certain stream a storm struck the boat and the waves were sending it toward the rocks. A boatman at one end said:
“Let the big preacher pray for us.”
The helmsman at the other end said: “No, let that little fellow pray and the big one take an oar.”
Oliver Cromwell, going through a cathedral, came upon twelve silver statues. Turning to the guide he said: “Who are these?”
The guide replied: “Those are the twelve apostles, life-size and solid silver.”
Cromwell said: “What good are they doing as silver apostles? Melt them down into money and let them be of some service to the country.”
We have too many silver statue church members who need melting down and sending out to help save our republic from the fate of other nations that have perished through their vices. We need more men with moral courage to voice and vote their convictions. When the slavery question was agitating the country Henry Clay stood for a compromise he believed would help to solve the question. Many of his friends in the South censured him, and sent him letters calling him a traitor. He arose in the Senate to speak, it is said, looking pale from the effect of the censure he was then receiving day by day. Addressing the Senate he said: “I suppose what I shall say in this address will cost me many dear friends.” A reporter said: “He hesitated as if choked with emotion at the thought of losing his friends.” Then with the majesty of greatness and magnetism of manner he proceeded, saying: “I am charged with being ambitious. If I had listened to the soft whisperings of ambition I would have stood still, gazed upon the raging storm and let the ship of state drift on with the winds. I seek no office at the cost of courage or conviction. Pass this bill. Restore affection to the states of this Union and I will go back to my Ashland home; there in its groves, on its lawns, ’mid my flocks and herds, and in the bosom of my family, I will find a sincerity I have not found in the public walks of life. Yes, I am ambitious, but my ambition is that I may become the humble instrument in the hands of God, in restoring harmony to a distracted nation, and behold the glorious spectacle of a true, united happy and prosperous people.”
There is a grandeur in the mountain that lifts itself above the hamlets at its base, and bearing its brow to the threatening storm clouds says to the forked lightning, “Strike me!” but grander is the man who can stand ’mid the allurements of the world’s honors and say: “I would rather be right than President.” Dare to do right and what you do will have its reward.
“Shamgar, what’s that in thy hand?”
“Only an ox-goad.”
“Come dedicate it to God, and go slay those Philistines.”
“David, what’s that in thy hand?”
“Only a sling and a little stone from the brook.”
“Come dedicate them to God, and go kill the giant.”
“My little lad, what’s that you have?”
“Only five loaves and two little fishes.”
“Come, dedicate them to God; they’ll feed thousands and you will have baskets full left.”
My brother, what’s that in thy hand? Only a little American ballot. Come dedicate it to God and home and native land, go cast it against the licensed liquor traffic and your life will bear fruit which the angels will gather when you have “finished your course” and “kept the faith.”
You are soon to have the local option test in your county. If I could do one thing I could make the victory for the home overwhelming. You know if the saloons continue they will have their victims in the future as they have had in the past. You know too their victims will come from the youth of your county. Those who are victims now will soon be dead bodies, or “dead broke.” The men in the saloon business do not look to men who are drunkards now, for future use nor do they intend to use horses or cattle or dogs, but boys. If I could announce that on the evening before the vote is to be taken I would present to the public the future victims of the saloons in this county. If I had a prophet’s eye and could select these victims, how many homes I would enter where I would not only be an unwelcome but an unexpected visitor. When the hour would arrive for the exhibition, what an audience I would have! Nothing like it ever gathered in this county; from every corner of it parents would come. When placed in line on an elevated platform so all could see, I would speak through a megaphone saying: “I present to you the future victims of the liquor traffic in your county; here are the boys who will be your future drunkards and here are the girls who will be the wives of drunkards.” I imagine some father, who thinks regulation the best policy, would exclaim:
“There’s my boy. I never thought the saloon would take my son. Don’t talk to me about regulation. Come, you fathers whose sons are not here, and help me save my boy.”
Another would press through the crowd to be sure that he was not mistaken and say: “There’s my daughter. I never dreamt she would be a drunkard’s wife. I have said prohibition won’t prohibit, but I will say it no more. Come, good fathers who love your children, and help me save my child.”
This is but the forecast for some parents in this audience. Would it be wrong if I should say: “O God, if the saloons are to continue in this county, if they are to have their victims in the future as in the past, let the fathers who vote the curse on the county furnish the victims.” I do not offer up any such prayer, but I do say: “O God, give to the home the protection of a prohibition law, and may the victims not be anybody’s boy or anybody’s girl. Go out of this hall tonight resolved you will link your faith in principle with your work. Faith and work!”
I like that story of the mother in New England, who on a visit from home, received a message calling her to the bedside of a daughter who was hopelessly ill. Hurrying to the nearest railroad station she said to the conductor: “Sir, do you connect at the junction with the train that will take me to my sick child,” at the same time handing him the message.
“No, madam, we do not run our trains to connect with trains on that road. The train will be gone some little time before we reach the junction.”
“Sir, are you a Christian?”
“No, madam, I’m a railroad conductor.”
“Have you a Christian man with the train?”
“Yes, that man you see oiling the engine claims to be a Christian, and I think he is; you might consult him if you like.”
Going to the engineer she said: “Please read this message and tell me if you can catch that train at the junction.”
The engineer read the message and said: “I’m sorry, madam, but that train goes fifteen minutes before we get there.”
“Please sir, catch that train and let me see my daughter before she dies.”
“I would give a whole month’s wages if I could,” said the tender hearted engineer.
“Then don’t you think God can hold the train fifteen minutes till we get there,” said the distressed mother.
“Oh yes, God can do anything,” was the reply.
“Won’t you ask God to hold that train? And I will ask Him.”
The engineer said: “Yes, I will.”
The mother boarded the train, and on schedule time the engine moved. The engineer took hold of the lever and up with the smoke from the engine went the prayer: “Lord, hold that train fifteen minutes for that good mother.” With this prayer more steam was turned on than usual and at the next station the train was two minutes ahead of time. At the next station two more minutes had been gained. It was in the early days of railroading when rules were not so strict as now; the conductor knew there was nothing in the way, so he concluded to let the Christian engineer have his way. As the train was starting for its third and last run for the junction, the engineer said: “Lord, if you will hold that other train seven and a half minutes, I’ll make up the other seven and a half.”
When the engineer had made up his seven and a half, sure enough there stood the other train. When the engineer said to the conductor: “What are you waiting for,” the reply was: “Something the matter with the engine, but the boys have it fixed now and we’ll go on in a minute.”
“Yes,” said the engineer, “you’ll go on when this godly mother gets on and not before.”
Each one of you do your part, God will do His part, and the end will be victory for “God and home and native land.”
THE NEW WOMAN AND THE OLD MAN.
In the exhibition of fine paintings it is important to have the benefit of proper light and shadow. So it should be in the study of questions. Those who look at the new woman through the distorted lense of false education or prejudice, see the monstrosity such as we have pictured in the public press. They see Dr. Mary Walker, whose dress offends our sense of propriety; they see the ranting woman on the platform, or suffragettes throwing stones through plate-glass windows, and defacing costly specimens of art. These no more represent the genuine new woman I indorse, than does the goggled-eyed, kimbo-armed dandy represent true manhood. Fanaticism marks every new movement, every life has its defect, the sun its spots and the fairest face its freckles.
The new woman is not to be judged by exceptions, nor is she to be measured by the standard of public sentiment. Public sentiment has often condemned the right. It ridiculed Columbus; put Roger Bacon in jail because he discovered the principle of concave and convex glass; condemned Socrates, and jeered Fulton and Morse. It pronounced the making of table forks a mockery of the Creator who gave us fingers to eat with, and broke up a church in Illinois because a woman prayed in prayer meeting.
Hume said: “There is nothing in itself, beautiful or deformed. These attributes arise from the peculiar construction of human sentiment and affection; the attractiveness or repulsiveness of a thing depends very much upon our schooling.”
Prof. John Stuart Blackie wore his hair so long that it almost reached his waist. Seated one day in front of a hotel in London, a bootblack halted before him and said: “Mister, will you have a shine?”
Professor Blackie replied: “No, but if you will go wash that dirty face of yours I will give you the price of a shine.”
The boy went but soon returned with his rosy cheeks cleansed, saying: “Sir, how do you like the job?”
“That’s all right; you have earned your sixpence,” said Prof. Blackie as he held out the coin.
The bootblack turning away said: “I dinna want your sixpence; keep it, old chap, and have yer hair cut.”
The long hair of Professor Blackie was as offensive to the boy as the dirty face of the boy to Professor Blackie. One had been schooled to short-haired men, the other to cleanly children.
I have in my presence now scores of persons, who believe the sale of a negro on the auction block in the South to the domination of a white man was wrong. I did not think so in my youth. My schooling was that Japheth was a white man, Shem a red man and Ham was black; that it was a divine decree that the descendants of Japheth should dwell in the tents of Shem and send for the children of Ham to be their servants, thereby supporting the white man in his dealings with the black and red races. As the Bible was used to justify slavery, so it is quoted today in favor of the liquor traffic, and against the new woman movement. Yet it’s the Bible that has given woman her broader liberty. It was the Bible that broke the chains that harnessed woman to a plow by the side of an ox. In the vision of John, a woman is crowned with stars, the burnt-out moon is her footstool and the wings of a great eagle given to bear her above the floods that would engulf her.
The viewpoint of schooling has much to do with our convictions and prejudices. When the bicycle craze first came upon us, women bicycle clubs were formed throughout the country. Wheels were made specially for woman, and to facilitate the pleasure and comfort, bloomers were worn by women in all our cities. The fat and lean, tall and short, old and young wore bloomers. At that time if a man
The farmer, with eyes fixed upon the new garb, said: “Miss, you’ll have to excuse me. I can’t tell you, for I never saw anything like them before.”
I said our opinions are based upon schooling. Let the man from the dancing community leave Chicago, go back to Kentucky, attend a country ball, see a young woman with low neck dress and short sleeves, in the arms of a man she never met before, and he thinks her the picture of propriety, as well as grace and beauty. Yet the bloomer girl was completely clad from her chin to the soles of her feet while the other is so un-clad that when a woman, now noted for her great work among the unfortunate of New York City, was a society leader, and was passing through her library to her carriage one evening, her little son said: “Mama, you are not going out on the street looking that way, are you? Why, you are scarcely dressed at all.” The mother realizing as never before, the immodesty of her attire, returned to her room, changed her apparel to what met the approval of her boy, and has never since worn a decollete gown.
Let a respectable woman in this town stand on a street corner to-morrow, and utter an oath; she would shock every one within sound of her voice. A man can “cuss” to his satisfaction and, if not a church member, the community is not shocked. Let a young woman seeking a position in a public school in one of our cities, call a member of the school board into a saloon and order beer set up for two; would she get the position? Not much. Not if the community found it out, or the remainder of the board who were slighted. A man can invite a dozen men into a saloon, order drinks for the company, and thereby help to win the position he seeks. In the city where I reside a young man can get drunk and howl like a wolf through the streets, yet if he has wealth and family influence, in ten days he can attend a social gathering of the best society. Let a young woman step aside from the path of right and she is hurled to the depths of the low-land of vices.
Some years ago a young man died in our city whose family name was honored and whose father was wealthy. The young man went the pace that kills and in the very morning of life died a victim to his vices. A long line of carriages followed him to our beautiful cemetery, his pall bearers were from the leading families of the city; flowers covered his grave and the daily papers paid a tribute to the young man cut down before the river of life was half run.
Soon after, a poor girl died in one of the wicked dens of the city. She had been left an orphan in early life without a mother’s love to guard and guide her, she went astray. Two carriages followed her to the stranger’s burying ground. In one were two of her kind; in the other the pastor of the church of which I am a member. He afterward said to me: “We had to get two negro men at work near by to help lower her body into the grave.”
No wonder woman cries out against these standards, these peculiar constructions of human sentiment. Public sentiment demands of a man that he shall be physically brave. If a woman appeals to him for protection, his bosom must heave with courage like the billows of the ocean, though he quake in his boots. Yet the woman he defends will endure pain without a murmur, which would make the man groan for an hour. When my wife is ill it takes about two days to find it out; she does not seem so cheerful the first day, and the second, she will admit she is not so well. Let me get sick, and the whole family will know it in half an hour.
I know a woman will scream if a mouse runs across the floor, but give her a loved one to defend, let supreme danger come and she’s no coward. John Temple Graves tells of a Georgia girl so timid she was afraid to cross the hall at night to mother’s room. She married a worthy young man and by industry and economy they paid for a cottage home. He began to cough, and the hectic flush told his lungs were involved. The doctor advised a change of climate.
“We’ll sell the home,” said the little wife, “and go where the doctor advises, for the home will be nothing to me if you are gone.”
They went to Florida and knowing they must husband their small means, she took in sewing. A few months later the doctor advised a higher altitude. They went to a little city in the Ozark mountains. Here again she plied her needle, wearing upon her face by day a smile to cheer her husband, while at night her pillow was wet with tears as she heard him coughing his life away. After several months she was informed by physicians that but one chance in a hundred remained, and that was still further west.
“I’ll take the hundredth chance,” she said, and on west they went. Soon after, in the far-away city he died; she pawned her wedding ring to make up the price of tickets back to Georgia. There the little widow buried her dead by the side of his mother, and after planting her favorite flowers about the grave, she turned away to face the duties of life, and though a dead wall seemed lifted before her, she met each day with a smile and hid her sorrow beneath the soul’s altar of hope.
Man has won his title to courage upon battlefield, and yet the battlefield is not the place to test true courage.
“The wife who girds her husband’s
’Mid little ones who weep or wonder,
And bravely speaks the cheering word,
E’en though her heart be rent asunder:
Doomed nightly in her dreams to hear
The bolts of death around him rattle,
Hath shed as sacred blood as ere
Was poured upon the field of battle.”
When elbows touch, ten thousand feet keep step together, martial music fills the air, the shout of battle is on, bayonets glitter in the sunlight, the flag flutters in the breeze, and the general commands, men will shout and rush into battle who without these stimulating influences would be going the other way. I remember when a boy how whistling kept up my courage in the dark. It is told of General Zeb Vance of the Confederate army, that while leading his forces across a field into an engagement he met a rabbit going the other way. As the hare dodged around the command, General Vance lifting his hat said: “Go it, Mollie; go it, Mollie Cotton-tail; if I didn’t have a reputation to sustain I would be right there with you.”
For Christine Bradley, the eighteen-year-old daughter of the Governor of Kentucky, to stand on the dock at Newport News, against the customs of centuries and facing the jeers of prejudice, baptize the battleship Kentucky with water, required as blood-born bravery as coursed the veins of the ensign who cut the wires in Cardenas Bay, or the lieutenant who sunk the Merrimac in the entrance to Santiago Harbor. Because she dared to violate a long-established custom by refusing to use what had blighted the hopes of many daughters, sent to drunkards’ graves so many sons, and buried crafts and crews in watery graves, the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union presented her with a handsome silver service. I was chosen to make the presentation speech, which I closed by saying: “Heaven bless Christine Bradley, who by her example said:
I christen thee Kentucky,
With water from the spring,
Which enriched the blood of Lincoln,
Whose praise the sailors sing.
I christen thee Kentucky,
With prayers of woman true,
That wine, the curse of sailors,
May never curse your crew.
I christen thee Kentucky,
And may this christening be,
A lesson of safety ever
To sailors on the sea.”
Now if public sentiment has made such a mistake in the allotment of virtues, why may it not have made a greater mistake in the allotment of spheres? It has been well said: “God made woman a free moral agent, capable of the highest development of brain, heart and conscience; with these are interwoven interests that involve issues for time and eternity, and God expects of woman the best she can do in whatever field she is best fitted for the accomplishment of results for the world’s good.” If a young woman is fitted to preside over a home, and some young man desires to crown her queen of that realm, she can find no higher calling in this world. There is nothing on this earth more like heaven than a happy home. I can give to a young woman no better wish than that the future may find her presiding over a home made beautiful by her character and culture, and safe through her influence.
But if a young woman is qualified like Frances E. Willard to better the world by public life-work, or like Florence Nightingale or Jane Addams to relieve the suffering of thousands, then she should not confine herself to the limited sphere of one household. I believe in the call of capacity for usefulness in both sexes. There are men who are called to be cooks; they know the art of the caterer. There are men fitted to be dressmakers; they know the colors that blend and the styles which give beauty to dress. There are women who are fitted for science, literature and medicine. Some of the best cooks we have are men; some of the best writers and speakers are women. Abraham Lincoln never did more by his proclamation to free the slave, than did Harriet Beecher Stowe with “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” William E. Gladstone never did more to endear himself to the people of Ireland by his advocacy of the home-rule, than has Lady Henry Somerset endeared herself to the common people of the “United Kingdom,” by turning away from the wealth, nobility and aristocracy of England to devote her great heart, gifted brain and abundant means to the elevation of the masses, the reformation of the wayward, and the relief of the poor.
There is a fitness that must not be ignored. Frances E. Willard would never have made a dressmaker. It is said she did not know when her own dress fit, or whether becoming; she depended upon Anna Gordon to decide for her. But by the music of her eloquence and the rhythm of her rhetoric, she could send the truth echoing through the hearts of her hearers like the strain of a sweet melody. Worth, of Paris, France, would not have made an orator, but he could design a robe to please a princess and make a dress to fit “to the queen’s taste.” Then let Worths make dresses, and Frances E. Willards charm the world by their eloquence.
Yonder is a boy. His soul is full of music; his fingers are as much at home on the key-board of a piano as a mocking-bird in its own native orange grove. His sister is a mathematician; she solves a problem in mathematics as easily as her brother plays a piece of music. Because one is a boy and the other a girl, don’t make the girl teach music and the boy mathematics. What God has joined together in fitness, let not false education put asunder.
Recently I read of a man whose father left him a large business. Though an exemplary man he could not make ends meet in a business out of which his father had made a fortune. The man worried himself into nervous prostration. While he remained at home for rest, his wife took charge of the business and made of it a great success. I say let that woman run the business and the man take care of his nerves.
I know a minister who is a good man, but his strength is in his limbs. He’s an athlete, but turn him loose in a field as full of ideas as a clover field of blossoms, and he can’t preach a good sermon. Let Dr. Anna Shaw enter the same field and she will gather blossoms of thought faster than you can store them away in your mind. Some one in my presence may believe the man should keep on preaching and Anna Shaw go to the sewing-room and run a sewing machine; but I say if the man’s strength is in his limbs, and Doctor Shaw’s in her head, let the preacher run the sewing machine and Doctor Shaw preach the gospel of righteousness, temperance and judgment to come. If God fitted Anna Shaw’s brain and tongue for the platform, it would be unwomanly in her to make herself the pedal power of a sewing machine. We want successful, useful men and women; and in fields for which God has fitted woman, don’t be afraid to give her the freest, broadest liberty, or be uneasy about her unsexing herself. She has entered two hundred fields in the last one hundred years. Yes, I guess one more field must be added, for I saw a woman a few years ago in an occupation I had never seen one engaged in before. In a city where I lectured a beautiful, intelligent young lady was running the elevator of a hotel, and I was completely “taken up” by her.
Of all the new fields entered by woman you cannot point to one where she has degraded her womanhood, or one that has not been blessed by the touch of her influence.
It is true there are fanatics among women as there are among men, but if the extreme woman goes too far, the average woman will call a halt every time. Fifteen years ago I could stand on Michigan Avenue, Chicago, in the evening and within a half hour count twenty young women, dressed in bloomers, riding bicycles. Now one may go to Chicago, spend a year and not see one. Woman is safe enough.
Some are uneasy lest woman will go beyond her sphere, but I am not so much disturbed about the future of woman as I am of man. Upon virtue and intelligence depends the future of this republic. Have men all the virtue? Go to the saloons; are they frequented by women? No; men. Go to the gambling halls; are they crowded with women? No; men. Go to the jails and penitentiaries; are they full of women? No; men. Go to the churches; are they crowded with men? No; mostly by women. What about intelligence? Have men all the intelligence? Two girls graduate from high schools to one boy. I am glad to be living now; one hundred years hence, if I were to be born again, I would want to be a girl. Woman goes to the door of death to give life to man and man should be willing to let her seek out her own sphere for usefulness.
Not long since I read a book called “The New Woman.” It was a novel by an Englishman. In it the author takes a beautiful young girl, about eighteen years of age, through a “Gretna-Green” experience with a young man of twenty. She is the daughter of a widow; he, the only son of a wealthy London merchant. They run away and after a month’s search are found by the father of the young man in southern France. The girl is sent home to her mother; the young man sent to India in order to get him far away from his wife. The novelist makes the young man a noble character, who is determined to prove himself worthy of his wife, and he toils to send her means for support. The young wife becomes a mother, and the young husband toils the harder to care for his wife and babe. When time hangs heavy on the hands of the young mother, she is invited to join a woman’s club. Here she imbibes the spirit of the new woman. She soon neglects her child and appears before the public for a lecture. She wears a low neck dress, paints her cheeks, blondines her hair, smokes cigarettes and drinks wine. A millionaire in India, who loses his own son, adopts the hero of the novel, dies and leaves him the great estate. Then the young man hurries back to his wife. He arrives in the evening, but finds she is not at home; she is delivering a lecture in the opera-house. He awaits her return; a storm rages outside; at a late hour she enters the door, throws off her wraps and stands before her husband, with blondined hair, painted cheeks, and eyes red with wine. He stares, then starts toward her, when she brings him to a halt by her strange manner. He asks, “Is not this my wife?” she answers, “No, I am the New Woman.” She refuses to let him see their child, drives him out into the storm, then goes to her room, disrobes and lies down to dream of great audiences and applause.
It is an insult to any intelligent reader. Where is the woman, who was a sweet, modest young mother, and who today is a public speaker, who has neglected her child, driven her husband without cause into the street, blondines her hair, paints her cheeks, drinks wine and smokes cigarettes? She would be hissed from the platform. The author simply shows his extreme prejudice in an abstract attempt to prove that to be a new woman means the surrender of all womanly graces.
Let me give you, not fiction but real history, that I may present to you the kind of new woman I indorse. She was born in the State of New York, was well educated, and at proper age married a young physician. They moved to a western city, where for a while the young physician did well; but in an evil hour he commenced to drink. Like many a noble young man, he was too weak to resist the power of appetite, and soon his practice left him. His wife, the mother of two boys, secured a position in the public schools and by her ability, won her way to a principalship. The husband wandered away, while the brave wife and
In the course of these years she had joined the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and was recognized as one of its greatest leaders.
Several years ago I gave an address in Hot Springs, Ark. A card was presented at my door, which bore the name of the heroine of my story. Going to the parlor I said: “What are you doing here?”
