Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub
[blocks in formation]

most dangerous enemy of Mormonism in Utah, and was also the best friend of the Mormons. He had the courage of a man of entire consecration; love was to him a compelling power not only of service but of truthfulness. He was an ardent Christian Socialist, and in season and out of season he pressed upon his own Church what he regarded as the Gospel applied to social conditions. A tall man, square-shouldered, muscular, carrying the atmosphere of human comradeship, with a very clear mind, great power of analysis, and admirable ability to state his position in lucid language, Bishop Spalding was a notable figure on every occasion when he was present and in every assemblage in which he took part.

The most striking address delivered at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church held in New York a year ago was his talk in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine on "Christianity and Democracy." Whether men. agreed or differed with him, they were all aware that the man in the pulpit was a modern Savonarola challenging his Church to search its conscience and confess its shortcomings. Such a talk in a cathedral, from a clergyman wearing the robes of a bishop, would have been notable in any event. Bishop Spalding made it notable by reason of his sincerity and fearlessness. There was neither fanaticism nor demagoguery in his address. It was as far removed from the onslaught of a radical labor agitator as it was from the smooth utterances of a conventional ecclesiastic. Those who heard him felt that the challenge could not be evaded. He did not hesitate to charge that religion has been supported out of profits, not out of wages, and therefore the workers believed that it represented the capitalistic class. He did not hesitate to call the General Convention a convention of capitalists. "We worship," he said, "in a great church like this, and it makes us forget the slums just over the way; we wear our holy vestments, and we forget the millions who have only rags to wear; we debate our canons and names, and we forget the toiling workers who are pleading for a living wage; we discuss hymns and prayers, and we forget that there are ten thousands of thousands whose hearts are too heavy to sing and whose faith is too weak to pray;" and he declared that the Church "must accept the charge which industrial democracy has discovered, that labor and not capital is the basis of production."

667

[graphic]

The fact that such an address was made by a bishop in a cathedral is the very best evidence that his Church is not afraid to hear these fundamental questions discussed, nor to face a direct challenge from a man who believed in a changed social order. Whether Bishop Spalding was right or not, whether the changes in society which he urged would remedy the evils he deplored, are open questions; but the force of such a personality as his cannot be ignored, nor can its influence be measured. His was a voice that crossed whatever chasm there is between wealth and poverty, between the cathedral and the slum. He carried the same message to rich and poor. At a meeting of Socialists in Salt Lake City his criticism was as fearless as it was in the Cathedral of St. John. Speaking to a hostile audience which jeered him, challenged his honesty, and almost insulted him, he made a searching exposure of the fallacies of syndicalism and destructive anarchism. On Labor Day he spoke in St. Paul's Church, Salt Lake City, with thrilling earnestness; and when his body was laid in St. Mark's Church in that city, thousands of working people crowded the church from morning until night. One who knew him well said of him:

"No one could long be in his presence without pronouncing his soul pure white, his mind clear and far-seeing, and his heart the clean, glad, responsive heart of a boy."

HAVE WE LOST FAITH?

A woman writing to the New York "Evening Sun" asks: "Have we lost faith? We prayed for peace and do not get peace. Why? Have we lost faith, and is that the reason why our prayers are ineffectual ?" What is faith?

Is it faith in God to believe that we know what the world needs better than he does, and that he ought to take our counsel and do as we bid him? Is the prayer of faith "Not thy will but mine be done," or is the prayer of faith "Not my will but thine be done?"

To have faith in God is to believe that he knows what his children need; that he dares to allow them to take their own way and learn by bitter experience the lesson which they would not learn from teaching; and it is so to learn that lesson from this terrible experience that it will never have to be again repeated.

[graphic]

THE UNPLEASANT WRITER

Mr. Bliss Perry wrote a very pleasant essay a few years ago on the "Cheerless Reader." Has the Cheerful Reader, he asked, followed the Gentle Reader into that past into which so many delightful books and people have gone? The newspapers are giving a good deal of space to-day to letters from readers, and it must be confessed that many of these letter-writers are neither polite nor illuminating. Many of these communications are so conspicuously free from sweetness and light that one is tempted to ask what has happened to the Pleasant Writer. Has he become extinct, or is he waiting for the angry mood of the day to pass and give him his chance again?

There are those who dare to hope that the ill temper of the past decade may vent itself in this terrible war; and that, when the blackness of darkness with which it has covered the world has been dissipated, the sky may be clear again and the air of the age more genial. However that may be, it is certain that the past few years have been depressingly unpleasant in temper.

