Pilgrim and American

Pilgrim and American

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The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Pilgrim, And The American Of Today—(1892), by Charles Dudley WarnerThis eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it,give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online atwww.gutenberg.netTitle: The Pilgrim, And The American Of Today—(1892)Author: Charles Dudley WarnerRelease Date: December 5, 2004 [EBook #3112]Language: English*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK PILGRIM AND AMERICAN ***Produced by David WidgerTHE PILGRIM, AND THE AMERICAN OF TODAY—1892By Charles Dudley WarnerThis December evening, the imagination, by a law of contrast, recalls another December night two hundred and seventyyears ago. The circle of darkness is drawn about a little group of Pilgrims who have come ashore on a sandy andinhospitable coast. On one side is a vexed and wintry sea, three thousand miles of tossing waves and tempest, beyondwhich lie the home, the hedgerows and cottages, the church towers, the libraries and universities, the habits andassociations of an old civilization, the strongest and dearest ties that can entwine around a human heart, abandoned nowdefinitely and forever by these wanderers; on the other side a wintry forest of unknown extent, without highways, the lair ofwild beasts, impenetrable except by trails known only to the savages, whose sudden appearance and disappearanceadds mystery and ...

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The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Pilgrim, AndThe American Of Today—(1892), by CharlesDudley WarnerThis eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere atno cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever.You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under theterms of the Project Gutenberg License includedwith this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.netTitle: The Pilgrim, And The American Of Today—(1892)Author: Charles Dudley WarnerRelease Date: December 5, 2004 [EBook #3112]Language: English*E*B* OSTOAK RPTI LOGFR ITMH IAS NPDR AOJMEECRTI CGAUNT *E**NBERGProduced by David Widger
THE PILGRIM, ANDTHE AMERICAN OFTODAY—1892By Charles Dudley WarnerThis December evening, the imagination, by a lawof contrast, recalls another December night twohundred and seventy years ago. The circle ofdarkness is drawn about a little group of Pilgrimswho have come ashore on a sandy andinhospitable coast. On one side is a vexed andwintry sea, three thousand miles of tossing wavesand tempest, beyond which lie the home, thehedgerows and cottages, the church towers, thelibraries and universities, the habits andassociations of an old civilization, the strongest anddearest ties that can entwine around a humanheart, abandoned now definitely and forever bythese wanderers; on the other side a wintry forestof unknown extent, without highways, the lair ofwild beasts, impenetrable except by trails knownonly to the savages, whose sudden appearanceand disappearance adds mystery and terror to theimpression the imagination has conjured up of thewilderness.oTbhissc udraitryk.n Tehsiss  iiss  saynm ebnocliac.m Itp msteanntd os nf otrh ea  evdagstee rof a
continent, the proportions of which are unknown,the form of which is only conjectured. Behind thisscreen of forest are there hills, great streams, withbroad valleys, ranges of mountains perhaps, vastplains, lakes, other wildernesses of illimitableextent? The adventurers on the James hoped theycould follow the stream to highlands that looked offupon the South Sea, a new route to India and theSpice Islands. This unknown continent is attacked,it is true, in more than one place. The Dutch are atthe mouth of the Hudson; there is a Londoncompany on the James; the Spaniards have beenlong in Florida, and have carried religion andcivilization into the deserts of New Mexico.Nevertheless, the continent, vaster and morevaried than was guessed, is practicallyundiscovered, untrodden. How inadequate to thesubjection of any considerable portion of it seemsthis little band of ill-equipped adventurers, whocannot without peril of life stray a league from thebay where the "Mayflower" lies.It is not to be supposed that the Pilgrims had anadequate conception of the continent, or of themagnitude of their mission on it, or of the nation tocome of which they were laying the foundations.They did the duty that lay nearest to them; and theduty done today, perhaps without prescience of itsconsequences, becomes a permanent stone in theedifice of the future. They sought a home in a freshwilderness, where they might be undisturbed bysuperior human authority; they had no doctrinariannotions of equality, nor of the inequality which isthe only possible condition of liberty; the idea of
