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in the West, inspired impartial criticism and independent action, and the House of Representatives underwent a complete revolution. Under that impulse, the current ordinary expenses of the first year for which the Forty-fourth Congress made the appropriations, were reduced to $116,246,211.01, as against $165,080,570.34, for the year for which the appropriations involving the enlarged salaries were made. In both instances pensions and the public debt are omitted, but including both would not affect the result. The ordinary expenditures of the next year, for which that Congress made the appropriations, including the army appropriations afterward made, and excluding pensions and public debt, were $107,326,433.07, since which time the expenditures have increased. In every instance of positive retrenchment, the “ deficiencies” which crowd upon the ensuing years have correspondingly diminished.
These landmarks and the current history of the Government demonstrate beyond question that even the most sweeping retrenchments that have ever been made in our expenditures have not embarrassed the public service for an hour; and furthermore, that in a Government like ours there is no safe ground between severe economy and prodigal expenditure; that the administration will either be frugal and honest or lavish and corrupt; and more clearly demonstrate that the only guaranty for frugal and honest government is to be found in the vigilance and fidelity of the people.
The excellence of our system of government, with its towns, townships, cities, parishes, counties, and states, so admirably adapted to the keeping of politicial power under the eye and within the control of the people, and all united by the Federal Union, cannot be questioned. But with each of these agencies of government employing its measure of taxation; with the steady and remorseless growth of federal expenditure during the last thirty years continued in full vigor, influencing by its great and pernicious example the local governments of this wide-spread system, animating the ever-growing multitude who seek to live off the labor of other men, how long will it be before the evils which have oppressed for centuries the labor of the Old World are transplanted to the New?
A powerful motive for increased expenditure is found in the vicious practice, so long tolerated, of creating and employing public patronage as a reward for partisan services. So long as the country acquiesces in this abuse of the public service, this disreputable and corrupting practice will continue; new avenues into the public treasury will be discovered and explored; new offices, enlarged salaries, and lucrative, contracts in countless variety and in every department of government, will demand an ever-increasing revenue. But the motives for increased expenditure are sufficiently numerous and obvious without this. A motive largely mercenary for entering the public service is fatal to public honor, and it is perfectly safe to predict that any system of civil service reform which proposes to leave the salaries of officers and employés of Government, as now, greatly above the rate of compensation paid in private employments for services requiring an equal or a similar degree of integrity, industry, and capacity, will prove a " delusion and a snare." A blow at the heart of the evil would restore the sentiment of honor to the public service..
Fifty years ago, a distinguished writer in the NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW, referring to the Athenian Republic and our own, expressed opinions touching the true policy of our Government, the stronghold of its safety, and the source of the perils to which our free institutions are exposed, the soundness of which has been confirmed by the current events of our history, social and political, of every succeeding year. He said:
“With us government is the protector of personal industry, talent, and happiness; and we are firmly persuaded that however luxury may, with the increase of wealth, diffuse itself among private individuals, frugality is the true policy of the State. . . . With us the great body of the citizens is sure to remain uncontaminated. We have far more to apprehend from the headlong ambition or downright corruption of those who are the depositories of power."
WILLIAM S. HOLMAN.
DEMOCRACY AND MORAL PROGRESS.
MR. WALT WHITMAN, in his recent impetuous, impulsive, but original and striking book, “Specimen Days and Collect," p. 211, uses this strong language: “I say that our New World democracy, however great a success in uplifting the masses out of their slough, in materialistic developments, products, and in a certain highly deceptive superficial intellectuality, is, so far, an almost complete failure in its social aspects and in really grand religious, moral, literary, and æsthetic results.... It is as if we were somehow being endowed with a vast and more and more thoroughly appointed body, and then left with little or no soul.” And again, p. 206: “For know you not, dear, earnest reader, that the people of our land may all read and write, and may all possess the right to vote, and yet the main things may be entirely lacking.” These sentences express in a mild form opinions that are frequent in this remarkable volume, which, by the way, will be a surprise to some who regard their author as an altogether fleshly poet.
Now, Mr. Whitman speaks from experience. He has traveled over the country, has lived in remote parts of it, and has closely studied the people and their institutions. He is, moreover, an enthusiastic believer in republican government, perhaps the most ardent democrat living. This criticism is the result of his faith. He admonishes in the spirit of love. He is severe because he hopes so much, and sees so much to be at stake in the experiment of liberty.