The astrologers and soothsayers who have been warning us for several years that the conjunctions of planets were ominous, and that plague, famine, and war were waiting to scourge us, have had many confirmations of their predictions of coming evil. The air has seemed to set the nerves of the race on edge, and differences of opinion of every sort have seemed to breed bitterness and provoke angry and abusive speech. The man in the country store who boasted that his wife was "the evenest-tempered woman in the county -she was always mad," might safely have generalized from his domestic experience; the tendency to " on the slightest get mad provocation has been so noticeable that the question has been seriously raised whether the world is not being ravaged by some form of hysteria, as it has been more than once in the past. Have the Flagellants come back, but with a changed method in their madness-beating others instead of beating themselves?

[ocr errors]

The war has had the appalling quality of an earthquake; it has silenced all differences and set personal feelings in a perspective so vast that they seem insignificant and even ridiculous. Anger at one's neighbor has neither reality nor dignity when both your houses are burning. Only four months

ago Irishmen were waiting to spring at one another's throats; the dignited House of Commons heard language of almost unprecedented violence, and English congregations had become accustomed to seeing shrieking women carried out of church by force. In France the Caillaux trial had threatened to breed a bitterness as hateful as that which gave the Dreyfus case a psychological interest out of all proportion to its intrinsic importance. In this country the righteous determination to put an end to abuses had shown a tendency to become a passionate vengeance, and in some quarters the suffrage debate had become a bad-tempered wrangle; anti-vaccinationists and anti-vivisectionists showed surprising agility in abusing those who differed from them; international questions, instead of evoking clear thinking and a sense of unusual responsibility, were made occasions for violent attacks on the character and spirit of other peoples. In the Balkans a war which had reason as well as instinct behind it had been marred by shocking cruelties, and its dignity of purpose was lost in the hideous fratricidal strife which followed.

And it must be said frankly that some of the writers who have presented the German case in the present war have so wholly lost their temper that they have confirmed the charges of arrogance, intolerable conceit, and offensive manners which have been made against their countrymen who have succumbed to the Prussian military spirit. The Unpleasant Writer was at his worst in this communication written to a New York

newspaper:

Sir: For the opinion of the large majority in this country we can only express contempt, since it is composed of the veritable offscourings of Europe. Let me remind you of the celebrated dictum of Professor Garnach, of Dresden: "The population of America comprises some eighty-five millions, many of whom are human."

We Germans thoroughly indorse him, and I feel confident that America will have cause to regret her inexcusable attitude toward Our glorious Fatherland. The German memory is a long one.

"Deutschland über Alles."

There is no reason, so far as the public is concerned, why a bad-tempered and badmannered man should not go off in a solitary place and give his ugly mood full and free expression; but why should a newspaper give him the opportunity to impose his

[blocks in formation]

Such a man why should

offensive temper on the public? would be put off a trolley car; he be allowed access to the public through the columns of a high-class newspaper?

There ought to be the widest opportunity for sharp criticism, for the most vigorous protest against any kind of public opinion; but no room ought to be made for ill-natured, abusive, and violent people. They contribute nothing to public discussion and their manners are intolerable. The writer of this note, who is evidently one of those whom

669

he calls the "offscourings of Europe," has not only lost his temper but his sense of humor as well.

The tragical explosion of ill temper, hatred, and bitter feeling in Europe may clear the air of the murkiness which has diminished the pleasure of living of late years, and cure society of the attack of hysteria from which it has been suffering. Meantime the suppression of the Unpleasant Writer will rid the public of a needless infliction and foster the growth of good manners.

E

THE ENGLISH PRESS

FROM A STAFF CORRESPONDENT

VEN if only a quarter of the stories concerning atrocities committed by German soldiers told are true they would demand investigation by neutral authorities, and I hope that they will have such investigation. Unfortunately, however, news is not infrequently printed which oftentimes turns out to be mere rumor.

[ocr errors]

For instance, the "Westminster Gazette had a detailed report of a most revolting atrocity which it was asserted had occurred in Belgium. It related to an English nurse, alleged to have been killed by Germans with bestial cruelty. The following night the "Westminster Gazette " stated that the story was a hoax, that the nurse in question was actually in England and had never been in Belgium !

This affair shows the need of confirming all reported facts. A great English statesman says: "I do not believe three-quarters of the stories I see about atrocities. Some of them may be straight lies. More are probably due to an unhinged mind." This is doubtless true, but the trouble is that the publication of every rumor makes the confiding reader feel that all the stories of atrocities may be judged by it.

On the other hand, one often notices an effort to be fair in reporting the news. An evidence in this direction-and, as well, a fine example of reportorial enterprise-is the column published daily by the London "Times" and entitled " Through German Eyes;" in it various bits of German opinion are literally translated from German journals.