toleration was not born in their age; they did notproject a republic; they established a theocracy, achurch which assumed all the functions of a state,recognizing one Supreme Power, whose will inhuman conduct they were to interpret. Already,however, in the first moment, with a true instinct ofself-government, they drew together in the cabin ofthe "Mayflower" in an association—to carry out thedivine will in society. But, behold how speedily theirideas expanded beyond the Jewish conception,necessarily expanded with opportunity and thepractical self-dependence of colonies cut off fromthe aid of tradition, and brought face to face withthe problems of communities left to themselves.Only a few years later, on the banks of theConnecticut, Thomas Hooker, the first AmericanDemocrat, proclaimed that "the foundation ofauthority is laid in the free consent of the people,"that "the choice of public magistrates belongs untothe people, by God's own allowance," that it is theright of the people not only to choose but to limitthe power of their rulers, and he exhorted, "as Godhas given us liberty to take it." There, at thatmoment, in Hartford, American democracy wasborn; and in the republican union of the threetowns of the Connecticut colony, Hartford,Windsor, and Wethersfield, was the germ of theAmerican federal system, which was adopted intothe federal constitution and known at the time asthe "Connecticut Compromise."It were not worth while for me to come a thousandmiles to say this, or to draw over again for thehundredth time the character of the New England
Pilgrim, nor to sketch his achievement on thiscontinent. But it is pertinent to recall his spirit, hisattitude toward life, and to inquire what he wouldprobably do in the circumstances in which we findourselves.It is another December night, before the dawn of anew year. And this night still symbolizes the future.You have subdued a continent, and it stands in thedaylight radiant with a material splendor of whichthe Pilgrims never dreamed. Yet a continent asdark, as unknown, exists. It is yourselves, yourfuture, your national life. The other continent wasmade, you had only to discover it, to uncover it.This you must make yourselves.We have finished the outline sketch of amagnificent nation. The territory is ample; itincludes every variety of climate, in the changingseasons, every variety of physical conformation,every kind of production suited to the wants,almost everything desired in the imagination, ofman. It comes nearer than any empire in history tobeing self-sufficient, physically independent of therest of the globe. That is to say, if it were shut offfrom the rest of the world, it has in itself thematerial for great comfort and civilization. And ithas the elements of motion, of agitation, of life,because the vast territory is filling up with a rapidityunexampled in history. I am not saying thatisolated it could attain the highest civilization, orthat if it did touch a high one it could long hold it ina living growth, cut off from the rest of the world. Ido not believe it. For no state, however large, is
sufficient unto itself. No state is really alive in thehighest sense whose receptivity is not equal to itspower to contribute to the world with which itsdestiny is bound up. It is only at its best when it isa part of the vital current of movement, ofsympathy, of hope, of enthusiasm of the world atlarge. There is no doctrine so belittling, so witheringto our national life, as that which conceives ourdestiny to be a life of exclusion of the affairs andinterests of the whole globe, hemmed in to theselfish development of our material wealth andstrength, surrounded by a Chinese wall built ofstrata of prejudice on the outside and of ignoranceon the inside. Fortunately it is a conceptionimpossible to be realized.There is something captivating to the imagination inbeing a citizen of a great nation, one powerfulenough to command respect everywhere, and sojust as not to excite fear anywhere. This proudfeeling of citizenship is a substantial part of aman's enjoyment of life; and there is a certaincompensation for hardships, for privations, for self-sacrifice, in the glory of one's own country. It is nota delusion that one can afford to die for it. But whatin the last analysis is the object of a government?What is the essential thing, without which even theglory of a nation passes into shame, and thevastness of empire becomes a mockery? I will notsay that it is the well-being of every individual,because the term well-being—the 'bien etre' of thephilosophers of the eighteenth century—has mainlya materialistic interpretation, and may be attainedby a compromise of the higher life to comfort, and
even of patriotism to selfish enjoyment.That is the best government in which the people,and all the people, get the most out of life; for theobject of being in this world is not primarily to buildup a government, a monarchy, an aristocracy, ademocracy, or a republic, or to make a nation, butto live the best sort of life that can be lived.We think that our form of government is the onebest calculated to attain this end. It is of all othersyet tried in this world the one least felt by thepeople, least felt as an interference in the affairs ofprivate life, in opinion, in conscience, in ourfreedom to attain position, to make money, tomove from place to place, and to follow any careerthat is open to our ability. In order to maintain thisfreedom of action, this non-interference, we arebound to resist centralization of power; for acentral power in a republic, grasped andadministered by bosses, is no more tolerable thancentral power in a despotism, grasped andadministered by a hereditary aristocrat. Let us notbe deceived by names. Government by theconsent of the people is the best government, butit is not government by the people when it is in thehands of political bosses, who juggle with thetheory of majority rule. What republics have mostto fear is the rule of the boss, who is a tyrantwithout responsibility. He makes the nominations,he dickers and trades for the elections, and at theend he divides the spoils. The operation is moreuncertain than a horse race, which is not decidedby the speed of the horses, but by the state of the
