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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/102

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ous crisis, and our sacred duty is to stop and take our bearings. If we have manifested certain national traits hitherto scarcely suspected, and now unwillingly confessed, every motive of patriotism and of prudence should impel us to study our case, that we may effectively prescribe for it.

Are there not, then, certain signs which we may all agree are discernible? Have not the waves of powerful feeling which have swept over us, the storms of acrimonious debate which have raged in our papers and forums, the paeans of praise which we have chanted at our "peace jubilees" and hero parties, revealed the prevalence and rapid growth of certain sentiments which we may all, without regard to political belief, clearly recognize? I do not in this place raise the question of the political wisdom or simple justice of the course which the country has taken in its international relations. I do not now challenge any belief as to these matters which has been formed thoughtfully, honestly, manfully; but I do maintain that the past few months have left lessons for thoughtful, honest men to unite in studying.

Probably the most striking phenomenon which we have witnessed has been the tremendous display of excited feeling. However careful our national leaders may have been, however honest in basing their actions on what they considered sufficient information, or however careless and dishonest, no man who has read any considerable number of our papers, who has listened to the clamor of the crowds, can doubt that the force of blind passion has been in hundreds of thousands of men the dominant force. If during the war with Spain you stood in the cheering, surging crowds before the bulletin boards, if you heard storms of hisses greet the name of the innocent boy-King of Spain, or noted the cheer of triumph which applauded the capture of a lumber scow by an armored cruiser, you will have no difficulty in agreeing with me. You will smile at the idea of imputing to such men the credit of serious thought. On the birthday of the greatest American, whose life was a message of liberty—"who," said a great Spanish orator, "laid down his life at the foot of his finished work"—our papers printed jokes about the mistake of the Filipinos in trying to fight Uncle Sam, and in our cities, at least, the report of their slaughter was received with exultation. Whether they were civilized or not, whether they were misled or not, whether they were ignorant of America's carefully concealed intention or not, the killing of thousands of men who thought they were fighting for their freedom, who faced machine guns, and who crawled away into the bushes to die for the cause for which they had fought, is hardly a subject for jokes or for exultation, when people are gov-