On the reportorial side, however, English papers have to struggle with the censor.

They are complaining about this. They are, they say, not treated fairly. they say, not treated fairly. The censorship suppressed, they assert, any mention of General von Hindenburg's victory over the Russians in East Prussia, and the news reached England only through a casual letter printed in a provincial newspaper. Says the London "Daily News :"

Our own correspondents' accounts of the fall of the Liège forts were held up in London for days after the facts had been published both in Dutch and in German papers; on the other hand, other messages describing the heroic resistance of the fallen forts were passed unchecked on to an unsuspecting British public who alone in Europe were unaware that the resistance of which they were reading had ended days before. All newspapers are anxious to co-operate with the censor in the national interest. But we do desire very earnestly to urge that there are dangers in a censorship which irritates neutrals unnecessarily and conceals from the British public what is known to the rest of the world.

The same journal thus protests against the suppression of the war correspondent:

At the beginning of the war the Government devised a method of reconciling the nation's just demands with military interests by accepting a list of war correspondents. These were to be under the control of a press officer, and all their messages were to be censored before despatch. They have bought horses, engaged servants, obtained equipment, and made all necessary arrangements. Two months of war have passed, but they have not been allowed to cross the seas. The point of view of the public is that all news of the war should be published which is not injurious to military interests. That is not due simply to an idle curi

[graphic]

osity, but it is a mere act of justice to our soldiers who are fighting so gallant and so arduous a fight, and to the nation at home, which must sustain the struggle by sacrifices of money, and, as they are needed, of men. To keep the nation instructed is therefore as proper, if not as important, a part of strategy as to keep the ranks of our forces at full strength.

The papers, however, are not protesting so much because of particular facts as because of the general official attitude.

Now as to the editorial side of English newspapers. Here, too, there were certain miscalculations before the war began. Perhaps the principal one was the theory that because the German Socialists in the Reichstag, one hundred and ten strong and the largest body in that Parliament, had defied the Kaiser, therefore they would not fight under the Kaiser!

In the next place, as to religion. Public opinion in England has too long been fed by papers like the "British Weekly," with which everything German seems anathema. To such papers the very name Germany is apparently only a synonym for rationalism.

Again, practically every English editor found in the name Nietzsche a synonym for German philosophy; in the name Treitschke, a synonym for German political ideals; and in the name Bernhardi, a synonym for German military ideals. Yet has any one of these men affected more than one class in the Fatherland? Indeed, Nietzsche is both disliked and despised by most Germans; and no German writer of the same class, it is held, not even Hauptmann, has been as much affected by Nietzsche as has been the Russian Merejskowsky.

As the war progressed most editors seemed to be agreed as to the following conclusions:

1. Prussian militarism is striving to set its heel on the whole of Europe.

2. England, France, Russia, Belgium, and Servia have thrown their forces into the field in resistance.

3. German victory might mean the absorption of Holland, Belgium, and the northern parts of France into the vast German Empire.

4. It would also mean the ultimate disappearance of the British mercantile marine from the

seas.

5. It might mean the loss of South Africa and India.

6. It might even result in the absorption of the British Isles into the German Empire.

7. Before that could come about England might have to witness the scenes at Louvain repeated at Canterbury or Cambridge, and

English villages would have the same tale to tell of murdered women and children and old men as Belgian villages have told.

As in Germany there are those who would wipe out the British Empire entirely, so there are those in England who would wipe out the German Empire and who counsel the crushing of Germany for good and all.

It is a satisfaction, therefore, to find this protest in the London "Times :"

To crush the Germans as a whole we must either kill them all or occupy their countries permanently. . . . We have to draw the teeth of this Prussian monster, to humble a military caste, and to leave Prussia herself at the peace with the Constitution which she has so long sought in vain. In these reasonable aims we shall sooner or later have large sections of the German people with us, and our ends can then be more quickly attained. But to kill or. everlastingly to police a nation of sixty millions of people is an extravagant proposition, and in war one must aim at what is attainable and not the reverse.

Especially fine is the "Church Times" with regard to reprisals :

To meditate the gratuitous humiliation of a great people or a mere demonstration of our own power and glory would be to imitate the worst faults of our foes and to prepare for ourselves that recoil of outraged feeling which in the long run proved fatal to the insatiable ambition of Napoleon.

Perhaps the most picturesque diatribe has come from Mr. Frederic Harrison. He writes thus to the London "Times :"

Be it understood that when the Allies have finally crushed this monstrous brood, the Kaiser-if, indeed, he chose to survive-shall be submitted to the degradation inflicted on poor Dreyfus. In presence of allied troops, let his bloodstained sword be broken on his craven back and the uniform and orders of which he is so childishly proud be stamped in the mire. And, if he lives through it, St. Helena or the Devil's Island might be his prison and his grave.

