« EelmineJätka »
disregarded because they suggest distasteful thoughts. To refuse to recognize the vices which are known to be corrupting society indicates the decay of the moral tone, and is to sacrifice virtue through a false and superficial delicacy. Vice detected, and openly called by its right name, is robbed of half its corrupting power.
When, in June last, the convention of the Republican party nominated its candidate for the presidency, the announcement was received with marked disfavor by a not inconsiderable portion of those who had hitherto acted and voted with that party. They objected to the nomination because they held that it had been made at the behest of the worst elements of the party, and because it was believed that the candidate was himself of the same class of politicians; and that for him good and unexceptionable men had been put aside. There were also honest fears that Mr. Blaine's foreign policy, as developed while he was Secretary of State in Mr. Garfield's cabinet, might, should he be made President, lead to dangerous foreign complications. Accordingly, a partially organized body of citizens, in New York and Boston, known as “Independent Republicans," professing much regard for moral considerations in politics, declined to respond to the nomination; and when, a little later, Governor Cleveland, of New York, was nominated by the Democratic party, these men with great unanimity became his supporters, being represented and sustained by some of the principal Republican papers of this city, both secular and religious. It seemed then that the Democratic candidate would be carried into the presidency upon a tidal wave, somewhat as two years before he had been made governor of the State. Of the candidate himself very little was known.
He was a young lawyer of Buffalo, who had been elected to the mayoralty of that city, and, it was said, had discharged the duties of his office with average fidelity, and had been nominated for the governorship by his party as a new man, and was carried into that office by an exceptionally large majority, because of a bitter factional feud in the other party. He was now brought forward for the presidency as an available candidate, rather than out of fespect to any special personal fitness. It was tacitly assumed that his private character was of average acceptability; and that if he was not a great man, he would not be the first of that mental stature who had filled, if not graced, the high position for which he was named: and from such considerations not a few persons—of whom this writer was one-purposed to vote for him. So matters stood for a few weeks after the nomination, and then it began to be muttered that the Democratic candidate for the first office in the nation was a man of conspicuously and flagrantly corrupt private life and character, and the evidence elicited placed that fact beyond question. Even his own partisans conceded the alleged facts, which were of the worst kind and fearfully damaging. And now new conditions were presented, and corresponding processes brought into use in the contest. After ascertaining the truth of the alleged complaints, the religious papers which had indorsed him, we believe without exception, abandoned the support of the Democratic candidate; but not so the ** respectable” secular papers, which, on the contrary, seemed to redouble their zeal. Most of them persistently ignored the charges respecting Mr. Cleveland's personal manner of life, and their readers, had they had no other means of information, would not have been aware that any thing to his discredit had been at all credibly alleged against him. Some of them, however, came boldly to the rescue, and, conceding the facts, excused them as peccadilloes quite too insignificant to be taken seriously into account in a political canvass. And, strangest of all, the same ground was taken by two or three distinguished clergymen, among them a bishop and a well-known pulpit celebrity. As to the mental processes by which such a conclusion was reached we have no theory, but we indignantly repudiate the vile slander that, granting all that is alleged against Mr. Cleveland, he is probably no worse than the average of men. None but a thoroughly corrupt heart could have conceived any thing so vile. The issue was, therefore, openly and distinctly made and presented to the American people, whether or not the fact that a candidate for President of the United States was a confessed libertine—the associate of lewd women and the father of a spurious progeny-should be accounted a disqualification for that high place; and in answer an effective negative has been rendered by the men of this nation. We have, therefore, a President-elect whose character and career go to teach the young men of the country that private immorality is no bar to the highest public honors; and soon the White House at Washington, the Mecca of American “society,” is to reproduce in these latter days the peculiar characteristics of some, not the least infamous, of the European courts of the last century. The warnings given in the earlier chapters of the Book of Proverbs must, in view of this verdict, be understood in a “Pickwickian ” sense, and the solemn objurgation of the " Preacher,” telling the young man who "walks in the ways of his heart and the sight of his eyes” that for these things there will be a reckoning, must now be set aside, at least for a life-time, or the reading changed to " For all these things men will bestow upon you the highest civic and social honors." The people of this country seem to have been given over to test by an experiment of their own choosing the truth of the divine sentence which declares that “The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest of the sons of men are exalted.” Considerations of statesmanship, which seem to have been very little cared for during the course of the carrass, are now rendered comparatively insignificant in the presence of such a damaging onslaught upon the purity of private life. Should not now the Young Men's Christian Associations go into liquidation, since they cannot teach moral purity without implying a censure upon the elect of the nation, and those who elected him ?