“My boy has been very ill with rheumatism and I have been here with him for several weeks. He is better now and I return to my work tomorrow.”
Months later she was called again to the bedside of this son, and with all the tenderness of mother-love, he was cared for until he too passed over the river. Again she took up her work on the platform, where she inspired many young women to do their best in life, and called many to righteousness. She was the salt of the earth, the embodiment of nobility, the soul of truth; and not only her own state but the whole country is better because she lived.
Ask the author of the novel for the real to his story; he cannot name her; she does not live in England or America. Ask me for mine and I answer Clara C. Hoffman, for years the associate of Frances E. Willard as national officer of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, and state president of the white ribboners of Missouri.
In a magazine article an author said: “Out of one hundred and forty-five graduates of a certain female college, only fifteen have married.” A Chicago editor quoted the statement and asked: “Is it possible education breeds in woman a distaste for matrimony and home life?” In the first place, I would answer: “You never can know how many are going to marry until they are all dead.”
Another explanation is that the average school girl goes out of school at that impulsive age when “love acts independent of all law, and is subject to nothing but its own sweet will,” no matter how many years father has toiled to give her the comforts of life, nor how many sleepless nights mother has spent to give her rest. She meets a young man; he is handsome, dresses well and talks fluently. She falls in love, and sees in “love at first sight,” the “inspiration of all wisdom.” In a week, though she knows nothing of the young man’s character or disposition, she is ready to say to her parents: “I appreciate all you have done for me: I love you devotedly, but I have met such a nice fellow; he has asked me to marry him, and I have accepted; ta-ta!” She’s gone. If her parents ask about the prospect for a living, she answers as did the young girl whose father said: “Mary, are you determined to marry that young man?”
“I am, Father.”
“Why, my child, he has no trade, no money, and very little education; what are you going to do for a living?”
She replied: “Aunt is going to give me a hen for a wedding present. You know, Father, it is said one hen will raise twenty chickens in a season. The second season, twenty each, you see, will be four hundred; the third season, eight thousand; the fourth season, one hundred and sixty thousand; and the fifth season, only five years, twenty each will be three million, two hundred thousand chickens. At twenty-five cents each they will bring eight hundred thousand dollars. We will then let you have money enough to pay off the mortgage on the farm and we will move to the city.”
To a girl in love, every hen egg will hatch; not a chicken will ever die with the gapes; they will all live on love, like herself, and everything will be profit.
The college girl cannot marry at this impulsive, air-castle age. She must wait until she gets through college. By that time she is old enough for her heart to consult her head, and her head inquires into the character and capacity of the young man. Beside this, it has been the custom for women to look up to man, and when the college woman looks up, quite often she doesn’t see anybody. Young man, if you want the college girl you must “get up” in good qualities to where she will see you without looking down.
I believe this higher education for women will tend to arrest the recklessness by which life is linked with life at the marriage altar. There is a legend among the Jews that man and woman were once one being; an angel was sent down from Heaven to cleave them into two. Ever since, each half has been running around looking for the other, and the misfits have been many at the marriage altar.
These misfits remind me of an experience when I lectured for the Colfax, Iowa, Chautauqua, some years ago. Frank Beard, the famous chalk talker, was there and on Grand Army day he was on the program for a short talk. I was seated by Mr. Beard while the speaker who preceded him was telling war stories of his regiment and himself. Frank Beard said to me: “Well! I guess I can exaggerate a little myself.” It was evident he intended to measure up to the occasion. After getting his audience into proper spirit for the manufactured war story, he said:
“I was in the war myself and had a few experiences. At the battle of Shiloh, I was lying behind a log, when I saw about forty Confederates come dashing down toward me. My first impulse was to rise, make a charge and capture the whole forty. But I knew that would not be strategy; generals did not manage a battle that way with such odds against them, so I determined to make a detour. Perhaps some of you young people do not know what a detour means. It means, when in such a position as I was, to get up and go the other way. So I detoured. The chaplain of our regiment detoured also; he could detour
That’s a very absurd story, a rather ridiculous one, but if the surgeon had made the mistake Mr. Beard charged, he would not have made any greater than is made every day at the marriage altar. Young women, I would not silence the love songs in your hopeful hearts, but I would have every betrothed girl demand of her lover not only a loving heart, but a well rounded character and a reasonable store of useful knowledge.
A writer on this question said: “This progress of woman lessens mother love in our country.” Is that true? Before the opening of a southern exposition, a mother of four boys applied for and was engaged as chime bell ringer. Perhaps some saw in the selection a woman as brazen as the bells she would ring. On opening day she played, “He who watches over Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps”; on New York day she played, “Yankee Doodle” and “Hail Columbia;” on Pennsylvania day, “The Star Spangled Banner;” on Kentucky day, “My Old Kentucky Home;” on Maryland day, “Maryland, my Maryland;” on Georgia day, “The Girl I Left Behind Me;” on colored people’s day, the airs of the old plantation; on newsboy’s day, “The Bowery” and “Sunshine of Paradise Alley;” then “Nearer, my God, to Thee,” “Rock of Ages, Cleft For Me,” soothed the tired Christian heart. One afternoon she took two of her boys into the belfry-tower; one seven, the other about three years of age. When they tired of the confinement, the older boy said: “Mother, can we go out for a walk?”
“Yes, son, but don’t let go little brother’s hand.”
She was so absorbed by the music of her bells she did not notice the passing of time until the night shadows began to gather. Then her older boy came running up in the tower crying, “Mother, I’ve lost little brother!”
She quit her bells and running through the grounds set every policeman looking for her boy; then she hurried back to her bells and began to play “Home, Sweet Home.” It is said the bells never rang so clear and sweet. Over and over again she played, “Home, Sweet Home;” some wondered why the tune did not change. At last, while trembling with dread and eyes filled with tears, she heard a sweet voice say, “Mama, I hear de bells and I tome to you.” The mother, turning from the bells, clasped the child to her bosom and thanked God for its safety.
It is said everything is undergoing a constant change, but until the chime bells ring in the eternal morning mother love will live on, the same unchanging devotion. Several years ago I stood on Portland Heights, Oregon, in the evening, and saw Mount Hood in its snow-capped majesty, when the stars seemed to be set as jewels in its crown. If you ask me by what force that giant was lifted from the level of the sea till its dome touched the sky, I cannot answer you, but I know it stands there, a towering sentinel to traveler on land and sailor on the sea. So mother love, which no one can solve, exists as unchanging as the love of God; broad enough and strong enough to meet all the changing conditions of time.
While I did not make this lecture to include the suffrage question, I cannot turn away from the new woman without a word about the ballot for women. It is no longer a question of right, but whether or not men will grant the right. This I believe men will do when the sentiment of women is strong enough to force the issue. “Taxation without representation” is no less a tyranny to women than to men. I was the guest of a wealthy widow, who paid more taxes than any man in the county, yet a foreigner, who had been in this country less than three years, who had not a dollar of property nor a patriotic impulse, laid down the hoe in the garden, and going to the polls, voted additional tax upon the woman he worked for; and the saloon influence upon her two boys, while she had no voice in what taxes her property, or what might tax her heart by the ruin of a son. There being no question about woman’s right to the ballot, there should be no hesitation on man’s part in bestowing the right.
I now turn from the new woman to the old man. I do not mean the man old in years; for him I have only words of honor and praise. I mean the man set in old ways and habits that neutralizes the progress and wastes the forces of the republic. At the door of this old man lie the causes of commercial disturbances, depression in trade and recurring panics more than in the causes stressed by partisans for political effect.
We should never have hard times in this country. We live in the best land beneath the sky. It has been well said: “This is God’s last best effort for man.” We have soil rich enough to grass and grain the world. Our vast domain is inlaid with gold, silver, iron and lead of boundless worth. Deep in the bosom of Columbia are fountains of gas and oil, sufficient to light and heat our homes for a century to come. Within these healthful lines of latitude is room enough not only to house all the peoples of the earth, but to sty all the pigs, stable all the horses, and corral all the cattle of the world.
To have all these gifts crowned with sunshine and shower, free from pestilence and famine, we are the most prosperous and should be the best contented people on the earth. In such a land there should be perpetual peace and plentiful prosperity. Yet we have hard times after hard times, and panic after panic. Why is this? If I could tell you why, it would repay for the time and money spent to hear this lecture. During the great panic in the nineties Mr. W.C. Whitney of New York, wrote a letter to a leading New York daily in which he said: “There are just two causes for this panic; too much silver and too much tariff.” I do not disparage these two problems, but I do say Mr. Whitney had a very narrow view of a panic. Like many another man, he had a thorough knowledge of certain things and was totally ignorant of others.
A Chief Justice of the United States was riding in a carriage with his family when a shaft broke. It was not broken short off, but shivered by contact with a post. The Chief Justice had no strings and was in a dilemma. A negro boy passed by, dressed in rags, whistling a merry tune. The great jurist hailed the boy, saying, “Boy, have you a string?”
“No, boss, what’s de matter?”
“I have broken the shaft of my carriage,” said the Justice.
“Yas, sir, I guess you is, boss. Is you got a knife? If you is, I think I can fix it for you.”
Taking the knife, he jumped the fence and cut withes from a sapling, with which he lashed a lath to the shaft.
“I guess da’ll git you home, boss.”
“That’s a good job,” said the Judge; “why didn’t I think of that?”
The boy replied: “I don’t know, sir, ’cept some folks know more than others.”
That boy did know more than the Chief Justice of the United States about mending a broken shaft. I think I know a thing or two about panics which Mr. Whitney did not seem to have learned. Let me give you two causes for panics. They are not all but they rank with Mr. Whitney’s.
First, the extravagance of the people. When times are good and money plentiful, people are extravagant. They buy everything and pay enormous prices. A horse, Axtell, brings his owner one hundred and five thousand dollars; a two-year-old colt, Arion, one hundred and twenty-five thousand. A town site is located in a barren waste and lots sell at ten to one hundred dollars a front foot. All kinds of wildcat schemes are promoted, and the people bite at the bait. An era of extravagance is on and “sight unseen” investments are made. Several years ago my brother said to me: “Are you going West soon, as far as Kansas City?” When I replied that I was he said: “I have never been in that city but I have two lots there I wish you would look at and ascertain their value.” He advised me to call on a certain real estate agent, who would show me the lots. When I called on the agent a little while later, he informed me the lots could not be seen until a dry spell took off the water. Two lots my brother never saw and never sold; decidedly “watered stock.”
A man with a thousand dollars buys a five thousand dollar lot. He knows he can’t pay for it, but there’s a boom and he expects to sell for six thousand before the second payment is due. He doesn’t sell. When he can’t sell he goes to the bank to borrow money to make the payment; he finds there many more in the same condition as himself. The banks see the trouble coming and will not loan. When the banks refuse to loan the depositors get scared and take their money out of the bank. During that great panic in the nineties three hundred millions of dollars were taken out of circulation within four months by depositors who were scared. Then the country gets flat on its back with a panic. A friend said to me, during the great depression: “Don’t you think it will be over soon?” I replied: “Let a man have typhoid fever until reduced to a skeleton; let the doctor call some morning toward the close of the long siege and say, ’The fever is broken, get up and go to work.’ Can the man obey the doctor? No; he must have chicken-broth and gruel, and slowly regain his strength.” So when a panic comes we must creep out, and we were so deep in the nineties it took a long time to recover.
When a panic comes however, the extravagance ceases; everybody gets stingy. A man with five thousand dollars doesn’t buy a five thousand dollar lot. He doesn’t buy anything; his wife must wear the old bonnet, and his church assessment is reduced. Then the tide turns and the country recovers from its extravagance. But when times get good, crops are fine and money plentiful, the people begin again; women spending their money for dry goods, men for wet goods; another era of extravagance is on and another panic coming.
Mr. Whitney said: “Too much silver and too much tariff.” All the gold and all the silver money in this country would not pay the old man’s drink and tobacco bill for five years. We drink, smoke and chew up all the money in this country, gold, silver, and paper, every seven years. Last year we spent about six millions for missions; one hundred and fifty millions for churches; two hundred and seventy-five millions for schools; and eighteen hundred millions for intoxicating liquors and tobacco. Awake, O Conscience! and pour out thy saving influence for the healing of the nation.
We live in a marvelous country. What this republic has accomplished in one hundred and thirty-eight years, is the wonder of the world. At the close of the Revolutionary War those who survived were poor, wounded, bleeding people, occupying only the eastern rim of a wilderness waste, while wild beast and wilder Indians roamed the mighty expanse to the western ocean. From the penniless poverty of then, has come the wonderful wealth of now. Where the tangled wilderness choked the earth, now fields of golden grain dot the plains, carpets of clover cover the hillsides, cities hum with the music of commerce, while rivers and railroads carry rich harvests to the harbors of every land. Emerson wrote better than he knew when he wrote:
“So I uncover the land, which of
old time I hid in the west,
As the sculptor uncovers his statue, when he has wrought his best.”
Yet grand as this country has grown to be, “the eagle of liberty can never reach the pinion heights its wings were made to measure,” while the shell of wasted resources to which I have referred bows low its head. Money won’t save us. Babylon had her gold standard; her images were made of gold. Media, Persia, had her free silver standard; her images were made of silver. Rome had her gold, her silver, brass and iron; yet they were all dashed to pieces on the world’s highway. “In the hollow of the hand of God is the destiny of this republic,” and we cannot buy Him with money. The wealth that satisfies the ruler of nations is character.
Some one said a few years ago, and it went the rounds of the press: “The question during the Civil War was, shall we have two governments or one; now the question is, shall we have any?” I quote to you with as much confidence as any mortal ever proclaimed a truth: “This republic will never fail or fall until God deserts it, and God will not desert it until we desert Him.”
“Come the world in arms,
We’ll defeat, and then pursue;
Nothing can our flag destroy,
While to God and self we’re true.”
I am not one of those who believe our war with Spain was an accident. For Dewey to cross that dead line at midnight; when morning dawned to find mines of death behind him, an enemy’s fleet of eleven ships before him, these supported by shores belted with batteries; and yet within six hours sink or disable every ship in the fleet, silence the forts, lift the star spangled banner in triumph to wave, and not have a warship sunk, nor a sailor killed, means more than the mere skill of a Commodore. Some one may say we had a better navy. Spain didn’t think so. Before the war the Spanish papers said: “The United States is bluffing. She can’t go to war with us. She has only twenty-five thousand soldiers, and they are kept out west to control cowboys and Indians. Then the South is waiting for an opportunity to break out in rebellion.” Columbus discovered America in 1492; Spain didn’t discover the United States until 1898.
Do you ask what we are to do with the Philippine Islands? I cannot tell you what is best, but I do know we didn’t want them. The day Dewey sailed from Hong Kong to Manila Bay, if Spain had said to the United States: “Here are the Philippine Islands, we would like to make you a present of them,” the United States would have replied, “We thank you, but decline the offer.” Not one man in ten in this country would have voted to take them. But the next day we had them, had fought to get them; and I believe the same superhuman power that took from Spain, the Netherlands, Flanders, Malacca, Ceylon, Java, Portugal, Holland, San Domingo, Louisiana, Florida, Trinidad, Mexico, Venezuela, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chili, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Patagonia, Guatemala, Honduras, San Salvador, Nicaragua, Porto Rico, Cuba, and “then some,” took away from Spain the Philippine Islands and gave them to us, that the home, the church and the school might be established in the Islands.
Perhaps some of you think I am getting off my subject. I am not; I am talking now about the old man, Uncle Sam, and his mission in the world.
It is the opinion of many that we are under no obligation to the islands of the sea, but these conservative souls should not forget that we are not only citizens of the United States, but of the globe on which we dwell and of the universe of God. The world in which we live, lives because of the light and heat it receives from other worlds. If the rolling sun in the heavens is under obligation to furnish light for our pathway, heat for our soil and warmth for our blood, are we not under obligation to carry the light of civilization to the people whose shores and ours are washed by the same waters? If the full orbed moon is under obligation to pour its silver into our nights, and lift the tides until our rivers are full, are not we under obligation to lift the tide of hope in the heart of oppressed humanity, and pour the light of intelligence into the night of ignorance? Did God give us this grand country, with its boundless resources, for us to draw our ocean skirts about our greatness and pass by our bruised and bleeding neighbor, lying half dead on life’s Jericho road? If so, then call back our proud eagle of liberty from its pinion flight through the skies of national achievement, and make our national emblem the barnyard fowl that crows in the day dawn as if creating light instead of noise, and then runs for his roost when the shadows fall.
The Bible says we are fellow workers with God. What does this fellowship imply? It means there are some things we can’t do, which God must do for us, and some things we can do He won’t do for us. He puts the coal in the earth; we must dig and blast it out. He puts oil beneath the soil; we must bore into its wells and pump it out. He gives us the earth and “the fullness thereof;” we must do the sowing and reaping. He puts electricity in the air; we must bridle, saddle and harness it. He empties the clouds into the basins of the earth and gives us oceans, gulfs and lakes; but we must build boats to ride them. He puts humanity on the earth and bids us love our neighbor as ourselves.
Who is my neighbor? Some seem to think only those who live in our immediate community. I read of a minister of a city church who called upon one of his country members for a contribution for foreign missionary work. The country brother said: “I don’t believe in foreign missions, and I must say, ’No’.”
“Brother,” the pastor said, “the Bible says you should love your neighbor as yourself.”
“I do love my neighbors.”
“Who are your neighbors?”
“Those whose farms adjoin mine, and perhaps, those whose farms adjoin theirs.”
“How far do you own eastward?”
“To the third fence yonder.”
“How far do you own toward the west?”
“About a half mile?”
“How deep do you own into the earth?”
“Well, I never thought of that, but about half-way, I guess.”
“Well, my brother, I am asking you to help your neighbor China, who joins your line below.”
* * * * *
I have a friend with plenty of this world’s goods, and not a child. When approached by the ladies of the Foreign Mission Society he said: “I do not give to foreign missions; when you want anything for home missions I’ll help you.” Perhaps he would; but many of that class are represented by a colored man of whom I heard a Methodist bishop tell. He said to a friend: “Dat wife of mine is got money on de brain; it’s money, money all the time. I can’t go whar she is, but she’s axing me for money. She’s jest sho’ly gwine to run me to the lunatic ’sylum ef she don’t quit her beggin’ me for money.”
The friend asked: “What does she do with so much money?”
The colored brother hesitated a minute, and said: “She don’t do nuffin wid it, caze I ain’t never give her none yet.”
* * * * *
My friend who opposes foreign missions said: “So much you give never gets there.” Yes; and so many seed the farmer puts into the ground never grow, and so the farmer says,
“Put five grains in every hill:
One for the cut-worm, one for the crow,
One to blight, and two to grow.”
And you cannot tell which will grow. A weed grew by the wayside in the old world. All it did was to furnish seed for the wind, and worry for the farmer. But one blustering day, the wind carried a seed from the wayside weed into a florist’s garden; it sprouted, rooted and bloomed. The gardener was impressed by the beautiful coloring of the blossom, so he nurtured, transplanted and cultivated it into a beautiful flower. It was from this bush, once a weed, Queen Victoria selected the flower she carried when she entered the Crystal Palace to meet the world’s representatives.
When Delia Laughlin went astray, her father drove her from his door. She was of that temperament that must either go to the heights or to the depths, and to the depths she went. Down the rapids of a sinful life her steps were swift. Along the Bowery she made her way to Five Points, where thieves and drunkards dwelt. It was said she could drink deeper, curse louder, and fight fiercer than any inmate of the most wicked spot in New York City. Mrs. Whittemore went one day on her mission of mercy through the slums. She sought some one to accompany her who knew the deepest haunts of the wicked. Delia Laughlin was recommended to her. Mrs. Whittemore, with her Bible in one hand and a fragrant rose in the other, made her rounds. She was deeply impressed with the intellect and culture, as well as the beauty of the wayward girl who had been her guide through the slums. “Dear girl,” she said; “you are too bright and beautiful to be down here. I wish you would come to see me at the Door of Hope Mission,” and slipping a coin and the white rose into the soiled fingers she said, “Good-bye.”
The girl loved flowers, so she took the white rose to her room and put it in water. Then with the coin she went to drown her misery in drink. Forty-eight hours later she had slept off the debauch, and taking the flower from the vase she said: “Ah! that represents my life. Once I was as pure as the rose when the good woman gave it to me. Those withered petals represent the withered graces of my life.” From out that little flower an arrow went to the heart of Delia Laughlin. She took the street car and went to the Door of Hope Mission. Mrs. Whittemore met her and they talked together. While the girl wept Mrs. Whittemore prayed; she said: “O God, this poor girl has no other friend than you. Her father’s home is closed against her. You have promised, when father and mother forsake, you will take the deserted one. Won’t you take her now?” And God did take her; from that hour she was safe in the cleft of the Rock of Ages. When she addressed twelve hundred inmates of Auburn prison, a reporter said: “Never did John Wesley, John Knox, or Martin Luther do greater work for the Master.” When laid in her casket in the Door of Hope Mission a few years later, a New York paper said: “Never did a fairer face or more eloquent tongue do work in slum life than Delia Laughlin.”
“The stone o’er which you
May be a diamond in the rough.
It may never never sparkle,
Though made of diamond stuff.
“Because someone must find it,
If it’s ever found;
And then someone must grind it,
If it’s ever ground.
“But when it’s found, and
when it’s ground,
And when it’s burnished bright;
Then henceforth a diamond crowned
’Twill shine with lustrous light.”
You can’t tell what seed will grow.
After the Civil War I lived for two years in Richmond, Kentucky. During that time the Klu Klux movement broke out in fury. Men were hanged, others whipped and driven from the county. On my way to market one morning I saw a man hanging from a limb of a tree in the court-house yard. On his sleeve was pinned a piece of paper, on which was written, “Let no one touch this body until the sun goes down.” All day that body hung there and not an officer of the law dared to cut the rope. Such was the reign of terror no one offered a protest. One Saturday night a young man named Byron was hanged in the same court-house yard. He was the only son of a widowed mother, and he begged the mob to let him live for his mother’s sake. Sunday morning several empty bottles lay about the tree, indicating that the men were drinking who did the deed. The evening after the hanging I gave an address in the Methodist Church for the Good Templars. I had no thought of referring to the hanging of young Byron, but in showing up the evils of drink, those empty bottles came to my mind, and I could imagine the old mother then weeping over her dead boy. Without considering
I do not know how much my speaking out against Klu Klux had to do with arresting the outlawry that made the roads rattle with the clatter of the hoofs of horses at midnight raids, but I do know young Byron was the last man hanged by the Klu Klux in Madison county, and may I not hope the unpremeditated protest made in that Sunday evening address, helped in some measure to bring about the transformation, and contribute a mite to the public sentiment that has made Richmond a saloonless place in which to live.
