Since 1857 I can remember all the great panics, but I believe the panic of 1907 was the most trying. No one escaped from it, great or small. Important institutions had to be supported and carried through the time of distrust and unreasoning fear. To Mr. Morgan’s real and effective help I should join with other business men and give great praise. His commanding personality served a most valuable end. He acted quickly and resolutely when quickness and decision were the things most needed to regain confidence, and he was efficiently seconded by many able and leading financiers of the country who cooeperated courageously and effectively to restore confidence and prosperity. The question has been asked if I think we shall revive quickly from the panic of October, 1907. I hesitate to speak on the subject, since I am not a prophet nor the son of a prophet; but as to the ultimate outcome there is, of course, no doubt. This temporary set-back will lead to safer institutions and more conservative management upon the part of everyone, and this is a quality we need. It will not long depress our wonderful spirit of initiative. The country’s resources have not been cut down nor injured by financial distrust. A gradual recovery will only tend to make the future all the more secure, and patience is a virtue in business affairs as in other things.
Here again I would venture to utter a word of caution to business men. Let them study their own affairs frankly, and face the truth. If their methods are extravagant, let them realize the facts and act accordingly. One cannot successfully go against natural tendencies, and it is folly to fail to recognize them. It is not easy for so impressionable and imaginative a people as we Americans are to come down to plain, hard facts, yet we are doing it without loss of self-esteem or prestige throughout the world.
THE DIFFICULT ART OF GIVING
It is, no doubt, easy to write platitudes and generalities about the joys of giving, and the duty that one owes to one’s fellow men, and to put together again all the familiar phrases that have served for generations whenever the subject has been taken up.
I can hardly hope to succeed in starting any new interest in this great subject when gifted writers have so often failed. Yet I confess I find much more interest in it at this time than in rambling on, as I have been doing, about the affairs of business and trade. It is most difficult, however, to dwell upon a very practical and business-like side of benefactions generally, without seeming to ignore, or at least to fail to appreciate fully, the spirit of giving which has its source in the heart, and which, of course, makes it all worth while.
In this country we have come to the period when we can well afford to ask the ablest men to devote more of their time, thought, and money to the public well-being. I am not so presumptuous as to attempt to define exactly what this betterment work should consist of. Every man will do that for himself, and his own conclusion will be final for himself. It is well, I think, that no narrow or preconceived plan should be set down as the best.