We should never have hard times in this country. We live in the best land beneath the sky. It has been well said: "This is God's last best effort for man." We have soil rich enough to grass and grain the world. Our vast domain is inlaid with gold, silver, iron and lead of boundless worth. Deep in the bosom of Columbia are fountains of gas and oil, sufficient to light and heat our homes for a century to come. Within these healthful lines of latitude is room enough not only to house all the peoples of the earth, but to sty all the pigs, stable all the horses, and corral all the cattle of the world.
To have all these gifts crowned with sunshine and shower, free from pestilence and famine, we are the most prosperous and should be the best contented people on the earth. In such a land there should be perpetual peace and plentiful prosperity. Yet we have hard times after hard times, and panic after panic. Why is this? If I could tell you why, it would repay for the time and money spent to hear this lecture. During the great panic in the nineties Mr. W.C. Whitney of New York, wrote a letter to a leading New York daily in which he said: "There are just two causes for this panic; too much silver and too much tariff." I do not disparage these two problems, but I do say Mr. Whitney had a very narrow view of a panic. Like many another man, he had a thorough knowledge of certain things and was totally ignorant of others.
A Chief Justice of the United States was riding in a carriage with his family when a shaft broke. It was not broken short off, but shivered by contact with a post. The Chief Justice had no strings and was in a dilemma. A negro boy passed by, dressed in rags, whistling a merry tune. The great jurist hailed the boy, saying, "Boy, have you a string?"
"No, boss, what's de matter?"
"I have broken the shaft of my carriage," said the Justice.
"Yas, sir, I guess you is, boss. Is you got a knife? If you is, I think I can fix it for you."
Taking the knife, he jumped the fence and cut withes from a sapling, with which he lashed a lath to the shaft.
"I guess da'll git you home, boss."
"That's a good job," said the Judge; "why didn't I think of that?"
The boy replied: "I don't know, sir, 'cept some folks know more than others."
That boy did know more than the Chief Justice of the United States about mending a broken shaft. I think I know a thing or two about panics which Mr. Whitney did not seem to have learned. Let me give you two causes for panics. They are not all but they rank with Mr. Whitney's.
First, the extravagance of the people. When times are good and money plentiful, people are extravagant. They buy everything and pay enormous prices. A horse, Axtell, brings his owner one hundred and five thousand dollars; a two-year-old colt, Arion, one hundred and twenty-five thousand. A town site is located in a barren waste and lots sell at ten to one hundred dollars a front foot. All kinds of wildcat schemes are promoted, and the people bite at the bait. An era of extravagance is on and "sight unseen" investments are made. Several years ago my brother said to me: "Are you going West soon, as far as Kansas City?" When I replied that I was he said: "I have never been in that city but I have two lots there I wish you would look at and ascertain their value." He advised me to call on a certain real estate agent, who would show me the lots. When I called on the agent a little while later, he informed me the lots could not be seen until a dry spell took off the water. Two lots my brother never saw and never sold; decidedly "watered stock."
A man with a thousand dollars buys a five thousand dollar lot. He knows he can't pay for it, but there's a boom and he expects to sell for six thousand before the second payment is due. He doesn't sell. When he can't sell he goes to the bank to borrow money to make the payment; he finds there many more in the same condition as himself. The banks see the trouble coming and will not loan. When the banks refuse to loan the depositors get scared and take their money out of the bank. During that great panic in the nineties three hundred millions of dollars were taken out of circulation within four months by depositors who were scared. Then the country gets flat on its back with a panic. A friend said to me, during the great depression: "Don't you think it will be over soon?" I replied: "Let a man have typhoid fever until reduced to a skeleton; let the doctor call some morning toward the close of the long siege and say, 'The fever is broken, get up and go to work.' Can the man obey the doctor? No; he must have chicken-broth and gruel, and slowly regain his strength." So when a panic comes we must creep out, and we were so deep in the nineties it took a long time to recover.
When a panic comes however, the extravagance ceases; everybody gets stingy. A man with five thousand dollars doesn't buy a five thousand dollar lot. He doesn't buy anything; his wife must wear the old bonnet, and his church assessment is reduced. Then the tide turns and the country recovers from its extravagance. But when times get good, crops are fine and money plentiful, the people begin again; women spending their money for dry goods, men for wet goods; another era of extravagance is on and another panic coming.
Mr. Whitney said: "Too much silver and too much tariff." All the gold and all the silver money in this country would not pay the old man's drink and tobacco bill for five years. We drink, smoke and chew up all the money in this country, gold, silver, and paper, every seven years. Last year we spent about six millions for missions; one hundred and fifty millions for churches; two hundred and seventy-five millions for schools; and eighteen hundred millions for intoxicating liquors and tobacco. Awake, O Conscience! and pour out thy saving influence for the healing of the nation.