You cannot tell what seed will grow. Already out of the new woman movement has come a host led by such women as Frances E. Willard, Mary A. Livermore, Clara Hoffman, Dr. Anna Shaw, Jane Addams, Maude Ballington Booth, Susan B. Anthony, and in our own state, Frances E. Beauchamp. These and many more have been springing the bolts that have barred woman from spheres of great usefulness.
Allow me to say, I have no patience with the mannish woman (and about as little use for a feminine man); but if this old world is ever to be redeemed it is because He who sitteth on the throne has said: “Behold I make all things new.”
Oh! for a new man, who will stop the waste of wealth and destruction of morals to which I have referred. Oh! for the day when “each sex will be the equal of the other in the average, each above the other in specialties; when each can see in the other a source of inspiration,” and both worthy to have been created in the beginning a “little lower than the angels” and in the end to be crowned with glory and honor.
THE SAFE SIDE OF LIFE FOR YOUNG MEN. A PLEA FOR TOTAL ABSTINENCE AND A BETTER LIFE.
I do not assert that everyone who drinks intoxicating liquor as a beverage will become a drunkard, but I do come before this audience to hold up total-abstinence as safer and better for practice. Drunkards are made of moderate drinkers; drunkards are never made of total abstainers. One may drink and never get drunk; one cannot get drunk who never drinks. Take away every drunkard from the earth today and moderate drinking will soon create another supply; but sweep all drunkenness from the world, let total-abstinence be the absolute rule and the last drunkard will have debased his body, ruined his character, and doomed his soul.
Since running the risk of being a moderate drinker is so great, I commend to the young people before me the caution of the Scotch minister, who, when called upon to marry a couple, said: “My young friends, marriage is a blessing to a great many persons; it’s a curse to some; it’s a risk for everybody; will you take the venture?” I presume they did. I do not believe the use of intoxicating liquor as a beverage is a benefit to anyone, yet for argument’s sake I will permit one who drinks to say: “Moderate drinking is a benefit to a few persons; it’s a curse to a great many; it’s a risk for everybody; let’s take a drink!” Against this I affirm that total abstinence is a blessing to millions; it’s a curse to nobody; it’s safe and right for everybody; then let’s take the pledge and God helping us, let’s keep it.
A very comforting reply to the infidel who claims there will be no hereafter is the inscription on the tomb of a faithful Christian:
“If there’s another world,
he’s in bliss;
If not, he’s made the best of this.”
If there is no hereafter, to say the least the Christian is even with the infidel, while if there is a hereafter it’s bad for the infidel. If a moderate drinker has sufficient self-control to escape being a drunkard, the total abstainer is equally safe; but if the moderate drinker loses his self-control and becomes a drunkard his doom is sealed. The safe definition of temperance is: “Moderation in regard to things useful and right, total-abstinence in regard to things hurtful and wrong.” Is alcoholic liquor as a beverage hurtful and wrong? It’s the source of more misery, cruelty and crime than any other evil of the world!
Some years ago after a lecture along this line, a doubting Thomas said to me: “What answer have you for the scholar who claims your very word ‘temperance’ is the offspring of a word that signifies moderation?” I said: “The same I would give to a Darwinian if he were to tell me I am a descendant of the ape; and that is, I rejoice to know I’m an improvement on my ancestor. To one who charges me with being a distant relative of the chimpanzee, I give the reply of Henry Ward Beecher: ’I don’t care how far distant.’” I acknowledge my ignorance of the derivation of the word temperance, but I do know drunkenness comes from drinking intoxicating liquor, therefore I favor total-abstinence and recommend it as the safe side of life for young men.
While, by quoting isolated passages of the Bible, advocates of moderation have succeeded in filling the air with dust of doubt about the teaching of the Scriptures on the wine question, there is one thing about which there is no question, and that is the consent of the Bible to total-abstinence for anyone who desires and “dares to be a Daniel.” I would rather search my Bible for permission to give up that over which my brother may stumble into ruin, than to see how far I can go in the use of it without committing sin. Marriage feasts in Cana of Galilee two thousand years ago do not concern me so much as the social feasts of the present age where “wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging,” and many are “deceived thereby.”
A noted Bible scholar says: “The Bible is not simply a schedule of sins and duties catalogued and labeled, but a revelation of immutable principles, in the application of which God tests the sincerity of our profession.” To drink intoxicating liquor in this enlightened age, with all the woes of intemperance about us and responsibilities of life upon us, is a violation of every immutable principle laid down in the Bible. First, it’s against the law of prudence, which says of two possible paths one should take the safer. Which is the safer, moderation or total-abstinence? Next, it’s against the law of humility, which teaches where mightier than we have fallen, we must distrust ourselves. Have mightier than we fallen through strong drink? Next, it’s against the law of human brotherhood, which makes it imperative upon the strong to bear the infirmities of the weak. Is the drinker weak? Next, it’s against the law of expediency; “it is good neither to eat flesh nor drink wine nor anything whereby thy brother stumbleth.” Do our brothers stumble over strong drink? Last, it’s against the law of self-denial; “if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.” Does strong drink make our brother to offend? On these immutable principles the cause of sobriety is built, and the gates of the devil of drink shall not prevail against it.
Young man, let me give you a bit of advice and assurance. Never take a drink of intoxicating liquor as a beverage, and when you are as old as I am you will not regret it. You cannot find me in all the world, one man between forty and eighty years of age, an abstainer all his life, who would change that record if he could. Boys, that’s a very safe rule that has not a single exception. But how many are there who regret they ever put the bottle to their lips? “If I had only let strong drink alone” is the bitter wail of millions of men and women. From pauper poverty and prison cells, electric chairs and dying drunkard’s lips comes the cry: “Drink has been my curse!”
Does some young man in this audience say, “I can quit if I please?” Then I beg you to please, ere you reach the time when you will strive to quit, but in vain. I know you don’t intend to go beyond your power of control; neither did the drunkards who have gone before you. Do you suppose Edgar Allen Poe dreamt when he took his first drink in the social gathering of an old Virginia gentleman’s home that it would bring from his brilliant brain the weird strain:
“Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”
Do you suppose Thomas F. Marshall, our gifted Kentucky orator, dreamt when he stood at the foot of the ladder of fame and all Kentucky pointed him to the golden glory of its summit, that his last words would be: “And this is the end. Tom Marshall dying; dying in a borrowed bed, under a borrowed sheet, and without a decent suit of clothes in which to be buried!”
I well remember the first time I saw Thomas Marshall. He had returned from Washington, where he had thrilled Congress by his eloquence. He was announced to speak in Lexington on court day afternoon. I went with my father from our country home to hear the then golden mouthed orator. For nearly two hours he swayed that audience as the storm king sways the mountain pine. On unseen wings of eloquence he soared to heights I had never imagined within the reach of mortal tongue.
I also remember the last time I saw this brilliant Kentuckian. He was standing on a street corner in Lexington, Kentucky. His hair hung a tangled mass about his forehead, his eagle eyes were dimmed by debauch, and a thin, worn coat was buttoned over soiled linen. As he straightened himself and started to the bar-room, I could see traces of greatness lingering about his brow like sheet lightning about the bosom of a summer storm cloud. Not long after he was telling political stories in a drinking tavern. When he tired of the tumult of the bar-room and a sense of his better self came over him, some one said: “Give us another, Tom.” Rising to his feet he said: “You remind me of a set of bantam chickens, picking the sore head of an eagle when his wings are broken.”
At one time in a temperance revival in Washington he took the pledge and kept it for months. During this time in a temperance meeting he was called upon to speak. The following brief extract shows the charm of his eloquence:
“I would not exchange my conscious being as a strictly sober man, the glad play with which my pulse now beats healthful music through my veins, the bounding vivacity with which my life blood courses its exultant way through every fiber of my frame, the communion high which my now healthful eye and ear hold with the universe around me, the splendors of the morning, the softness of the evening sky, the beauty, the verdure of the earth, the music of winds and waters. No, sir! with all these grand associations of external nature re-opened to the avenues of sense, though poverty dogged me, though scorn pointed its slow finger at me as I passed, though want, destitution and every element of early misery, save only crime, met my waking eye from day to day: Not for the brightest wreath that ever encircled a statesman’s brow; not if some angel commissioned by heaven, or rather some demon sent from hell to test the resisting power of my virtuous resolution, were to tempt me back to the blighting bowl; not for the honors a world could bestow, would I cast from me this pledge of a liberated mind, this talisman against temptation, and plunge again into the horrors that once beset my path. So help me Heaven, I would spurn beneath my feet all the gifts a universe could offer, and live and die as I am—poor but sober.”
Drinking young man, Thomas F. Marshall once stood where you now stand. He said then what you say now, yet after that beautiful tribute to sobriety and the pledge of total-abstinence, he stood at a blacksmith shop door, and as the smith drew the red hot iron from the forge, Mr. Marshall said to some friends: “Gentlemen, I would seize that rod of heated iron and hold it in my hand till it cools, if it would cure me of my terrible appetite for strong drink.” This is but one of the many fallen stars the demon of drink has snatched from the galaxy of Kentucky’s greatness and hurled into the darkness of eternal night.
A man who could drink and not get drunk said to me: “I have no patience with, nor sympathy for a drunkard. If I couldn’t eat what I want and quit when I choose, I wouldn’t claim to be a man.” Whether he could or not, depends on conditions. Let my arm represent the scale of life, with will on one side and appetite on the other. When a man is healthy his will stands at eighty, his appetite at fifty. That man eats when he likes, or lets it alone as he chooses. But let this healthy, strong man take typhoid fever, and after six or eight weeks be reduced to almost a skeleton. At this stage, the fever having subsided, let the doctor say to the once strong man: “The fever is broken; be careful about your diet, no solid food, only chicken broth and gruel.” Place by the bed of this once strong man a table and on this table a roast turkey, stuffed with oysters. On the floor place a coffin and say to the patient: “You see that turkey and that coffin. If you eat the turkey today, you’ll be in the coffin tomorrow.” Go out and leave the man alone with the turkey. Will he eat it? I don’t care if he’s a preacher or a doctor he will, regardless of the advice of doctor or terror of the waiting coffin. Why will he eat when he knows it means death? Because his will has gone down to twenty and his appetite up to one hundred.
My father had typhoid fever and when the time of convalescing came my mother left him alone while she was in the yard with her flowers. I went into the house and found father had left his bed, crawled to the cupboard and had hold of what was left of a chicken. I called to mother; she came running, and taking the chicken from him said: “Don’t you know to eat solid food will kill you?” Father replied: “I know if you hadn’t come in I would have had one square meal.”
Did I say too much when I said the preacher would eat the turkey? Years ago Saint John’s pulpit in Louisville, Kentucky, was filled by a preacher so gifted that strangers in the city were attracted by his fame as an orator. He had an invalid mother, who in her wheel chair would attend every service, and was made happy in her affliction by the sermons of her eloquent son. He married a wealthy widow and had everything wealth and refinement could suggest. He saw no wrong in the wine glass and kept a supply in his cellar. Gradually appetite demanded stronger
Time and again this man took the pledge, but only to fail. When the “blue ribbon” wave swept the country he again took the pledge, and this time went on the platform as a temperance advocate. He drew great audiences, and when he had kept his pledge for months we invited him to Louisville. It was my privilege to introduce him, or rather to present him to the great audience. Before going on the platform he said: “I have made a mistake in coming here. It was here I lost everything a man could ask to make him happy. The memory of my sainted mother comes over me, and my wife is so near and yet so far from me.”
To bring him back to himself I said: “These things will help you to give the greatest lecture of your life. Come, a great audience of old friends are waiting.”
When introduced he said: “My friends, if I ever did a dishonorable act before I fell from the pulpit through drink, rise and tell me.” Soon he had his audience in tears and lifting his eyes heavenward he said: “O my sainted Mother, look down from your home in glory and see your poor drunken boy. He has staggered all the way back, his feet upon the up-hillward way, and will travel it with a martyr’s step.”
He further said: “Will I ever drink again? No; this brow was not made to wear the brand of a vassal, nor these hands the chains of a drunkard. Here in Louisville, where I fell in my manhood’s might, I vow I will never drink again.” Manhood’s might is too weak to win alone in the battle against sin. Poor J.J. Talbott went down to rise no more, and on his dying bed, when a minister quoted passage after passage of promise from God’s word, the answer came: “Not for me! Not for me!” Peace to his ashes.
Young man, will you tamper and trifle with strong drink? Do you say you can drink or let it alone? I admit you can drink but are you sure you can let it alone? If you can now, are you sure you can two years hence? I saw a giant oak tree lying in the track of the wind. It had been called “the monarch of the Sierras.” Under the very nests where tempests hatch out their young, it grew to its greatness. It had seen many a storm, clad in thunder, armed with lightning, leap from its rocky bed and go bellowing down the world. But the storms that shook it only sent its roots down
There are young men before me today, who can drink or let it alone. Temptation to them is no more than the gentle breeze in the branches of the oak in the zenith of its strength. True, temptation has been along their way blazing, here a glass of wine, there a glass of beer and yonder a glass of whiskey. They can quit when they please, but the less they please the more they drink, the more they drink the less they please. They don’t quit because they can, if they couldn’t quit they would, because they can, they won’t. Thus they reason, while appetite eats its way into their wills, birds of ill omen peck into their characters and finally they will go down to drunkards’ graves, as thousands before them have gone. Young men, in the morning of life, while the dew of youth is yet upon your brow, I beg you to bind the pledge of total-abstinence as a garland about your character and pray God to keep you away from the tempter’s path.
I wonder that young men will trifle with this great “deceiver.” I wonder too at so much ignorance on the question among intelligent people. Some years ago after a temperance address a gentleman was introduced to me as the finest scholar in the city. Next morning we were on the same train, and referring to the lecture of the evening before, he said: “I heard your address and was pleased with your kindly spirit, but I beg to differ with you, believing as I do, that when properly used, alcoholic liquor as a beverage is good for health and strength.” I felt disappointed to hear a great scholar make such a statement, but I ventured the reply:
“If that is true God made a mistake, since He made the whole phenomena of animal life to run by water power. He made it in such abundance it takes oceans to hold it, rivers and rivulets to carry it to man, bird and beast, while in all the wide world He never made a spring of alcohol. If it’s good for strength, why not give it to the ox, the mule and the horse?” It takes a good deal of faith to trust a sober mule; I’m sure I wouldn’t want to trust a drunken one. There is not a man in my presence who would buy a moderate drinking horse, and no one would wilfully go through a lot where a drunken dog had right of way. Yet we license saloons to turn drunken men loose in the street, some of them as vicious as mad dogs.
Good for strength? When Samson had slain the regiment of Philistines and was exhausted and athirst; when in his extremity he cried to the Lord: “Thou hast given this great deliverance into the hand of thy servant, and now shall I die from thirst.” What was done to revive him and renew his strength? Was strong drink recommended as a stimulant? The Bible account informs us God “clave an hollow place in the jaw, and water came thereout.” Don’t you think if alcoholic liquor had been intended as a beverage for mankind, the great Creator would have made a few springs of it somewhere? Bore into the earth you can strike oil, but you can’t strike whiskey. You can find sparkling springs of water almost everywhere, but nowhere a beer brewery in nature. It’s water, blessed water all the time. On your right it bubbles in the brook; on your left it leaps and laughs in the cascade; above you it rides in rain clouds upon the wings of the wind; beneath you it hangs in diamond dew upon the bending blade; behind you it comes galloping down the gorge “from out the mountain’s broken heart;” before you it goes gliding down the glen, kissing wayside flowers into fragrance and singing, as rippling o’er the rocks it runs: “Men may come and men may go, but I go on forever.” Oh, bright beautiful water! may it soon be the beverage of all mankind.
I know some say: “This is a free country; if a man wants to drink and be a brute, let him do so.” The trouble about that is, while strong drink will degrade some men to the level of the brute, drunkards are not made of brutes. Some thirty or more years ago a grandson of one of the greatest statesman this country ever produced, was shot in a saloon while intoxicated. While that young man was dying, but a few blocks away a grandson of one of the greatest men that ever honored Kentucky in the Senate of the United States, was in jail to be tried for murder committed while drunk; and in the same city at the same hour in the station-house from drink was a great grandson of the author of “Give me liberty or give me death.” Whom did Daniel Webster leave his seat in the Senate that he might hear his eloquence? S.S. Prentice went down under the cloud of drink. A gifted family gave to a Southern State a gifted son. His state sent him to the halls of national legislation, but drink wrought his ruin. Horace Greeley was his friend, and finding him drunk in a Washington hotel said to him: “Why don’t you give up what you know is bringing shame upon you and sorrow to your family?”
He replied: “Mr. Greeley, ask me to take my knife and sever my arm from my shoulder and I can do it, but ask me to give up an appetite that has come down upon me for generations, I can’t do it.” He threw his cane upon the floor to emphasize his utterance. A few days later in the old Saint Charles Hotel, he pierced his brain with a bullet and was sent home to his family in his coffin.
Bring me the men who are drunkards in this city, strip them of their appetite for strong drink, and they are husbands, brothers, fathers, sons, and as a rule, generous in disposition.
Thank God, while drunkenness will drag down the gifted and noble, temperance will build up the humblest and lowest. Bring me the poorest boy in this audience, let him pledge me he will never take a drink of intoxicating liquor as a beverage, let him keep that pledge, be industrious and honest; my word for it, in twenty years from now he will walk the streets of the city in which he dwells, honored, respected, loved, and the world can’t keep him down. I rejoice we live in a land where I can encourage a boy, a land where rank belongs to the boy who earns it, whether he hails from the mansion of a millionaire or the “old log cabin in the lane;” a land where a boy can go from a rail cut, a tan yard, or a toe-path, to the presidency of the United States; a land where I can look the humblest boy in the face and say:
“Never ye mind the crowd, my boy, or think that life won’t tell; The work is the work for aye that, to him that doeth it well. Fancy the world a hill, my boy; look where the millions stop; You’ll find the crowd at the base, my boy; there’s always room at the top.”
Have you a trade? Go learn one. Do you know how to do things? Go try; you may make mistakes, but do the best you can like the boy who joined the church. At his uncle’s table soon after he was asked to say grace. He didn’t know what kind of a blessing to ask, but he did know he was very hungry, so bowing his head he said: “Lord, have mercy on these victuals.” I have faith in the boy who will try to do a thing. I believe in a boy like that one in a mission Sabbath school in New York, who though he had but little knowledge of the Bible, had a way of reasoning about Bible lessons. The teacher of his class said to him: “James, who was the strongest man of whom we have any account?”
He quickly replied: “Jonah.”
“How do you make that out?” said the teacher.
Promptly the answer came: “The whale couldn’t hold him after he got him down.”
Boys, are you poor? Columbus was a weaver; Arkright was a barber; Esop, a slave; Bloomfield, a shoemaker; Lincoln, a rail-splitter; Garfield tramped a toe-path with no company but an honest mule; and Franklin, whose name will never die while lightning blazes through the clouds, went from the humble position of a printer’s devil to that height where he looked down upon other men. If you would win in the battle of life, take the right side of life and build a righteous character. The saddest scene on the streets at night is the young man, whose clothes are finest in quality and fittest in fashion, but whose principles sadly need “patching.” I dare say there are young men before me now who would not go into refined company indecently dressed for any consideration, but who will rush into the presence of their God before they sleep with a dozen oaths upon their lips. Will Carleton puts it this way:
“Boys flying kites, haul in their
white plumed birds;
You can’t do that when flying words;
Thoughts unexpressed, may sometimes fall back dead,
But God Himself can’t kill them when they’re said.”
Will Carleton puts it in poetry, let’s have it in prose. Boys, pay more attention to your manners than to your moustache; keep your conduct as neat as your neck-tie, polish your language as well as your boots; remember, moustache grows grey, clothes get seedy, and boots wear out, but honor, virtue and integrity will be as bright and fresh when you totter with old age as when your mother first looked love into your eyes.
Little Lucy Rome was taken up for vagrancy in a great city. When brought before the court an austere judge said: “Who claims this child?”
A boy arose and walking down near the Judge, said: “Please, sir; I do. She’s my sister; we are orphans, but I can take care of her if you’ll let her go.”
“Who are you?” asked the Judge.
“I’m Jimmy Rome, and I have been taking care of my sister; but two weeks ago the man for whom I worked died and while I was out looking for another place, Lucy begged some bread and they took her up. But now I’ve a good place to work, Judge, and I’m going to put little sister in school. Please let me have her, sir.”
The Judge said: “Stand aside. Officer, take the child to the children’s home.”
The boy with tears streaming down his cheeks, as he heard his sister sobbing, said: “Judge, please don’t take her from me.”
The Judge, moved by the pleading of the brother, said: “Well, my boy, if you can find some reliable person to go your security you may have her.”
“Judge, I don’t know anyone to give you; my good friend is dead, but I told you the truth. I don’t drink, nor smoke nor swear oaths; I try to be a good boy; I work hard, but I can’t give you any security. Judge, will you please let me kiss my little sister before you take her from me?”
With this the boy put his arms about his weeping sister and printed, as he thought, the last kiss upon her cheek. The Judge, with a lump in his throat, said: “Take her, my boy; I’ll go your security. I’ll give Lucy to the care of such a brother.”
Hand in hand the homeless orphan pair walked out of the court room together, Jimmy Rome to make his mark in the business world and his sister to be the wife of a merchant prince.
Boys, be industrious, be honest, be sober. “I will” fluttered from the worm-eaten ships of Columbus; “I will” blazed upon the banners of Washington and Grant; “I will” stamped the walls of Hudson river tunnel, and dug the canal of Panama. Young man, write “I will” upon your brow, give your heart to God and hope will herald your way to victory as the reward of a well spent life. Keep your eye upon the star of ambition. Don’t be like the owl, who when daylight comes hides himself within the shadows of the ivy-bound oak and moans and moans the days of his life away; but rather be like the proud eagle that leaves its craggy summit, starts on its pinion flight through the clouds, rides upon the face of the storm, then on beyond bathes its plumage in the “sunlight of the day god, and laughs in the face of the coming morrow.”
