« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
home, now made a clerk and drudge in a huge establishment, that by its relentless use of millions has undermined and overthrown all the independent stores of a large district, while his family are thrust into the unsavory communism of a tenement house, and lose all the delicate refinements of a quiet home. It is easy to say that this is but the natural law of trade. So to devour men is the natural law of tigers. But this truth will not reconcile us to the process. If we are to stop men from stealing directly, we can stop them from stealing indirectly. If natural law works evil to the community, we are to make statute law, which will act as supernatural law, and control the offensive principle. Unless we wish our old social equality destroyed and a system of practical serfdom to take its place, we must put a limit to the acts of greed, and so preserve the independence of our citizens. If the liberties of the multitude are to be guarded, the liberty of one man to buy up all the land or all the dry goods in the market must be checked. Capital must be circum scribed, except under special circumstances, when special conditions should be made for the protection of the community. The story of such accumulation of money power as that of the Standard Oil Trust is the story of an enslaved community, and the premonition of a future oligarchy as odious as that of Rome, which ruined the empire.
And this brings us to another evil wrought on the public by the haste to be rich. It evidently leads to crooked dealing. In so exciting a chase an advantage is not to be missed because of a little question of right and wrong. A lie here, a cheat there, these are the every-day occurrences by which to get around the neighbor or the custom-house or the stockholder. A bribe well placed is a stroke of genius. Employees are trained in deception and the community is morally corrupted. Legislatures, whom we trust for our laws, become the paid servants of the gold-hunters, and justice is polluted in our courts. The madness that possesses the man who is chasing after wealth knows no bounds. His moral code is completely set aside in the sphere of his money-making. Principles that he would count most important in a theory of morals, are wholly inoperative in his financial career. He slaughters widows and orphans with his fiscal
sword, he remorselessly sends his rival to pauperism and suicide, he manufactures false stock and seizes upon illegal dividends, and he uses the confidence of the unsuspecting for their ruin. This system, rapidly growing upon us, is poisoning the whole public body, and making lying and stealing and fraud subjects of merriment where they should be provocatives of indignation and retribution. So possessed is the public mind of this idea of our modern money-hunters, that even the perfectly innocent man of wealth cannot escape the imputation that his money was gotten by ways that are dark. The people have almost come to believe that great wealth implies great rascality. It is a very false judgment, and yet the reason for it is in the evident rascality with which so many have grasped their gold.
The injury done to the family is also an injury to the state, for the family is the unit of the state. Where the men of a family are in the wild pursuit of wealth the basis of family affection and morality cannot exist. That basis is mutual conference and intimate confidences. But the gold-chase gives no time for this. The man is a sort of boarder in his own house. He flits in and out like a stranger. His heart is elsewhere. So wife and children are without their proper guide and stay. They seek for amusement in questionable quarters. They find other centers than the home. The husband (house-bond, if that be the right origin of the word) is not in his place, and the household is disintegrated. Disorders of every sort enter such a family, and the increase of wealth only intensifies the symp
But now one word to the young man who is making haste to be rich. Not one out of ten thousand who give talent, energy, and life to this race ever reach the goal. We have seen that the goal itself is a grand delusion, but, as you will not see that truth, perhaps the tremendous chances against you in the race may turn you to a wiser course. Your competitors are legion, and they have no bowels of mercy. They carry sharp daggers and use them skillfully. The race becomes a game of heartless trickery, and your discomfiture will excite no sympathy. You cannot stop a moment to rest or you'll be trodden under foot. Plot and counter-plot will keep you busy day and night until
your brain reels and your physical faculties fail. Your hair becomes prematurely white, your limbs totter, your food has no relish, your disposition grows sour, you are nervous with expectation or fear. Altogether you are a very miserable creature, made so by your own willfulness. With mind and body thus weighed down, the thought that all is done for a questionable advantage and also by questionable means, will haunt you in spite of yourself, and add a moral sting to the intellectual and physical decay.