The charges made against Mr. Blaine's private life, and in respect to his domestic relations, were evidently retaliatory and vindictive, and so they were very soon lost sight of. But not so in respect to certain speculative transactions in which he, as a public functionary, was accused, not without a show of probability of having used his official position, with the adFantages that it afforded him, for his own emolument. It has not, indeed,
been shown that he had dealt dishonestly or directly betrayed any interest public or private, or, indeed, done any thing that would not have been right and proper in a private citizen; but very many have deeply regretted that one charged with so high a public trust should have been found mingling in the doings of speculative traders and brokers; and with an unexceptionable alternative candidate they were inclined to refuse to aid in placing him at the head of the national government. The very large vote given to Mr. Blaine in all the Northern States, the only ones in which free elections were held, should not be accepted as an approval of these transactions, so much as a protest against his opponent.
These things suggest some rather difficult questions respecting the code of personal ethics in public life. Members of the British Parliament receive no compensation, and are expected to abstain from all moneymaking enterprises in any way connected with the government. They must therefore be gentlemen of leisure and owners of considerable estates, and of course all but the rich are practically excluded. With us the case is quite otherwise. A seat in Congress is a paying position, and many a Congressman increases his income by serving the public. But his new position iargely increases his necessities, and at the same time presents opportunities for money-making of which all, except the most scrupulous, readily avail themselves. Some, indeed, live within their salaries, or draw upon their private resources, and often retire to private life poorer in property than they were when they entered it, while others begin poor and become rich by practices that have not heretofore been reckoned dishonorable. And yet there can be no doubt that such practices are demoralizing, and not unfrequently the occasion of corruption in office, and of sharp practices in business. The evil of this state of things is sufficiently manifest, but the remedy is not easily found. Probably Mr. Blaine was among the less unscrupulous half of the money-making members of Congress. He was no doubt sharp at a bargain, but fair in his dealings according to the code of morals of those among whom he was acting. And yet it is to be wished that the practices with which he has been charged, and in respect to which his friends have sought to defend his conduct, were not so common as they are known to be among those holding public offices.
But there is comfort in the assurance that the standard of morals that susfices for candidates for public honors is not that which is demanded by the great mass of the people in their domestic and social relations. It is no doubt true, though greatly to be lamented, that many a husband and father gives his vote for the political advancement of men who would not be desired in their parlors, or allowed to associate with the young people of their families. Possibly, too, the American people have not now for the first time chosen a libertine to the Presidency, though we are not persuaded that they have done so; but happily heretofore no one has been so chosen with the brand of the leper upon his forehead.
FOREIGN, RELIGIOUS AND LITERARY. THE LUTHERAN CHURCH IN PARIS. – The famous Kulturkampf that has raged in France as well as in Germany, although directed originally and mainly against the Catholic Church, has also struck the Protestants of France in a very sensitive manner. Many of them that hailed the new school law with joy, as the approach of a better era, because it relieved them from the clerical pressure that weighed them down in so many regions, find that they are still subjected to quite as much injustice as formerly. The government subsidies for salaries and house-rent have, through the entire land, been either cut off or greatly reduced, and thus the Protestant clergy, with their families, suffer a great deal more than the celibate priests.