Some one said, and trifled with the secret of success and happiness when he said it: “There’s only a dollar’s difference between the man who works and the man who pays, and the man who pays, gets that.” There is an old superstition that somewhere on the earth, under the earth or in the sea, there is a stone called the “philosopher’s stone” and whoever finds it will be “chiefest among ten thousand.” The same superstition prevails with many today; only the name of the stone is turned to “luck,” and thousands of young men are waiting for luck to come along and turn up something for them. There is a rule of life, young men, more reliable than luck. It is called an ancient law and runs thus: “By the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread.” It is the foundation of more sweet bread and pure enjoyment than all your luck. On it the feet of Abraham Lincoln rested, while he wedged his way to the highest office in the gift of the American people. On it Shakespeare stood, driving a shuttle through the warp and woof of a weaver’s loom and wove out for himself a name and fame immortal. On it Elihu Burrett wielded a sledge hammer, while developing a mind that mastered many different languages. On it Henry Clay made his way from the mill-sloshes of Virginia to the United States Senate, and on it James A. Garfield tramped his toe-pathway from driving a mule, to presiding over the destinies of seventy-five millions of people.
Boys, don’t be idle. I know a man to-day who always looks so lazy it really rests me to look at him. A boy working for a farmer was asked by his employer if he ever saw a snail. The boy answered that he had. “You must have met it, for you surely did not overtake it,” said the farmer. I know an old man who seems to take pride in saying he never worked. The first time I saw this man was in my youth. While his father was husking corn in a field, he was seated by a fire reading a novel. Often after that, when I would go to the postoffice in the winter, he would be there by the fire. He moved to the city thirty years ago, where he spends his winters sitting around a fire. He doesn’t drink or gamble. I don’t think he will have many sins of commission for which to answer; he never commits anything; he sits by the fire. When he dies an appropriate epitaph for his tomb will be:
“He was never much on stirrin’
Sich wasn’t his desire;
When weather cool, he was always found,
A sittin’ round the fire.
“When the frost was comin’
And the wind a creepin’ higher,
He spent his time just that way,
A sittin’ round the fire.
“Same old habit every day,
He never seemed to tire;
While others worked and got their pay,
He sat there by the fire.
“When he died, by slow degrees,
Some said, ‘he’s gone up higher;’
But if he’s doin’ what he did,
He’s sittin’ round the fire.”
The man or woman who lives in this age of the world and lives in idleness, should have lived in some other age. When ox-teams crept across the plains, and stage coaches went six miles an hour, idleness may have been in some kind of harmony with the age, but now, when horses pace a mile in two minutes, express trains make fifty miles an hour, and aeroplanes fly a mile in a minute; when telephone and telegraph send news faster than light flies, the idler is out of place. Carlisle said: “The race of life has become intense; the runners are tramping on each other’s heels; woe to the man who stops to tie his shoestrings!”
Young man, if you would keep step with the energy of the age in which you are living, and be ever found on the safe side of life, you must not only be equipped with education, stability and ambition, but to make sure you should start right. If you are going to California tomorrow, which way would you start, east or west? You say: “We would start west.” A man riding along a highway said to a farmer by the wayside: “How far to Baltimore?”
The farmer answered: “About twenty-five thousand miles the way you’re going; if you’ll face about and go the other way, it’s fourteen miles.”
Young man, which way are you going?
Does someone in my presence say: “I have started wrong; I take a glass of beer now and then; occasionally utter an oath, and am sowing wild oats in a few other fields; but I’ll come out right in the end.” Two diverging roads keep on widening; they don’t come together at the other ends. If you would make sure of the safe side of life in the end of the journey, then start right. Luke Howard graduated from a fine college and went to a large city to practice his profession. He boarded in a fine hotel and frequented fine saloons. He became dissipated and one morning after a drunken debauch the landlord said: “Sir, you disturbed my boarders last night and I must ask you to leave.” Young men, did Luke Howard go to a better hotel? No, but to a grade lower; he started wrong. In this hotel a few months later, he was asked to move on. Did he go to a better? No, still lower, until at last he went to board in the low tavern on the river front. The landlord said: “I remember when you graduated from college. I was present, saw the flowers and heard the applause that
“Luke Howard, you’re not the man you once were, and I want you to leave here at once.”
The poor fellow started for the door muttering: “I am not the man I was. I’m not the man I was.” Missing the step as he went out, he fell, striking his head against the stone curbing. A physician was summoned and recognizing the injured man as an old friend said: “Luke, speak to your old college chum; I’m here to help you.”
The poor drunkard, looking through the blood that flowed from the gaping wound said: “Listen to me, Tom, I’m not the man I was, I’m not the man I was.” And thus died the poor fellow.
Young man, start wrong and end right? No, start wrong and you may expect in the autumn of life a penniless, friendless old age; opportunity gone, health shattered, and the “long fingers of memory” reaching out and dragging into its chambers thoughts that will “bite like a serpent and sting like an adder.” Bad as this is, it is even worse when your depravity involves another life. What if that other life is your mother, who went to the door of death to give you life, and whose every breath is another thread of sorrow woven into her wasting heart while her boy is bound like Mazeppa to the wild steed of passion.
There are some things I cannot understand about this drink question. I can understand how a young woman with jeweled fingers can tempt a young man to drink wine. I had a bit of experience some years ago down in Texas, that helped me to appreciate how young men are tempted. I gave an address in a Y.M.C.A. lecture course in a city, and at the close of my address a prominent citizen said to me: “Kentucky has a reputation for beautiful women, but we think Texas has the handsomest women in the world. At the hotel where you are stopping, there is a leap year ball tonight and the most beautiful women for a hundred miles around are gathered there. I will call for you at your room in a little while and you must take a look at our Texas girls.” A little later I stood in a hallway where I could see down the long ball room, and I declare they were as pretty women as I have ever seen, and I live in Kentucky. I was invited to step inside the door, where between dances I was introduced to couple after couple. It being leap year the ladies were soliciting their partners for the dance, and a very handsome young lady invited me to be her partner. Having never danced and being a Methodist steward, I declined. Another and another asked me to dance, and again and again I declined, giving as an excuse my utter ignorance of the function. Finally a very beautiful, blue-eyed, charming young lady said: “Since you do not dance, may I engage you for a promenade around the ball room?” Boys, if I had been a young man the chances are I would have started down the “turkey-trot” road that evening. I can appreciate how young men are tempted.
There is one thing, however, about the drink habit that is difficult for me to understand, and that is how a young man, who loves his mother, whose mother loves him as only a mother can love, loved him first, loved him best and will love him to the last, can go from home and mother to the impure, degrading vileness of a liquor saloon. If we enter that young man’s home what do we find? Perhaps on one of the side-walls, “What is home without a mother,” on the altar the family Bible, every picture on the walls suggestive of home life and purity, every chair and piece of bric-a-brac linked with the sweet association of childhood, the conversation as pure as the sunlight on which the young man lives; yet he will kiss his mother, leave this home, and down the street make his way to a liquor saloon, where often vile pictures hang on the walls, cards lie on the table instead of the family Bible and the air is freighted with oaths and obscenities.
Boys, have any of you done this within the past month, or six months? Promise me now you will never do this again. Oh what a grand meeting this would be if every young man and boy in my presence would make the promise! I plead with you, young man, by the sleepless nights your mother spent to give you rest; by the shadow you have hung over her pathway; by the bleeding heart you’ve wounded but which loves you still:
“Come back, my boy, come back, I
And walk now in thy mother’s way.”
I would that every boy in our land were as grateful to his mother as was that Southern girl to her father, who stood years ago in front of an open fire, her back to the fire, her face toward the door, her bare arms full of flowers, waiting for her brother to call with a carriage to take her to a party. While standing there a flame caught her dress; she gave a scream, dropped the flowers and ran through the door to where her father was standing in the yard. When the father saw his child coming with flame following, he ran toward her. As he ran he took off his coat and wrapping it about her face, arms and shoulders, threw her to the ground. With his left hand he kept the flame from the body, while with his right hand he fought the fire. He saved his daughter but burned his right arm to the elbow. Day after day when the doctor would unwrap the arm to dress it, the girl, though burned herself, would go to her father’s bed, gently lift the burned arm and caress it. When the father recovered his hand was so maimed and scarred, that when introduced to strangers, he would hold his right hand behind him and shake hands with the left. One day his daughter, seeing him do this, went to his side and reaching for the scarred hand, held it to her lips and kissed it. She was not ashamed, for that hand had been burned for her. When the father died and lay in his casket ready for burial, the family came to take their last look. First came the mother of the girl, then a brother and sister, and then the girl herself. She kissed the cold brow of her father, then kneeling she took up the disfigured hand and kissed it over and over again. My boy, your mother has suffered more for you than that father did for his daughter. I beg you, go home and kiss your mother. If she is dead or far from you, kiss her memory. Go to your bed room, kneel there, and pray God to help you to live worthy the love of your mother.
I now turn from young men to parents and say, use every means possible to make safe the way of your boys. Some years ago in one of our cities, after a lecture in which I appealed to parents, a leading merchant of the city said: “I wish I had heard that lecture years ago.”
“You never used liquor?” I said.
“No, but I am responsible for its use in my family. I am a Methodist, and a total abstainer. In my employ I had a number of clerks, and let it be known I would not allow any of them to drink even moderately. One day a man came to my store with a paper in his hand and said: ’I want to set up a saloon on the next block and I am getting signers to my petition. I am one of your customers; you know me and know I will keep an orderly place.’ I said to myself, ’if he doesn’t sell others will and we need the revenue anyway,’ so I signed the petition. A few months later I chanced to see my youngest boy and one of my clerks coming out of the door of that saloon. Soon after when they entered the store I called them into my office and said: ’Young men, did I see you coming out of a saloon, and had you been taking a drink in there?’ When they admitted they had, I said to my son: ’Did I ever set such an example for you to follow?’ He answered: ’No, father, but you signed that man’s petition to set up the saloon; whom did you expect him to sell to? Did you sign it for him to sell to other fathers’ sons and not yours?’ I realized as never before the wrong I had done, not only to my own son, but to every father’s son to whom that saloon-keeper would sell if they had the money to pay for liquor. I said: “Forgive me, my boy. Promise me you will never enter a saloon again and I promise never to sign a petition or vote to have a saloon-keeper sell to anybody’s boy!”
But it was too late; that boy went to ruin and carried his old father to financial ruin with him. The store was sold and the father went on to a little farm in Missouri, where he died a disappointed, grief-stricken man. He was a good man and a kind father, but he did not realize the full meaning of the warning, “whatsoever ye sow, that shall ye also reap.” Fathers, be careful of your example. Your sons think they can safely follow where you lead. Could the turf break above the drunken dead; could they come back to earth in their bony whiteness to testify to the cause of their ruin, how many would point to the old sideboard filled with all kinds of liquors, to father’s moderate use of strong drink, or his vote for the saloon at the ballot box.
Too often the careless indulgence of mothers is responsible for the ruin of their sons. If mothers were as watchful of their sons as of their daughters, the magic chain of mother love would be far more binding to their boys. There are homes in this city where at night you can hear the mothers say to servants: “Are the clothes in off the line; did you bring the broom and the pitcher from the porch; are the blinds all down; are the girls in bed; is everything in order for the night?” No, mothers, everything is not in order. Your girls are safe, the windows and doors are locked, but your boys are on the outside with night keys in their pockets, to come in at midnight from God only knows where. The double standard reaches too often back into the home.
“Mother, watch the little feet,
Climbing o’er the garden wall,
Bounding through the busy street,
Ranging garret shed and hall:
Never count the time it cost,
Never think the moments lost;
Little feet will go astray,
Watch them, mother, while you may.
“Mother, watch the little tongue,
Prattling, innocent and wild,
What is said and what is sung
By the joyous, happy child;
Stop the word while yet unspoken;
Seal the vow while yet unbroken,
That same tongue may yet proclaim,
Blessings in a Savior’s name.
“Mother, watch the little heart,
Beating soft and warm for you;
Wholesome lessons now impart,
Keep, O keep, that young heart pure.
Extricating every weed,
Sowing good and precious seed;
Harvests rich you then shall see,
Ripening for eternity.”
Once more I turn to the young men to say, if you would make life safe take the Bible as the man of your counsel and the guide of your life; love God and keep His commandments. In this age of glittering literature, many consider the Bible dull reading. Sir William Jones, one of England’s greatest jurists and scholars, said: “I have carefully perused the Bible, and independent of its divine origin, I believe it contains more true sublimity, more exquisite beauty, purer morality, more important history and finer strains of poetry and eloquence than could be contained within the same compass, from all the books ever published in any age or any idiom.”
A passionate lover of poetry has said: “The Bible is a mass of beautiful figures. It has pressed into its service the animals of the forest, the flowers of the fields and the stars of heaven; the lion, spurning the sands of the desert; the wild roe, leaping the mountains; the lamb led to the slaughter; the goat, fleeing to the wilderness; the Rose of Sharon; the Lily of the Valley; the great rock in a weary land; Carmel by the sea; Tabor in the mountains; the rain and mown grass; the sun and moon and morning stars. Thus hath the Bible swept creation to lay its trophies upon the altar of Jehovah.” Patrick Henry continually sought the Bible for gems of expression, while today the politician on the rostrum and the lawyer at the bar, quote the Bible to give force and effect to their speeches.
Some say: “There is so much in the Bible we cannot comprehend.” Yes, there’s very much in there doubtless God did not intend you should understand. One wades in the ocean knee deep, waist deep, neck deep, and gives it up that he can’t wade the ocean. If God had intended one should wade the ocean He would have made it shallow enough to wade. So, one finds he can climb to the mountain’s top, or sail thousands of feet above the mountain in an air ship, but he can’t sail to the skies. Two good women went to Sam Jones and said: “Mr. Jones, here are several passages of scripture we don’t understand.
During the Civil War a terrible battle raged all day between the armies of Grant and Lee. When the night shadows shut out the light, dead and dying were strewn for miles. Surgeons were busy and the chaplains going their rounds. A chaplain heard a voice say, in clarion tone: “Here.” Going to the spot from whence came the voice and bending over the prostrate form of a dying soldier, the chaplain asked: “What can I do for you?”
“Nothing, sir; they were just calling the roll in Heaven, and I was answering to my name.”
Blessed book, in which there is enough a wounded soldier, dying far away from home and loved ones, can so understand as to fit him to answer the roll call in Heaven.
We may not comprehend the full meaning of faith, but we can grasp sufficient to be to our souls what the force of nature is to the trees, by which they stand with their branches reaching skyward and their roots drawing earth-centerward. Take from me this faith and you take away the best friend I ever had, the friend that stood by me in the darkest hour of my life, when a daughter in the bloom of womanhood said, “good-bye,” and went away to live with the angels; that stands by me now pointing to where my child is waiting for me in the bowers that kiss the very porch of Heaven. Without this faith how awful would be the dirge, “earth to earth, dust to dust.” Blessed book that tells us we shall meet “beyond the river, where the surges cease to roll;” that death is but the doorway to a better land, “the grave a subway to a sweeter clime.”
My dear young friends, accept this faith and you will find in it a sweet companion up the hillward way of life, and down the sunset slope to the valley of death, where it will not leave nor forsake you, but will wait till you throw off your “burden of clay,” then “bear you away on its balmy wings to your eternal home.” Young men, may you so follow the safe side of life, that when its great trials come, you can with the wings of faith cleave the clouds and soar safely above the thunders that roll at your feet.
My closing advice is, “Walk not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stand in the way of sinners; but delight in the law of the Lord; and in his law meditate day and night. In due season your life will fruit and whatsoever you do will prosper.”
Though announced to lecture on Platform Experiences, it is my purpose to give you a kind of platform analysis, to tell you what I know about lecturing, lectures, oratory and orators, using personal experiences for illustration.
We have about eight thousand Chautauqua days, and fifteen thousand lecture courses in this country every year, and yet comparatively few persons know the history of the platform. Many have an idea that free speech, like free air, has ever been a boon to mankind. They have no conception of what it has cost, in imprisonment, exile, blood and tears.
I am indebted to “Pond’s History of the Platform” for facts and illustrations in the early history of the platform in England. Two hundred years ago in our mother land, the word platform meant no more than a resting place for boxes and barrels. A religious service was simply a routine of ritual, while such a thing as a public man addressing the masses was unknown. Sir William Pitt, one of England’s greatest statesman and orators, in all his public life uttered only two sentences to the public outside of Parliament. If William Jennings Bryan had lived in Pitt’s day, he would have been ignored by the Prime Minister of England.
The first leaders of thought to come in contact with the people and thrill them by the power of speech were John Wesley and George Whitefield. “On a mount called Rose Hill, near Bristol, England, George Whitefield laid the foundation of the modern platform.” From Rose Hill his audiences grew until on Kensington Commons thirty thousand people tried to get within reach of his captivating voice. It has been truthfully said: “At the feet of John Wesley and George Whitefield the people of England learned their first lessons in popular government.”
This innovation, however, met with sneers, jeers and persecution from the established conservatism of church and state, and when the platform attempted to enter the arena of politics, Parliament decided the “public clamor must end.” A bill was framed forbidding any public gatherings except such as should be called by the magistrates.
In advocating this bill a member of Parliament said: “The art of political discussion does not belong outside of Parliament. Men who are simply merchants, mechanics and farmers must not be allowed to publicly criticise the constitution.” To this the platform made reply: “From such as we the Master selected those who were to sow the seed of living bread in the wilds of Galilee.” The bill passed by an overwhelming majority. Punishment ran from fine and imprisonment to years of exile from the country, and from this time on, the battle raged between Parliament and platform. Later on we shall note the results.
I am often interviewed by men, and sometimes by women, who desire to reach the platform. They say to me: “What steps did you take?”
My answer is, I never took any; I stumbled, was picked up by circumstances and pitched upon the platform.
At a picnic in a grove near Winchester, Ky., in 1869, a noted temperance orator was to give an address. He failed to reach the grove on time, and I was prevailed upon to act as time-killer until his arrival. I was not entirely without experience, having belonged to a debating society in a country school.
When I had spoken about thirty minutes, to my great relief, the orator of the day made his appearance. The flattering comments upon my talk induced me to accept other invitations to address temperance meetings, and before I knew what had happened, the platform was under my feet, calls were numerous and my life work was established. I suppose those who consult me are encouraged to know a mere stumble directed my course, and if so, by purpose and preparation they can surely succeed.
Some persons seem to think lecturing a very simple occupation, requiring only a glib tongue, and a good pair of lungs. Several years ago, I received a letter from a young man in which he wrote: “I heard you lecture last week. I would like to become a lecturer myself. I have no experience and very little education, but I have a very strong voice and am sure I could be heard by a large audience. I have been working in a horse-barn but am now out of a job. If I had a lecture, I think I could make a living; besides I would get to see the country. If you will write me one I will send you two dollars.” I do not know whether the young man gauged the price by the estimate of the lecture he had heard me give, or his monetary condition, but if audacity is a requisite for the platform, this young man was not entirely without qualification.
This is an extreme case, and yet there are those whose minds are storehouses of knowledge, who can no more become popular platform speakers, than could the young man, who was ready to set sail on the sea of oratory, with a lusty pair of lungs and a two dollar lecture.
Charles Spurgeon, the great London preacher, said: “I have never yet learned the art of lecturing. If you have ever seen a goose fly, you have seen Spurgeon trying to lecture.”
Mr. Spurgeon called lecturing an art, and why not? If the hand that paints a picture true to life and pleasing to the eye, is the hand of an artist, why is not the tongue that paints a picture true to life and pleasing to the mind’s eye the tongue of an artist?
It is an art to know how to get hold of an audience. There was an occasion in my experience when I had extreme necessity for the use of this art. When President Cleveland wrote his Venezuela message in which he threatened war with England, the threat was published in Toronto, Canada, on Saturday and I was announced to lecture in the large pavilion on Sunday afternoon.
The message of President Cleveland had aroused the patriotic spirit of Canada. The hall was packed. It seemed to me I could see frost upon the eyebrows of every man and icicles in the ears of the women.
When introduced there was a painful silence. I began by saying: “Doubtless many of you have come to hear what an American has to say about Venezuela. I must admit I am not acquainted with the merits of the question. I suppose, however, the message of our President is one of the arts of diplomacy. But I do know I speak the sentiment of the best people of my country when I say: ’May the day never dawn whose peace will be broken by signal guns of war between Great Britain and the United States.’” I said:
“When John and Jonathan forget,
The scar of anger’s wound to fret,
And smile to think of an ancient feud,
Which the God of nations turned to good;
Then John and Jonathan will be,
Abiding friends, o’er land and sea;
In their one great purpose, the world will ken,
Peace on earth, goodwill to men.”
The great audience arose and cheered until all sense of chill had departed.
It is not only an art to get hold of an audience, but equally a matter of good taste to know when to let go. This is a qualification some have not acquired. I followed a very distinguished man several years ago and the comment was: “He was fine the first hour and a half, but the last hour he grew tiresome.”
In this busy age, the world wants thoughts packed into small compass. The average audience wants a preacher to put his best thoughts into a thirty-minute package. The day was, when people would sit on backless board benches and listen to a sermon of two hours; now they won’t swing in a hammock and endure one of more than fifty minutes.
Rev. Dr. Dewey, of Brooklyn, New York, tells of a minister who was given to reading his sermons. On one occasion when he had read about twenty minutes, he halted and said: “I have a young dog at my house that is given to chewing paper. I find he has mutilated my manuscript, which is my excuse for this short sermon.” A visiting lady after service said: “Doctor, have you any more of the breed of that dog? I would like to get one for our pastor.”
In this age of crowded moments concentration means executation; energy means success. If you can’t put fire into your sermon, put your sermon in the fire.
A few years ago when in New York City, I went to see Madame Bernhardt in her famous play, Joan of Arc. She spoke in French, an unknown tongue to me; but when she came to her defense before the court, I realized as never before the power of speech and action. She had given one-fourth of that marvelous appeal, when the great audience arose and began to cheer. Madame Bernhardt folded her arms, bowed her head and waited for silence.
When order was restored she sprang a step forward. It seemed to me every feature of her face, every finger on her hands, every gleam of eye and movement of body was an appeal to the stern tribunal. In the trembling, murmuring voice that ran like a strain of sad, sweet music through sunless gorges of grief, the great audience read her plea for mercy and wept. Some who could not restrain their emotion sobbed aloud.
When from the depths of solemn sound that same voice arose like the swell of a silver trumpet, and in clarion tones demanded justice, cheer after cheer testified to the power of the orator actress. Never was there a sob of the sea more mournful, than the voice of Sarah Bernhardt as she played upon the harp strings of pity; and never did words rush in greater storm fury from human lips, than when she demanded justice. No stop nor note nor pedal nor key in the organ of speech was left untouched by this genius in tragic art.
It would be well if every public speaker could hear Sarah Bernhardt give that defense of the Maid of Orleans. Indeed I believe if the forensic eloquence of the stage could be transferred to the pulpit greater audiences and greater rewards would follow. If you doubt this, go read the sermons of George Whitefield or the lectures of John B. Gough and you will wonder at their success unless you take into consideration their mysterious power of delivery.
