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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/105

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SCIENCE STUDY AND NATIONAL CHARACTER.

But by so doing we uncover another significant fact. We find that many of the ideas so quickly thrown aside are those which have been the foundation principles, and bear the prestige of great names. We have held it our special mission to show to warlike nations that a power which stands for peace may be greater than theirs; and, alas! many of our leaders, and our people, too, are crying that the time has come—has now come—for us to take our place among the great nations of the earth. We have pitied the war-taxed peoples of Europe, and offered them a home where they would not have to buy powder and guns. And now we are eagerly rushing to take up the burden from which they have been fleeing to us. We have held that great standing armies are unnecessary and dangerous, and already we have quadrupled ours. We have declared our determination to avoid foreign entanglements, and now we are in the very heart of the sputtering coil in the far East. With those who have thoughtfully decided that these changes have been necessary or wise I have no wish to debate now, but we must all unite in recognizing the spirit which has been shown, and is now shown, in speaking of our past positions. The principles which for years have been our rules of national conduct have been thrown aside in a day, scoffed at, mocked. And we smile at the names of the great men who have announced those principles and defended them, or we flatly declare they are out of date. We once listened with reverent and full hearts when our wise men spoke to us of freedom, and recalled our national traditions and taught national righteousness. Now we laugh at swaddling clothes outgrown, outused, and smile at the innocent simplicity of our fathers. We lift our brows at the name of Washington: we say he was a fine old gentleman, and his Farewell Address, considering everything, was a very creditable paper, and well adapted to the exigencies of the time in which it was written. And this carnival of irreverence is holding not only in our streets, but in our newspaper offices, in our pulpits, and in some of our higher institutions of learning.

These are the phenomena of our recent national experience which I desire you to consider. There may be other unfavorable indications. There may be others, and many more, which are hopeful and encouraging. But these clearly warn us of danger. Furthermore, I insist that whatever may have been your sympathy with the Administration, or your opposition to it; however numerous the men of your acquaintance who have been free from such influences, you must have seen them at work in a dangerously large part of our population. Even if that part has, in your judgment, reached the right position, you must recognize the ominous character of their method of reaching it.