To prognosticate the future of democracy is not an easy task, but oversensitiveness to fair criticism will not make it easier. The issues are concealed from all but honest and penetrating eyes; and even these must be clear of the film of prejudice. It is desirable to know the facts; but the facts are not readily accessible. Least of all will they disclose themselves to optimist or pessimist. The times have no doubt gone by when men like William Cowper can read aloud to ladies a book like “ Joseph Andrews.” But neither the reader nor the listeners could have looked without horror at the view presented by a modern ball-room, at the waltzes, polkas, and general dance movements of young men and women of society. Conscientiousness may have changed its front, while conscience may not have gained in sensibility. Immorality has assumed another form; but is it so certain that its character is essentially altered, or its degree abated ?
“They tell me, Sir John," said George III. to one of his favorites, “ that you love a glass of wine.” “Those who have so informed your majesty," was the reply, “have done me great injustice. They should have said, a bottle.” What courtier would venture, in these days, to make such a remark to a king? Even at banquets such drinking as was common among gentlemen, half a century ago, is unknown and would be considered disgraceful. The most refined people take very little wine, even of the lightest. This seems an immense advance. But who can say how much of the improvement may be due to moral principle, how much to the fashion of the period in which we live, and how much to the regard for the conditions of bodily health, so remarkable in an industrial age like our own, which obliges even gentlemen to have clear heads? No temperance indicates moral improvement but such as may be attributed to moral considerations. Respect for health or economy evinces a fine sort of selfishness, nothing more; and respect for fashionable usage does not indicate so much as that. The elegant English essayist, Robert L. Stevenson, suggests that Thoreau abstained from wine because, living in America, he never tasted any that was good. It is more likely that he abstained because he regarded the drinking of wine as a sensual indulgence; or because he dreaded the evil effects of it on society; or because he thought that, like tea and coffee, wine would deaden his vital power, and so diminish his enjoyment of nature. Either of these reasons may be esteemed noble. But it is not probable that many temperate people can claim motives as worthy for their temperance. If they could, a higher strain of conviction on this subject would prevail, a conviction that would close bar-rooms, and render “corner-groceries” unprofitable; for a power of moral conviction equal to this would raise the level of common opinion on the subject.
In 1770, Horace Walpole wrote to a friend: "I do not know a tea-spoonful of news. I could tell you what was trumps, but that was all I heard.” “The gaming," he said, “is worthy the decline of our empire. The young men lose five, ten, fifteen thousand pounds in ‘an evening.” Putting together the things best worth finding, Walpole enumerates: the longitude, the philosopher's stone, the certificate of the Duchess of King. ston's first marriage, the missing books of Livy, and all that Charles Fox had lost. The losses of Fox at the gaming table were notorious. Gambling was the fashion among gentlemen and ladies in that generation. To be in debt, to borrow money, was universal among people in society. So completely established was the custom that no disgrace, no feeling of moral degradation was attached to it. In spite of his recklessness, Fox not only kept his social position, but preserved his sweetness of character. Nothing of the kind would be possible now. Gambling has been remanded to the lower orders of men. The law is against it; custom frowns on it; the practice is banished from respectable company. But has it been exterminated, or has it merely assumed another form? A recent article in this Review on the “Ethics of Gambling," which some thought too severe, drew from a Western man a protest accompanied with terrible statistics, all going to show that the writer of the article had “hardly scratched the surface of the subject.” The evil, it was maintained, threatened to undermine our institutions, being more virulent in a democracy than it was in the time of Fox, the fences which confined it to a certain class being taken down, and a coarser instinct being admitted to the gratification, the excitements of which are extended to business and politics as well as to amusement.
But will not popular education, so general under our democratic forms, correct this lamentable tendency? Alas! there is too much ground for thinking that education, instead of raising people above their level of actual attainment, simply supplies them with what they desire, and thus indirectly confirms in them a low standard of taste. Ideal, heroic, stimulating studies like Greek, Latin, Philosophy, are neglected for“ useful” lessons in physics or dietetics. Besides, education waits on character; and, unless the style of character be lofty and strong, education may turn out to be a mischief, like putting improved tools into the hands of a burglar. Mr. Herbert Spencer, who called attention to this