I cannot give you one sentence Madame Bernhardt uttered, but I do know the influence of that address remains with me to this day and now and then I find myself reaching out after the secret of oratory. “It is not so much what you say as how you say it,” has become a proverb.
Some years ago I lectured in an Iowa village on a bitter cold evening. The rear of the hall was up on posts. When introduced there was only one inch between my shoe soles and zero, while a cold wind from a broken window struck the back of my head. It occurred to me that if I would play Bernhardt I might save a spell of pneumonia.
In a few moments I was pacing the platform, swinging my arms and stamping my feet to keep up circulation. I put all the intensity, activity and personality possible into one hour and left the platform.
Returning to the hotel a commercial traveler who had heard me a number of times said: “I congratulate you; you get younger. I never heard you put so much life into your lecture.”
I replied: “Why man, I was trying to keep my feet from freezing.”
He said: “I advise you to go on the platform every evening with cold feet.”
John and Charles Wesley were going along a street in London when they came upon two market women engaged in a wordy war. John Wesley said: “Hold up, Charles, and let’s learn how to preach. See how these women put earnestness and even eloquence into their street quarrel. Can’t we be just as earnest and eloquent in dealing out the truth?” No wonder John Wesley gave such impetus to the platform.
It is said what John Wesley and George Whitefield were to the religious platform, Fox and Burke became later on to the political platform. They saw the platform was fast becoming the voice of public sentiment and dared to indorse it.
When Mr. Fox made his first platform address he said: “This is the first time I ever had the privilege of addressing an uncorrupted assembly.” Going back into Parliament he said: “Let’s put an end to a policy that separates us from the people. Let’s cut all cables, snap all chains that bind us to an unfriendly shore and enter the peaceful harbor of public confidence.”
When Mr. Burke made his platform debut, he was so inspired by the enthusiasm of the people, it is said, he made the greatest speech ever made in the English language up to that time. When he appeared in Parliament next evening a leader of the government took occasion to denounce the platform as a disturber of public peace, directing his remarks to Mr. Burke. The great orator was ready with the reply: “Yes, and the firebell at midnight disturbs public peace, but it keeps you from burning in your beds.”
It would seem after years of fruitless effort to silence the platform, Parliament would accept it as a power for good and give it wise direction. Yet we are informed that in face of its growing popularity when Henry Hunt attempted to address an audience in a grove in England, a regiment of cavalry charged the grove. Eleven were killed and several hundred wounded. Henry Hunt was thrown into prison, but when released later one hundred thousand people welcomed him to the streets of London.
As well now had Parliament attempted to prevent a London fog as to prohibit platform meetings. John Bright said: “When I consider these meetings of the people, so sublime in their vastness and resolution, I see coming over the hilltops of time the dawning of a nobler and better day for my country.”
It is our privilege to live in the good day of which John Bright spoke. Yet while a public speaker today is in no dread of arrest or imprisonment for any decent expression of opinion, the platform is not without its hindrances; and some of these will never be cured, while babies cry, architects sacrifice acoustics to style, young people do their courting in public, janitors smother thoughts in foul air, and milliners persist in building up artistic barriers between speaker and audience.
Here let me give a bit of advice to my own sex. Gentlemen, when you purchase a new hat, no matter if a ten dollar silk, or a twenty dollar panama, do not attend a lecture, and taking a seat in front of some intelligent lady forget to remove your hat. The lady may want to see the speaker’s face, and he may need the inspiration of her countenance, while you are interfering with both. “A hint to the wise is sufficient.” This hint may not be in accord with the advice of Paul, but Paul never saw a twentieth century “Merry Widow” hat. Then too, Paul was already inspired and didn’t need the inspiration of human countenances. I am speaking for the uninspired, to whom an audience of hatless heads is an inspiration.
But few persons realize how a public speaker is affected by little influences. The flitting of a blind bat over a church audience on a summer evening, will mar the most fascinating flight of eloquence ever plumed from a pulpit.
When Nancy Hanks broke the world’s trotting record at Independence, Iowa, some years ago, her former owner, Mr. Hart Boswell, of Lexington, who raised and trained her, was asked if Nancy would ever lower that record. He replied: “Well, if the time comes that the track is just right, the atmosphere just right, the driver just right and Nancy just right, I believe she will.” See the combination. Break it anywhere and the brave little mare would fail.
Just so speakers are affected by conditions, by acoustics, atmosphere, size and temper of the audience, and the speaker’s own mental and physical condition. Many a good sermon has been killed by a poor sexton. Many a grand thought has perished in foul air.
Charles Spurgeon was preaching to a large audience in a mission church in London, when want of ventilation affected speaker and audience. Mr. Spurgeon said to a member of the church: “Brother, lift that window near you.”
“It won’t lift,” replied the brother.
“Then smash the glass and I’ll pay the bill to-morrow,” said Spurgeon.
Suppose the great horse Uhlan should be announced to trot against his record; suppose at the appointed time, with the grandstand crowded and every condition favorable, as the great trotting wonder reached the first quarter pole, some one were to run across the track just ahead of the horse, then another and another; what kind of a record would be made?
What management would allow a horse to be thus handicapped? Where is the man who would be so inconsiderate as to thus hinder a horse? Yet when a minister has worked while the world slept, that he not only might sustain his record but gather souls into the kingdom; when the opening exercises have given sufficient time for all to be present; when the text is announced and the preacher is reaching out after the attention and sympathy of his audience some one enters the door, walks nearly the full length of the aisle; then another and then two more, each one crossing the track of the preacher and yet he is expected to keep up his record and make good. If you are a friend of your pastor be present when he announces his text; give him your attention and thus cheer him on as you would your favorite horse.
An eminent minister said: “There, I had a good thought for you, but the creaking of the new boots of that brother coming down the aisle knocked it quite out of my head.”
One who had heard me many times said: “Why do you do better at Ocean Grove than anywhere else I hear you?” My answer was: “Because of conditions. The great auditorium seats ten thousand, the atmosphere is invigorated by salt sea breezes; a choir of five hundred sing the audience into a receptive mood and the speaker is borne from climax to climax on wings of applause.”
I would not have you infer from this that a large audience is always necessary to success. Indeed the most successful and satisfactory address I ever made was to an audience of one. If I can make as favorable an impression upon you as I did upon that young lady I shall be gratified.
In Pauling, New York, Chauncey M. Depew by his attention and applause inspired me more than the whole audience beside; while time and again have I been helped to do my best by the presence of that matchless queen of the platform, Frances E. Willard.
The very opposite of greatness has had the same effect upon me. At the Pontiac, Illinois, Chautauqua after lecturing to a great audience, I was invited by the superintendent of the State Reformatory to address the inmates of the prison. At the close of a thirty minutes’ talk the superintendent said: “Your address to my boys exceeded the one you gave at the Chautauqua.”
Why was it better? At the Chautauqua I was trying to entertain and instruct an intelligent audience. Within the grey walls of that prison I was reaching down to the very depths, endeavoring to lift up human beings, marred and scarred by sin and crime, but dear to the mothers who bore them and the Savior who died for them.
If I were a preacher in New York City and were announced to preach a sermon on home missionary work I would not go to the church by way of the mansions of the rich where children, shod in satin slippers dance and play over velvet tapestry, but by way of the slums where I would meet the children of misery, where,
“To stand at night ’mid the
And scan the faces that pass along,
Is to read a book whose every leaf
Is a history of woe and want and grief.
As in tears of sorrow and sin and shame,
You read a story of blight and blame,
Your heart goes further than hand can reach
And you feel a sermon you cannot preach.”
Whoever would prove worthy of the platform must have a message and give to it the devotion of mind, heart and conscience, no matter whether his purpose is to convince by reasoning, convert by appeal, delight by rhetoric, or cure melancholy by humor. Each has its useful influence on the platform.
Some persons have an impression that the student deals in logic, while the orator simply starts his tongue to running, and goes off and leaves it to work automatically.
Bishop Robert McIntyre was one of the greatest pulpit orators of his age, yet I dare say this gifted man gave as much time and thought to his famous word painting of the Chicago fire, as Joseph Cook ever gave to mining any treasure of thought he laid upon the altar of education.
I know many teachers of oratory say: “Study your subject, analyze it well, and leave words to the inspiration of the occasion.” But suppose when the occasion comes, instead of inspiration one has indigestion, then what?
While a speaker should not be so confined to composition that he cannot reach out after, and cage any passing bird of thought, yet as the leaf of the mulberry tree must go through the stomach of a silk-worm, before it can become silk, so climaxes should be warped and woofed into language before they can be forceful and beautiful.
At the Lincoln, Nebraska, Assembly some years ago a noted humorist gave an address on the “Philosophy of Wit.” He called oratory a lost art, and to prove his contention he quoted from William Jennings Bryan’s famous Chicago convention speech. He said: “What would a young woman think of her lover who would say ’My darling, the crown of thorns shall never be pressed down upon your fair brow?’” The humorist expected applause but it failed to materialize, for Mr. Bryan is highly respected in his state and his oratory is a charm wherever he is heard.
The speaker not only exhibited poor taste, but his wit was pointless, for when a man can go before a convention of fourteen hundred delegates and by one burst of eloquence capture the convention, secure the nomination for the presidency, and then with the press and the leaders of his party against him go up and down the country, and from the rear of a railroad train, almost capture the White House, the day of oratory is not gone by.
Schriner, the great animal painter, painted the picture of a bony mule eating a tuft of hay. That picture sold in Petersburg, Russia, for fifteen thousand dollars, while the original mule sold for one dollar and thirty cents. If the painting of Schriner made in the price of that mule, a difference of fourteen thousand, nine hundred, ninety-eight dollars and seventy cents why is not word painting worth something?
Listen, while I give you a short extract from the address of James G. Blaine at the memorial service of our martyr President Garfield. With the audience wrought up to the greatest sympathy by his tribute he said:
“Surely if happiness can come from robust health, ideal domestic life and honors of the world James A. Garfield was a happy man that July morning. One moment strong, erect with promise of peaceful, useful years of life before him: The next moment wounded, bleeding, helpless.
“Through the days and weeks of agony that followed, he saw his sun slowly sinking, the plans and purposes of his life broken and the sweetest of household ties soon to be severed.
“Masterful in mortal weakness he became the center of a nation’s love, and enshrined in the prayers of the Christian world.
“As the end drew near, his youthful yearning for the sea returned. The White House palace of power became a hospital of pain. He begged to be taken from its prison walls and stifling air.
“Silently, tenderly the love of a great people bore the pale sufferer to the longed-for healing of the sea. There with wan face lifted to the cooling breeze, he looked wistfully out upon the changing wonders of the ocean; its far-off sails white in the morning light; its restless waves rolling shoreward to break in the noon-day sun; the red clouds of evening arching low, kissing the blue lips of the sea, and above the serene, silent pathway to the stars.
“Let us believe his dying eyes read a mystic meaning only the parting soul can know; that he heard the waves of the ebbing tide of life breaking on the far-off shore, and felt already upon his wasted brow the calm, sweet breath of heaven’s morning.”
Place behind these utterances the rich voice and magnetic manner of the “Plumed Knight” of the platform, and you can realize what oratory means.
If you will here pardon me for going from the sublime to the ridiculous, I will show you how a bit of a school boy rhetoric may win its way over solid argument. In the country school I attended, there was a debating society. Parents as well as their sons were admitted to the society and the public was invited to the debates. On one occasion the question for debate was: “Which is the more attractive, the works of nature or the works of art?”
There had been an appeal from a general debate and this time one speaker was chosen from each side. My father was chosen to represent the negative and I the affirmative. My father was a good speaker but so fond of facts he had no use for rhetoric. I had the opening address of thirty minutes, my father had forty-five minutes and I had fifteen minutes to close the debate.
As father talked I wondered how he ever got hold of so many facts. He piled them up until my first address was swept away by the triumphs of art. The only hope I had for the affirmative was in the closing fifteen minutes. Fortunately for me, the judge was a bachelor and very much in love with a golden-haired, accomplished young woman who lived in a country home very near the schoolhouse, and was then in the audience. In closing the debate I referred to father’s address in a complimentary manner, and then asked the judge to be seated in imagination on a knoll nearby. On one side of that knoll I placed all my father had claimed for art, withholding nothing. On the other side was the home of this Blue Grass belle. I began a description of her home and personality. I pictured “the orchard, the meadow, the deep tangled wild-wood and every loved spot” the judge well knew. I pictured the brook that ran through the meadow into the woodland and on down the valley, singing as it ran,
“I wind about and in and out,
With here a blossom sailing;
Here and there a lusty trout,
And here and there a grey-ling.”
When my time was half gone I felt I was gone too unless I could get a little nearer the heart of the judge. Opening the door art had made to shut in the flowers of a lovely family I brought out the golden-haired girl.
Taking off the sun-bonnet of art, that the good-night kisses of the sinking sun might enrich her rosy cheeks and golden tresses, I sent her strolling down the winding walk hedged in by hawthorn and hyacinth to the water’s brink. Here I gave her a cushion of blue-grass, and with the rising moon pouring its shimmering sheen upon the ripples at her feet, I sent her voice floating away on the evening air singing: “Roll on silver moon, guide the traveler on his way.” Here the audience cheered, the judge smiled and I felt encouraged.
With but two minutes left I had the shapely fingers of nature, take out the hair-pins of art and the golden tresses fall about the snowy neck of nature. Then came the untying of the shoe-strings of art; off came the shoes and stockings of art, and the pretty feet of nature were dipping in the limpid stream. I said, “Judge, the question is, which is the more attractive, the works of nature or the works of art? With my father’s picture of steam engines, stage coaches, reapers, binders, mowing machines and every known triumph of art on one side; on the other the highest type of the world’s creation, a beautiful woman, the stars of nature stooping to kiss her brow, and laughing waters of nature leaping to kiss her feet; where your eyes would rest there let your decision be given.”
After the debate a friend said to me: “It was that last home picture that saved you.” My father who heard the remark said, “Yes, a picture of a red-headed girl washing her feet in a goose branch.” I may add, I was careful after the contest not to get very near the young lady with whom I had taken such platform liberty.
Reason, rhetoric, pathos, poetry, diction, gesture, wit and humor, each has its place on the platform. While logic sounds the depths of thought, humor ripples its surface with laughing wavelets. While reason cultivates the cornfields of the mind, rhetoric beautifies the pleasure gardens.
John B. Gough was the most popular platform orator of his day. He began lecturing at from two to five dollars an evening. He grew in popularity until he was in demand at five hundred dollars a lecture, and no one before or since more successfully used all the arts of the platform, from the comic that drew the very rabble of the streets, to flights of eloquence that captured college culture. It has been well said: “While Gough was a great preacher of righteousness, he was a whole theatre in dramatic delivery.” Lecturers, like preachers, are fishers of men, and there are as many kinds of people in an average audience as there are kinds of fish in the sea. It requires variety of bait for humanity as well as for fish.
Sam Jones used slang as one kind of bait and he used to say: “It beats all how it draws.” I saw this verified at Ottawa, Kansas, Chautauqua. Giving a Saturday evening lecture he baited the platform with slang, satire and humor. Sunday afternoon an hour before time for his lecture the people were hurrying to the auditorium. When presented to the great audience he said: “Record! Record! Record!” I remember the sermon as one of the sweetest and most powerful I ever heard. Its influence will not cease this side the eternal morning.
Rowland Hill, the popular London preacher, used quaint humor to draw the people, and powerful appeal to sweep them into the kingdom.
It is said the fountain of laughter and fountain of tears lie very close together. My experience has been, that often the best way to the fountain of tears is by the way of the fountain of laughter. Some years ago at Ocean Grove, New Jersey, I was to lecture on the subject, “Boys and Girls, Nice and Naughty.” A wealthy widow and her only son were there from New York, where the young boy had been leading a “gay life.” Ocean Grove with its quiet, moral atmosphere was a dull place for this young man. He happened to read the subject for the lecture on the bulletin board, and thinking it suggestive of humor he went to hear the lecture. He had what he went for, as the lecture did deal with the fountain of laughter, but it also dealt with the fountain of tears. It swung the red lantern of danger athwart the pathway of the wayward young man. Following a story of mother love, I said: “Young man, let the cares and burdens of life press you down to the very earth, let the great waves of sorrow roll over your soul, but let no act of yours ever roll a clod upon the coffin of her, whose image, enshrined upon the inner walls of your memory, white winters and long bright summers can never wash away.”
A minister told me after, that in a young people’s meeting this young man arose and said: “I attended a lecture at Ocean Grove, thinking I would have a humorous entertainment. I left the auditorium the saddest soul in the great audience. Going down to the beach I tried to drive away the spell, but it grew upon me. I could see how I had grieved my mother, and the past came rolling up like the waves of the ocean. I shuddered as they broke on my awakened conscience and quickened memory. Behind me was an unhallowed past, and before me the brink of an awful eternity. There and then I resolved to change my course. Alone under the stars I made my resolve and then started to my mother. She was waiting for me, and said: ’My son, I wished for you at the lecture this evening. I think you would have enjoyed it.’ I then told her I was determined to lead a new life and had come to seal my vow with her kiss.”
That young man went to the lecture to laugh, he left to walk alone with God under the stars by the ocean deep, there to decide to lead a righteous life, and seal the vow with a loving mother’s kiss.
So while in my humble way I have endeavored to use the arts that entertain I have cherished the purpose to better human lives.
I have referred to the platform as being baited for humanity. Have you ever considered how it is baited to resist the forces of evil?
The day was when Satan had an attraction trust that controlled about the whole output of entertainment. The platform now is a picture gallery where is to be had all beauty in nature, from our own land to the land of the midnight sun.
In moving pictures it presents to those who never saw ship, sail or sea, the landing of a great steamer, with splashing of spray as real as if seen from the dock. To those who enjoy music it furnishes band concerts, orchestra, bell-ringing, quartettes, solos, plantation melodies, rag-time tunes and women whistlers.
The platform today beats the devil in output of entertainment. It has scoured field and forest, trained birds and dogs to round out the program of a chautauqua.
Its breadth takes in all creeds and kinds. While it greets with waving lilies Bishop Vincent, leader of the great chautauqua movement, it cordially welcomes the priest, the Jew, the Chinaman, the negro, republican, democrat, progressive, prohibitionist, socialist and suffragist.
The platform has grown to be a great university, a musical festival, a zoological garden, an art institute, an agricultural college and a domestic science school.
Do you ask has the platform any blemishes? I answer yes. All enterprises have their blemishes. The press is a potent power for good and yet many bad things get into print. Sometimes from the platform come voices without the ring of sincerity, entertainments without uplifting influence and anecdotes without respect to public decency. When attending platform entertainments one should discriminate as when eating fish, enjoy the meat and discard the bones. With good taste in selection one rarely ever need go away hungry.
I am often asked: “Where do you find the most appreciative audiences?”
First, I would reply, in rural communities where the people are not surfeited with entertainment. Second, I would say, applause does not always mean appreciation. It is said “still water runs deep.” In Chickering Hall, New York, one Sunday afternoon a lady sat before me whose diamonds and dress indicated wealth. A lad sat by her side. My subject was, “The Safe Side of Life for Young Men.” It was a temperance address and the thought came to me; that lady is a wine drinker and she is disappointed that I am to talk temperance. She did not cheer with the audience, nor did she give any expression of face that would indicate her interest, except that she kept her eyes fixed upon the speaker. At the close she came to the platform and said: “I brought my son with me and you said what I wanted him to hear; I thank you,” and with this she took my hand saying, “Again I thank you,” and turning away, left a coin in my hand.
I put it in my pocket, and on returning to the hotel found she had given me a twenty dollar gold piece. That was gold standard appreciation.
I am frequently asked: “What do you recall as the best introduction you ever had?”
I have had all kinds, some amusing, but the one I cherish most was given by Ferd Schumacher, the deceased oatmeal king of Akron, Ohio. He came to this country from Germany. By industry and economy he accumulated enough money to engage in making oatmeal. When he had rounded up more than a million of dollars in wealth, the insurance ran out on his great “Jumbo Mills” in Akron. The insurance company raised the rate and while he was dickering with the company, the great plant was swept away in a midnight fire. Mr. Schumacher was a very earnest temperance man and was to introduce me for the W.C.T.U. in the large armory the Sunday after the fire. It was supposed he would not be present because of the severe strain and his great loss. But prompt to the minute he entered the door, and ’mid the applause of sympathetic friends he took the platform.
In presenting the speaker he said: “Ladies and schentlemen, I must be personal for a moment while I thank the people of Akron for their sympathy. I did not know I had so many good friends. But the mill vot vos burned vos made of stone and vood and nails and paint. We come to talk to you about a fire vot is burning up the homes, the hopes, the peace of vimen and children and the immortal souls of men; vill you please take your sympathy off of Ferd Schumacher and give it to Mr. Bain while he talks about the great fire of intemperance.”
I am opposed to indiscriminate immigration to this country, but if the old world has any more Ferd Schumachers desiring to come to America, may He who rules winds and waves, fill with harmless pressure the billows on which they ride and give them safe entrance into our country’s haven.
Many inquire of me about the lyceum platform as a profession. My answer is: “like the famed shield it has two sides.” One who has a lovely home and rarely leaves it said to me: “I envy you your life-work. You get to see the country, visit the great cities, meet the best people and get fat fees for your lectures.” How distance does lend enchantment to the view sometimes!
A few years ago we notified the bureaus not to make engagements away from the railroads in the northwest during the blizzard months. A letter came saying: “Enter Wessington College, outside of Woonsocket.” We supposed outside meant adjacent. Arriving at Woonsocket in a blizzard I found Wessington seventeen miles away. Wrapped in robes I made the drive, arriving about six o’clock in the evening. On arrival I was informed that smallpox had broken out in the village. The hotel had been quarantined but a room had been engaged for me in a private home. While taking my supper my hostess said: “Would you know smallpox if you were to see the symptoms?”
“Know what? Why do you ask that?” I asked.
She called attention to the face of her daughter who was serving the supper. One glance and my appetite fled, as I said: “Excuse me, please. I must get ready for my lecture,” and I left the room. One hour later I stood before a vaccinated audience with visions of smallpox floating before me, and for days after I imagined I could feel it coming.
Add to this experience midnight rides on freight trains, long drives in rain, mud and storm, ten minutes for lunch at sandwich counter, eight months of the year away from home—the only heaven one who loves his family has on earth, and you have a taste of the side my neighbor did not see.
There is, however, a bright side. Whoever can get the ear of the public from the platform, has an opportunity to sow seed, the fruit of which will be gathered by angels when he has gone to his reward. One so long on the platform as I have been, cannot fail in having experiences that gladden the heart, if he has done faithful service.
