Reflections and Comments 1865-1895
Edwin Lawrence Godkin

Part 3 out of 4

had they been unable to count on their servants. One gentleman,
a Charlestonian, telling me his reminiscences of these long journeys
to the springs taken with his parents in their own carriage, when
he was a boy, said his mother was very delicate and her health
required it. This at the North would have been a joke, as it would
have killed a delicate woman to go into the woods with hired "help"
or without any service at all.

Partly owing to the efficacy of the waters and partly to the absence
of other Southern watering-places, the springs became very early the
resort of every Southerner who could afford to leave home in the
summer, and they grew in favor owing to the peculiarities of
Southern society and the delicate state of Southern relations with
the North. In the first place, at the South people know each other,
and know about each other, in a way of which the inhabitants of a
denser and busier community have little idea. The number of persons
in Illinois, or Ohio, or Michigan that a New Yorker knows anything
about, or cares to see for social purposes, is exceedingly small. At
the South everybody with the means to travel has relatives or
friends or acquaintances of longer or shorter standing, in nearly
every Southern State, whom it is agreeable for him to meet, and he
knows that they will probably, at some part of the season or other,
appear at the springs. They will not go North because the North is
far away, is, in a certain sense, a strange community, and before
the war a hostile or critical one. Then, too, the South abounded or
abounds with local notables to a degree of which we have no idea at
the North, with persons of a certain weight and consequence in their
own State or county, and to whom this weight and consequence are so
agreeable and important that they cannot bear to part with them when
they go on a journey. They could always carry them with them to the
springs. There everybody was sure to know their standing, while if
they had gone up North they would be lost in the crowd and be
nobodies, and, before the war, have been deprived of the services of
their "body servants" or labored under constant anxiety about their

The springs, too, became, very early, and are now, a great
marrying-place. The "desirable young men, all riding on horses," as
the prophet called the Assyrian swells, go there in search of wives,
and are pretty sure to find there all the marriageable young women
of the South who can be said in any sense to be in society. Widows
abound at the springs just now--by which I mean widows who would not
object to trying the chances of matrimony again. I have been told
that, since the war, it is not uncommon for families whose means are
small to make up a purse to send one attractive youth or maid or
forlorn widow to the springs, in the hope that during the season
they may find the unknown soul which is to complete their destiny,
somewhat like the "culture" donations made to promising people at
the North to enable them to visit Europe. Then, too, to that very
large proportion of the population at the South who lead during the
rest of the year absolutely solitary lives on plantations, the visit
to the springs gives the only society of any kind they ever see, and
the one chance of showing their clothes and seeing what the other
women wear. In short, I do not believe that any one place of summer
resort serves so many purposes to any community as the Virginia
springs serve to that of the South, and by the springs I mean that
circle of mineral waters of various kinds which lie round the White
Sulphur, and to which the White Sulphur acts as a kind of
distributing reservoir of visitors.

As regards the opinions of the very representative company at the
springs on the subject of slavery, it seemed, as well as I could
get at it, to be that about one per cent, of the white people
regretted the emancipation; but this was composed almost entirely of
old persons, who were unable to accommodate themselves to a new
order of things, and to whom it meant the loss of personal
attendance--perhaps the greatest inconvenience which elderly
persons who have been used to valets and maids can undergo. Many
such persons at the South were really killed by the social changes
produced by the war, as truly as if they had been struck on the
battle-field; the bewildered resignation of the survivors is
sometimes touching to witness, and the calamity was generally
embittered by the wholesale flight of the most trusted household
servants, who it was supposed would have despised freedom even if
offered in a gold box by Phillips, Garrison, and Greeley in person.
Telling one old gentleman who was mourning over the change that the
young men to whom I spoke did not agree with him, but thought it an
excellent thing, he replied "that those fellows never had known what
domestic comfort was"--meaning that their experience did not run
back beyond 1865.

The traditions of the old system are, however, unquestionably a
better basis for good hotel-keeping than anything we have at the
North. The first condition of excellence in all places of
entertainment for man and beast is exactingness on the part of the
public. To be well cared for you must expect it and be used to it,
and this condition the Southerners fulfil in a much higher degree
than we do. They look for more attention, and they therefore get it;
and the waiter world, partly from habit and partly, no doubt, from
race temperament, render it with a cheerfulness we are not familiar
with here. But the superiority of manners in all classes is very
striking. One rarely meets a man on a Virginia road who does not
raise or touch his hat, and this not in a servile way either, but
simply as politeness. The bearing of the men toward each other
generally, too, has the ineffable charm, which Northern manners are
so apt to want, of indicating a recognition of the fact that even if
you are no better than any other man, you are different, and that
your peculiarities are respectable, and that you are entitled to a
certain amount of deference for your private tastes and habits. At
the North, on the other hand, manners, even as taught to children,
are apt to concede nothing except that you have an immortal soul and
a middling chance of salvation, and to avoid anything which is
likely to lead you to forget that you are simply a human male.


The last "statement," it is reasonable to hope, has been made in the
Beecher-Tilton case previous to the trial at law, and it is safe to
say that it has left the public mind in as unsettled a state as ever
before. People do not know what to believe, but they do not want to
hear any more newspaper discussion by the principal actors. We are
not going to attempt any analysis or summing-up of the case at
present. It will be time enough to do that after the _dramatis
personae_ have undergone an examination in court, but we would again
warn our readers against looking for any decisive result from the
legal trial. The expectations on this point which some of the
newspapers and a good many lawyers are encouraging are in the
highest degree extravagant. The truth is that only a very small
portion of the stuff contained in the various "statements" can,
under the rules of evidence, be laid before the jury--not, we
venture to assert, more than would fill half a newspaper column in
all. What _will_ be laid before the jury is, in the main, "questions
of veracity" between three or four persons whose credit is already
greatly shaken, or, in other words, the very kind of questions on
which juries are most likely to disagree, even when the jurymen are
entirely unprejudiced. In the present case they are sure to be
prejudiced, and are sure to be governed, consciously or
unconsciously, in reaching their conclusions by agencies wholly
foreign to the matter in hand, and are thus very likely to disagree.
There are very few men whose opinions about Mr. Beecher's guilt or
innocence are not influenced by their own religious and political
beliefs, or by their social antecedents or surroundings. A curious
and somewhat instructive illustration of the way in which a man's
fate in such cases as this may be affected by considerations having
no sort of relation to the facts, is afforded by the attitude of the
Western press toward the chief actors in the present scandal. It may
be said, roughly, that while the press east of the Alleghanies has
inclined in Beecher's favor, the newspapers west of them have gone
somewhat savagely and persistently against him, and have treated
Tilton as a martyr. The cause of such a divergence of views,
considering that both Tilton and Beecher are Eastern men, is of
course somewhat obscure, but we have no doubt that it is due to a
vague feeling prevalent in the West that Tilton's cause is the
democratic one--that is, the cause of the poor, friendless man
against the rich and successful one--a feeling somewhat like that
which in England enlisted the working-classes in London on the side
of the Tichborne claimant, in defiance of all reason and evidence,
as a poor devil fighting a hard battle with the high and mighty. One
of the reporters of a Western paper which has made important
contributions to the literature of the scandal, recently accounted
for his support of Tilton by declaring that in standing by him he
was "fighting the battle of the Bohemians against Capital." Another
Western paper, in analyzing the causes of the position taken by the
leading New York papers on Beecher's side, ascribed it to the social
relations of the editors with him, believing that they met him
frequently at dinners and breakfasts, and found him a jovial
companion. All this would be laughable enough if it did not show the
amount of covert peril--peril against which no precautions can be
taken--to which every prominent man's character is exposed. The
moment he gets into a scrape of any kind he finds a host of persons
whose enmity he never suspected clamoring to have him thrown to the
beasts "on general grounds"--that is, in virtue of certain tests
adopted by themselves, judged by which, apart from the facts of any
particular accusation, a man of his kind is unquestionably a bad
fellow. The accusation, in short, furnishes the occasion for
destroying him, not necessarily the reason for it.

In Europe there are already abundant signs that the scandal will be
considered a symptomatic phenomenon--that is, a phenomenon
illustrative of the moral condition of American society generally;
for it must not be overlooked that, putting aside altogether the
question of Beecher's guilt or innocence, the "statements" furnish
sociological revelations of a most singular and instructive kind.
The witnesses, in telling their story, although their minds are
wholly occupied with the proof or disproof of certain propositions,
describe ways of living, standards of right and wrong, traits of
manners, codes of propriety, religious and social ideas, which,
taken together, form social pictures of great interest and value.
Now, if these were really pictures of American society in general,
as some European observers are disposed to conclude, we do not
hesitate to say that the prospects of the Anglo-Saxon race on this
continent would be somewhat gloomy. But we believe we only express
the sentiment of all parts of the country when we say that the state
of things in Brooklyn revealed by the charges and countercharges has
filled the best part of the American people with nearly as much
amazement as if an unknown tribe worshipping strange gods had been
suddenly discovered on Brooklyn Heights. In fact, the actors in the
scandal have the air of persons who are living, not _more majorum_,
by rules with which they are familiar, but like half-civilized
people who have got hold of a code which they do not understand, and
the phrases of which they use without being able to adapt their
conduct to it.

We have not space at our command to illustrate this as fully as we
could wish, even if the patience of our readers would permit of it,
but we can perhaps illustrate sufficiently within a very short
compass. We have already spoken of the Oriental extravagance of the
language used in the scandal, which might pass in Persia or Central
Arabia, where wild hyperbole is permitted by the genius of the
language, and where people are accustomed to it in conversation,
understand it perfectly, and make unconscious allowance for it.
Displayed here in the United States, in a mercantile community, and
in a tongue characterized by directness and simplicity, it makes the
actors almost entirely incomprehensible to people outside their own
set, as is shown by the attempts made to explain and understand the
letters in the case. Most of the critics, both the friendly and
hostile, are compelled to treat them as written in a sort of dialect
which has to be read with the aid of commentary, glosses, and
parallels, and accompanied, like the study of Homer or the Reg-Veda,
by a careful examination of the surroundings of the writers, the
conditions of their birth and education, the usages of the circle in
which they live, and the social and religious influences by which
they have been moulded, and so on. Their almost entire want of any
sense of necessary connection between facts and written statements
has been strikingly revealed by Moulton's production of various
drafts or outlines of cards, reports, and letters which the actors
proposed from time to time to get up and publish for the purpose of
settling their troubles and warding off exposure by imposing on the
public. No savages could have acted with a more simple-minded
unconsciousness of truth. Moulton, according to his own story,
helped Beecher to publish a lying card; got Tilton to procure from
his wife a lying letter; and Tilton concocted a lying report for the
committee, in which he made them express the highest admiration for
himself, his adulterous wife, and her paramour. Here we have a bit
of the machinery of high civilization--a committee, with its
investigation and report, used, or attempted to be used, with just
the kind of savage directness with which a Bongo would use it, when
once he came to understand it, and found he could make it serve some
end, and with just as little reference to the moral aspect of the

Take, again, Tilton's account of the motives which governed him in
his treatment of his wife and of Beecher. He is evidently aware that
there are two codes regulating a man's conduct under such
circumstances--one the Christian code and the other the conventional
code of honor, or, as he calls it, "club-house morality"; but it
soon became clear that he had no distinct conception of their
difference. Having been brought up under the Christian code, and
taught, doubtless, to regard the term "gentleman" as a name for a
heartless epicurean, he started off by forgiving both Beecher and
his wife, or, as the lawyers say, condoning their offence; and he
speaks scornfully of the religious ignorance of the committee in
assuming in their report that there was any offence for which a
Christian was not bound to accept an apology as a sufficient
atonement. The club-house code would, however, have prescribed the
infliction of vengeance on Beecher by exposing him. Accordingly,
Tilton mixes the two codes up in the most absurd way. Having, as a
Christian, forgiven Beecher, he began, thirty days after the
discovery of the offence, to expose him as a "gentleman," and kept
forgiving and exposing him continuously through the whole four
years, the _eclat_ of such a relation to Beecher having evidently an
irresistible temptation for him. Finally, when Dr. Bacon called him
a "dog," he threw aside the Christian __role_ altogether and began
assailing his enemy with truly heathen virulence and vigor. A more
curious blending of two conceptions of duty is not often seen, and
it was doubtless due to the fact that no system of training or
culture had made any impression on the man or gone more than skin
deep. His interview with Beecher, too, by appointment, at his own
house, for the purpose of ascertaining by a comparison of dates and
reference to his wife's diary the probable paternity of her youngest
child, which he describes with the utmost simplicity, is, we venture
to say, an incident absolutely without precedent, and one which may
safely be pronounced foreign to our civilization. Whether it really
occurred, or Tilton invented it, it makes him a problem in social
philosophy of considerable interest.