We live in a marvelous country. What this republic has accomplished in one hundred and thirty-eight years, is the wonder of the world. At the close of the Revolutionary War those who survived were poor, wounded, bleeding people, occupying only the eastern rim of a wilderness waste, while wild beast and wilder Indians roamed the mighty expanse to the western ocean. From the penniless poverty of then, has come the wonderful wealth of now. Where the tangled wilderness choked the earth, now fields of golden grain dot the plains, carpets of clover cover the hillsides, cities hum with the music of commerce, while rivers and railroads carry rich harvests to the harbors of every land. Emerson wrote better than he knew when he wrote:
"So I uncover the land, which of old time I hid in the west, As the sculptor uncovers his statue, when he has wrought his best."
Yet grand as this country has grown to be, "the eagle of liberty can never reach the pinion heights its wings were made to measure," while the shell of wasted resources to which I have referred bows low its head. Money won't save us. Babylon had her gold standard; her images were made of gold. Media, Persia, had her free silver standard; her images were made of silver. Rome had her gold, her silver, brass and iron; yet they were all dashed to pieces on the world's highway. "In the hollow of the hand of God is the destiny of this republic," and we cannot buy Him with money. The wealth that satisfies the ruler of nations is character.
Some one said a few years ago, and it went the rounds of the press: "The question during the Civil War was, shall we have two governments or one; now the question is, shall we have any?" I quote to you with as much confidence as any mortal ever proclaimed a truth: "This republic will never fail or fall until God deserts it, and God will not desert it until we desert Him."
"Come the world in arms, We'll defeat, and then pursue; Nothing can our flag destroy, While to God and self we're true."
I am not one of those who believe our war with Spain was an accident. For Dewey to cross that dead line at midnight; when morning dawned to find mines of death behind him, an enemy's fleet of eleven ships before him, these supported by shores belted with batteries; and yet within six hours sink or disable every ship in the fleet, silence the forts, lift the star spangled banner in triumph to wave, and not have a warship sunk, nor a sailor killed, means more than the mere skill of a Commodore. Some one may say we had a better navy. Spain didn't think so. Before the war the Spanish papers said: "The United States is bluffing. She can't go to war with us. She has only twenty-five thousand soldiers, and they are kept out west to control cowboys and Indians. Then the South is waiting for an opportunity to break out in rebellion." Columbus discovered America in 1492; Spain didn't discover the United States until 1898.
Do you ask what we are to do with the Philippine Islands? I cannot tell you what is best, but I do know we didn't want them. The day Dewey sailed from Hong Kong to Manila Bay, if Spain had said to the United States: "Here are the Philippine Islands, we would like to make you a present of them," the United States would have replied, "We thank you, but decline the offer." Not one man in ten in this country would have voted to take them. But the next day we had them, had fought to get them; and I believe the same superhuman power that took from Spain, the Netherlands, Flanders, Malacca, Ceylon, Java, Portugal, Holland, San Domingo, Louisiana, Florida, Trinidad, Mexico, Venezuela, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chili, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Patagonia, Guatemala, Honduras, San Salvador, Nicaragua, Porto Rico, Cuba, and "then some," took away from Spain the Philippine Islands and gave them to us, that the home, the church and the school might be established in the Islands.
Perhaps some of you think I am getting off my subject. I am not; I am talking now about the old man, Uncle Sam, and his mission in the world.
It is the opinion of many that we are under no obligation to the islands of the sea, but these conservative souls should not forget that we are not only citizens of the United States, but of the globe on which we dwell and of the universe of God. The world in which we live, lives because of the light and heat it receives from other worlds. If the rolling sun in the heavens is under obligation to furnish light for our pathway, heat for our soil and warmth for our blood, are we not under obligation to carry the light of civilization to the people whose shores and ours are washed by the same waters? If the full orbed moon is under obligation to pour its silver into our nights, and lift the tides until our rivers are full, are not we under obligation to lift the tide of hope in the heart of oppressed humanity, and pour the light of intelligence into the night of ignorance? Did God give us this grand country, with its boundless resources, for us to draw our ocean skirts about our greatness and pass by our bruised and bleeding neighbor, lying half dead on life's Jericho road? If so, then call back our proud eagle of liberty from its pinion flight through the skies of national achievement, and make our national emblem the barnyard fowl that crows in the day dawn as if creating light instead of noise, and then runs for his roost when the shadows fall.