Out of hundreds I select one experience that should encourage all who labor in the Master’s vineyard. I had traveled two hundred miles in a day to reach an engagement, and the last seven miles in a buggy over a miserable road. I did not reach the village until nine o’clock. Without supper and chilled by the ride, I threw off my wraps and wearily made my way through the lecture. A little later in my room at the hotel, while I was taking a lunch of bread and milk, a minister entered and said: “You seem to be very tired.” When I answered, “Never more so,” he replied: “I have a story to tell you which will perhaps rest you.”
Continuing he said: “Some twenty years ago, you lectured in a village where there was a state normal school. It was Sunday evening. At the hotel were three young men, and to see the girls of the college, these young men went to the lecture. One was the only son of a wealthy widow. He had not seen his mother for months. She had begged him to come home, but he was sowing his wild oats and ashamed to face his mother. That evening you made an earnest appeal to young men in the name of home and mother. The arrow went to the heart of the wild young fellow. On returning to the hotel he said to his companions: ’Come up to my room, let’s have a talk.’ On entering the room he closed the door and said: ’Boys, I want to open my heart to you. I am overwhelmed with a sense of wrong-doing. I am done with the saloon, done with the gambling table, done with evil associations. I am going home to-morrow and make mother happy. Boys, let’s join hands and swear off from drink and evil habits; let’s honor our manhood and our mothers.’
“Now for the sequel that I think will rest you. That wild boy is now a wealthy man. I give you his name, though I would not have you call it in public. He is a Christian philanthropist, and has never broken his pledge. The second boy holds the highest office in the gift of this government in a western territory, and the third stands before you now, an humble minister of the gospel.”
It did rest me. I would rather have been the humble instrument in turning those three young men to a righteous life, than to wear the brightest wreath that ever encircled a stateman’s brow.
For such men as Sylvester Long, Roland A. Nichols, Robert Parker Miles and Bishop Robert McIntyre to tell me my lectures helped to shape their lives, fills my soul with joy as I face the setting sun.
Chance, the noted English engineer, built a thousand sea-lights, shore-lights and harbor-lights. When in old age he lay dying, a wild storm on the sea seemed to revive him by its association with his life-work. He said to the watchers: “Lift me up and let me see once more the ocean in a storm.”
As he looked out, the red lightning ripped open the black wardrobe of the firmament, and he saw the salted sea driven by the fury of the hurricane into great billows of foam. Sinking back upon his pillows his last words were: “Thank God, I have been a lighthouse builder, and though the light of my life is fast fading, the beams of my lighthouse are brightening the darkness of many a sailor’s night.”
When my life-work closes, and my platform experiences are ended, I would ask no better name than that of an humble lighthouse builder, who here and there from the shore-points of life’s ocean, has sent out a friendly beam, to brighten the darkness of some brother’s night.
THE DEFEAT OF THE NATION’S DRAGON.
Joseph Cook said in one of his Boston lectures: “Whenever the temperance cause has attempted to fly with one wing, whether moral suasion or legal suasion, its course has been a spiral one. It will never accomplish its mission in this world, until it strikes the air with equal vans, each wing keeping time with the other, both together winnowing the earth of the tempter and the tempted.”
I congratulate the friends of temperance upon the progress both wings have made since the beginning of their flight.
The first temperance pledge we have any record of ran thus: “I solemnly promise upon my word of honor I will abstain from everything that will intoxicate, except at public dinners, on public holidays and other important occasions.” The first prohibitory law was a local law in a village on Long Island and ran thus: “Any man engaged in the sale of intoxicating liquors, who sells more than one quart of rum, whiskey or brandy to four boys at one time shall be fined one dollar and two pence.”
A sideboard without brandy or rum was an exception, while the jug was imperative at every log-raising and in the harvest field. It was said of even a Puritan community,
“Their only wish and only prayer,
In the present world or world to come,
Is a string of Eels and a jug of rum.”
When Doctor Leonard Bacon was installed pastor of the First Congregational Church in New Haven, Conn., in 1825, free drinks were ordered at the bar of the hotel, for all visiting members, to be paid for by the church. Today all protestant churches declare against the drink habit and the drink sale. Pulpits are thundering away against the saloon. Children are studying the effects of alcohol upon the human system in nearly every state in the Union. Train loads of literature are pouring into the homes of the people. A mighty army of as godly women as ever espoused a cause is battling for the home, against the saloon. The business world is demanding total-abstainers, and fifty millions of people in the United States are living under prohibitory laws.
Not only in this but in every civilized land the cause of temperance is growing. Recently in France it was found there were more deaths than births, which meant France was dying. A commission was appointed to look into the causes. When the report was made, alcohol headed the list. Now by order of the government linen posters are put up in public buildings, and on these in blood red letters are these warnings: “Alcohol dangerous; alcohol chronic poison; alcohol leads to the following diseases; alcohol is the enemy of labor; alcohol disrupts the home!”
Who would have thought an Emperor of Germany would ever “go back” on beer? Emperor William in an address to the sailors recommended total-abstinence and forbid under penalty the giving of liquor to soldiers in the world’s greatest war. The Czar of Russia has put an end to the government’s connection with the manufacture of intoxicating liquors, and our Secretary of the Navy has banished it from the ships and navy yards. The New York Sun says: “The business world is getting to be one great temperance league.” For many years it was confined to the realm of morals, but today it is recognized as a great economic question and the business world is joining the church world in solving the liquor problem.
While the temperance cause has been going up in character, the drink has been going down in quality. The old time distiller used to select his site along some crystal stream, that had its fountain-head in the mountains and ran over beds of limestone. With sound grain and pure water, he made several hundred barrels of whiskey a year, and after five to ten years of ripening, it was sent out with the makers’ brand upon it. Now the North American of Philadelphia, one of our leading dailies says, rectifiers (and I would prefix one letter and make it w-r-e-c-k-t-i-f-i-e-r-s) take one barrel from the distillery and by a pernicious, poisonous process, make one hundred barrels from one barrel.
It is true the sting of the adder and the bite of the serpent were in the old-time whiskey, but it was as pure as it could be made. Doctor Wiley, Ex-Chief of the Bureau of Chemistry, says: “Eighty-five per cent. of all the whiskey sold in the saloons, hotels and club-rooms is not whiskey at all but a cheap base imitation.” In the different concoctions made are found aconite, acquiamonia, angelica root, arsenic, alum, benzine, belladonna, beet-root juice, bitter almond, coculus-indicus, sulphuric acid, prussic acid, wood alcohol, boot soles and tobacco stems. No wonder we have more murders in this republic than in any civilized land beneath the sky in proportion to population.
Along with this adulteration of the drink has gone the degeneracy of the saloon and the seller. The day was when officers in churches could sell liquor and retain their membership. Today the saloonkeeper is barred from the protestant churches, barred from Masons, Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias, Red Men, Woodmen, Maccabees and nearly every other fraternal organization of the world.
The saloon itself has become such a vicious resort, that when the police look for a murderer they go to the saloon. When any vile character is sought for, the saloon is searched. When anarchists meet to plan for a Hay-market murder in Chicago, they meet in the saloon. When an assassin plans to shoot down our President at an exposition, he goes from the saloon. When a fire breaks out in Chicago or Boston the first order is, close the saloons. Don’t close any other business house, but close the saloon. If a mob threatens Pittsburg, Cincinnati, or Atlanta, close the saloons. If an earthquake strikes San Francisco, close the saloons. In our large cities gambling rooms are attached to the saloons with wine rooms above for women, and while our boys are being ruined downstairs, girls are destroyed upstairs.
There are many thousands of women in painted shame, who would now be safe inside life’s Eden of purity but for the saloon. The South Side Club of Chicago said in 1914: “The back rooms of four hundred and forty-five saloons on only three streets of this city contribute to the delinquency of fourteen thousand girls every twenty-four hours.” Is it any wonder the saloons hide behind green blinds or stained glass windows?
There is a fish in the sea known as the “Devil Fish.” It lies on its back with open mouth and covers itself with sea moss. Over its open mouth is a bait. When an unsuspecting fish nibbles at the bait, with a quick snap it is caught and devoured. Do you see any analogy between this fish and a certain business that hides itself behind painted windows or green blinds and hangs out a bait of “free lunch” or “Turtle Soup”? A fish that sets a trap for its kind is called a “Devil Fish;” a business that does the like is recognized as a legitimate trade and permitted for the sake of revenue.
Every other recognized business has improved in quality with the years. The saloon has grown worse and worse, until it is bad and only bad; bad in the beginning, bad in the middle, bad in the end, bad inside, outside, upside, downside. It is so bad, the liquor dealers are the only business men who are ashamed to put on exhibition their finished products. In great expositions other trades present finished wares. They do not display the tools used in making what they present for exhibition but the finished goods. Not so with the liquor dealers; they put on exhibition the tools with which they work, but not a single specimen of the finished product of their trade do they present for inspection.
“That’s a fine fit of clothes you have, sir.” “Yes,” says the tailor, “I put up that job; glad you like my work.”
“That’s a fine building across the way.” “Yes,” says the architect, “that’s my job and I am quite proud of it.”
“That’s a handsome bonnet you wear, madam.” “Yes,” says the milliner, “that’s my creation of style and I am rather proud of my work.”
Yonder is a man intoxicated. He staggers and falls; his head strikes the curb-stone; the blood besmears his face; the police lift him up and start with him to the station house. Did you hear a saloon keeper say: “That’s my creation; I put up that job and I’m proud of my work.”
Some one said recently in defense of the business: “The saloon keeper deserves more consideration.” This writer should know that consideration has been the source of its undoing. Lord Chesterfield considered it and said: “Drink sellers are artists in human slaughter.” Senator Morrill, of Maine, considered and pronounced it “the gigantic crime of all crimes.” Senator Long, of Massachusetts considered it and called it “the dynamite of modern civilization.” Henry W. Grady, our brilliant southerner, considered it and said: “It is the destroyer of men, the terror of women and the shadow on the face of childhood. It has dug more graves and sent more souls to judgment than all the pestilences since Egypt’s plague, or all the wars since Joshua stood before the walls of Jericho.” The New York Tribune considered it and said: “It’s the clog upon the wheels of American progress.” The Bible considered it and compares its influence to the bite of serpents, the sting of adders, the poison of asps, and heaps the woes of God’s will upon it.
Sam Jones said: “When the Bible says woe, you better stop,” and as certain as seed time brings harvest it will stop, not because of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, or the Anti-Saloon League, or the Prohibition Party, but because afar back in the blue haze of the past the seed of prohibition was planted in the soil of Divine truth.
Ever since God declared woe against the evils of mankind, the batteries of the holy Bible have been trained upon the “wine that gives its color in the cup,” and the man who “giveth his neighbor drink and maketh him drunken also.”
It will stop, because error cannot stand agitation. Whoever espouses the cause of error must evade facts, falsify figures, libel logic, tangle his tongue or pen with contradictions and wind up in confusion.
The able editor of the Courier Journal of Kentucky came to the defense of this error, and with all his brilliancy and culture, he resorted to personal abuse of temperance workers, because he could not occupy a higher plane in defense of the saloon. He made up what he called an “ominum gatherum,” of “bigots,” “hay-seed politicians,” “fake philosophers,” “cranks,” “scamps,” “professional sharps,” “mad caps of destruction,” “preachers who would sell corner lots in heaven,” “a riff-raff of moral idiots and red-nosed angels.”
I could hardly believe my own eyes when I read this frantic phillipic from one I had esteemed so highly for his intellect; one whose element is up where eagles soar, and not down where baser birds feast upon rotten spots in a world of beauty. Only a few days before I had read his beautiful tribute to Lincoln, delivered at the unveiling in Hodgenville, in which he said of the great emancipator: “He never lost his balance or tore a passion to tatters,” yet the finished orator who paid the tribute, when he espouses the cause of error, flies into a paroxysm of passion and tears the dignity of his own self-control into shreds.
Knowing as I do the culture, refinement and polished manners of the great journalist, I wondered what aggravating force could have so unbalanced his mental scales and led him to so bitterly denounce those, whose only offense is, trying to do what Lincoln did, abolish an evil. If this resourceful writer were only converted to the truth on this question, what an “ominum gatherum” he could make from the work of the saloon curse.
The clergymen, called “canting, diabolical preachers,” deserve more respectful consideration from one who well knows their sincerity. They are men of brains, heart and conscience; men who believe that righteousness rather than revenue exalts a nation, and that sin, no matter how much money invested in it, is a reproach to any people. These ministers believe it to be morally wrong to convert God’s golden grain into what debases mankind. They preach that what is morally wrong can never be made politically right. With them it is a matter of deep, permanent conviction. Such attacks are made to divert attention from the accused at the bar of public opinion.
It is the saloon that is on trial, not cranks, or moral idiots, or ministers. The saloon is charged with being the enemy of every virtue and ally of every vice, that it injures public health, public peace and public morals. The Supreme Court says: “No legislature has the right to barter away public health, public peace or the public morals; the people themselves cannot do so, much less their servants.”
In face of this declaration of the Supreme Court, legislators do barter away public health, public peace and public morals to the organized liquor traffic. All along the cruel career of this enemy of peace, health and morals, it has been pampered and petted by politicians who have been as much charmed by its promise of votes, as was Eve in the Garden of Eden by the serpent’s assurance. Deceived by the serpent of the still, they have not only disregarded the decision of the Supreme Court but defied God’s plan of dealing with sin. They have persisted in trying to regulate an irregularity in morals by licensing the greatest sin of the century, and have done so to their shame and failure in any regulation effort ever made. The only way to cure chills is to kill the malaria. The only way to cure the cursed liquor traffic is to cast it out of our civilization by a universal, everlasting prohibition of the manufacture, importation and sale of intoxicating liquor.
Rev. Howard Crosby, of New York, in advocating high license as a means of reducing the number of saloons, said in an address: “Suppose a tiger were to get loose in the city, would you not confine him to a few blocks rather than let him roam the city at large?” Some one in the audience answered aloud: “No Doctor, we would kill the tiger.”
How does regulation regulate? Take the city of Louisville, Ky., where I resided a number of years, and where I observed the practical working of the license system. Go there any Monday morning and you will see from twenty to forty men and women in the cage next to the Police Court room. A marshal stands at the door of the cage and takes them out one at a time. You will hear the judge say: “ten dollars and cost,” which means thirty days in the workhouse. Forty days pass and here is the same man in the Police Court: thirty days to serve his time, ten days to get a little money and then another drunk. Some do not know how many times they have been before the court. I was there one day when an Irishman was arraigned. The Judge said: “Pat, how many times have you been before this court?”
“Faith, and your books will tell ye,” replied the Irishman. Judge Price, the police judge at the time, said to me: “There are a number of men, and several women I know in this city, who pass through the courtroom on their way to the workhouse so regularly, I can guess within a few days of the time they will appear.” They pass like buckets at a fire, going up full and returning empty.
There is an asylum in this country where, I am told, they test a man’s insanity in this way. They have a trough which holds one hundred gallons of water. Above is an open tap through which the water pours constantly, and of course the trough keeps on running over. The patient is brought to the trough, given a bucket and told to dip out the water. If he dips all day and has not mind enough to turn off the tap, he is considered a very serious case. If this test were put to our license lawmakers, I fear they would have to go to the incurable ward. They have for many years been picking up drunkards from the gutters and opening taps for them to keep on pouring into the streets. Under this system the saloon keepers are playing ten-pins. You know in playing ten-pins there is a long alley, at one end of which stand the pins, while at the other stands the player with a ball in his hand. He rolls the ball down the alley and knocks down the pins. Some one sets them up, and to that some one, who is often a boy, the player will toss a dime and say: “set them up quick.” Does he let them stand? No! he rolls the ball down the alley and down go the pins. The saloon keeper has the ball of law in his hands. No matter whether a high or low license ball, he paid the price for the use of the ball. When temperance workers set up drunkards and they get a little money in their pockets away goes the ball and they are down again. When a church revival picks up a few drunkards the saloon keeper will say: “Here’s a dollar to help in your meeting.” Then in his mind he says: “Set up the drunkards who are out of employment and money, get them positions, and when they can earn money again, again I’ll bowl them down.” Under the license system the saloon is playing ten-pins with temperance associations, ten-pins with the church and ten-pins with society. I have faith to believe the time is drawing near when the balls will be confiscated and the pins can stand when we do set them up.
I know many have not this faith because they believe prohibitory laws are failures. They base their belief on the violation of the law. By that rule everything is a failure. Married life is a failure; its laws are grossly violated. Home life is a failure; there are many miserable homes. The school is a failure; many a father has put thousands of dollars into the education of his son and found it wasted in riotous living. The church is a failure; many of its members are Christians only in name and not a few are hypocrites. But we know by the loyal, loving husbands and wives of every community that married life is not a failure. We know by the happy homes about us, with sweetest of household ties binding the family circle, that home life is not a failure. We know by the education that has refined our civilization, that the school is not a failure. We know by the redeemed of earth and saved in heaven the church is not a failure, and we are convinced by the organized opposition to prohibitory laws by distillers, brewers, saloon keepers, gamblers and harlots that prohibition is not a failure.
If prohibition is a failure in Kansas as license advocates charge, then governors, ex-governors, attorney generals, jailers, mayors and judges of Kansas are falsifiers. If prohibition is a failure in Kansas why has the state grown to be the richest per capita in the Union, why are so many jails empty, so many counties without a pauper and why, according to the brewers’ year book of 1910, was the consumption of liquor in Kansas one dollar and sixty cent per capita and in a neighbor license state twenty-two dollars per capita?
Along with the absurd statement that prohibition is a failure, comes the warning of the president of the Model License League to the business men of the country, that unless the tide of prohibition is arrested it will “kill our cities.” “Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord.”
In a local option contest a prominent business man said to me: “I do not use liquor but I am in doubt about how I should vote on the question.” When I asked; “What’s your trouble?” he answered: “We have six saloons in this little city and the license fee is one thousand dollars; how are we to run the city without the six thousand dollars?” When I informed him that the six saloons took from the people eighty thousand dollars a year, he agreed it was a reasonable estimate. I said: “Don’t you know those who spend their money for drink, if they did not spend it over the saloon bars, would spend it over the counters of merchants who sell clothing, food, fuel and furniture?” If you merchants could take in eighty thousand dollars, couldn’t you pay out six thousand and not get hurt? If you can’t see that you are no better business man than was Horace Greeley a farmer. He purchased a pig for one dollar, kept it two years, fed it forty dollars worth of corn and sold it for nine dollars. He said: “I lost money on the corn but made money on the hog.” So, many business men see the revenue from the license fee but can’t see the cost.
Suppose on one side of a street the business houses are all bad, in that they consume money and give worse than nothing in return; and on the other side they are all good, in that they give an honest equivalent for the money they receive; can’t you see if the bad side is closed, the money that went to the bad side goes to the good, and can you not see only good can come of such a change?
There are three things prohibition of the saloon does that are illustrated by the story told of an Irishman who said: “I did three good things today.”
“What did you do, Pat?”
“I saw a woman crying in front of a cathedral. She had a baby in her arms, and I said: ‘Madam, what are you crying about?’
“She said: ’I had two dollars in me handkerchief and came to have me baby christened but I lost the money.’
“I said: ’Don’t cry, Madam, here is a ten dollar bill; go get the baby christened and bring me the change.’ She went, and soon after returned and handed me eight silver dollars.”
“Well,” said the friend, “I don’t see any three good things in that.”
“Ye don’t! Didn’t I dry the woman’s tears, didn’t I save the baby’s soul, and didn’t I get rid of a ten dollar counterfeit bill and get eight good silver dollars in return?”
That is what prohibition of the saloon does for a community. It dries woman’s tears, saves human souls, gets rid of a counterfeit business and puts good business instead.
Is it a counterfeit business? It has been well said, “Go into the butcher stall and you get meat for money, into the shoe store and you get shoes for money, but go into the saloon and the bargain is all on one side. It’s bar-gain on one side and bar-loss on the other; ill-gotten gains on one side, mis-spent wages on the other, a mess of pottage on one side and the birthright of some mother’s boy on the other.”
A great wail is going up from the advocates of the liquor traffic that statewide prohibition means the destruction of immense vested interests and dire results will follow.
“This our craft is in danger,” has ever been the cry against reforms or changes in civilization since the “Shrine Makers of Ephesus.”
When slavery was abolished it was said: “This means ruin to the South! Such a confiscation of property, with every slave set free to beg at the white man’s gate, crushes every vestige of hope, and five hundred years will not bring relief.” Only fifty years have passed and the South is richer than ever in her history.
Justice Grier of the Supreme Court said: “If loss of revenue should accrue to the United States from a diminished consumption of ardent spirits, she will be the gainer a thousandfold in health, wealth and happiness of the people.”
If this is true, then this question is not only a great moral question but also a tremendous economic problem.
If production should be for use and not for abuse, the existence of breweries and distilleries are without excuse.
If one should be rewarded on the basis of service, the saloon keeper has no claim for even tolerance, much less reward.
If labor is the basis of value, men who live by selling liquor to their fellowmen are leaches on the body politic, and Ishmaels in the commercial world.
The claim that the liquor business is a benefit to a community or to the country is in harmony with the assertion that war is a “biological necessity” and a “stimulating source of development.”
General Sherman said: “War is hell.” Certainly the one now raging between the leading nations of the old world is a hell of carnage. And yet intemperance has destroyed more lives than all the wars of the world since time began. It has added to the death of the body the eternal death of the soul and then the sum of its ravages is not complete until is added more broken hearts, more blasted hopes, desolate homes, more misery and shame than from any source of evil in the world. If what Sherman said of war is true, and the liquor curse is worse than war, how can this government hope to escape punishment for raising revenue from a business so abominable and wicked?
A heathen emperor when appealed to for a tax on opium as a source of revenue said: “I will not consent to raise the revenue of my country upon the vices of its people.” Yet this Christian republic, claiming the noblest civilization of the earth, is found turning the dogs of appetite and avarice loose upon the home life of the republic that gold may clink in its treasury. The politician’s excuse for this compromise with earth’s greatest destroyer is, it can never be prohibited and therefore regulation and revenue is the best policy.
I can well remember when the same was said of slavery. With billions of dollars invested in slaves, with a united South behind it and the North divided, it could never be abolished. At that time the prospect for the overthrow of slavery was far less than the prospect of national prohibition today. I own I was among those who said “slavery cannot be destroyed.” Now I am one of the reconstructed. I’m like the pig I used to read of, “When I lived I lived in clover, and when I died I died all over.”
During the Civil War Union soldiers arrested several of my neighbors and took them to a northern prison. My southern blood was aroused. I said: “Let a Yankee soldier come to take me and he will never take another Kentuckian.” Then my mother was alarmed. She knew how brave her boy was. A few days later I met a squad of Yankee cavalry on the road near our home. They said “Halt!” and I halted. They said “Surrender!” I did so, and mother did not hear of any blood being shed.