Moulton's story, too, furnishes several puzzles of the same kind.
That an English-speaking Protestant married couple in easy
circumstances and of fair education, and belonging to a religious
circle, should not only be aware that their pastor was a libertine
and should be keeping it a secret for him, but should make his
adulteries the subject of conversation with him in the family
circle, is hardly capable of explanation by reference to any known
and acknowledged tendency of our society. But perhaps the most
striking thing in Moulton's _role_ is that while he appears on the
scene as a gentleman or "man of the world," who does for honor's
sake what the other actors do from fear of God, his whole course is
a kind of caricature of what a gentleman under like circumstances
would really do. For instance, he accepts Beecher's confidence,
which may have been unavoidable, and betrays it by telling various
people, from time to time, of the several incidents of Beecher's
trouble, which is something of which a weak or loose-tongued
person--vain of the task in which he was engaged, as it seemed to
him, _i.e._, of keeping the peace between two great men--might
readily be guilty. But he tells the public of it in perfect
unconsciousness that there was anything discreditable in it, as he
does of his participation in the writing of lying letters and cards,
and his passing money over from the adulterer to pacify the injured
husband. In fact, he carries, according to his own account, his
services to Beecher to a point at which it is very difficult to
distinguish them from those of a pander, maintaining at the same
time relations of the most disgusting confidence with Mrs. Tilton.
Finally, too, when greatly perplexed as to his course, he goes
publicly and with _eclat_ for advice to a lawyer, with whom no
gentleman, in the proper sense of the term, could maintain intimate
personal relation or safely consult on a question of honor. The
moral insensibility shown in his visit to General Butler is one of
the strange parts of the affairs.

We have, of course, only indicated in the briefest way some of the
things which may be regarded as symptomatic of strange mental and
moral conditions in the circle in which the affair has occurred. The
explanation of them in any way that would generally be considered
satisfactory would be a difficult task. The influences which bring
about a certain state of manners at any given time or place are
always numerous and generally obscure, but we think something of
this sort may be safely offered in consideration of the late "goings
on" in Brooklyn.

In the first place, the newspapers and other cheap periodicals, and
the lyceum lectures and small colleges, have diffused through the
community a kind of smattering of all sorts of knowledge, a taste for
reading and for "art"--that is, a desire to see and own pictures--
which, taken together, pass with a large body of slenderly equipped
persons as "culture," and give them an unprecedented self-confidence
in dealing with all the problems of life, and raise them in their
own minds to a plane on which they see nothing higher, greater,
or better than themselves. Now, culture, in the only correct and
safe sense of the term, is the result of a process of discipline,
both mental and moral. It is not a thing that can be picked up,
or that can be got by doing what one pleases. It cannot be acquired
by desultory reading, for instance, or travelling in Europe. It
comes of the protracted exercise of the faculties for given ends,
under restraints of some kind, whether imposed by one's self or
other people. In fact, it might not improperly be called the art of
doing easily what you don't like to do. It is the breaking-in of the
powers to the service of the will; and a man who has got it is not
simply a person who knows a good deal, for he may know very little,
but a man who has obtained an accurate estimate of his own capacity,
and of that of his fellows and predecessors, who is aware of the
nature and extent of his relations to the world about him, and who is
at the same time capable of using his powers to the best advantage.
In short, the man of culture is the man who has formed his ideals
through labor and self-denial. To be real, therefore, culture ought
to affect a man's whole character and not merely store his memory
with facts. Let us add, too, that it may be got in various ways,
through home influences as well as through schools or colleges;
through living in a highly organized society, making imperious
demands on one's time and faculties, as well as through the
restraints of a severe course of study. A good deal of it was
obtained from the old Calvinistic theology, against which, in the
days of its predominance, the most bumptious youth hit his head at
an early period of his career, and was reduced to thoughtfulness and
self-examination, and forced to walk in ways that were not always to
his liking.

If all this be true, the mischievous effects of the pseudo-culture
of which we have spoken above may be readily estimated. A society of
ignoramuses who know they are ignoramuses might lead a tolerably
happy and useful existence, but a society of ignoramuses each of
whom thinks he is a Solon would be an approach to Bedlam let loose,
and something analogous to this may really be seen to-day in some
parts of this country. A large body of persons has arisen, under the
influence of the common schools, magazines, newspapers, and the
rapid acquisition of wealth, who are not only engaged in enjoying
themselves after their fashion, but who firmly believe that they
have reached, in the matter of social, mental, and moral culture,
all that is attainable or desirable by anybody, and who, therefore,
tackle all the problems of the day--men's, women's, and children's
rights and duties, marriage, education, suffrage, life, death, and
immortality--with supreme indifference to what anybody else thinks
or has ever thought, and have their own trumpery prophets,
prophetesses, heroes and heroines, poets, orators, scholars and
philosophers, whom they worship with a kind of barbaric fervor. The
result is a kind of mental and moral chaos, in which many of the
fundamental rules of living, which have been worked out painfully by
thousands of years of bitter human experience, seem in imminent risk
of disappearing totally.

Now, if we said that a specimen of this society had been unearthed
in Brooklyn by the recent exposures, we should, doubtless to many
people, seem to say a very hard thing, and yet this, with the
allowances and reservations which have of course to be made for all
attempts to describe anything so vague and fleeting as a social
state, is what we do mean to say. That Mr. Beecher's preaching,
falling on such a mass of disorder, should not have had a more
purifying and organizing effect, is due, we think, to the absence
from it of anything in the smallest degree disciplinary, either in
the shape of systematic theology, with its tests and standards, or
of a social code, with its pains and penalties. What he has most
encouraged, if we may judge by some of the fruits, is vague
aspiration and lachrymose sensibility. The ability to dare and do,
the readiness to ask one's due which comes of readiness to render
their due to others, the profound consciousness of the need of sound
habits to brace and fortify morals, which are the only true
foundation and support of a healthy civilization, are things which
he either has not preached or which his preaching has only stifled.


There is a story afloat that Mr. John Morrissey made his appearance,
one day during the past week, in Madison Square, in full evening
dress, including white gloves and cravat, and bearing a French
dictionary under his arm, and that, being questioned by his friends
as to the object of this display, he replied that he was going to
see Major Wickham and ask him for an office in the only costume in
which such an application would have a chance of success. In other
words, he was acting what over in Brooklyn would be called "an
allegory," and which was intended to expose in a severe and telling
way the Mayor's gross partiality, in the use of his patronage, for
the well-dressed and well-educated members of society--a partiality
which Mr. Morrissey and his party consider not only unfair but
ridiculous. This demonstration, too, was one of the few indications
which have as yet met the public eye of a very real division of the
Democratic party in this city into two sets of politicians, known
familiarly as "Short-Hairs" and "Swallow-Tails"--the former
comprising the rank and file of the voters and the latter "the
property-owners and substantial men," who are endeavoring to make
Tammany an instrument of reform and to manage the city in the
interest of the taxpayers. Mayor Wickham belongs, it is said, to the
latter class, and has given, it seems, in the eyes of the former,
some proofs of a desire to reserve responsible offices for persons
of some pretensions to gentility, and exhibited some disfavor for
the selections of the "workers" in the various wards.

But we do not undertake to describe with accuracy the origin or
nature of the split; all we know is that the Short-Hairs are
disgusted, and that their hostility to the Swallow-Tails is very
bitter, and that when Mr. Morrissey proclaimed, in the manner we
have described, that a man needed to wear evening dress and to know
French in order to get a place, he gave feeble expression to the
rage of the masses. They have, too, concocted an arrangement which
embodies their idea of a well-administered government, and which
consists in compelling the departments to spend in wages in each
district at least $1.50 for each Democratic vote cast, and to
apportion the appropriations with strict reference to this rule, the
money, of course, to go to the nominees of Democratic politicians.
The plan departs from that of the French national workshops in that
it discriminates between laborers, but in other respects it has all
the characteristics of well-developed Communism. The way to meet it,
according to our venerable contemporary, the _Evening Post_, is to
have the taxpayers point out to the voters who are to receive the
money that they (the taxpayers) cannot well spare it, that they need
it for their own use, and that this mode of administering corporate
funds is condemned by all the leading writers on government. The
Swallow-Tails know so well, however, with what howls of mingled
mirth and indignation the Short-Hairs would receive such suggestions
that they never make them, but content themselves with confining the
distribution of the money to the members of their own division
quietly and unostentatiously, as far as lies in their power, which,
we candidly confess, we do not think is very far.

It would be doing the Short-Hairs injustice, however, if we allowed
the reader to remain under the impression that the unwillingness to
have the Swallow-Tails monopolize or even have a share of the office
was peculiar to them, or that John Morrissey's protest would be
unintelligible anywhere out of New York. On the contrary, when he
started out with his French dictionary he was giving expression to
a feeling which is to be found in greater or less intensity in
every State in the Union. The great division of politicians into
Short-Hairs and Swallow-Tails is not confined to this city. It is
found in every city in the country in which there is much diversity
of condition among the inhabitants. Nor did Morrissey mean simply
to protest against training as a qualification for the work of
administration, as the _Tribune_ assumed in a sharp and incisive
lecture which it read him the other day. We doubt if any pugilist in
his secret heart despises training. He knows how much depends on it,
and as he is not apt to possess much discriminating power, he is not
likely to mark off any particular class of work as not needing it.
What the Short-Hairs dislike in the Swallow-Tails is the feeling of
personal superiority which they imagine them to entertain, and which
they think finds a certain expression in careful dressing and in the
possession of certain accomplishments. In fact, the Swallow-Tails
whom the New York rough detests and would like to keep out of
public life, belong to the class known in Massachusetts as the
"White-cravat-and-daily-bath gentlemen," and which is there just as
unpopular as here, and has even greater difficulty in getting office
there than here.

