« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
so vast that they embrace all the world, and so minute that they permeate every hamlet of every nation. War interferes with these interests and thwarts them. Hence commerce more and more tends to make war difficult. [Applause.) As to the fact then, involved in your toast, it needs no argument in its support. We all concede it. Were we to erect a statue of Commerce in the midst of this great commercial metropolis, we should doubtless place in her hand, as an emblem, a ship-like shuttle and represent her as weaving a web between the great nations of the earth tending every day to fasten them more securely and more permanently in lasting peace. [Applause.]
Nor, I think, will the other part of the sentiment be disputed by any thoughtful person. Of course much may be said upon the solemn nothings which have occupied diplomatists; much historic truth may be adduced to show that diplomats have often proved to be what Carlyle calls “solemnly constituted impostors." But after all, I think no one can look over the history of mankind without feeling that it was a vast step when four centuries ago the great modern powers began to maintain resident representatives at the centres of government; and from that day to this these men have proved themselves, with all their weaknesses, worth far more than all their cost in warding off or initigating the horrors of war, and in increasing the facilities of commerce. Not long since I made a pilgrimage to that quaint town hall in that old German city of Munster, where was signed the Treaty of Westphalia. There I saw the same long table, the same old seats, where once sat the representatives of the various powers who in 1648 made the treaty which not only ended the Thirty Years' War, the most dreadful struggle of modern times—but which has forever put an end to wars of religion.
I have stood in the midst of grand cathedrals and solemn services, but never have I sat in any room or in any presence with a greater feeling of awe than in that old hall where the diplomatists of Europe signed that world-renowned treaty so fruitful in blessing not only to Germany, but to all mankind. [Applause.]
We shall all doubtless concede then that on the whole it is best to have a diplomatic body, that if it only once in ten, or twenty, or one hundred years, prevents serious misunderstanding between nations, it will far more than repay its cost. [Applause.)
But the point to which I wish to call your attention, in what little I have to say this evening, is this: That this idea of the value of commerce and diplomacy in maintaining peace has by no means always been held as fully as now, nor are commerce and diplomacy and all they represent at this moment out of danger. Two hundred years ago a really great practical statesman in France [Colbert], by crude legislation in behalf, as he thought, of manufactures and commerce, brought his country into wars which at last led her to ruin. The history of the colonial policy of England also is fruitful in mistaken legislation on commercial, political, and social questions, which have produced the most terrible evils. Indeed, in all nations we have constantly to lament the short-sighted policies, ill-considered constitutions, crude legislation, which have dealt fearful blows to the interests of commerce, of diplomacy, of political and social life, and of peace.
Nor has our own country been free from these; in our general government and in all our forty legislatures, there are measures frequently proposed striking at commercial interests, at financial interests, at vested rights, to say nothing of great political and social interests, which, though often thwarted by the common sense of the people, are sometimes too successful. At this very moment the news comes to us that a slight majority, led by arrant demagogues, have fastened upon the great Empire State of the Pacific a crude, ill-digested constitution, which while it doubtless contains some good features, embodies some of the most primitive and pernicious notions regarding commerce and manufactures and the whole political and social fabric of that Commonwealth. [Applause.)
So, too, in regard to diplomacy, there is constant danger and loss from this same crudeness in political thinking. A year or two since, in the Congress of the United States, efforts were put forth virtually to cripple the diplomatic service; but what was far worse, to cripple the whole Consular system of the United States. Although the Consular
. service of our country more than pays for itself directly, and
pays for itself a thousand times over indirectly; although its labors are constantly directed to increasing commerce, to finding new markets, to sending home valuable information regarding foreign industries, to enlarging the foreign field for our own manufactures, and, although the question involved not only financial questions of the highest importance, but the honor of the country, the matter was argued by many of our legislators in a way which would have done discredit to a class of college sophomores.
I am glad to say that the best men of both parties at Washington at last rallied against this monstrous legislation and that among them were some representing both parties the State and City of New York. [Applause.]
The injury wrought upon this country in its national Legislature and in its multitude of State Legislatures by want of knowledge is simply enormous. No one who knows anything of the history of the legislation of any State will dispute this for a moment. The question now arises, is such a state of things necessarily connected with a Republican government? To this I answer decidedly, no. The next question is, is there any practical means of improving this state of things? To this I answer decidedly, yes. (Applause.)