The Bible says we are fellow workers with God. What does this fellowship imply? It means there are some things we can't do, which God must do for us, and some things we can do He won't do for us. He puts the coal in the earth; we must dig and blast it out. He puts oil beneath the soil; we must bore into its wells and pump it out. He gives us the earth and "the fullness thereof;" we must do the sowing and reaping. He puts electricity in the air; we must bridle, saddle and harness it. He empties the clouds into the basins of the earth and gives us oceans, gulfs and lakes; but we must build boats to ride them. He puts humanity on the earth and bids us love our neighbor as ourselves.
Who is my neighbor? Some seem to think only those who live in our immediate community. I read of a minister of a city church who called upon one of his country members for a contribution for foreign missionary work. The country brother said: "I don't believe in foreign missions, and I must say, 'No'."
"Brother," the pastor said, "the Bible says you should love your neighbor as yourself."
"I do love my neighbors."
"Who are your neighbors?"
"Those whose farms adjoin mine, and perhaps, those whose farms adjoin theirs."
"How far do you own eastward?"
"To the third fence yonder."
"How far do you own toward the west?"
"About a half mile?"
"How deep do you own into the earth?"
"Well, I never thought of that, but about half-way, I guess."
"Well, my brother, I am asking you to help your neighbor China, who joins your line below."
* * * * *
I have a friend with plenty of this world's goods, and not a child. When approached by the ladies of the Foreign Mission Society he said: "I do not give to foreign missions; when you want anything for home missions I'll help you." Perhaps he would; but many of that class are represented by a colored man of whom I heard a Methodist bishop tell. He said to a friend: "Dat wife of mine is got money on de brain; it's money, money all the time. I can't go whar she is, but she's axing me for money. She's jest sho'ly gwine to run me to the lunatic 'sylum ef she don't quit her beggin' me for money."
The friend asked: "What does she do with so much money?"
The colored brother hesitated a minute, and said: "She don't do nuffin wid it, caze I ain't never give her none yet."
* * * * *
My friend who opposes foreign missions said: "So much you give never gets there." Yes; and so many seed the farmer puts into the ground never grow, and so the farmer says,
"Put five grains in every hill: One for the cut-worm, one for the crow, One to blight, and two to grow."
And you cannot tell which will grow. A weed grew by the wayside in the old world. All it did was to furnish seed for the wind, and worry for the farmer. But one blustering day, the wind carried a seed from the wayside weed into a florist's garden; it sprouted, rooted and bloomed. The gardener was impressed by the beautiful coloring of the blossom, so he nurtured, transplanted and cultivated it into a beautiful flower. It was from this bush, once a weed, Queen Victoria selected the flower she carried when she entered the Crystal Palace to meet the world's representatives.
When Delia Laughlin went astray, her father drove her from his door. She was of that temperament that must either go to the heights or to the depths, and to the depths she went. Down the rapids of a sinful life her steps were swift. Along the Bowery she made her way to Five Points, where thieves and drunkards dwelt. It was said she could drink deeper, curse louder, and fight fiercer than any inmate of the most wicked spot in New York City. Mrs. Whittemore went one day on her mission of mercy through the slums. She sought some one to accompany her who knew the deepest haunts of the wicked. Delia Laughlin was recommended to her. Mrs. Whittemore, with her Bible in one hand and a fragrant rose in the other, made her rounds. She was deeply impressed with the intellect and culture, as well as the beauty of the wayward girl who had been her guide through the slums. "Dear girl," she said; "you are too bright and beautiful to be down here. I wish you would come to see me at the Door of Hope Mission," and slipping a coin and the white rose into the soiled fingers she said, "Good-bye."
The girl loved flowers, so she took the white rose to her room and put it in water. Then with the coin she went to drown her misery in drink. Forty-eight hours later she had slept off the debauch, and taking the flower from the vase she said: "Ah! that represents my life. Once I was as pure as the rose when the good woman gave it to me. Those withered petals represent the withered graces of my life." From out that little flower an arrow went to the heart of Delia Laughlin. She took the street car and went to the Door of Hope Mission. Mrs. Whittemore met her and they talked together. While the girl wept Mrs. Whittemore prayed; she said: "O God, this poor girl has no other friend than you. Her father's home is closed against her. You have promised, when father and mother forsake, you will take the deserted one. Won't you take her now?" And God did take her; from that hour she was safe in the cleft of the Rock of Ages. When she addressed twelve hundred inmates of Auburn prison, a reporter said: "Never did John Wesley, John Knox, or Martin Luther do greater work for the Master." When laid in her casket in the Door of Hope Mission a few years later, a New York paper said: "Never did a fairer face or more eloquent tongue do work in slum life than Delia Laughlin."
"The stone o'er which you trample, May be a diamond in the rough. It may never never sparkle, Though made of diamond stuff.