The line of division in New York is, however, drawn much lower down.
The Massachusetts Short-Hair is a man of intelligence, of some
education, who wears a plain black neglige and rumpled shirt-front
and soft hat, and disregards the condition of his nails, and takes a
warm bath occasionally. The New Yorker, on the other hand, wears
such clothes as he can get, and only bathes in the hot weather and
off the public wharf. If he has good luck and makes money, either in
the public service or otherwise, he displays it not in any richness
in his toilet or in greater care of his person, but in the splendor
of his jewels. One of his first purchases is a diamond-pin, which he
sticks in his shirt-front, but he never sees any connection of an
aesthetic kind between the linen and the pin, and will wear the
latter in a very dirty shirt-front as cheerfully as in a clean
one--in fact, more cheerfully, as he has a vague feeling that by
showing it he atones for or excuses the condition of the linen. In
fact, the Short-Hair view of dress would be found on examination to
be, in nearly ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, something of this
kind: that the constant care of the person which produces an
impression of neatness and appropriateness, and makes a man look
"genteel," is the expression of a certain state of mind; that a man
would not take so much trouble to make himself look different from
the ordinary run of people whom he meets, unless he thought himself
in some way superior to them, or, in other words, thought himself a
"gentleman" and them common fellows, and that he therefore fairly
deserves the hatred of those of whom he thus openly parades his

A New York Short-Hair seldom goes farther than this in his
speculations, though he doubtless has also a vague idea that a
well-dressed man is not so likely to stand by his friends in politics
as a more careless one. In New England, as might be expected, however,
the popular dislike of that "culte de la personne," as some Frenchman
has called it, which distinguishes "the white-cravat-and-daily-bath
gentleman," has provided itself with a moral basis. There is there a
strong presumption that the Swallow-Tail is a frivolous person,
who bestows on his tailoring, and his linen, and his bathing, and his
manners the time and attention which the Short-Hair or "plain blunt
man" reserves for reflection on the graver concerns of life, and
especially on the elevation of his fellow-men, and this presumption
even a career of philanthropy and the composition of the "Principia"
would not in many minds suffice to overthrow. We believe it is
authentic that General Grant never got over the impression produced
on him by seeing that Mr. Motley parted his hair in the middle, and
it is said--and if not true is not unlikely,--that Mr. R. H. Dana's
practice of wearing kid gloves told heavily against him in his
memorable contest with Butler in the Essex district. We may all
remember, too, the gigantic efforts made by Mr. Sumner and others in
Congress to have our representatives abroad prohibited from wearing
court-dress. What dress they wore was of course, _per se_, a matter
of no consequence, provided it was not immodest. The fervor on the
subject was due to the deeply rooted feeling that even the amount
of care for externals exhibited in putting on an embroidered coat
or knee-breeches indicated a light-mindedness against the very
appearance of which the minister of a republic ought to guard
carefully. It is partly to produce the effect of seriousness of
purpose, but mainly to avoid the appearance of airs of social or
mental superiority, that nearly all skilful politicians dress with
elaborate negligence. In most country districts no complaints can
be made of men in office such as the New York Short-Hair makes
against the Swallow-Tail. They fling on their easy-fitting black
clothes in a way that leaves them their whole time for the study
of public affairs and attention to the wants of their constituents,
and at the same time recalls their humble beginnings.

What strikes one, however, as most curious in the controversy
between the Short-Hairs and the Swallow-Tails is the illustration it
affords of the rigidity with which every class or grade in
civilization treats its own social conventions, whatever they may
be, as final, and as having some subtle but necessary connection
with morals. When the Indian squats round the tribal pot in his
breech-clout, and eats his dinner with his dirty paw, he is fully
satisfied that he is as well equipped, both as regards dress and
manners, not only as a man need be, but as a man ought to be. The
toilet, the chamber, and the dinner-table of a plain New England
farmer he treats as wasteful and ridiculous excess, and if good for
anything, good only for plunder. The farmer, on the other hand,
loathes the Indian and his ways, and thinks him a filthy beast, and
that he (the farmer) has reached the limits of the proper as regards
clothes and food and personal habits, and that the city man who puts
greater elaboration into his life is a fribble, who is to be pitied,
if not despised and distrusted. In short, we can hardly go one step
into the controversy without coming on the old question, What are
luxuries and what necessities? and, as usual, the majority decides
it in the manner that best suits itself. It may be said without
exaggeration that the progress of civilization has consisted largely
in the raising of what is called "the standard of living," or, in
other words, the multiplication of the things deemed necessary for
personal comfort, and, as this raising of the standard has always
been begun by the few, the many have always fought against it as a
sign of selfishness or affectation until they themselves were able
to adopt it.

The history of the bath furnishes a curious though tolerably
familiar illustration of this. The practice of bathing disappeared
from Western Europe with the fall of the Roman Empire. The
barbarians were themselves dirty fellows, like the Indians, and
their descendants remained dirty in spite of the growth of
civilization among them, putting their money, like the Short-Hair,
mainly into jewels and other ornaments. As long as linen was scarce
and dear, changes were, of course, seldom made, and the odor of even
"the best society" was so insupportable that perfumes had to be
lavishly used to overcome it. The increased cheapness of linen and
more recently of cotton, and the increased facilities for bathing,
have in our own day made personal cleanliness a common virtue; but
an occasional bath is still as much as is thought, through the
greater part of the world, compatible with moral earnestness and
high aims. Of late, indeed within the memory of the present
generation, persons mainly belonging to the wealthier class in
England have boldly begun to bathe every day, and they have finally
succeeded in establishing the rule that a gentleman is bound to
bathe, or "tub," as they call it, every day, and that the usage
cannot be persistently neglected without loss of position. Indeed,
there are few social casuists in England who would decide, without
great hesitation and anxiety, that any English-speaking man was a
gentleman who did not take a daily bath. That this view of the
matter should be accepted by the great body of those who would
rather not bathe every day is not to be expected, nor is it to be
wondered at that they should consider it offensive, and that the
practice of sponging one's self in cold water every morning should
in caucuses be looked on as a disqualification for political life.
There is, of course, a necessary and provoking, though tacit,
assumption of superiority in the display of greater cleanliness than
other people show, just as there is in coming into a room and
finding fault with the closeness of the air in which other people
are sitting comfortably. It is tantamount to saying that what is
good enough for them is not good enough for you, and they always
either openly or secretly resent it.

The popular distrust of the practice of wearing white cravats in the
evening may be traced to the same causes. The savage makes no change
of toilet for the evening. He dresses for war and religious
ceremonies, but he goes to a social reunion or feast in such clothes
as he happens to have on when the invitation finds him. The plain
man of civilized life, under similar circumstances, puts on a clean
shirt and his best suit of clothes. This suit, among the European
peasantry, is apt to be of simply the same cut and material as the
working suit, or, as it would be called in Brooklyn, "the garb of
toil." Among Americans, it is a black suit, like that of a
clergyman, and includes a silk cravat, generally black, but
permissibly colored. The whole matter is, however, one of pure
convention. Now, it has been found of late years a matter of
convenience, and of great convenience especially to hard-worked men
and men of moderate means who are exposed to the constant social
demands of the great cities of the world, to have a costume in which
one can appear on any festive occasion, great or small, which all,
gentle or simple, are alike expected to wear, which is neither rich
nor gaudy, and in which every man may feel sure that he is properly
dressed; and the dress fixed on for this purpose now throughout the
civilized world is the plain suit of black, with the swallow-tailed
coat, commonly called "evening dress."

Nothing can be simpler or less pretentious, or more democratic.
Nobody can add anything to it or take anything away from it. Many
attempts to modify it have been made during the last thirty years by
leaders of fashion, and they have all failed, because it meets one
of the great wants of human nature. It is only within the last
fifteen years that it has obtained a firm foothold in American
cities. People looked on it with suspicion, as a sign of some inward
and spiritual naughtiness, and regarded the frock-coat with its full
skirts as the only garment in which a serious-minded man, with a
proper sense of his origin and destiny, and correct feelings about
popular government, could make his appearance in a lady's parlor.
Why, nobody could tell, for there was a time, not very far back,
when the frock-coat was itself an innovation. Of late--that is,
within, perhaps, twenty years--the Swallow-Tails of the world have
exchanged the black or colored for a white cravat, and justify
themselves by saying that it not only looks cleaner, but is cleaner
of necessity than a silk one, and that you cannot look too clean or
fresh about your throat when you present yourself in a lady's house
on a festive occasion. Nevertheless, the plain, blunt men are not
satisfied. They do not as yet feel sure as to its meaning. They
think it indicates either over-thoughtfulness about trifles or else
a leaning, slight though it be, toward despotism and free-trade.
They will now all, or nearly all, wear evening dress with a black
cravat, but even those of them who will consent to put on a white
one do so with a certain shamefacedness and sense of backsliding,
and of treachery to some good cause, though they do not exactly know


The proceedings in the recent Bravo poisoning case have raised a
good deal of discussion in England as to the license of counsel in
cross-examination--a question which recent trials in this country
have shown to possess no little interest for us also. In the Bravo
inquest, as in the Tichborne case and the Beecher trial of the last
year, the cross-examination of the witnesses was pushed into matters
very remotely connected with the issue under trial, so that the
general result of the inquiry was not, as in most cases, the
eliciting of a certain number of facts bearing on the question in
court, but a complete revelation of the whole private life of a
family, or of a certain part of it, and even of a whole circle of
families. The glaring exposure of matters usually kept close, and
not even talked about, formed in fact the great fascination of these
_causes celebres_. It was difficult at the first blush to see how in
the Beecher trial Tilton's eccentric nocturnal habits could have
thrown any light upon the question of Beecher's guilt; nor in the
Tichborne case was it at all apparent that an answer to the inquiry
put to some witness--whether he had, at some distant period of time,
had improper relations with some persons not connected with the
case--could even remotely tend to settle the claimant's identity.
The _Pall Mall Gazette_, discussing this kind of cross-examination
resorted to for the purpose of breaking down the credit of a
witness--of "showing him up" to the jury, and thus inducing them to
pay less attention to his evidence than they otherwise would--has
stated the case in the following manner: "Suppose, it says, that the
legislature of a free country were some fine morning to pass a law
authorizing anyone who chose to take it into his head to compel any
inhabitant of the country to answer any questions he might think fit
to put with regards to the other's moral character, his relations
with his parents, brothers and sisters, wife and children, his
business affairs, his property, his debts, and in fact his whole
private life, and to do all this without there being any dispute
between them or even any alleged grievance, what would be thought of
such a law? Would it be endured for an instant?" Now, this, the
_Pall Mall Gazette_ continues, is to-day the law of England. It is
just to this odious tyranny which anyone, by bringing a suit, can,
under the vague and almost unlimited power to punish for "contempt
of court," force submission.

The law on this subject is, generally speaking, the same in the
United States as in England, and this tyranny, if it really exists,
weighs upon us as heavily as it does upon Englishmen. The first
question that suggests itself is whether this is really a fair
statement of law, and, of course, the _Pall Mall Gazette_ admits
that there exist limitations of the right of cross-examination, but
it contends that these are so undefined as to amount to little or
nothing in the way of protection. The authorities contain little on
the subject, except that cross-examination as to credit is allowed
to go very far, and that judges may in their discretion stop it when
it goes too far. But judicial discretion is proverbially an
uncertain thing. It varies not merely with the court, but even in
the same judge it is affected by the state of his temper, his
curiosity, his feeling toward the counsel who is examining, and by
thousands of other things that no one can know anything about or
depend upon. Usually it is easier not to exercise than to exercise
discretion, and the result is that the right of cross-examination is
usually unchecked, and in most important cases which are widely
reported the right is pushed to lengths which, with witnesses of any
sensibility, amount to a process of slow torture. If the right is
abused in England, it is unquestionably abused here, and probably at
the time of the Beecher trial we should have had complaints about it
but for the fact that in the singular society in which the parties
to that case lives, a craving for notoriety had been developed which
made any discussion of their private affairs less disagreeable than
it is to most people. But with the great majority of mankind there
is nothing more odious than the extraction, by a sharp, hostile
lawyer, from their own unwilling lips, of the details of their moral
history. There is probably no one in existence, however good, and
however quiet his conscience may be, who can endure without a
shudder the thought of every transaction of his past life being
dragged out in a court of justice for the amusement of a gaping
crowd. Exactly how far the right is abused, and how far the
discretionary powers of courts to limit its abuse accomplish their
end, it is impossible to say, for it is only in sporadic cases of
unusual importance that interest in the result is strong enough to
warrant a lawyer's going to great length in cross-examination.
Usually, too, it should be said for the credit of the profession,
reputable lawyers shrink from outraging a witness's sensibility. But
after everything is admitted that can be admitted in favor of the
existing state of the law, it is impossible to deny that the door is
left very wide open to disgraceful assaults upon credit which
inflict serious and irreparable damage.