Here comes the practical matter to which I would call your attention. Recently, in the presence of some of you, I spoke at length on the necessity of training men in the institutions of higher learning in this country for the highest duties of citizenship, and especially for practical leadership. I cannot here go into details as I was able to do in that paper, but I can at least say that if there is anything to which a portion of the surplus wealth of men who have been enriched in commerce and trade may well be devoted, it is to making provision in our institutions of learning for meeting this lack of young men trained in history, political and social science, and general jurisprudence in those studies which fit men to discuss properly and to lead their fellow-citizens rightly in the discussion of the main questions relating to commerce, to diplomacy, and to various political and social subjects. [Applause.]
I fully believe that one million dollars distributed between four or five of our great institutions of learning for this purpose would eventually produce almost a revolution for good in this country, and that in a very few years the effect of such endowments would be seen to be most powerful and most salutary. Provision on the largest scale should be made for the training of young men in political and social science, in such institutions as Harvard, Yale, Amherst, Columbia, Princeton, Union, Johns Hopkins University, the State Universities of Michigan, Wisconsin, Virginia, Minnesota, and California, and I trust that you will permit me to add, Cornell. [Applause.]
I do not pretend, of course, that this would supersede practical training—no theoretical training can do this,but it would give young men, at any rate, a knowledge of the best thoughts of the best thinkers, on such subjects as taxation, representation, pauperism, crime, insanity, and a multitude of similar questions; it would remove the spectacle which so often amficts us in our National and State legislatures, of really strong men stumbling under loads of abourdity and fallacy, long ago exploded by the best and most earnest thought of the world, and it would teach young men to reason wisely and well on such subjects, and then, with some practical experience, we should have in every State a large number of well-trained men ready to reason powerfully and justly, ready to meet at a moment's warning pernicious heresies threatening commerce and trade and our best political and social interests. Had there been scattered through California during the recent canvass for their new constitution, twenty men really fitted to show in the press and in the forum the absurdities of that Constitution, it would never have been established. [Loud applause.)
Ten thousand dollars to any one of these colleges or universities would endow a scholarship or fellowship which would enable some talented graduate to pursue advanced studies in this direction. Ten thousand to twenty thousand dollars would endow a lectureship which would enable such a college or university to call some acknowledged authority on political subjects to deliver a valuable course of lectures. Thirty to fifty thousand dollars would endow a full professorship—though I must confess that in subjects like this, I prefer lectureships for brief terms to life-long professorships and at any of these institutions the sum of two hundred thousand or three hundred thousand dollars, under the management of such men as may be found in any one of them, would equip nobly a department in which all these subjects may be fully treated and fitly presented to young men. Such a department would send out into our journalism, into our various professions, and into our public affairs, a large number of young men who could not fail to improve the political condition of the country, and would do much to ward off such dealings with commerce, with currency, with taxation, and with the diplomatic and consular service as liave cost the world and our own nation so dear hitherto. [Applause.)
I can think of no more noble monument which any nian of wealth could rear to himself than a lectureship or professorship or a department of this kind, at one of our greater institutions of learning, where large numbers of vigorous and ambitious youths are collected from all parts of the country; I do not, of course, say that all of these men would be elected to public office; in the larger cities, they perhaps would not, at least, at first; in the country, they would be very frequently chosen, and they could hardly fail to render excellent service. [Applause.]
Any man worthy of the name, leaving his country for a long residence outside its borders, feels more and more impressed with what is needed to improve it. If I were called
. upon solemnly at this hour to declare my conviction as to what can best be done by men blessed with wealth in this Republic of ours, I would name this very thing to which I have now called your attention. [Applause.] It has been too long deferred; our colleges and universities have as a rule only had the means to give a general literary and scientific education, with very little instruction fitting men directly for public affairs. But the events of the last few years show conclusively that we must now begin to prepare the natural leaders of the people for the work before them, and by something more than a little primary instruction in political economy and the elements of history in the last terms of a four years' course. [Applause.)
The complexity of public affairs is daily becoming greater; more and more it is necessary that men be trained for them. Not that practical men, trained practically in public affairs