Among the Protestants of Paris the Lutherans seem to liave suffered most severely. The Reformed Churches have found a few wealthy friends among their adherents, but the German congregations are largely composed of poor immigrants who left Alsace when it was taken by the Germans, and the separation from their mother Church thus leaves them without much external aid or sympathy. 'And although the Lutherans, the same as the other Protestants of France, were very loyal to their country during the Franco-German war, it is impossible for the French to forget that these people are at least of German origin, which fact works greatly to their disadvantage. After the war the Lutherans succeeded in reinstating their theological faculty in Paris, but the promises made to them have been much weakened by the general war against the Churches. At the present time all the preachers are suffering from a great reduction of sustentation, while some of their schools have been either closed or transformed into municipal schools, in which the teaching of the Lutheran confession is not allowed. They have also been treated very parsimoniously by the city authorities as well as by the Legislative Assembly. A source of income from funerals in their community, amounting to 30,000 francs per year, has been taken from them and turned over to the city. It is true that these blows were intended mainly for the Catholic Church, but their greatest severity is felt by the Protestant minorities in the country. It would surprise no one if the State were soon to cut off all assistance, which would, perhaps, do less harm than the present condition of things, by awakening in the breast of the sufferers a spirit of independence.
PHILO-SEMITIC AND ANTI-SEMITIC. — The European world is still agitated with philo-Semitic and anti-Semitic demonstrations in the foreign press. A Belgian sheet, entitled the “Sunday Journal,” lately presented a series of articles in favor of the Jews; and a literary celebrity in St. Petersburg recently published several letters on the same side. But it must be acknowledged that the championings of the Jews, in the press or on the platform, are mainly confined to themselves, and thus little is known of their efforts at self-defense outside of their own ranks.
On the other hand, the anti-Jewish movement is active every-where. One publication recently issued in Berlin is endeavoring to abolish the influence of the Talmud from Judaism. A theological debater from Vienna ha just been delivering lectures in Berlin on the Jewish question in Germany and Austria. Prof. Oort, of Leiden, treats very learnedly of the ques tion of what is called the “blood-guilt” of the Jews, the suspicion of which has been brought down from the Middle Ages. Another practica question, namely, the overcrowding of the higher schools by the Jews, ha: been met at the University of Kieff by the resolution to admit only ten per cent. of Jews among the students. The endeavor in southern Russia to induce the Jews to go into agriculture has resulted in a complete failure. Of nearly five thousand Jewish landholders of thirty years ago, only about sixty now live on their possessions. A very significant series of articles lately appeared in the principal politico-economic journal of Germany, entitled “Judaism in the State; " these now appear in pamphlet form. In this the Jews are shown, in the words of their own leaders, to be a peculiar race and people within the State, and to be in a condition of perpetual antagonism to the rest of the population. On the whole, the conviction seems to be gaining ground that not much progress would be made in the way of modern emancipation with the Jews. Especially is this so, since the great mass of that people of to-day are zealously engaged in endeavoring to widen the chasm rather than to bridge it over,
THE OLD CATHOLICS IN CONGRESS.—The Old Catholics are again recovering courage, and have recently held a Congress in Germany. For the past few years they have been very much troubled by dissentings within their ranks, but they seem to have succeeded in separating the chaff from the wheat, and the latter is now making a valiant effort to germinate anew. In this Congress nearly forty districts were represented. The well-known jurist, Von Schulte, again presided. Congratulations were received from five American bishops, from one Irish bishop, and from numerous other religious celebrities. Among their proceedings we still find determined opposition to papal absolutism on the one hand, and to affiliation with any political party on the other. They are more than ever determined to oppose the policy of the Roman Catholic Church, and by a resolution expressed the hope that the period is not very far distant when on German soil a General Council, in the Old Catholic spirit of genuine reform in the Church, may convene.
A commission was appointed to recomiend or prepare a series of writings for the young, illustrating Old Catholic truths. The Congress was honored by the presence of quite a number of foreign guests. Some of these, from Holland, the United States, and Ireland, delivered addresses. Among these was Von Santen, from Holland, who brought the grectings of the Archbishop of Utrecht, and further we note the greetings of Savarese and Campello, from Rome; Bishop Herzog, from Berne; professors from Munich, Halle, and Manheim, from Breslau, Oxford, Edinburgh, and Winchester. A public meeting was attended by three thousand hearers, and a banquet was enjoyed by about one hundred and forty delegates and friends. At this latter the Emperor of Germany was enthusi