The difficulty is not in pointing out the evil, which is plain
enough, but in suggesting a remedy. The right of cross-examination
is one of the most important instruments provided by the machinery
of our law for the discovery of facts, and on the credibility of
witnesses all cases hinge. The moment we begin to limit it by fixed
rules we enter on dangerous ground. It might seem as if the solution
of the problem lay in the enactment of a rule that witnesses should
only be cross-examined as to their general reputation with regard to
truth, and as to the matters involved in the case directly affecting
their credibility; but this would by no means do. Suppose, for
instance, that the suit is a common action for the purchase-money of
a piece of cloth, and the defendant brings a witness who swears
that he saw the defendant pay the money to the plaintiff, while
the plaintiff has only his own evidence to rely upon in proof of
non-payment; if, in such case, the plaintiff were merely allowed to
cross-examine the witness directly, he would in all probability lose
the case. The testimony would be two to one against him, and the
story of the witness as the only disinterested person would probably
be believed by the jury. But suppose that, on cross-examination, it
turns out that this witness can give no good account of his manner
of earning his living or of his place of residence; that he had been
arrested not long before as a vagrant, and that down to the time of
the action he had no respectable clothes, and that he suddenly
became possessed of some; that he deserted from the army immediately
after getting his bounty-money, and so on, there can be little doubt
that his credit with the jury would be much impaired, and justly so,
although no direct evidence of his being a perjurer had been
introduced, and not a particle of his testimony had been strictly
controverted. Everyone who has followed with any care the evidence
taken in celebrated murder trials or divorce cases knows how
frequently a rigid cross-examination lays bare motives and
prejudices on the part of witnesses which, often without their
knowing it themselves, tend to bias their account of facts.

The problem, therefore, is to devise some means by which these
benefits of a searching cross-examination may be retained and yet
the abuse got rid of. The only feasible way of meeting the
difficulty yet proposed is that of drawing up a series of rules or
general directions as to evidence which shall not attempt to
prescribe formal limits for cross-examination, but shall lay down in
explicit words the general principles which should govern a judge in
such cases. These rules would practically be a definition of the
"discretion" he is now supposed to exercise. They would, for
example, direct him not to allow an examination into matters so
remote in time from the case in hand that they can have no bearing
on the credibility of the witness; not to allow questions to be put
which are plainly malicious and asked for the purpose of irritating
the witness; and not to allow any examination into transactions
which, though they may have a bearing on the character of a witness,
have none on his credibility, _e.g._, an inquiry, in a murder case,
of a witness in good standing, as to domestic difficulties with a
deceased wife. It is not easy to lay down beforehand any rules by
which we can discriminate the kind of evidence as to transactions
involving moral character which ought not to affect credibility, but
every one can easily imagine instances of such evidence. General
directions of the kind we have just suggested are no more than a
formal enunciation of the manner in which the "discretion" of a good
judge would be and is exercised. They do not change the law, but
they remind judges of what they may forget, and they may be appealed
to by a persecuted witness with far more certainty than judicial
"discretion." In the Indian Code, which is probably the best body of
law that the legal reform movement begun by Bentham in the last
century has yet produced, rules of this kind have been laid down,
and we believe have been found to work with success.


A Washington correspondent, describing, the other day, the motives
which animated the majority in Congress in its performances on
the currency question, said, and we believe truly, that most of
the inflationists in that body knew very well what the evils of
paper-money were, so that argument on that point was wasted on them.
But they knew also that large issues of irredeemable paper would
make it easier for debtors to pay off their creditors, and came to
the conclusion that as the number of debtors in the country was
greater than the number of creditors, it was wise policy for a
politician to curry favor with the former by helping them to cheat
the persons who had lent them money or sold them goods. This
explanation of the conduct of the majority may be a startling and
sad one, but that it is highly probable nobody can deny. All the
debates help to confirm it. In every speech, made either in
opposition to resumption or in favor of inflation, a portion of the
community known as "the debtor class" has appeared as the object of
the orator's tenderest solicitude. The great reason for not
returning to specie payments hitherto has been the fear that
contraction would press hard on "the debtor class;" it is for "the
debtor class" we need more paper "_per capita_;" and indeed, no
matter what proposal we make in the direction of financial reform,
we are met by pictures of the frightful effects which will be
produced by it on the "debtor class." Moreover, in listening to its
champions, a foreigner might conclude that in America debtors either
all live together in a particular part of the country, or worse, a
particular costume, like mediaeval Jews, and are divided from the
rest of the community by tastes and habits, so that it would be
proper for an American to put "debtor" or "creditor" on his card as
a description of his social status. He might, too, not unnaturally
begin to mourn over the negligence of the framers of the
Constitution in not recognizing this marked distribution of American
society. Truly, he would say, the debtors ought to have
representatives in the Senate and House to look after their special
interests; these unfortunate and helpless men ought not to be left
to the charitable care of volunteers like Messrs. Morton, and Logan,
and Kelly. The great sham and pretence with which America has so
long tried to impose on Europe, that there were no classes in the
United States, ought at last to be formally swept away, and proper
legal provision made for the protection of a body of men which has
been in all ages the object of atrocious oppression, and seems in
America, strange to say, to constitute the larger portion of the
community. In travelling through the country, too, he would be
constantly on the lookout for the debtors. He would ask in the
cities for the "debtors' quarter," and when introduced to a
gentleman in the cars or in the hotels, would inquire privately
whether he was a debtor or a creditor, so as to avoid hurting his
feelings by indiscreet allusion to specie or contraction. His
amazement would be very great on learning that there was no way of
telling whether an American citizen was either debtor or creditor;
that the "debtor class" was not to be found, as such, in any part of
the country, or, indeed, anywhere but in the brains of the Logans
and Mortons, and was introduced into the debates simply as a John
Doe or Richard Roe, to give a little vividness to the speaker's
railings against property.

Now, as in every civilized society, the vast majority of the
population of this country are in debt, to some slight degree. It is
only paupers, criminals, and lunatics who owe absolutely nothing.
The day-laborer is pretty sure to have a small bill at the grocer's,
and all his neighbors, in the ascending grades of commercial
respectability, no matter how prompt and accurate they may be in the
discharge of their obligations, are sure to owe the butcher and
baker and milkman a greater or less amount. In fact the conduct of
life on a cash basis would be impossible or intolerable. Of course,
too, there are scattered all over the country men who owe a great
deal of money and to whom little is due, and whose interest it would
be to have the coinage adulterated. But then the number of these
persons is very small, and they are mostly great speculators, who
pass for rich men, and whose interests Congress is in reality not in
the least desirous of protecting. Poor men, as a rule, are hardly
ever greatly in debt, because nobody will trust them. We suspect
that the number of those in this city who could borrow fifty dollars
without security would not be found to be over one-twentieth of the
population. The persons to whom loans are made by banks, insurance
companies, and other institutions are almost all men of wealth or
men who have the conduct of great enterprises, and do not need
legislation to help them to take care of themselves. They are great
merchants, or manufacturers, or brokers, or contractors, or
railroad-builders. In fact, in so far as the debtors can be called a
class, they form a very small class, and a class of remarkable
shrewdness and of enormous power, over whom it is ludicrous for the
Government to exercise a fatherly care.

The bulk of the population in this, as in every moderately
prosperous community in the western world is composed of creditors.
The creditor class, in other words, contains the great body of the
American people, and any legislation intended to enable debtors to
cheat is aimed at nineteen-twentieths, at the very least, of
American citizens. Any mail who remains very long in the position of
a debtor simply, and acquires no footing as a creditor, disappears
from the surface of society. Bankruptcy or the house of correction
is pretty sure to overtake him. It would be well-nigh impossible in
this large city or in any other to find a man who had no pecuniary
claims on someone else. The humblest hod-carrier becomes a creditor
every day after making his first ascent of the ladder, and remains
so until Saturday night, and continually replaces himself in "the
creditor class," as long as life and health remain to him; and the
same phenomenon presents itself in all fields of industry. Every
sewing-girl and maid-servant is looking forward to a payment of
earned money, and has the strongest interest in knowing for certain
what its purchasing power will be.

All depositors in savings-banks, and their number in New York City
is greater than that of the voters, belong to the creditor class;
all holders of policies of insurances, all owners of government
bonds and State and bank stocks, belong to it also. The Western
farmers and house-owners who have borrowed money at the East on bond
and mortgage, who probably make as near an approach to a debtor
class as any other body or persons in the community, and whom
Congressional demagogues probably hoped to serve by enabling them to
outwit their creditors, even these are not simply or mainly debtors.
Any man who is carrying on his business with borrowed money, on
which he pays eight or ten per cent., must be every week putting
other people in debt to him or he would speedily be ruined. The
means of paying those who have trusted him is acquired by his
trusting others. Either he is selling goods on credit, or entering
into contracts, or rendering services which give him the position of
a creditor, and make it of the last importance to him that the value
of money and the state of the public mind about money should not be
materially different six months hence from what they are now.

Of course there is more than one way of defining the term
"self-interest." There is one sense in which it is used by children,
savages, and thieves, and which makes it mean immediate
gratification, and this appears to be the sense in which it is used
by the inflationists in Congress, in considering what is for the
good of those Western men who owe money at the East. In that sense,
it is a good thing for a man to lie, cheat, steal, and embezzle
whenever it shall appear that by so doing he will satisfy his
appetites or put money in his pockets. But civilized and commercial,
to say nothing of Christian, society is founded on the theory that
men look forward and expect to carry on business for several years,
and to lay up money for their old age, and establish their children
in life, and that they recognize the necessity of self-restraint and
loyalty to engagements. The doctrines, on the other hand, which are
preached in Congress about the best mode of dealing with debts--that
is, with other people's money--have never before been heard in a
civilized legislature, or anywhere outside of a council of
buccaneers, and, if acted on by the community, would produce
anarchy. The fact that Morton and Butler, who preach them and get
them embodied in forms of words called "acts," are legislators,
disguises, but ought not to disguise, the other fact, that these two
men are simply playing the part of receivers or "fences." There
probably never was a more striking illustration of the immorality in
which, as it was long ago remarked, any principle of government is
sure to land people if pushed to its last extreme, than the theory
which is now urged on our attention--that superiority of numbers
will justify fraud; or, in other words, that if the number of those
who borrow should happen to be greater than the number of those who
lend, "a vote" is all that is needed to wipe out the debts, either
openly or by payment in bits of paper or pebbles. Of course, the
converse of this would also be true--that if the lenders were in a
majority, they would be justified in reducing the debtors to
slavery. If the question of humanity or brotherhood were raised as
an objection, that, too, could be settled by a ballot. We laugh at
the poor African who consults his wooden fetish before he takes any
step in the business of his wretched and darkened life; but when a
Caucasian demagogue tries to show us that the springs of justice and
truth are to be found in a comparison of ten thousand bits of paper
with nine thousand similar bits, we listen with gravity, and are
half inclined to believe that there is something in it.