When we say this to the young man who is bewitched by the siren, either thorough unbelief is his response, or else he is sure that his is an exceptional case, and that he is going to be wise enough to avoid the mistakes and calamities that have wrecked so many before him. It is the hope of the infatuated gambler who puts down his money in spite of the staring facts of the gambling table. If America is to be ruined it will be by materialism, the accumulation of individual wealth, and the mad chase for such accumulation. It is that which will dry up human sympathies, divert the mind from high and healthy thought, degrade art and science and literature, destroy family life, poison the fountains of society, sanction immoralities, and make the nation a seething caldron of selfishness and unrest.
The greatest need of our land to-day is an education away from this fearful danger, a cultivation of the quiet and improving arts, an encouragement of genial and benevolent lives, a preservation of home virtues, a teaching of the truth that moderation best serves the cause of happiness, and a demonstration that in helpfulness to others man best helps himself. While wise laws can do much to suppress some of the worst features of the goldhunt, it is to the press, the school, and the church that we must look for the inculcation of the purer and loftier ideas that will meet and overcome the materialism which the peculiar conditions of our country have fostered, and which the thoughtless minds of our youth so readily accept.
A UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE.
No thought is more firmly fixed in the minds of students of language than that language grows, and that particular laws of language are laws of growth. They do not believe in the power of individuals, however great, to modify the laws of language, and they are apt to despair of effecting even slight changes. They often deplore particular defects; they write papers which point out illogical idioms or blundering and absurd spelling; but usually they close with the reflection that language is a growth, and that we must let it grow.
In this the linguists fall in with other scientists. Evolution, development, is the atmosphere of the science of to-day. In this atmosphere it is absurd to talk of one man making a language; it is doubtful whether one person can make a book of national importance. The "Iliad," the "Odyssey," "Beowulf," "Kalevala," are believed to be growths from old ballads; the Shakespeare folio is too great to have been written by Shakespeare.
A universal language must be a growth. Some national language must expand until it covers the whole world. Of late years the English language alone has been much spoken of as likely to grow so great. Hardly any philosophic linguist attempts to forecast the future without some discussion of the destiny of English; and De Candolle calculates that within a hundred years English will be spoken by 860,000,000 of men, German by 124,000,000, and French by 96,000,000. At present the populations either speaking the English language or under the domination of English-speaking peoples number more than 318,298,000, or one-fourth of the population of the globe. The English-speaking races occupy one-fourth of the dry land of the earth, and own nearly two-thirds of the tonnage of the ships. They live in all regions; they handle all articles of trade; they preach to all nations; they command one half of the world's
gold and silver, and distribute more than two-thirds of the Bibles and Testaments. More than one-half of the letters mailed and carried by the postal service of the world are written, mailed, and read by the English-speaking populations. The expectation that English will come into universal use is not based upon anything in the nature of the language, but rather on the character and circumstances of the people. The English people have been the great colonizers of modern times. They have taken possession of America, of Australia, of South Africa, the regions which are to be the seats of new empires, and they control and assimilate the populations which flow into them and which grow up in them.
All the modern languages of civilized nations have grown up under influences which have led to differentiation of the meanings of words, to extension of vocabulary, and to compression and simplicity in the forms of words. The older inflected languages express an object and its relations in a single word. One or two of the syllables describe the object, the prefixes and suffixes suggest various relations in an indefinite fashion. Mona, mônan, mônum, mônena, are Anglo-Saxon forms of the same word. The first syllable, môn, means measurer, and describes the moon. The other syllables mean, in a vague and indefinite way, all sorts of relations in space, time, power, and thought which the moon can be imagined to have. But the discriminating intellect, working from the vague to the definite, analyzing, scrutinizing, is continually adopting separate words to express more clearly and emphatically each common relation, adopting prepositions to express each kind of relation between actions and objects, auxiliary verbs to express relations of tense and mode, and pronouns for personal relations.
But after the prepositions are established the case endings become superfluous; when the pronouns are used pronominal endings are tautological. These endings are, therefore, dropped; the languages thus change from what are called synthetic languages to analytic languages. Collision and mixture of races promote this process. The English language is the most perfect illustration of it. It begins its historic career as the literary language of the Teutonic tribes of Britain, a mixed nation of