I tell you seriously we are not a serious people except when we are scared. “Rights of free speech, O yes! they must be preserved. Democracy has its balancing of forces.” All this is forgotten when the government is at stake—our institutions. These mottoes and legends and traditions presuppose someone who will enlighten the people and a people that can be enlightened. Otherwise you will get the strong arm at work. It is inevitable. Has there been any meeting of editors to map a course that will truthfully reveal what Bolshevism is? or how absurd the talk of wage-slavery is? or why the miners strike? or why this is the best of all lands?
Tell me why workmen don’t believe what you print, unless it is some slander on a rich man, or some story that falls in with prejudices and hatreds?
Answer me that and you will know why the people sit indifferent while papers are suppressed, speakers harried, and espionage is king.
Mind you, I am not saying that you are alone to blame. Congress is. The States are. The cities are. The people are. They have let everything drift. What is our passion? What do we love? Do we think, or do we go to the movies? The socialist takes his philosophy seriously. The rest of us have no philosophy that is a passion with us.
But there, I have scolded enough. You are right, but you are not fundamental or basic or something or other, which means that you can’t put out a fire unless you have a fire department that is on the job. Tenderly yours,
F. K L.
Lane never outgrew his passionate belief in the moral responsibility of the press. To Fremont Older, when he took charge of the San Francisco call, Lane telegraphed:—
“There is no other agency that can serve our national purpose that is one-half as powerful as a free press, and no other that has one-half the responsibility. We need a press that will stand for the right, no matter whether its circulating or advertising is increased or not by such a position, and that means a press that includes in its understandings and sympathies the whole of society and serves no purpose other than the promotion of a happier and nobler people. Journalism is the greatest of all professions in a free country, if it is bent upon being right rather than being successful. I hope that you may be both.”
TO MRS. LOUISE HERRICK WATT
Watkins Glen, New York, [December, 1919]
My dear Mrs. Wall,—I am reminded by your letter to Anne that I have said no word to you since that first word of attempt at support, which I threw out on the first day. I meant it all and more. Wall was always in my mind, as at heart, the truest Democrat I knew. He really lived up to the standard of the New Testament. He did love his neighbor as himself. He never did good or kindness out of policy, but always from