It is quite evident that with, the multiplication of colleges, which
is very rapid, it will, before long, become impossible for the
newspapers to furnish the reports of the proceedings in and about
commencement which they now lay before their readers with such
profuseness. The long letters describing with wearisome minuteness
what has been described already fifty times will undoubtedly before
long be given up. So also, we fancy, will the reports of the
"baccalaureate sermons," if these addresses are to retain their
value as pieces of parting advice to young men. There is nothing in
the newspaper literature, on the whole, less edifying, and sometimes
more amusing, than the reporter's _precis_ of pulpit discourses,
so thoroughly does he deprive them of force find vigor and point,
and often of intelligibility. The ordinary sermon addressed on Sunday
to the ordinary congregation deals with a great variety of topics,
and from many different points of view, and with more or less
diversity of method. The baccalaureate sermon, on the other hand,
consists, from the necessity of the case, in the main of advice to
youths at their entrance on life, and the substance of such discourses
can, in the nature of things, undergo no great change from year to
year, and must be strikingly similar in all the colleges. Any
freshness they may have they must owe to the rhetorical powers of
particular preachers, and even these cannot greatly vary in dealing
with so familiar a theme. What the old man has to say to the young man,
the teacher to the pupil, the father to the son, at the moment when
the gates of the great world are flung open to the college graduate,
has undergone but little modification in a thousand years, and has
become very well known to all collegians long before they take their
degree. To make the parting words of warning and encouragement tell
on ears that are now eager for other and louder sounds, everything
that can be done needs to be done to preserve their freshness and
their pathos, and certainly nothing could do as much to deprive them
of both one and the other as hashing them up annually in a slovenly
report as part of the news of the day.

It is not, however, the advice contained in baccalaureate sermons,
but all advice to young men, that needs in our time to be dealt out
with greater circumspection and economy. Authority has within the
last hundred or even fifty years undergone a serious loss of power,
and this loss of power has shown itself nowhere more markedly than
in the work of education. It has indeed almost completely changed
the relation of parents and children, and teachers and scholars, so
that it is now almost as necessary to prove the reasonableness and
utility of any course of action which is required of boys as of
mature men. Persuasion has, in other words, taken the place of
command, and there is nobody left whose dictum owes much of its
weight to his years or his office. Boys as well as their elders now
expect advice to be based on personal experience, and do not listen
with any great seriousness or deference to admonitions the value of
which the utterer has not himself personally tested.

It follows, therefore, that the persons whom the young men of our
time hear most readily on the conduct of life are those who have had
practical acquaintance with the difficulties of living up to the
ideals which are so eloquently painted in the college chapel, and
who have found out in their own persons what it costs to be pure and
upright, and faithful and industrious, and persistent in the
struggle that goes on in the various callings which lie outside the
college walls. For this reason, probably, no addresses at
commencement have the value of those which are delivered now and
then by men who have come back for a brief day to tell the next
generation of the way life looks to those who for years have been
wrestling with its problems, and have had actual experience of the
virtues and defects of that early equipment and training on which
such enormous sums are now spent in this country. The more advice
from this quarter young men get the better. Nobody can talk so
effectively to them at the moment when they are about to face the
world on their own responsibility as the lawyers and merchants and
ministers and politicians who have been facing it for twenty-five or
thirty years with all the outward signs of success. If it were
possible for every college in the country to get one such man at
commencement whose powers of expression would do justice to his
experience, and who for this one day in the year would without fear
or favor tell what he thought about success and about the conditions
of success--about the kind of troubles which beset men in the
callings with which he is most familiar--we should probably soon
have a body of advice so impressive and fruitful that it would serve
the needs and excite the interest of more than one generation. The
young have been told to be good until they have grown weary of
hearing it, particularly as it is always represented to them as a
comparatively simple matter, and when they go out in the world and
find what a hard and complex thing duty is they are very apt to look
back to the ethical instruction of their college as when in college
they looked back to the admonitions of the nursery, and return to
their alma mater in later years with much the feeling with which a
man visits a kindly old grandmother.

But commencements certainly draw forth nothing so curious as the
newspaper article addressed to the graduating class, and which now
seems to be a regular part of the summer's editorial work. It seems
to have one object in view, and only one, and that is preventing the
graduate from thinking much of his education and his degree, or
supposing that they will be of any particular use to him in his
entrance on life, or make him any more acceptable to the community.
He is warned that they will raise him in nobody's estimation, and
prove rather a hinderance than a help to him in getting a living,
and that it will be well for him to begin his career by trying to
forget that he has ever been in college at all. Not unfrequently the
discourse closes with a suggestion or hint that the best university
is, after all, the office of "a great daily," and that the kindest
thing a fond father could do for a promising boy would be to start
him as a local reporter and make him get his first experience of
life in the collection of "city items." There is in all this the
expression, though in a somewhat grotesque form, of a widespread
popular feeling that nothing is worthy of the name of education
which does not fit a man to earn his bread rapidly and dexterously.
Considering with how large a proportion of the human race the mere
feeding and clothing of the body is the first and hardest of tasks,
there is nothing at all surprising in this view. But the
preservation and growth of civilization in any country depends much
on the extent to which it is able out of its surplus production to
provide some at least of its people with the means of cherishing and
satisfying nobler appetites than hunger and thirst. The immense sum
which is now spent every year on colleges--misspent though much of
it may be--and the increasing number of students who throng to them,
regardless of the fact that the training they get may make them at
first feel a little strange and helpless in the fierce struggle for
meat and drink, show that the increasing wealth of the nation is
accompanied by an increasing recognition of the fact that life,
after all, is not all living, that there are gains which cannot be
entered in any ledger, and that a man may carry about with him,
through a long and it may be outwardly unfortunate career, sources
of pleasure and consolation which are none the less precious for
being unsalable and invisible.


The untimely decease of the _Republic_, the paper which was set up
some months ago to express in a semi-official way the views of the
Administration and its immediate adherents on public questions, has
a good deal that is tragic about it, as far as its principal
conductor is concerned. That a man of as much experience of politics
and of newspapers as Mr. Norvell, the editor, had, should have
supposed it possible to start a daily morning paper in this city at
a time when a successful daily is worth millions, and when there are
four already in possession of the field, without any other claims on
popular attention than its being the mouth-piece of the leading
politicians of the party in power, and with a capital which in his
dreams only reached $500,000, and in fact only $40,000, is a curious
though sad illustration of the power of the press over the
imagination even of persons long familiar with it. The failure of
the enterprise, however distressing in some of its aspects, is
valuable as establishing more conspicuously and firmly than ever two
facts of considerable importance in relation to journalism. One is,
that when politicians so deeply desire an organ as to be willing to
set one up for the exclusive use of the party, it is a sure sign
that the party is in serious danger of extinction. The other is,
that the public mind is so fully made up that the position of a
newspaper ought to be a judicial one, that all attempts to make a
paper avowedly partisan can only be saved from commercial failure by
large capital, extraordinary ability, and well-established prestige.

"Organs" took their rise when the sole use of a newspaper was to
communicate intelligence, and when men in power found it convenient
to have a channel through which they could let out certain things
which they wished to be spread abroad. Out of this kind of relation
to the Government a small paper, which did not object to the humble
_role_ of a sort of official gazette, from which the earlier
newspapers indeed differed but little, could, of course, always get
a livelihood, and perhaps a little of the dignity which comes from
having or being supposed to have state secrets to keep. But the
gradual addition to the "news-letter" of the sermon known as a
"leader" or "editorial article" made the relation more and more
difficult and finally impossible. The more pompous, portentous, and
prophetic in their character the editor's comments on public affairs
became, the less disposed was the public to allow him to retain the
position of a paid agent of the State. It began to feel toward him
as it would have felt toward the town-crier if he had put on a gown
and bands, and insisted on accompanying his announcement of thefts
and losses with homilies on the vanity of life and the right use of
opportunities. The editor had, in short, to conduct his business in
a manner befitting his newly assumed duties as a prophet, and to
pretend at least that his utterances were wholly independent and
were due simply to a desire for the public good, as a prophet's
ought to be. It is now very rare indeed that a government is able to
induce a well-established newspaper of the first class to act as its
organ in the proper sense of that term, except by working on the
vanity of editors. Almost all editors are a little sensitive about
the imputation of being mere commentators or critics, and a little
desirous of being thought "practical men," by those engaged in the
actual working of political machinery. The "old editor" in this
country in fact preferred to be thought a working politician, and
liked to use his paper as a piece of political machinery for
producing solid party gains, and in this way to be received into the
circle of "workers" and "managers" as one of themselves; and to
retain this position he was always willing to "write up" any view
they suggested. His successor, though he cares less about being "a
worker," and is able to secure the attendance of politicians at his
office without running after them, is, nevertheless, more or less
flattered by the confidences of men in power, and it often takes
only a small amount of these confidences to make him surrender the
judicial position and accept that of an advocate, and stand by them
through thick and thin. But no leading journal has ever tried this
position in our day very long without being forced out of it by the
demand of the public for impartiality and the consequent difficulty
of avoiding giving offence in official quarters. Every
administration does things either through its chief or subordinates
which will not bear defence, and which its judicious friends prefer
to pass over in silence. But a journalist cannot keep silent. The
Government may require him to hold his tongue, but the reader
demands that he shall speak; and as the public supplies the sinews
of war, and pays for the prophet's robes, he is sooner or later
compelled to break with the Government and to reproach it for not
listening to the advice of its friends in time.

Moreover, in a country in which the press is free and newspapers
abound, a party which contains a majority of the people cannot fail
to have the support of a large and influential portion of the press.
Its conductors, though prophets, do not wear camel's hair, nor is
their diet locusts and wild honey. They form part of the community,
live among the voters, and share, to a greater or less extent, their
prejudices and expectations and sympathies. Every party, therefore,
is sure, as long as it has a strong hold on the public, of having a
strong hold on the press, and of having a considerable number of the
most influential editors among its defenders. One of the sure signs
that it is losing its hold on the public is the defection of the
press or its growing lukewarmness. Newspapers cannot, perhaps, build
a party up or pull one down, but when you see the newspapers
deserting a party it is all but proof that the agencies which
dissolve a political organization are at work. The successful
editors may have no originating power or no organizing power, and no
capacity for legislation, and may even want the prophetic instinct;
but a certain intuitive sense of the direction in which the tide of
popular feeling is running is the principal condition of their
success, and an anxious politician may therefore always safely
credit them with possessing it. If they had not had it, their papers
would not have succeeded.

If the incident or its lessons should result in establishing better
relations between political men and the press, the sacrifice of the
unfortunate projector of the _Republic_ will, however, be a small
price to pay for a great gain. We do not, as our readers know, set
up to be champions of the press, and have certainly never shown any
disposition to underrate its defects or shortcomings. But there is
one thing which no candid and careful observer can avoid seeing,
and that is that the press of the country, as an instrument of
discussion and popular education, has undergone within twenty years
an improvement nothing analogous to which is to be found in the
class of politicians. The newspapers are now, in the vast majority
of cases in all our leading cities, conducted by men who are
familiar with the leading ideas of our time and with the latest
advances in science and the art, including the art of government,
and who write under the influence of these ideas and these advances,
and who have consequently got a standard of efficiency in
legislative administration which has not yet made its way into the
political class. The result is that, after making all possible
allowance for the carelessness and recklessness and dishonesty of
reporters, and the personal biases and enmities of editors, the men
who carry on the Government, excepting a few experts, have become
objects of criticism on the part of the daily press, the
depreciatory tone of which is not wholly unjustifiable or unnatural,
and politicians repay this contempt with a hatred which is none the
less fierce for having no adequate means of expression.