wagers and the manipulation of the jockeys. Westrike directly at his power for mischief when weorganize the entire civil service of the nation and ofthe States on capacity, integrity, experience, andnot on political power.And if we look further, considering the danger ofconcentration of power in irresponsible hands, wesee a new cause for alarm in undue federalmastery and interference. This we can only resistby the constant assertion of the rights, the power,the dignity of the individual State, all that it has notsurrendered in the fundamental constitution of theRepublic. This means the full weight of the State,as a State, as a political unit, in the election ofPresident; and the full weight of the State, as aState, as a political unit, without regard to itspopulation, in the senate of the United States. Thesenate, as it stands, as it was meant to be in theConstitution, is the strongest safeguard which thefundamental law established against centralization,against the tyranny of mere majorities, against thedestruction of liberty, in such a diversity of climatesand conditions as we have in our vast continent. Itis not a mere check upon hasty legislation; likesome second chambers in Europe, it is therepresentative of powers whose preservation intheir dignity is essential to the preservation of theform of our government itself.rWese ppounrssibuieli ttyh ew hseanm ew ed ipstarsibs uttoio tnh eo f Sptoatweesr.  aTnhdefSetdateer acl agno vdeor nanmde notu igs htn otto  tdo oi nftoer riftesreelf ;i nt hweh aStt atthee is
not to meddle with what the county can best do foritself; nor the county in the affairs bestadministered by the town and the municipality. Andso we come to the individual citizen. He cannotdelegate his responsibility. The government evenof the smallest community must be, at least is, runby parties and by party machinery. But if he wantsgood government, he must pay as careful attentionto the machinery,—call it caucus, primary,convention, town-meeting,—as he does to themachinery of his own business. If he hands it overto bosses, who make politics a trade for their ownlivelihood, he will find himself in the condition ofstockholders of a bank whose directors are meredummies, when some day the cashier packs theassets and goes on a foreign journey for his health.When the citizen simply does his duty in the placewhere he stands, the boss will be eliminated, in thenation, in the State, in the town, and we shall have,what by courtesy we say we have now, agovernment by the people. Then all the way downfrom the capital to the city ward, we shall have vitalpopular government, free action, discussion,agitation, life. What an anomaly it is, that a freepeople, reputed shrewd and intelligent, shouldintrust their most vital interests, the making of theirlaws, the laying of their taxes, the spending of theirmoney, even their education and the managementof their public institutions, into the keeping ofpolitical bosses, whom they would not trust tomanage the least of their business affairs, nor toarbitrate on what is called a trial of speed at anagricultural fair.
But a good government, the best government, isonly an opportunity. However vast the country maybecome in wealth and population, it cannot rise inquality above the average of the majority of itscitizens; and its goodness will be tested in historyby its value to the average man, not by its bigness,not by its power, but by its adaptability to thepeople governed, so as to develop the best that isin them. It is incidental and imperative that thecountry should be an agreeable one to live in; but itmust be more than that, it must be favorable to thegrowth of the higher life. The Puritan community ofMassachusetts Bay, whose spirit we may happilycontrast with that of the Pilgrims whoseanniversary we celebrate, must have been asdisagreeable to live in as any that history records;not only were the physical conditions of life hard,but its inquisitorial intolerance overmatched thatwhich it escaped in England. It was a theocraticdespotism, untempered by recreation oramusement, and repressive not only of freedom ofexpression but of freedom of thought. But it had anunconquerable will, a mighty sense of duty, a faithin God, which not only established its grip upon thecontinent but carried its influence from one oceanto the other. It did not conquer by its bigotry, by itsintolerance, its cruel persecuting spirit, but by itshigher mental and spiritual stamina. These lowerand baser qualities of the age of the Puritans leavea stain upon a great achievement; it tookMassachusetts almost two centuries to cast themoff and come into a wholesome freedom, but thevital energy and the recognition of the essentialverities inhuman life carried all the institutions of