To this the London Spectator replies as follows:

We have no objection to a little rhetoric, but here is a specific suggestion for committing a bombastic and theatrical personal outrage such as our forefathers, thank Heaven, absolutely refused to allow in the case of a worse sinner, the Emperor Napoleon. Remember, too, how, when Blücher wanted to blow up the Pont de Iéna, and had actually mined it for the purpose, Wellington balked him by putting a British sentry on the bridge and daring him to blow the

[blocks in formation]

gallant fellow into smithereens. Again, remember how John Lawrence met the wild proposals for fantastic vengeance made to him during and after the Mutiny. He would have none of them on any condition. But if these reasons are not sufficient for condemning Mr. Frederic Harrison's outburst, surely he might remember that we have not yet beaten the Kaiser.

The main fact to be borne in mind in this country is that England's claim is the noble claim of fighting the fight of civilization against an excess of militarism. If this is really to be the fight of civilization, there must be some self-control shown in the repression of any desire for reprisals.

.

On the other hand, both reportorially and, editorially, there is often a distinct effort on the part of certain journals to give a comprehensive picture, not only of the war, but of news about the war. For instance, the London "Times's " Washington correspondent reported the rejoinder. of Herr Dernburg to England's invitation to the United States to "come in" and get a share of the trade of ruined Germany, Herr Dernburg saying that the invitation had been made "because Great Britain, with her usual perfidy, wishes to get the United States to take sides, so that America will not be able to act as mediator, and the war may thus be prolonged."

As the correspondent frankly admits, "Herr Dernburg has cleverly availed himself of the weak spot in our armor.. The suggestion that the United States should come in and share the commercial spoils of war should never have been made and ought not to be repeated." Equally candid is the "Westminster Gazette." It says:

Herr Dernburg is decidedly the most clever of the special pleaders for. Germany in the United States. He has been dealing in the New York "Sun" with the suggestion that America should share in the process of picking up the trade lost to Germany. Obviously, as he hints, there would be more trade to pick up by the outsiders if the Allies were defeated. This is a clever turning of the tables upon a suggestion that had been better left unspoken.

This spirit of fairness also animates the highest authorities in military and civil life. Take the military as revealed by General Sir" John French's report:

The Germans are a formidable enemy. Well trained, long prepared, and brave, their soldiers are carrying on the contest with skill and valor. Nevertheless, they are fighting to win anyhow, regardless of all the rules of fair play, and there

[ocr errors]

671

is evidence that they do not hesitate at any thing in order to gain victory. A large number of the tales of their misbehavior are exaggerations; and some of the stringent precautions they have taken to guard themselves against the inhabitants of the areas traversed are possibly justifiable measures of war. But at the same time it has been definitely established that they have committed atrocities on many occasions, and they have been guilty of brutal conduct.

"Is there any man who hears me," cried Mr. Gladstone in 1870, ".who does not feel that if, in order to satisfy a greedy appetite for aggrandizement (coming whence it may), Belgium were absorbed, the day that witnessed that absorption would hear the knell of public right and public law in Europe?" So quotes the London "Daily Chronicle," and adds:

On those words "public right" and "public law," and on the ideas behind them, depend (as the Prime Minister said the other day) all the possibilities of any sort of internationalism. Erase them, and there is no bond left between nations. but the sword. They are not yet erased; but they have been mortally challenged. If the challenger triumphed, if the unoffending little country that had been struck down by a perjured blow were left to bleed away and perish in the dust, the consequences would be no whit less than those which Mr. Gladstone described.

English editors are sometimes more than fair to their own allies-that is to say, they hardly ever criticise any shortcomings in those allies. And yet there are occasions when "faithful are the wounds of a friend." Such an occasion is the present with regard to Russia, and the London "Nation" is one of the few papers boldly to advise Russia, in her own interest, to range herself more nearly on a par with her allies and to do a long-needed service to humanity and civilization. The "Nation " says:

The news that the Russian Government had

formally promised legislation to remove Jewish disabilities would be worth more to the Russian cause at this moment than a crushing victory over the German armies. . . . For the behavior of any Christian people towards its Jews is among the most searching tests of its civilization. .

Finally, there is no such tendency in general towards a self-righteousness swagger as some might expect. When it bobs up now and then, it is apt to be hard hit. In this connection the "Church Times" pays its respects to a well-known and efficient

« PredošláPokračovať »