There has been during the week a loud and increasing demand for
the application of the legal process of discovering truth to the
Tilton-Beecher case. People ask that it be carried into court, not
only because all witnesses might thus be compelled to appear and
testify, but because apparently there is, in the minds of many, a
peculiar virtue in "the rules of evidence" used by lawyers.
Witnesses examined under these rules are supposed to receive from
them a strong stimulus in veracity and explicitness, while they at
once expose prevarication or concealment. One newspaper eulogist
went so far the other day as to pronounce the rules the product of
the wisdom of all ages, beginning with the Phoenicians and coming
down to our own time. There is, however, only one good reason that
we know of for carrying any attack on character into court, and that
is the obvious one, that the courts only can compel those who are
supposed to know anything about a matter of litigation to appear and
state it. But we do not know of any other advantage which can be
claimed for a trial in court, in such a case, over a trial before a
well-selected lay tribunal. "The rules of evidence" in use in our
courts are not, as too many persons seem to suppose, deductions from
the constitution of the human mind, or, in other words, natural
rules for the discovery of truth under all conditions. On the
contrary, they are a system of artificial presumptions created for
the use of a tribunal of a somewhat low order of intelligence, and
are intended to produce certain well-defined and limited results,
which the law considers generally beneficial. They have, that is to
say, grown up for the use of the jury. The large number of
exclusions which they contain are due simply to a desire to prevent
jurymen's being confused by kinds of testimony which they are not
supposed to have learning or acumen enough to weigh. If anyone will
go into the City Hall and listen to the trial of even a trifling
cause, he will find that the proceedings consist largely in the
attempt of one lawyer to have certain facts laid before the jury and
the attempts of the other to prevent it, the judge sitting as
arbiter between them and applying the rules of admission and
exclusion to each of these facts as it comes up. If he examines,
too, in each instance what it is that is thus pertinaciously offered
and pertinaciously opposed, he will find that it almost invariably
has _something_ to do with the controversy before the court--it may
be near or more remote--but still something. Consequently it has,
logically, a certain bearing on the case, or is, under the
constitution of the human mind, proper evidence. When the judge says
it is irrelevant, he does not mean that it is logically irrelevant;
he means that it has been declared irrelevant on certain grounds of
expediency by the system of jurisprudence which he administers. He
refuses to let it go to the jury because he thinks it would befog
them or turn their attention away from the "legal issue" or, in
other words, from the one little point on which the law compels
the plaintiff and defendant to concentrate their dispute, in order
to render it triable at all by the peculiar tribunal which the
Anglo-Saxon race has chosen for the protection of its rights.

It follows that our rules of evidence are unknown on the European
continent and in every country in which courts are composed of
judges only--that is, of men with special training and capacity for
the work of weighing testimony--or in which the legal customs have
been created by such courts. There the litigants follow the natural
order, and carry with them before the bench everything that has any
relation to the case whatever, and leave the court to examine it and
allow it its proper force. Our own changes in the law of evidence
are all in this direction. The amount of excluded testimony--that
is, of testimony with which we are afraid to trust the jury--has
been greatly diminished during the last few years, and, considering
the growth of popular intelligence, properly diminished. The
tendency of legislation now is toward letting the jury hear
everybody--the plaintiff and defendant, the prisoner, the wife, the
husband, and the witness with a pecuniary interest in the result of
the trial--and put its own estimate on what the testimony amounts
to. But nevertheless, even now, who is there that has ever watched
the preparation of a cause for trial who has not listened to
lamentations over the difficulty or impossibility of getting this or
that important fact before the jury, or has not witnessed elaborate
precautions, on one side or another, to prevent some fact from
getting before the jury? The skill of a counsel in examining or
cross-examining a witness, for instance, is shown almost as much by
what he avoids bringing out as by what he brings out, and no witness
is allowed to volunteer any statement lest he should tell something
which, however pertinent in reality, the rules pronounce

Now, rules of this kind are singularly unsuited to the conduct of
inquiries touching character. It is true the law provides a process
nominally for the vindication of character, called an action for
libel, but the remedy it supplies is not a vindication properly so
called, but a sum of money as a kind of penalty on the libeller, not
for having assailed you, but for not having been able to prove his
case under the rules of evidence. In a suit for libel, too, the
parties fight their battle in the strict legal order--the plaintiff,
that is to say, stands by and challenges the defendant to produce
his proofs, and then fights bitterly through his counsel to keep out
as much of the proof as he can. He supplies no evidence himself that
is not strictly called for, and proffers no explanation that does
not seem necessary to procure an award of pecuniary damages, and
takes all the pains possible to bring confusing influences to bear
on the jury. When we consider, too, that the jury is composed of men
who may be said to be literally called in from the street, without
the slightest regard to their special qualifications for the conduct
of any inquiry, and that they are apt to represent popular passions
and prejudices in all conspicuous and exciting cases, we easily see
why a trial by a jury, under the common-law rules of evidence, is
not the process through which a high-minded man who sought not for
"damages," but to keep his reputation absolutely spotless in the
estimation of his neighbors, would naturally seek his vindication.

It cannot be too often said, in these times when great reputations
are so often assailed and so often perish, that nobody who has not
deliberately chosen the life of a stoical recluse is justified
either in refusing to defend his reputation or in defending it by
technical processes if any others are within his reach. It is, of
course, open to any man to say that he cares nothing for the opinion
of mankind, and will not take the trouble to influence it in any
manner in regard to himself. But, if he says so, he is bound not to
identify with himself, in any manner, either great interests or
great causes. If he makes himself the champion of other people's
rights, or the exponent of important principles, or has through any
power of his achieved an influence over other people's minds
sufficiently great to make it appear that certain doctrines or ideas
must stand or fall by him, he has surrendered his freedom in all
that regards the maintenance of his fame.

It is no longer his only to maintain. It has become, as it were,
embodied in popular morality, been made the basis of popular hopes,
and a test under which popular faith or approval is bestowed on a
great variety of ways and means of living. Such a man is bound to
defend himself from the instant at which he finds the assaults on
him begin to tell on the public conception of his character.
Dignified reserve is a luxury in which it is not permitted to him to
indulge; and when he comes to defend himself, it must not be with
the calculating shrewdness of the strategist or tactician. The only
rules of evidence of which he can claim the benefit are the laws of
the human mind. The tribunal, too, before which he seeks reparation
should not be what the state supplies only, but the very best he can
reach, and it should, if possible, be composed of men with no motive
for saving him and with no reason for hating him, and with such
training and experience as may best fit them for the task of
weighing his enemy's charges and his own excuses and explanations.
His course before such a tribunal, too, should be marked by ardor
rather than by prudence. He should chafe under delay, clamor for
investigation, and invite scrutiny, and put away from him all
advisers whose experience is likely to incline them to chicane or
make them satisfied with a technical victory. Such men are always
dangerous in delicate cases. He should not wait for his accuser to
get in all his case if the substantial part of it is already before
the court, because his answer ought not, as in a court of law, to
cover the complaint simply and no more. It ought to contain a plain
unvarnished tale of the whole transaction, and not those parts only
which the accusation may have touched, because his object is not
only to wrest a verdict of "not proven" from his judges, but to
satisfy even the timid and sensitive souls whose faith in their
idols is so large a part of their moral life, not only that he is
not guilty, but that he never even inclined toward guilt.


The late discussion on the possibility or expediency of maintaining
governments at the South which had no physical force at their
disposal has not failed to attract the attention of the friends of
woman suffrage. They see readily what, indeed, most outsiders have
seen all along, that the failure of the numerical majority in
certain Southern States to hold the power to which the law entitled
them simply because they were unable or unwilling to fight, has a
very important bearing on the fitness of women to participate in the
practical work of government, and a well-known writer, "T. W. H.,"
in a late number of the _Woman's Journal_, endeavors to show that
what has happened at the South is full of encouragement for the
woman suffragists. His argument is in substance this: You (the
opponents) have always maintained as the great objection to the
admission of women to the franchise, that if women voted, cases
might arise in which the physical force of the community would be in
the hands of one party and the legal authority in those of the
other, and we should then witness the great scandal of a majority
government unable to execute the laws. We have just seen at the
South, however, that the possession of physical force is not always
sufficient to put the majority even of the male voters in possession
of the Government. In South Carolina and Louisiana the Government
has been seized and successfully held by a minority, in virtue of
their greater intelligence and self-confidence. To use his own

"The present result in South Carolina is not a triumph of bodily
strength over weakness, but, on the contrary, of brains over bodily
strength. And however this reasoning affects the condition of South
Carolina--which is not here my immediate question--it certainly
affects, in a very important degree, the argument for woman
suffrage. If the ultimate source of political power is muscle, as is
often maintained, then woman suffrage is illogical; but if the
ultimate source of political power is, as the Nation implies, 'the
intelligence, sagacity, and the social and political experience of
the population,' then the claims of women are not impaired. For we
rest our case on the ground that women equal men on these points,
except in regard to political experience, which is a thing only to
be acquired by practice.

"So the showing of the _Nation_ is, on the whole, favorable to
women. It looks in the direction of Mr. Bagehot's theory, that
brains now outweigh muscle in government. Just in proportion as man
becomes civilized and comes to recognize laws as habitually binding,
does the power of mere brute force weaken. In a savage state the
ruler of a people must be physically as well as mentally the
strongest; in a civilized state the commander-in-chief may be
physically the weakest person in the army. The English military
power is no less powerful for obeying the orders of a queen. The
experience of South Carolina does not vindicate, but refutes, the
theory that muscle is the ruling power. It shows that an educated
minority is more than a match for an ignorant majority, even though
this be physically stronger. Whether this forbodes good or evil to
South Carolina is not now the question; but so far as woman suffrage
is concerned, the moral is rather in its favor than against it."

What is singular in all this is, that the writer is evidently under
the impression that the term "physical force" in politics means
muscle, or, to put the matter plainly, that the fact that the South
Carolina negroes, who unquestionably surpass the whites in lifting
power, could not hold their own against them, shows that government
has become a mere question of brains, and that as women have plenty
of brains, though they can lift very little, they could perfectly
well carry on, or help to carry on, a government which has only
moral force on its side.

Now, as a matter of fact, there has been no recent change in the
meaning attached to "physical force" in political nomenclature. It
does not mean muscle or weight now, as we see in South Carolina; and
it has never meant muscle or weight since the dawn of civilization.
The races and nations which have made civilization and ruled the
world have done so by virtue of their possessing the very
superiority, in a greater or less degree, which the Carolina whites
have shown in their late struggle with the blacks. The Greeks, the
Romans, the Turks, the English, the French, and the Germans have all
succeeded in government--that is, in seizing and keeping power--not
through superiority of physical force which consists in muscle, but
through the superiority which consists in the ability to organize
and bring into the field, and reinforce large bodies of men, with
the resolution to kill and be killed in order to have their own way
in disputes. No matter how much intelligence a people may have,
unless they are able and willing to apply their intelligence to the
art of war, and have the personal courage necessary to carry out in
action the plans of their leaders, they cannot succeed in politics.
Brains are necessary for political success, without doubt, but it
must be brains applied, among other things to the organization of
physical force in fleets and armies. An "educated minority," as
such, is no more a match for a "physically stronger ignorant
majority" than a delicate minister for a pugilist in "condition,"
unless it can furnish well-equipped and well-led troops. The Greeks
were better educated than the Romans, but this did not help them.
The Romans of the Empire were vastly more intelligent and thoughtful
than the Barbarians, but they could not save the Empire. The Italians
of the Middle Ages were the superiors of the French and Germans in
every branch of culture, and yet this did not prevent Italy being
made the shuttlecock of northern politicians and free-booters.
The French overran Germany in the beginning of the present century,
and the Germans have overrun France within the last ten years,
not in either case owing to superiority in lifting or boxing, or
in literary "culture," but to superiority in the art of fighting--
that is, of bringing together large bodies of armed men who will
not flinch, and will advance when ordered on the battle-field.