Again a half-drunk Union soldier rode up to our gate and said: “Who lives here?” When I answered, he asked: “Can your mother get supper for fourteen soldiers in thirty minutes?” “No, sir, she cannot,” I replied. Drawing a pistol, the mouth of which looked like a cannon’s mouth to me, he said: “Maybe you have changed your mind.” I had, and that supper was ready with several minutes to spare. We can, and we will stop the liquor business. I am amazed, however, to find so many intelligent men of the North advocating the same policy on this liquor problem the South adopted on the slavery question, which cost her so severely. I find the same effect revenue in slaves had upon the consciences of the tax-payers of the South, high-license revenue from saloons is having upon the consciences of tax-payers in the North.
In the early days of slavery, when wealth in the institution was very limited, the conscience of the South was against slavery. Old Virginia, when a colony, appealed to King George to remove the threatening danger from her borders. It was the voice of a General Lee of Virginia that was lifted against slavery in the House of Burgesses. But with the passing of time slaves grew in value, until a slave in the South reached about the price of a saloon license now in the North. Then the conscience of the South quieted and slavery was justified by press, politics and pulpit. There is a remarkable analogy between
I believe my northern friends will permit me to press home a little further the lesson of southern slavery. The phase I would impress is that any question that has a great moral principle involved is never settled until it is settled right. We tried to regulate slavery but it wouldn’t regulate. First it was decided that the importation of slaves should cease in twenty years. Did that settle it? Next came the Missouri compromise, “Thus far shalt thou go and no farther.” Politicians said: “Now it’s settled.” But a fanatic in Boston name Garrison said: “It is not settled.” Daniel Webster, as intellectual as some of our high license advocates of today said to Lloyd Garrison: “Stop the agitation of this question or you will bring trouble on the country; the compromise is made and the question is settled.” Lloyd Garrison replied: “I don’t care what compromise you’ve made; you may pull down my office, pitch my type into the sea, and hound me through the streets of Boston, but you will never settle the slavery question until you settle it right.”
It kept breaking out despite all legislative restrictions. At last Columbia with one hand on her head, and the other on her heart, began to reel on her throne, and Abraham Lincoln seized his pen and signed the proclamation, “Universal Emancipation.” Then the whole world said: “It’s forever settled.” So the liquor question will be settled as was the slavery question, by the universal, everlasting abolition of the manufacture, sale and importation of intoxicating liquor in this country.
High license is another Missouri Compromise. If you have the drink you’ll have the drunkenness. If you have the cause you will have the effect. If you have the positive you will have the superlative: Positive drink, comparative drinking, superlative drunkenness. You may try high-tax and low-tax but all the time you will have sin-tax and more sin than tax.
You do not change the nature of the drink by the price of a license, the kind of a place in which it is sold or the character of the man who sells it. Put a pig in a parlor; feed him on the best the marflet affords, give him a feather bed in which to sleep, keep him there till he’s grown and he’ll be a hog. You don’t change the nature of the pig by the elegant surroundings; you may change the condition of the parlor.
There is but one solution of the liquor problem and that is a nation-wide prohibitory law and behind the law a political power in sympathy with the law and pledged to its enforcement.
Many admit the principle is correct but insist we should wait until public sentiment is powerful enough to enforce the law. If grand ideas had waited for public sentiment Moses would never have given the commandments to the world. If grand ideas had waited for public sentiment, we would still be back in the realm of the dark ages, instead of in the light of our present civilization; back in the dim twilight of the tallow-dip instead of the brightness of the electric light; back with the ox team instead of the speed of the steam engine, automobile and aeroplane; and on the temperance question back to where a liquor dealer could advertise his business on gravestones. On a tomb in England are these words:
“Here lies below in hope of Zion,
The landlord of the Golden Lion,
His son keeps up the business still,
Obedient to his country’s will.”
Years ago a friend said to me: “I admire your zeal, but I wonder at your faith when you are in such a miserable minority.” My reply was: “Are minorities always wrong or hopeless? How would you have enjoyed being with the majority at the time of the flood? It seems to me you would have been safer with Noah in the ark.”
As to license and prohibition, that has always been the question since man was created. It was the question in the Garden of Eden when the devil stood for license, “go eat,” and God stood for prohibition, “thou shalt not.” That is the question today and I am quite sure God and the devil stand now as then, and while the Adams are divided, the Eves are nearly all on one side.
Another said: “After all the work done for temperance the people drink as much or more than ever.” My answer is: how much more would they drink if we had not done what has been done?
Yonder on the ocean a vessel springs a leak and soon the water stands thirty inches deep in the hold. The captain says: “To the pumps!” and the sailors leap to their places. At the end of one hour the captain measures and says: “Thirty inches; you are holding it down.” Hour after hour the pumping goes on, with changing hands at the pumps, and hour after hour the captain says: “You are doing well; she can’t go down at thirty inches. Hold it there and we’ll make the harbor.” Twenty hours and the captain shouts: “Thirty inches; and land is in sight. Pump on, my boys, you’ll save the ship.” Suppose one of our croakers who says, “Prohibition won’t prohibit,” had been on board. He would have said: “Don’t you see you are doing no good; there’s just as much water as when you began.” What would have become of the ship?
At the close of the Civil War intemperance was pouring in upon the Ship of State. Men returned from war enthralled in chains worse than African slavery, for rum slavery means ruin to body and soul. Men, women and children ran to the pumps, and thank God, state after state is going dry. Soon we’ll see the land of promise, and the Ship of State will be saved from a leak as dangerous as ever sprung in a vessel, and from as cruel a crew of buccaneers as ever scuttled a ship.
When I began the work as a “Good Templar” forty years ago, Kentucky was soaked in rum. Bourbon county, where I was reared, had twenty-three distilleries, and a dead wall lifted itself against my hopes of ever seeing the sky clear of distillery smoke above old Bourbon county, a name on more barrels and bottles, on more bar-room windows, and on the memories of more drunkards in ruin than any other county in the world. Yet I have lived to see the last distillery fire go out, and Bourbon county dry. While I had faith in the ultimate triumph of the Cause I never dreamt it would come to Bourbon county in my lifetime.
When I began saloons were at almost every crossroads village, and the bottle on sideboards was the rule in thousands of leading homes. Time and again my life was threatened. On one occasion twelve armed men guarded me from a mob, and once my wife placed herself between my body and a desperate mountaineer. Those were perilous times for an advocate of temperance in my native state. Now out of one hundred and twenty counties, one hundred and seven are dry. In Georgia the licensed saloon is gone; in North Carolina the saloon is gone; in West Virginia, Old Virginia, Mississippi and Tennessee the saloon is gone, while Oklahoma was born sober.
“That which made Milwaukee famous
Doesn’t foam in Tennessee;
The Sunday lid in old Missouri
Was Governor Folk’s decree.
Brewers, distillers and their cronies
Well may sigh;
The saloon is panic-stricken,
And the South’s going dry.
“Soon the hill-side by the rill-side
Of Kentucky will be still;
Men will take their toddies
From the ripples of the rill;
Boys will grow up sober,
Mothers cease to cry;
The South’s going dry.”
Already seventeen states are dry, and there are many arid spots in the wet states. While I cannot hope to live to see the final triumph, I have faith to believe my children and my children’s children will live in a saloonless land, a land redeemed from a curse that has soaked its social life in more blood and tears than all other sources of sorrow; a land where liberty will no longer be shorn of its locks of strength by licensed Delilahs; where manhood will no more be stripped of its possibilities by the claws of the demon drink; where fore-doomed generations will not reach the dawning of life’s morning, to be bound like Mazeppa to the wild, mad steed of passion and borne down the blood lines of inheritance to the awful abuse of drunkenness.
To this end I appeal to every minister of the gospel, stir the consciences of your hearers on this question. I appeal to the press, that potent power for the enlightenment of the people.
“Pulpit and press with tongue and
Set to new music this message to men:
Let the great work of destruction begin,
And rid our loved land of this shelter to sin.
As before the sun’s brightness, the darkness must fly,
So by power of the ballot the rum curse must die,
Then cover the earth as the wide waves the sea,
With the sound of the axe at the root of the tree!”
IF I COULD LIVE LIFE OVER.
Now and then I hear an old man or an old woman say, “Even if I could I would not live life over.” Well, I own I would, provided I could begin the journey with the knowledge I now have of what it means to live.
While mistakes have been many there are some things I would not change. I would be brought up in the country as I was. I would play over the same blue-grass carpet, along the same turnpike aisle, swing on the branches of the same old trees and listen to the concert chorus of the same song birds.
Indeed I sympathize with the boy who exchanges the music of birds, melody of streams, lowing of herds, driving of teams, diamond dew on bending blade, morning sun and evening shade, with all other sweet associations of country life for a lodging room in a city, where church doors and home doors are closed against him in the evening hours of the week, and all evil places wide open for his ruin. It has been well said: “The street fair of evil associations in our large cities begins with the night shadows and grows with the darkness.” I dare say if I could draw aside the veil that will shut in the night scenes of this city, the revelation would make some godly fathers tremble for their boys, and pious mothers long to gather their children about them when the sun goes down, as moor birds gather their helpless young when hawks are screaming in the sky.
All hail to the Young Men’s Christian Association, with its open doors for young men in the evening hours! All hail to its gymnasium, its swimming pool, basketball and other sports that develop strength and furnish entertainment! Away with the idea that all the pleasures of the world belong to the devil.
A distinguished divine was brought up in New England by a staid old aunt, who never let him go anywhere except to church, Sunday school and prayer meeting. When quite a lad she let him go to New York City to visit a cousin. That cousin took him to see Barnum’s circus. It was his first circus, and the wild animals, the bareback riding, trapeze performance, clowns and chariot races bewildered the country boy. Next morning he wrote his aunt, saying: “Dear Aunt, if you’ll go to one circus you’ll never go to another prayer meeting as long as you live.” But he did go to prayer meeting and became a grand good man. There are many innocent springs of pleasure, where youth can drink and not be harmed.
It may surprise some for me to say, if I could live life over I would be brought up in the same old state of Kentucky. “With all her faults I love her still,” but not her stills. It has been my privilege to visit every state in the union and I find all the good is not in any one state, nor all the bad. While Kentucky has had her night riders, Missouri has had her boodlers, California her grafters, Illinois her anarchists, Pennsylvania her machine politics, New York her Tammany tiger, and Washington City her blizzards on inauguration days. God doesn’t grow all the daisies in one field nor confine thorns to one thicket.
It’s been my lot this land to roam,
O’er every state twixt ocean’s foam,
But still my heart clings to its home,
I’ve traveled the prairies of the
I’ve seen each section at its best,
There’s nothing like my native nest,
No matter through what state I pass,
No matter how the people class,
To me there’s only one Blue Grass,
When my wanderings here are o’er,
And my spirit seeks the golden shore,
Then keep my dust for evermore,
Not only would I be brought up in Kentucky and in the country, but I would go to the same Yankee schoolmaster, have the same sweethearts and marry the same girl, provided she would consent to make another journey with the same companion. By the way, we were married in Bourbon County, Kentucky, when she was nineteen and I twenty. About four years ago we celebrated our golden wedding, and the morning after the celebration,
She put on “her old grey bonnet,
With the blue ribbon on it.”
We didn’t “hitch Dobbin to the Shay”
But along the interurban
We rode down to Bourbon,
Where we started for our golden wedding day.
If I could live life over surely I could ask no better age than the one in which I have lived. We no longer toil over a mountain, but glide through it on ribbons of steel; telegraphy dives the deep and brings us the news of the old world every morning before breakfast; we talk with tongues of lightning through telephones and send messages on ether waves over the sea; we ride horse-cycles that run, never walk and live without eating; we travel in carriages drawn by electric steeds that never tire; the signal service gives us a geography of the weather, so the farmer may know whether or not to prepare to plow, and the Sunday school whether to arrange or to postpone its picnic tomorrow; airships mount the heavens, steamships plough the ocean’s bosom, submarine torpedo boats undermine the deep with missiles of death, while photography turns one inside out, and doctors no longer guess at the location of a bullet. All these things have come to pass within my life-time. What may the young before me expect in the next fifty years?
Recently I read an imaginary letter, supposed to have been written by a Wellsley College girl. It was dated one hundred years in the future. She wrote:
“Father gave me a new airship a few weeks ago. I leave my home in Baltimore every morning after breakfast and reach Wellsley in time for classes. We have only thirty minutes in school in the morning and fifteen in the afternoon. Our teachers are in telepathic touch with all knowledge and we get it in condensed form. A few days ago, just after lunch at noon I took a spin up into Canada; the machine got a little out of fix, so I jumped on a gyroscope and returned in time for dinner at six.
“Yesterday I sailed over to New York City and took dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria; had two capsules for dinner and they were delicious. I read how the people used to sit around tables and eat all kinds of things. It must have been funny to see their mouths all going at one time. Then they had stomach trouble—indigestion they called it. Now we have everything necessary for the human system put up in capsules; we get up a thousand feet above the earth where the air is pure, so we ought to live to be two hundred years old.
“Last week my classmate and I took a flying trip to see the Panama Canal, and while there we decided to take in the Exposition at San Francisco next day. There we saw many antiquated machines called automobiles; they used to run around the streets in rubber stockings, honking horns to warn the poor, then turning turtle they killed or maimed the rich. In one department we saw an animal with long tail, and a mane on its neck. They called it a horse and told us that years ago horses were harnessed and driven about the streets, while the fast ones were raced for money.”
That young woman may be all right about her capsule dinners and condensed instruction, but one hundred years from now, when on her way from the west to Wellsley if she will stop in Lexington, Ky., she will see a horse sale in progress; horses selling from five hundred to ten thousand dollars that will trot or pace a mile in less than two minutes, while slow ones will be hitched to dead wagons, used to gather up those who have fallen from airships and gyroscopes. It may be that one hundred years in the future airships will be seen soaring over the cities, delivering packages in parachutes at the back doors of residences, but the day will never dawn when there will be an airship, gyroscope, or an automobile that will supplant the fleet-footed, sleek-coated, handsome Kentucky horse.
Now I come to the more practical, for I do not bring you this talk, challenging your criticism or inviting your praise of it as a literary production, but with the purpose of helping some one live as I would wish to live if I had my life to live over.
First, to the boys before me. If I had life to live over one of my first purposes would be to seek my calling in life. Do you know half the failures of life come from misfits of occupation? There are lawyers starving for want of clients, doctors with patients under monuments, and preachers talking to empty pews, who might have been successful in factories or furrows. Cowper was a failure as a lawyer, he was a success as a poet; Goldsmith was a bungling surgeon, he was a power with his pen; Horace Greely was a success in the Tribune office, he was a failure as a farmer and a slow candidate for president.
When U.S. Grant was a very young man his father sent him to sell a horse to a buyer and instructed him to ask one hundred dollars, but if he could not get that amount to take eighty-five. The buyer looked the horse over and said: “Young man, what is your price?” Young Grant replied: “Father told me to ask you one hundred dollars, but if you would not give that to take eighty-five.” It is needless to say the calling of U.S. Grant was not horse trading. This same young man afterwards tried the grocery business and bought potatoes far and wide to corner the market, but the price went down, the potatoes rotted in Grant’s bins and his grocery effort was on a par with his horse trading. He then tried the ice market but that became watered stock on his hands and again he was a failure. Later on in life ’mid roar of cannon and rattle of musketry the misfit found his element. Here he was so sure of his calling he made his motto, “I’ll fight it out on this line if it takes all summer,” and to the general, who could not drive a horse trade, or corner the potato market, or deal in ice, one of the greatest generals the world ever knew surrendered his sword, and from the highest military position Grant was called to be President of the United States.
If it is true that “ever since creation shot its first shuttle through chaos design has marked the course of every golden thread,” then every human being is designed to fill a certain place in life. There are young women teaching school, getting to be old maids, who should be the wives of good husbands, and there are some wives who ought to be old maid “schoolmarms.”
We have born architects, born orators, born bookkeepers, born musicians, born poets, born preachers, born teachers, born surgeons, born bankers, born blacksmiths, born merchants, born farmers.
Two farmers live side by side; one doesn’t seem to work hard, yet everything is neatness from one end of the farm to the other; his neighbor works hard, yet the cattle are in his corn, the fences are broken, gates off the hinges and everything seems out of order. That man was not made to be a farmer. He should rent out, or sell out, and go to the legislature, or find some other place he can fill.
Matthew Arnold said: “Better be a Napoleon of book-blacks, or an Alexander of chimney-sweeps, than an attorney, who, like necessity, knows no law.” There are born shoemakers cobbling in Congress, while statesmen are pegging away on a shoe-last because their brains have not been capitalized by education and opportunity. There are born preachers at work in machine shops, and born mechanics rattling around in pulpits like a mustard seed in an empty gourd; born surgeons are carving beef in butcher stalls, while here and there butchers are operating for appendicitis.
God planted the hardy pine on the hills of New England, and the magnolia down in the sunny South-land. Let some horticulturist compel the magnolia to climb the cold hills of New England, and the northern tree to come down and take its place in the “land of cotton, cinnamon seed and sandy bottom,” and everything in both will protest against the mistake.
Lowell said: “Every baby boy is born with a calling.” With some this calling is very definite. It was definite with George Stevenson when in childhood he made engines of mud with sticks for smoke-stacks. It was definite with Thomas A. Edison, who, instead of selling newspapers, went to experimenting with acids, and charged a steel stirrup that lifted him into the electric saddle of the world. With others it is very indefinite. Patrick Henry failed at everything he undertook until he began talking, when he soon became the golden mouthed orator of his age. Peter Cooper failed until he took to making glue, then his business “stuck” to everybody and he made a fortune out of which he built Cooper Union for the education of poor boys.
I have a grandson whose calling was indefinite. He was named for his grandfather, to whom fishing is a fad. During my rest season I go fishing almost every day. While I make an exception of Sunday I can appreciate the minister who was a great fisherman. On his way to an appointment Sunday morning he came upon a lad fishing in a wayside stream. Halting he said: “My boy, this is the Sabbath day and the good Book says you should remember to keep it holy.” Just then a fish seized the boy’s bait and drew the float under, when the good minister excitedly said: “Pull, pull. Ah! that’s a good one. I’ll try that place myself some other day.”
Fishing is my favorite sport. My grandson was a baseball fiend and a football player. He was hurt in a football game and I wrote him, warning him against his recklessness, and to the admonition I added: “Twenty-five boys have been killed already this season playing football; it’s a brutal game anyway.”
He replied: “Dear Grandfather, I am sorry so many boys have been killed playing football, but I read recently that last summer two hundred and fifty men were drowned while out fishing; would it not be well for you to keep off Lake Ellerslie? You say football is a brutal game; I submit to you, Grandpa, that the man who takes an innocent worm or a minnow, strings it on a steel hook, and sinking it into the water, jerks the gills out of an innocent fish, is more cruel than the boy who kicks another around for exercise. I need a pair of baseball shoes, number six and a half; send them by express.” He got the shoes, and I decided he was called to be a lawyer.
Young man, if you get to be a preacher and cannot put force into your sermon, the world doesn’t want to hear you preach, but if you are a good cobbler it will wear your shoes, if a good baker it will eat your bread, or if a good barber it will let you put your razor to its throat. Remember in making your choice,
“Honor and fame from no condition
Act well your part; there the honor lies.”
If I could live life over, I would not be content with a common school education. In my youth circumstances lifted a dead wall against my hopes, but if given another chance I would somehow press my way to where higher education scatters its trophies at the feet of youth, for while it is true some of the most successful men of our country graduated from the high school of “hard knocks” and universities of adversity, yet the humblest toil is more easily accomplished and better done where college education guides.
To college education, however, I would add the education which comes from rubbing against the world. Some one has said: “For every ounce of book knowledge one needs a half dozen ounces of common sense with which to apply it.” Douglas Jerrold said: “I have a friend who can speak fluently a dozen different languages but has not a practical idea to express in any one of them.”
An old woman suffering from rheumatism was asked by a friend: “Did you ever try electricity?”
She answered: “Yes, I was struck by lightning once but it didn’t do me any good.”
In this many sided age one needs to educate muscle, nerves, heart and conscience as well as brain. That man who is all brain and no heart, goes through the world with his intellect shining above his bosom like an electric light over a graveyard.
Young people, do you know you live in a testing world, a world in which all buds and blossoms are tested? The bud that stands the test of wind and frost goes on to flower and fruitage; the bud that can’t stand the test goes with the dust to be trampled under foot. Every cannon made by the government is tested; the cannon that can stand the test goes into battleship or land fort, the cannon that can’t stand the test goes into the junk pile.
Yonder in Virginia a few years ago, there was a young man who had everything an indulgent father could give him, but in school his character could not stand the test, and he exchanged his books for wine and cards. He married a beautiful young woman, shot her to death in his automobile and died himself in the electric chair, leaving his old father in a desolate home with harrowing memories tearing his heart; while over the life of an innocent babe he hung a cloud as dark as was ever woven out of the world’s misfortune, and sent another life to wander in painted shame outside life’s eden of purity, the barb of conscious guilt to be driven deeper and deeper into her soul by the scorn of a pitiless world. All because young Beatty could not stand the test!
Harry Thaw had everything wealth and refinement could bring into a young life, but he sacrificed all upon unhallowed altars, and with the brand of Cain upon his brow, he was cast into a madman’s cell. He could not stand the test.
Lord Byron was Britain’s brilliant bard. He could have lived in England’s glory and then slept with England’s buried greatness in Westminster Abbey, if he had stood the test; but at the age of thirty-seven, when he should have been on an upward flight to greater fame, he drew the “strings of his discordant harp” about him and over them sent the bitter wail:
“My days are in the yellow leaf;
The flowers and fruits of love are gone;
The worm, the canker, and the grief
Are mine alone!”
Younder in a cabin a babe was born. When eleven years of age he helped his mother clear out a patch and raise a garden. Later on he lay in front of a wood fire, studying lessons for the morrow. Later in life he went to college, with only a few cents in his pocket. He went to church and there gave part of his little all in a collection for missionary work. The next Saturday he earned a dollar with a jack-plane; at the end of his college term he had paid his way and had seven dollars left. At twenty-eight this young man was in the senate of his state, at thirty-six he was in Congress, and twenty-seven years from the time James A. Garfield rang the bell of Hiram College for his board he went into the White House as President of the United States. He could stand the test. Boys, can you stand the test?