It is skill in this art which is meant by the term "physical force"
in politics, and it is this physical force which lies behind all
successful government. The superiority of the North in numbers,
wealth, machinery, literature, and common schools would have
profited it nothing, and the American Republic would have
disappeared from the map if it had not been possible, thirty years
ago, to apply a vast amount of intelligence to the purposes of
destruction, and to find large numbers of men willing to fight under
orders. In quiet times, under a government in which the numerical
majority and the intelligence and property of the community are on
the same side, and take substantially the same views of public
polity, and the display of coercive force, except for ordinary
police purposes, is not called for, we not unnaturally slide readily
into the pleasant belief that government is purely a moral agency,
and that people obey the law through admiration of intellectual
power and the dread of being "cornered" in argument, or of being
exposed as selfish or lawless.

Such occurrences as the late civil war and the recent deadlock at
the South are very useful in uncovering the secret springs of
society, and reminding people of the tremendous uncertainties and
responsibilities by which national as well as individual life is
surrounded, reminding the voter, in short, that he may not always be
able to discharge his duty to the country by depositing his ballot
in the box; that he may have to make the result sure by putting
everything he values in the world at stake. The poor negroes in
South Carolina have not been deposed simply because they are
ignorant; the Russian peasants who fought at Borodino were grossly
ignorant. How many of the English hinds who stood rooted in the soil
at Waterloo could read and write? The Carolinian majority failed
because it did not contain men willing to fight, or leaders capable
of organization for military purposes, or, in other words, did not
possess what has since the dawn of civilization been the first and
greatest title to political power. The Carolinian minority did not
drive their opponents out of the offices by simply offering the
spectacle of superior intelligence of self-confidence, but by the
creation of a moral certainty that, if driven to extremities, they
would outdo the Republicans in the marshalling, marching,
provisioning, and manoeuvring of riflemen.

If this be true, it will be readily seen that the lesson of the
South Carolina troubles, far from containing encouragement for the
friends of female suffrage, is full of doubt and difficulty. Those
who believe that women voters would constitute a new and valuable
force in politics must recognize the possibility that they would at
some time or other constitute the bulk of a majority claiming the
government, and they must also recognize the probability that the
male portion of this majority would be composed of the milder and
less energetic class of men, people with much brains and but little
physical courage, ready to go to the stake for a conviction, but not
ready to shoulder a musket or assault a redoubt. If under these
circumstances the minority, composed exclusively of men, inferior if
you will, to the majority in the purity of their motives, the
breadth of their culture, and in capacity for drawing constitutions
and laws and administering charities, should refuse to obey the
majority, and should say that its government was a ridiculous
"fancy" government, administered by crackbrained people, and likely
to endanger property and the public credit, and that it must be
abolished, what would the women and their "gentlemen friends" do?
They would doubtless remonstrate with the recusants and show them
the wickedness of their course, but then the recusants would be no
more moved by this than Wade Hampton and his people by Mr.
Chamberlain's eloquent and affecting inaugural address. They would
tell the ladies that their intelligence was doubtless of a high
order, and their aims noble, but that as they were apparently unable
to supply policemen to arrest the persons who disobeyed their laws,
their administration was a farce and its disappearance called for in
the interest of public safety. Accordingly it would be removed to
the great garret of history, to lie side by side with innumerable
other disused plans for human improvement.

The cause of much of the misconception about the part played by
physical force in modern society now current in reformatory circles
is doubtless to be found in the disappearance of sporadic and
lawless displays of it, such as, down to a very recent period,
seriously disturbed even the most civilized communities. The change
that has taken place, however, consists not in the total disuse of
force as a social agency, but in the absorption of all force by the
government, making it so plainly irresistible that the occasions are
rare when anything approaching to organized resistance or defiance
of it is attempted. When it lays its commands on a man he knows that
obedience will, if necessary, be enforced by an agency of such
tremendous power that he does not think of revolt. But it is not the
high intelligence of those who carry it on that he bows to; it is to
their ability to crush him like an egg-shell. Of course, it is not
surprising that his submissiveness should at meetings of
philanthropists be ascribed to the establishment of a consensus
between his mind and the mind of the law-giver, or in other words,
the subjection of society to purely moral influences; but it is
perhaps well that complications like those of South Carolina should
now and then occur to infuse sobriety into speculation and explain
the machinery of civilization.


The passionate excitement created in Canada by the arrival of a
daughter of the Queen, and the prospect of the establishment of
"a court" in Ottawa which will have the appearance of a real
Court--that is, a court with blood royal in it, instead of a court
held merely by the queen's legal representatives--is a phenomenon of
considerable interest. It affords a fresh illustration of that
growth of reverence for royalty which all the best observers agree
has for the last forty years been going on in England, side by side
with the growth of democratic feeling and opinion in politics--that
is, the sovereign has more than gained as a social personage what
she has lost as a political personage. The less she has had to do
with the government the more her drawing-rooms have been crowded,
and the more eager have people become for personal marks of her

The reason of this is not far to seek. It lies in the enormous
increase during that period in the size of the class which is not
engaged in that, to the heralds, accursed thing--trade, and has
money enough to bear the expense of "a presentation," and of living
or trying to live afterward in the circle of those who might be
invited to court, or might meet the Prince of Wales at dinner. The
accumulation of fortunes since the Queen's accession has been very
great, and they have, however made, come into possession now of a
generation which has never been engaged in any occupation frowned on
by the Lord Chamberlain, and which owns estates, or at all events
possesses all outward marks of gentility, when it has been received
by the Queen, and has got into Burke's Dictionary at the end of an
interesting though perhaps apocryphal genealogy. This reception is
the crown of life's struggle, a sort of certificate that the hero or
heroine of it is fit company for anybody in the world. It is, in
fact, a social graduation. When you get somebody who is himself a
graduate to agree to present you, and the Lord Chamberlain, after
examining your card, makes no objection to you, he virtually
furnishes you with a sort of diploma which guarantees you against
what may be called authorized snubs. People may afterward decline
your invitations on the ground that they do not like you, or that
your entertainments bore them, but not on the ground that your
social position is inferior to their own.

That the struggle for this diploma in a wealthy and large society
should be great and increasing is nothing wonderful. The desire for
it among the women especially, to whose charge the creation and
preservation of "position" are mainly committed, is very deep. It
inflames their imagination in a way which makes husbands ready for
anything in order to get it, and in fact makes it indispensable to
their peace of mind and body that they should get it as soon as
their pecuniary fortune seems to put it within their reach. Since
the Queen ascended the throne the population has risen from
20,000,000 to 35,000,000, and the number of great fortunes and
presentable people has increased in a still greater ratio, and the
pressure on the court has grown correspondingly; but there remains
after all only one court to gratify the swarm of new applicants. The
colonies, too, have of late years contributed largely to swell the
tide. Every year London society and the ranks of the landed gentry
are reinforced by returned Australians and New Zealanders and
Cape-of-Good-Hopers and China and India merchants, who feel that
their hard labors and long exile have left life empty and joyless
until they see the names of their wives and daughters in the
_Gazette_ among the presentations at a drawing-room or levee.

In the colonies, and especially in Canada, where there is so little
in the local life to gratify the imagination, the court shines with
a splendor which the distance only intensifies. To a certain class
of Canadians, who enjoy more frequent opportunities than the
inhabitants of the other great colonies of renewing or fortifying
their love of the competition of English social life, and of the
marks of success in it, the court, as the fountain of honor, apart
from all political significance, is an object of almost fierce
interest. In England itself the signs of social distinction are not
so much prized. This kind of Canadian is, in fact, apt to be rather
more of an Englishman than the Englishman himself in all these
things. He imitates and cultivates English usages with a passion
which takes no account of the restrictions of time or place. It is
"the thing" too in Canadian society, as in the American colony in
Paris, to be much disgusted by the "low Americans" who invade the
Dominion in summer, and to feel that even the swells of New York and
Boston could achieve much improvement in their manners by faithful
observation of the doings in the Toronto and Ottawa drawing-rooms.

As far as admiration of courts and a deep desire for court-life and
a belief in the saving grace of contact with royalty can go,
therefore, there are Canadians fully prepared for the establishment
of a court "in their midst." The society of the province was, in
fact, in an imflammable eagerness to kiss hands, and back out from
the presence of royalty, and perform the various exercises
pertaining to admission to court circles, and in a proper state of
Jingo distrust of the wicked Czar and his minions--which in the
Colonies is now one of the marks of gentility--when the magician,
Lord Beaconsfield, determined to apply the match to it by sending
out a real princess. In spite of his contempt for the "flat-nosed
Franks," however, he can hardly have been prepared for the response
which he elicited. He cannot have designed to make monarchy and
royalty seem ridiculous, and yet the articles and addresses and
ceremonies with which the new Governor-General and his wife have
been received look as if the Minister had determined, before he
died, to have the best laugh of his farcical career over the
barbarians who have called him in to rule over them. A court is a
very delicate thing, and a strong capacity for enjoying it does not
of itself make good courtiers. In England the reasons which prevent
a man's being received at court--such as active prosecution of the
dry-goods business--are a thousand years old; in fact, they may be
said to have come down from the ancient world along with the Roman
law. They have, therefore, a certain natural fitness and force in
the eyes of the natives of that country. That is, it seems to "stand
to reason" that a trader should not go to court. Moreover, they can
be enforced in England and still leave an abundant supply of
spotless persons for the purposes of court society. The court-line
is drawn along an existing and well-marked social division.

In Canada this preparation for court gayeties does not exist. If the
persons soiled by commerce were to be excluded from the princess's
presence, she would lead a lonely and dismal life, and the court
would be substantially a failure. If, on the other hand, the court
is to be made up exclusively of rich traders, it will not only
excite the fiercest jealousies and bitterness among those who are
excluded, but it will be very difficult to provide a rule for
passing on claims for presentation when once the line of official
position is passed. But, it may be said, why not throw all
restrictions aside and admit everybody, as at White House
receptions? Nobody will ask this question who has mastered even the
rudiments of royalty, and we shall not take the trouble of answering
it fully. We are now discussing the question for the benefit of
persons of some degree of knowledge. Suffice it to say that any
laxity of practice at Ottawa would do a good deal of damage to the
monarchical principle itself, which, as Mr. Bagehot has pointed out,
owes much of its force and permanence even in England to its hold on
the imagination. The princess cannot go back to England receiving
Tom, Dick, and Harry in Canada without a certain loss of prestige
both for herself and her house.

Not the least curious feature of the crisis is the interest the
prospect of a Canadian court has excited in this country. Our
newspapers know what they are about when they give whole pages to
accounts of the voyage and the reception, including a history of the
House of Argyll and a brief sketch of the feelings of Captain the
Duke of Edinburgh, now on the Halifax Station, over his approaching
meeting with his sister. They recognize the existence of a deep and
abiding curiosity, at least among the women of our country, about
all that relates to royalty and its doings, in spite of the labor
expended for nearly a century by orators and editors in showing up
the vanity and hollowness of monarchical distinctions. In fact, if
the secrets of American hearts could be revealed, we fear it would
be found that the materials for about a million of each order of
nobility, from dukes down, exist among us under quiet republican
exteriors, and that if a court circle were set up among us no
earthly power could prevent its assuming unnatural and unmanageable
proportions. A prince like the late Emperor Maximilian, whose purse
was meagre but whose connection with a reigning house was
unquestioned and close, might find worse ways of repairing his
fortune than setting up an amateur court in some of the Atlantic
cities and charging a moderate fee for presentation, and drawing the
line judiciously so as to keep up the distinction without damaging
his revenues. To prevent cutting remarks on the members of the
circle, however, and too much ridicule of the whole enterprise, he
would have to give the editors high places about his person, and
provide offices for the reporters in his basement. If the scheme
were well organized and did not attempt too much, its value in
settling people's "position," and in giving the worthy their proper
place without the prolonged struggles they now have sometimes to
undergo, would be very great, and it would enable foreign students
of our institutions to pursue successfully certain lines of inquiry
into our manners and customs in which they are now too often


Every year a great deal of discussion of the best mode of spending
the summer, and the course of the people who go to Europe, instead
of submitting to the discomfort and extortion of American hotels, is
for the most part greatly commended. The story told about the hotels
and lodging-houses is the same every year. The food is bad, the
rooms uncomfortable, and the charges high. The fashion, except
perhaps at Newport and Beverly, near Boston, Bar Harbor, and one or
two other highly favored localities, grows stronger and stronger, to
live in the city in the winter and spend the three hot months in
France or England or Switzerland. Moreover, the accounts which come
from Europe of the increase in the number of American colonists now
to be found in every attractive town of the Continent are not
exactly alarming, but they are sufficient to set people thinking.
The number of those who pass long years in Europe, educate their
children there, and retain little connection with America beyond
drawing their dividends, grows steadily, and as a general rule they
are persons whose minds or manners or influence makes their
prolonged absence a sensible loss to our civilization. Moreover,
when they come back, they find it difficult to stay, and staying is
not made easy for them. People here are a little suspicious of them,
and are apt to fancy that they have got out of sympathy with
American institutions, and have grown too critical for the rough
processes by which the work of life in America has in a large degree
to be done. They themselves, on the other hand, besides being soured
by the coldness of their reception, are apt to be disgusted by the
want of finish of all their surroundings, by the difficulty with
which the commoner and coarser needs are met in this country, and by
the reluctance with which allowance is made by legislation and
opinion for the gratification of unusual or unpopular tastes.

The result is a breach, which is already wide, and tends to widen,
between the class which is hard at work making its fortune and the
class which has either made its fortune or has got all it desires,
which is the same thing as a fortune. There is a great deal of work
which this latter would like to do. There is a great deal of the
work of legislation and administration and education for which it is
eminently fitted, but in which, nevertheless, it has little or no
chance of sharing, owing to the loss of the art of winning the
confidence of others, and working with others, which is more easily
learned in America than elsewhere, and which is readily lost by
prolonged residence in any European country, and the absence of
which here makes all other gifts for practical purposes almost
worthless. So that it must be said that the amount of intellectual
and aesthetic culture which an American acquires in Europe is
somewhat dearly purchased. When he gets home, he is apt to find it a
useless possession, as far as the world without is concerned, unless
he is lucky enough, as sometimes but not often happens, to drop into
some absorbing occupation or to lose his fortune. Failing this, he
begins that melancholy process of vibration between the two
continents in which an increasingly large number of persons pass a
great part of their lives, their hearts and affections being wholly
in neither.

The remedy for the mania for _living_ abroad is an elaborate one,
and one needing more time for its creation. No country retains the
hearty affection of its educated class which does not feed its
imagination. The more we cultivate men, the higher their ideals grow
in all directions, political and social, and they like best the
places in which these ideals are most satisfied. The long and varied
history of older countries offers their citizens a series of
pictures which stimulate patriotism in the highest degree; and it
will generally be found that the patriotism and love of home of the
cultivated class is in the ratio of the supply of this kind of food.
They are languid among the Russians, and among the Germans prior to
the late war, as compared to the English and French. In default of a
long history, however, historic incidents are apt to lose their
power on the imagination through over-use. The jocose view of
Washington and of the Pilgrim Fathers, of Bunker Hill and of the
Fourth of July, already gains ground rapidly among us, through too
great familiarity. When Professor Tyndall, in one of his lectures
here, made an allusion which he meant to be solemn and impressive,
to Plymouth Rock, its triteness drew a titter from the audience
which for a moment confounded him.

Unluckily, history cannot be made to order. It is the product of
ages. The proper substitute for it, as well as for the spectacular
effects of monarchy, in new democratic societies, is perfection.
There is no way in which we can here kindle the imaginations of the
large body of men and women to whom we are every year giving an
increasingly high education so well as by finish in the things we
undertake to do. Nothing does so much to produce despondency about
the republic, or alienation from republican institutions, among the
young of the present day, as the condition of the civil service, the
poor working of the post-office and the treasury or the courts, or
the helplessness of legislators in dealing with the ordinary every-
day problems. The largeness of the country, and the rapidity of its
growth, and the comparatively low condition of foreign nations in
respect to freedom, which roused people in Fourth-of-July orations
forty years ago, have, like the historical reminiscences, lost their
magic, and the material prosperity is now associated in people's
minds with so much moral corruption that the mention of it produces
in some of the best of us a feeling not far removed from nausea.
Nothing will do so much now to rouse the old enthusiasm as the
spectacle of the pure working of our administrative machinery,
of able and independent judges, a learned and upright bar, a
respectable and purified custom-house, an enlightened and efficient
treasury, and a painstaking post-office. The colleges of the country
and the railroads, and indeed everything that depends on private
enterprise, are rapidly becoming objects of pride; but a good deal
needs to be done by the government to prevent its being a source of

Mrs. Stevenson, a Philadelphia lady; the president of the Civic Club
in that city, delivered an address to the club some weeks ago on its
work of reform, in which we find the following passage:

"There seems to exist a mysterious, unwritten law governing the
social organism which causes a natural and wholesome reaction to
take place whenever tendencies, perhaps inherent in certain classes,
threaten to become general, and thereby dangerous to the community.
A few years ago, for instance, with the increasing facilities for
foreign travel, and the corresponding increase of international
intercourse, Anglomania had become so much in vogue as to form an
incipient danger to the true democratic American spirit that
constitutes the real strength of our nation. It was fast becoming a
national habit to extol everything European--from monarchy and its
aristocratic institutions down to the humblest article of dress or
of household use--to the detriment of everything American; and from
the upper 'four hundred' this habit was fast extending to the upper
forty thousand. But just as our wealthy classes were beginning to
make themselves positively ridiculous abroad, and almost intolerable
at home, a reaction set in, and upon all sides there sprang up
patriotic associations of a social order--'Sons and Daughters of the
Revolution,' 'Colonial Dames,' etc.--which revived proper American
self-respect among our people by teaching us to rest our pride, if
pride we _must_ have, where it legitimately should rest--upon good
service rendered to our own country."

This seems to be a shaft aimed at the practice of "going to Europe,"
for the decline of "the true American spirit" and the growth of
Anglomania are ascribed to the "increasing facilities for foreign
travel" and "the corresponding increase of international
intercourse." If the charge be true, it is one of the most
afflicting over made, because it shows that "the true democratic
American spirit" suffers from what the world has hitherto considered
one of the greatest triumphs of modern science, and one of the
greatest blessings conferred on the race--the enormous improvement
in oceanic steam navigation; that, in fact, American patriotism is
very much like the Catholic faith in the Middle Ages--something
naturally hostile to progress in the arts.

If, too, the practice of going to Europe be dangerous to American
faith and morals, the number of those who go makes it of immense
importance. There is probably no American who has risen above very
narrow circumstances who does not go to Europe at least once in his
life. There is hardly a village in the country in which the man who
has succeeded in trade or commerce does not announce his success to
his neighbors by a trip to Europe for himself and his family. There
is hardly a professor, or teacher, or clergyman, or artist, or
author who does not save out of a salary, however small, in order to
make the voyage. Tired professional or business men make it
constantly, under the pretence that it is the only way they can get
"a real holiday." Journalists make it as the only way of getting out
of their heads such disgusting topics as Croker and Gilroy, and Hill
and Murphy. Rich people make it every year, or oftener, through mere
restlessness. We are now leaving out of account, of course,
immigrants born in the Old World, who go back to see their friends.
We are talking of native Americans. Of course, all native Americans
cannot go, because, even when they can afford it, they cannot always
get the time. But we venture on the proposition that there is hardly
any American "in this broad land," as members of Congress say, who,
having both time and money, has not gone to Europe, or does not mean
to go some day or other. So that, if Mrs. Stevenson's account of the
moral effects of the voyage were true, it would show that the very
best portion of our population, the most moral, the most religious,
and the most educated were constantly exposing themselves by tens of
thousands to most debasing influences.

But is it true? We think not. Americans who go to Europe with some
knowledge of history, of the fine arts, and of literature, all
recognize the fact that they could not have completed their
education without going. To such people travel in Europe is one of
the purest and most elevating of pleasures, for Europe contains the
experience of mankind in nearly every field of human endeavor.
They often, it is true, come back discontented with America, but
out of this discontent have grown some of our most valuable
improvements--libraries, museums, art-galleries, colleges. What they
have seen in Europe has opened their eyes to the possibilities and
shortcomings of their own country.

To take a familiar example, it is travel in Europe which has done
most to stimulate the movement for municipal reform. It is seeing
London and Paris, and Berlin and Birmingham, which has done most to
wake people up to the horrors of the Croker-Gilroy rule, and inflame
the determination to end it as a national disgrace. The class of
Americans who do not come back discontented are usually those who
had no education to start with.

"Knowledge to their eyes her ample page,
Rich with the spoils of time, did ne'er unroll!"

So, even when standing on the Acropolis at Athens or in the Tribuna
at Florence, they feel themselves sadly "out of it." They think
longingly of Billy or Jimmy, and the coffee and cakes of their far
Missouri or Arkansas home, and come back cursing Europe and its
contents. No damage is ever done by foreign travel to the "true
democratic American spirit" of this class.

And now as to "Anglomania," a subject to be handled with as much
delicacy as an anarchist bomb. Anglomania in one form or other is to
be met with in all countries, especially France and Germany, and has
shown itself here and there all over the Continent ever since the
peace of 1815. The things in which it most imitates the English are
riding, driving, men's clothes, sports in general, and domestic
comfort. The reason is that the English have for two centuries given
more attention to these things than any other people. No other has
so cultivated the horse for pleasure purposes. No other has devoted
so much thought and money to suitability in dress and to field sports.
No other has brought to such perfection the art of living in country
houses. In all these things people who can afford it try to imitate
them. We say, with a full consciousness of the responsibility which
the avowal entails on us, that they do right. It is well in any art
to watch and imitate the man who has best succeeded in it. The
sluggard has been exhorted even to imitate the ant, and anyone who
wishes to ride or drive well, or dress appropriately, or entertain
in a country house, ought to study the way the English do these
things, and follow their example, for anything worth doing ought to
be done well. It is mostly in these things that Anglomania consists.

Mrs. Stevenson, we fear, exaggerates greatly the number of
Anglomaniacs. A few dozen are as many as are to be found in any
country, and any government or polity which their presence puts in
peril ought to be overthrown, for assuredly it is rotten to the
core. There is nothing, in fact, better calculated to make Americans
hang their heads for shame than the list of small things which one
hears from "good Americans," put our institutions in danger. We
remember a good old publisher, in the days before international
copyright, who thought we could not much longer stand the
circulation of British novels. Their ideas, he said, were dangerous
to a republic. An Anglomaniac can hardly turn up his trousers on
Fifth Avenue without eliciting shrieks of alarm from the American
patriot. And yet a more harmless creature really does not exist.

These matters are worth notice because we are the only great nation


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