During the Spanish American war there was a regiment called the “Rough Riders.” It was made up of picked young men from different states of the Union. It was this regiment that made the famous charge up San Juan Hill. At the close of the war, the regiment was mustered out of service. The Colonel, giving his farewell address, said: “You have made an honorable record in war, now go back to your homes and make honorable record in peace.”
Sixteen years of that record is made. The Colonel has been President of the United States for seven years of that time. General Leonard Wood has gone to the front of the army, and others of the regiment have become successful professional and business men; but some have gone to jails and penitentiaries, one died not long since in the streets of New York City and was buried in a pauper’s grave; some are fugitives from justice.
What is true of that regiment, is in some measure true of every body of young men and boys I meet. In my presence are boys who will be leaders of thought and action twenty years from now in whatever community they dwell. There is a boy before me who will be a successful merchant, there’s one who will be a banker, another will be a lawyer, others will lead in other lines. But alas! in my presence now, looking me in the face this minute, there may be a boy, or boys, who will stain with blood the stony path to despair.
Do you say that no such ignominious possibility hangs over any boy in this audience? I tell you it is not always the first, but sometimes the fairest born. I know a man who in his youth drove his father’s fine horses, romped and rested on the richest blue-grass lawn, ate from spotless linen and lived in luxury, who now eats from the bare tables of low saloons, and is often given shelter by an old colored “mammy,” who was once his father’s slave.
I have in mind a schoolmate, whose father lived in a fine country home two miles from the schoolhouse. The influence of my schoolmate’s mother was pure as the diamond dew he brushed from the bending grass in barefoot days. But he left the country home and the last time I saw him he was a vagabond, begging bread from negro cabin doors. Ah! mother, you can’t tell which boy.
In a large city a few years ago a man stood at the side door of a saloon at two o’clock in the morning. His clothes were worn and the matted hair hung about his face. He waited, hoping some one would come along and give him the price of a drink. Two young men, one of them a reporter on a leading daily, came down the street. As they neared the poor fellow, one said to the other: “Did you ever see such an appeal for a drink? Here, hobo, take this dime and buy you one.”
Seizing his hand his friend said: “No, let’s do the job like good Samaritans. Come in, tramp, and have a drink with us.”
The three entered the saloon, the glasses were filled and the tramp took his and draining it, said: “Young men, I’m very thirsty, may I have another?”
“Yes, help yourself,” was the reply, and the tramp took the second drink. Then lifting his hat he said:
“Young men, you call me a hobo, but I see in you a picture of my lost manhood. Once I had a face as fair as yours, and wore as good clothes as you have now. I had a home where love lit the flame on the altar, but I put out the fire and to-night I’m a wanderer without a home. I had a wife as beautiful as an artist’s dream, but I took the pearl of her love, dropped it in the wine glass, Cleopatra-like I saw it dissolve and I quaffed it down. I had a sweet child I fondly loved, and still love, though I have not seen her for twelve years; a young woman now in her grandfather’s home, she is deprived of the heritage of a father’s good name. Young men, I once had aspirations and ambitions that soared as high as the morning star, but I clipped their wings, I strangled them and they died. Call me a tramp, do you? I’m a preacher without a charge, a lawyer without a brief, a husband without a wife, a father without a child, a man without a friend. I thank you for the drinks. Go to your homes and on soft beds may you sleep well; I’ll go out and sleep on yonder bench in the night wind. A few more drinks, a few more drunkard’s dreams, and I’ll go out into the moonless, starless night of a hopeless forever.”
Oh! how I would like to help some boy in this audience stand on his two feet and with clear brain, manly muscle, and moral courage fight and win the battle of life. How it would rejoice my soul if I could, with earnest appeal, throw about some mother’s boy an armor of celestial atmosphere against which the arrows of evil would beat in vain, and fall harmless at his feet.
Hear me, boys; never was there a day when character counted for so much as now; never a day when a young man, equipped with education and stability of character, filled with energy and ambition, was in such demand as he is today; while on the other hand, never was there a day when a young man with bad habits was in so little demand as now. The industrial world is closing its doors against young men who are not sober, industrious and competent. Even a saloon-keeper advertised thus: “Wanted—A man to tend bar, who does not drink intoxicating liquors.” How would this read: “Wanted—A young man to sell shoes, who goes bare-footed.”
Young women, just here I have a question for you. If the railroad company does not want the drinking man, if the merchant discriminates against him, and even the saloon-keeper does not want him for bar-tender, do you want him for a husband? Can you afford to wrap up your hopes of happiness in him and to him swear away your young life and love?
Some young woman may say: “If I taboo the drinking man, I may be an old maid.” Then be an old maid, get some “bloom of youth,” paint up and love yourself. John B. Gough said: “You better be laughed at for not being married, than never to laugh any more because you are married.”
If I could live life over there are some things I would not do. I would not stop smoking as I did thirty-five years ago, because I never would begin and therefore would not need to stop. I am not a fanatic on the question, but I believe every father in my presence, who uses tobacco, will be glad to have me say that which I will now say to the boys who are dulling their brains, poisoning their blood and weakening their hearts by the use of cigarettes.
Boys, I believe a cigar made me tell my first falsehood. When I was fifteen years of age I felt I must smoke if I ever expected to be a man. Father smoked, our pastor smoked, and so did almost every man in our neighborhood. My mother opposed the habit, but I thought mother did not know what it took to make a man.
I heard her make an engagement to spend a whole day ten miles from home the following week, and that day I set apart for learning to smoke cigars. I laid in some fine ones, six for five cents, and when mother went out the gate on her visit, I started for the barn. In a shed back of the barn I took out my cigars, determined to learn that day if it required the six cigars for my graduation. The first cigar was lighted and with every puff I felt the manhood coming; but in about five minutes I felt the manhood going. Just then my uncle called: “George, where are you?” When I answered he said: “Come here and hold this colt while I knock out a blind tooth.”
Horsemen before me know some colts have blind teeth and to save the eyes these must be removed. I staggered to the colt, held the halter rein and when the tooth was removed my uncle, looking at me, said: “What’s the matter with you? You are pale as death.”
“Nothing, only it always did make me sick to see a blind tooth knocked out of a horse’s mouth,” I replied.
My uncle said: “You better lie down on the grass until it passes off,” and I did.
But I kept on after that until I learned to smoke like a man. When years had passed and I became editor of a paper it seemed to me I could write better editorials with the smoke curling about my face.
One morning I finished my breakfast before Mrs. Bain had half finished hers. Lighting my cigar I stood by the fire chatting and smoking until the stub was all that remained. Then, as was my custom, I walked up to kiss her good-bye when she said: “Good-bye. But, I would like to ask you a question. How would you like to have me finish my breakfast before you are half through yours, light a cigar, smoke it to the stub, and with tobacco on my lips and breath offer to kiss you good morning?”
I said: “You don’t have to kiss me,” and with this I left for my work. On the way her question seemed to be waiting my answer, and I gave it in a resolve that she should never again have cause to repeat that question, and with my resolve went the cigar.
About this time a co-worker joined me in the same resolution, which helped me to keep mine. After tea that evening Mrs. Bain said: “I did not know you were so sensitive, or I should not have said what I did.” I did not tell her then of my promise, lest I should fail to keep it. Thirty-five years have passed and not a single cigar have I had between my lips since that morning.
Boys, take one five-cent cigar after each meal, add up the nickels for one year, put the money at interest, next year, and every year do the same, compounding the interest, and in thirty-five years you will have thirty-five hundred dollars—the price of a home for your old age.
I do not hope to convert old smokers, but if I can persuade one young man in this audience to throw away the cigarette, never to smoke one again, then I will have honored this hour’s service.
If I could live life over I would take the same total-abstinence pledge I took fifty years ago and have kept inviolate to this day. I would take it, not only because of its personal benefit to me, but because of what it has led me to do for others.
It is said reformers never expect to see the bread they cast upon the waters; inventors may, but not reformers. Yet I have lived to see my bread come back “buttered” in my old age.
I have lived to see thousands of men and women to whom I gave the pledge in their youth, wearing it still as a garland about their brows, and their children, by precept and example of parents, keep step with the onward march of the temperance army.
I have lived to see more than one hundred counties of Kentucky, in which I established Good Templar Lodges, when bottles were on sideboards in the homes, and barrooms in almost every crossroad village, now in the dry column.
I have lived to see seventeen states under prohibition, fifty millions of people of the United States living under prohibitory laws, the Congress of the United States giving a majority vote for submitting national prohibition to the people, and the great empire of Russia going dry in a day.
Sweet is the “buttered bread” that is coming to me after these many years since I cast my bread upon the waters, when days were dark, discouragements many and faith weak. I am waiting now for another slice of this “buttered bread” about the size of old Kentucky dry.
If I could live life over I would put a better bit to my tongue, and a better bridle on my temper. An Englishman said: “My wife has a temper; if she could get rid of it I would not exchange her for any woman in the world.”
Two men meet and have a misunderstanding; one flies into a passion, shoots or stabs, while the other stands placid and self-contained, preserving his dignity. The world calls the first a brave man and the latter a coward; but Solomon declared the man who rules himself to be “greater than he that taketh a city.”
Oh! the tragedies that lie in the wake of the tempest of temper. On the dueling field such men as Alexander Hamilton went down to death for want of self-control. Andrew Jackson killed Dickerson; Benton of Missouri killed Lucas; General Marmaduke killed General Walker. Pettus and Biddle, one a Congressman, the other a paymaster in the army, had a war of words, a challenge followed; one being near-sighted selected five feet as the distance for the duel, and there educated men, with pistols almost touching, stood, fired and both were killed.
Senator Carmack of Tennessee, criticised Colonel Cooper as a machine politician. Cooper said: “Put my name in your paper again, and I’ll kill you.” Young Cooper felt in his rage that he must settle the trouble. Did he settle it? The bullet that went through the heart of Carmack went through the heart of his wife, threw a shadow over the life of his child, and draped Tennessee in mourning. Did he settle it? He started a tempest that will howl through his life while memory lasts and echo through his soul to all eternity. Oh! that men would realize that to walk honorably and deal justly insures in time vindication from all calumny.
Abraham Lincoln was called the “Illinois baboon” by a leading journal, but Mr. Lincoln placidly read the charge, and told a joke as a safety valve for whatever anger he may have felt. One hundred years go by and the President leaves Washington and goes on a long journey to stand at a cabin door in Kentucky, there to pay tribute to a man who “never lost his balance or tore a passion to tatters.”
I stood in front of the great Krupp gun at the World’s Fair, and as the soldier in charge told me that one discharge cost one thousand dollars, and it could send a shell sixteen miles and pierce iron plated ships, its lips seemed loaded with death and it spoke of war and bloodshed and hate.
A little later I entered the Hall of Fine Arts and looked upon that impressive picture entitled, “Breaking Home Ties.” The lad is about to go out from the roof that has sheltered him from babyhood, to be his own guide in the big wide world. His mother holds his hand as she looks love into his eyes, and gives him her warnings and blessing; the father, with his boy’s valise in his hand, has turned away with a lump in his throat, while even the dog seems to be joining in the loving farewell.
Turning away from that picture, the thought came: Ah! that means more than Krupp guns. It means the coming of a day when love shall rule and war shall cease, when reason and righteousness shall be the arbitrators for differences between nations, when owls and bats will nest in the portholes of battleships, and each nation will vie with the other in warring against the kingdoms of want and wickedness.
When a man requested Bishop McIntyre to preach his wife’s funeral sermon, and told him of her many beautiful traits, Bishop McIntyre said: “Brother, did you ever tell her all these sweet things before she died?”
Just here Sam Jones would say: “Husbands, go home and kiss your wives. Tell them they are the dearest, sweetest things on the earth; you may have to stretch the truth a little, but say it anyway.”
A few years ago, just before the Christmas holidays, I wrote my daughter, saying: “I wish you would find out from your mother what she would like for a Christmas gift. However, don’t tell her I wrote you to do this. Also suggest something for the grandchildren that I may bring each some little remembrance that will please them.” I closed by saying:
“The sands of my life are growing
less and less,
Soon I’ll reach the end of my years,
Then you’ll lay me away with tenderness
And pay me the tribute of tears.
“Don’t carve on my tomb any
word of fame,
Nor a wheel with its missing spokes,
Simply let the marble tell my name,
Then add, ‘He was good to his folks.’”
Boys and girls, don’t speak back to mother. You love her and don’t mean to offend, but it hurts her. She was patient with you in your infancy; be patient with her in her old age. From her birth she has been your loyal, loving slave. She will go away and leave you after a little while, and oh! how you will miss her when she’s gone. Deal gently with her now; speak kindly to her and when she’s gone memories of your love and kindness to mother will come to you like sweet perfume from wooded blossoms.
Young lady graduate of high school or college, do you realize what your father has done for you, and the sacrifices he has made that you might have what he has never had—a diploma? Go, put your fair tender cheek against the weather-beaten face of your father, print with rosy lips a kiss of gratitude upon his furrowed brow, and tell him you appreciate all he has done for you.
I have been talking to you an hour about what I would do if I could live life over. If I had life to live over would I do any better than I have done? If I am no better now, than I was five years ago, if I am to be no better five years hence than I am now, then I would do no better if I had another trial.
However, I cannot live life over. The sand in the hour-glass is running low and when gone can never be replaced, and I am not much struck on old age. It is said to have its compensations, in that the “aches and asthmas of old age are no worse than the measles, mumps, whooping-coughs and appendicitis pains of youth.” Righteous old age should be better than youth. The ocean of time with its breakers and perils face the young, while for the righteous old the storms are past, and they are
“Waiting to enter the haven wide,
See His face, and be satisfied.”
I cannot help these grey hairs or the wrinkles on my brow, but I can keep my heart young, and I do. I enjoy the company of old people, but delight more in associating with the young.
Dr. A.A. Willetts lectured on “Sunshine” sixty years ago. In his ninetieth year he was still lecturing; had he lectured on shadows he would doubtless have died many years before, and never been known as the “Apostle of Sunshine.”
Solomon said: “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.” Never lock the door of your heart against the sunshine of cheerfulness, and remember it is not the exclusive blessing of youth but blooms in the heart of any age. With some it seems to be an inheritance. It kisses some babies in the cradle, and the radiance of that kiss lingers through three-score years and ten; while others are born cross, live cross and die cross. A babe of this latter kind came into a home and kept up its wailing for several days. The little six-year old boy of the home said: “Mother, did you say little brother came from heaven?”
“Yes, dear; why do you ask?”
“Well, no wonder the angels bounced him,” the boy replied.
I know a woman who is forever telling her trials. If you do not listen to her story you must read it on her countenance. Nearby is another who has lost her parents; indeed all her near relatives are gone; not a flower left to bloom on the desert of old age. Yet, she hides her sorrows beneath the soul’s altar of hope and meets the world with a smile. Doubtless the first woman wonders why she is so slighted and the company of the other courted. She should know it is for the same reason that honey-bees and humming birds light on sweet flowers instead of dry mullien stalks, and mocking-birds and canaries are caged instead of owls and rain-crows.
Some persons seem to relish the “cold soup of retrospect” and persist in picking the “bones of regret,” without any appetite for the present or promises of the future. Beside one of these I would place a happy-hearted soul, who laughs through the window of the eye and on whose face you can read,
“Let those who will, repine at fate,
And droop their heads in sorrow,
I’ll laugh when cares upon me wait,
I know they’ll leave to-morrow.
“My purse is light, but what of
My heart is light to match it;
And if I tear my only coat,
I’ll laugh the while I patch it.”
I know a millionaire, who controls numerous industries, whose wife must apply cold cloths to his head at night to induce sleep. I know another man not so well off in this world’s goods, whose wife must apply the cold water to get him awake. Care is often pillowed in a palace, while contentment is asleep in a cottage.
At the close of my lecture at a chautauqua several years ago, a gentleman said to me: “Sir, we live in a very humble cottage in this town, but there is a big welcome over the door for you and we want you to take tea with us.” I accepted the invitation and soon was seated on the porch of the small cottage home. While my host was inside getting a pitcher of ice water, I looked across the way and there was the home of a railroad king, his wealth numbered by millions, and the grounds surrounding his home were rich in flower beds, fountains and forest trees. My host, pouring the water, said: “You see we are very fortunately situated here. Our little home is inexpensive and our taxes very light. Our rich neighbor across the way employs three gardeners to care for those grounds; he pays all the taxes, has all the care; they do not cost us a cent, yet we sit here on our little porch and drink in their beauty.” There was a philosopher.
John Wanamaker can pay $100,000 for a picture, which he did some years ago, and hang it on the walls of his mansion home, but you go out in the country in the springtime, get up in the early morning while the cattle are still sleeping in the barnyard and the birds silent in the trees, watch the rich glow of the day god as it comes peeping through the windows of the morning, then see the birds leave their bowers, the larks to fly away to the fields, the mocking-bird to sing in the cedar at the garden gate, the robin to chirp to its mate, and you will see a picture which will pale that of the merchant prince.
Or go out on a summer evening just after a rain storm, when nature hangs itself out to dry; when the golden slipper of the god of day hangs upon the topmost bough of the tallest tree. You will see a picture no artist’s brush can paint. And God does not hang these pictures on a wall twenty feet by ten, but on the blue tapestry of the sky for the world’s poor to admire “without money and without price.” Abraham Lincoln well said: “God must have loved the common people, else he wouldn’t have made so many of them.”
Let me illustrate the two classes of people to which I have referred. An old man who dwelt in the shadows of life said: “My life has been one continual drudgery and disappointment; for fifty years I have had to get up at 5 o’clock every morning while others enjoyed their sleep, then all day in the harness of oppression I have had to work with bad luck dogging my footsteps.”
His daughter, thinking to cheer him, said, “Father, don’t get discouraged. You have one comfort anyway; it won’t be long till the end of toil will come, when you will have a good long rest in the grave where no misfortune can reach you.”
“I don’t know about that,” replied the father; “it will be about my luck for the next morning to be resurrection day and I’ll have to be up at daylight as usual.”
Another man, who always looked on the bright side of life, and when anything went wrong always looked up something good to match it, happened to lose a fine horse. When friends expressed sympathy he said: “I can’t complain; I never lost a horse before.” Then his crop failed and he said: “After ten years of good crops I have no kick coming because of one failure.” Finally, poor fellow, a railroad train ran over him and both feet had to be amputated at the ankles. A friend called to see him and said: “Jim, what have you to say after this misfortune?”
His reply was: “Well, I always did suffer with cold feet.”
Look on the bright side of life, remembering that very often,
“The trouble that makes us fume
And the burdens that make us groan and sweat
Are the things that haven’t happened yet.”
When our two boys were babies our home was a country cottage and our land possession one acre. Nearby lived a young man whose father left him a blue-grass farm. His home was a handsome brick house; he had servants and drove fine horses. Often when seated on the little porch of our humble home, he would pass by, when the feet of his horses and wheels of his fine carriage would dash the dust into our faces. One evening when he passed I said: “Never mind, Anna, some day we’ll live in a fine house, we’ll have servants and horses and we’ll be ’somebodies’.” I thought money would bring happiness, and the more money the more happiness.
We now live in a good home, have servants and horse and carriage; we’ve traveled several times together from ocean to ocean, yet I have never seen a train of Pullman palace cars that can compare in memory with the two trains that used to leave that little cottage home every evening for dreamland.
“The first train started at seven
Over the dreamland road,
The mother dear was the engineer,
The passenger laughed and crowed.
The palace car was the mother’s
The whistle a low sweet strain;
The passenger winked, nodded and blinked
And fell asleep on the train.
The next train started at eight p.m.,
For the slumberland afar,
The summons clear, fell on the ear,
‘All aboard for the sleeping car.’
And what was the fare to slumberland?
I assure you not very dear;
Only this, a hug and a kiss,
They were paid to the engineer.”
And I said:
“Take charge of the passengers,
Lord, I pray,
To me they are very dear;
And special ward, O gracious Lord,
Give the faithful engineer.”
Have some of you had sorrows you could not harmonize with the logic of life? Leave them with Him who “notes the sparrow’s fall.” Some one has said: “There are angels in the quarries of life only the blasts of misfortune and chisels of adversity can carve into beauty.”
Doctor Theodore Cuyler said: “God washes the eyes of His children with tears that they may better see His providences.”
Doctor Gutherie said: “Because I am seventy, my hair white and crows’ feet around my eyes, they tell me I’m growing old. That’s not I, that’s the house in which I live; I’m on the inside; the house may go to pieces but I shall live on eternally young.”
“This body is my house, it is not
Herein I sojourn, till in some far off sky,
I lease a fairer dwelling, built to last,
Till all the carpentry of time is past.
“When from heaven high, I view this
What need I care where these poor timbers are;
What if these crumbling walls do go back to dust and loam,
I will have exchanged them for a broader better home.
This body is my house, it is not I;
Triumphant in this faith, I shall live and die.”
Since I cannot live life over, since the gate at the end of life’s journey swings but one way, and of all the millions who have passed through, not one but the Crucified Son of God has returned, why should I select such a subject for a lecture? When one is on a journey he has never made before it is well to consult one who has traveled the road and from him learn the things best to be done, and the places to shun.
For more than three-score years and ten I have been making life’s journey, and for more than forty years have been mingling with the masses and meeting with varied experiences. To those who are climbing the hill toward the noon of the journey my advice should be of value.
With those who with me are facing the sinking sun, and the lengthening shadows falling behind, I thank God for that faith which comes from a diviner source than human science, that tells us,
“There’s a place, called the
Land of Beginning Again,
Where all our mistakes and all our heartaches,
And all our griefs and pain,
Will be left in the boat, like a shabby old coat,
And never put on again.
“I’m glad there’s a
place for the redeemed of the race,
In the Land of Beginning Again,
Where there’ll be no sighing, there’ll be no dying,
And where sorrows that seemed so sore,
Will vanish away like the night into day,
And never come back any more.”
It is said “if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” It is useless for me to wish to live life over or expect an extension of many more years of borrowed time, but I hope yet that along the shortening path I may open up here and there a spring that will refresh some thirsty soul and plant a flower that will brighten the path of some weary one.
It is my desire that I may close the life I cannot live over in the city where it began, surrounded by loved ones in whose lives I have lived. I can think of no more fitting close to this lecture than to use a thought borrowed from another, in paying a tribute to my old Kentucky home:
On her blue-grass bed in youth
I rolled and romped and rested;
At the altars of her church
I learned in whom I trusted.
’Tis here my honored parents sleep,
A dear sweet babe reposes,
And o’er my darling daughter’s grave
Blossom the summer roses.
’Tis here my marriage vows were
’Tis here my children found me;
My heart is here, and here may heaven
Fold angel wings around me.
May sacred memories hold me here,
And when life’s dream closes,
May I the plaudit “well done” wear,
Then sleep beneath her roses.