"Because someone must find it, If it's ever found; And then someone must grind it, If it's ever ground.
"But when it's found, and when it's ground, And when it's burnished bright; Then henceforth a diamond crowned 'Twill shine with lustrous light."
You can't tell what seed will grow.
After the Civil War I lived for two years in Richmond, Kentucky. During that time the Klu Klux movement broke out in fury. Men were hanged, others whipped and driven from the county. On my way to market one morning I saw a man hanging from a limb of a tree in the court-house yard. On his sleeve was pinned a piece of paper, on which was written, "Let no one touch this body until the sun goes down." All day that body hung there and not an officer of the law dared to cut the rope. Such was the reign of terror no one offered a protest. One Saturday night a young man named Byron was hanged in the same court-house yard. He was the only son of a widowed mother, and he begged the mob to let him live for his mother's sake. Sunday morning several empty bottles lay about the tree, indicating that the men were drinking who did the deed. The evening after the hanging I gave an address in the Methodist Church for the Good Templars. I had no thought of referring to the hanging of young Byron, but in showing up the evils of drink, those empty bottles came to my mind, and I could imagine the old mother then weeping over her dead boy. Without considering the consequences I denounced the Klu Klux and the cowardice that permitted such lawlessness. After the lecture a young man of influence advised me to leave at once and not dare spend the night in the town. I felt sure the Klan could not be called together that night, so I ventured to spend the night at home. About eleven o'clock that night the front gate was opened, and tramp, tramp, tramp, came the sound of feet toward the cottage, which was about forty feet from the street. It seemed as if all was over with me, when the "pluck" of a string introduced a serenade from the string band of the little city. Since the daughters of Judah hung their harps upon the willows, no sweeter music has ever fallen upon mortal ears than I heard that night from the string band of Richmond, Kentucky.
I do not know how much my speaking out against Klu Klux had to do with arresting the outlawry that made the roads rattle with the clatter of the hoofs of horses at midnight raids, but I do know young Byron was the last man hanged by the Klu Klux in Madison county, and may I not hope the unpremeditated protest made in that Sunday evening address, helped in some measure to bring about the transformation, and contribute a mite to the public sentiment that has made Richmond a saloonless place in which to live.
You cannot tell what seed will grow. Already out of the new woman movement has come a host led by such women as Frances E. Willard, Mary A. Livermore, Clara Hoffman, Dr. Anna Shaw, Jane Addams, Maude Ballington Booth, Susan B. Anthony, and in our own state, Frances E. Beauchamp. These and many more have been springing the bolts that have barred woman from spheres of great usefulness.
Allow me to say, I have no patience with the mannish woman (and about as little use for a feminine man); but if this old world is ever to be redeemed it is because He who sitteth on the throne has said: "Behold I make all things new."
Oh! for a new man, who will stop the waste of wealth and destruction of morals to which I have referred. Oh! for the day when "each sex will be the equal of the other in the average, each above the other in specialties; when each can see in the other a source of inspiration," and both worthy to have been created in the beginning a "little lower than the angels" and in the end to be crowned with glory and honor.
THE SAFE SIDE OF LIFE FOR YOUNG MEN. A PLEA FOR TOTAL ABSTINENCE AND A BETTER LIFE.
I do not assert that everyone who drinks intoxicating liquor as a beverage will become a drunkard, but I do come before this audience to hold up total-abstinence as safer and better for practice. Drunkards are made of moderate drinkers; drunkards are never made of total abstainers. One may drink and never get drunk; one cannot get drunk who never drinks. Take away every drunkard from the earth today and moderate drinking will soon create another supply; but sweep all drunkenness from the world, let total-abstinence be the absolute rule and the last drunkard will have debased his body, ruined his character, and doomed his soul.
Since running the risk of being a moderate drinker is so great, I commend to the young people before me the caution of the Scotch minister, who, when called upon to marry a couple, said: "My young friends, marriage is a blessing to a great many persons; it's a curse to some; it's a risk for everybody; will you take the venture?" I presume they did. I do not believe the use of intoxicating liquor as a beverage is a benefit to anyone, yet for argument's sake I will permit one who drinks to say: "Moderate drinking is a benefit to a few persons; it's a curse to a great many; it's a risk for everybody; let's take a drink!" Against this I affirm that total abstinence is a blessing to millions; it's a curse to nobody; it's safe and right for everybody; then let's take the pledge and God helping us, let's keep it.
A very comforting reply to the infidel who claims there will be no hereafter is the inscription on the tomb of a faithful Christian:
"If there's another world, he's in bliss; If not, he's made the best of this."
If there is no hereafter, to say the least the Christian is even with the infidel, while if there is a hereafter it's bad for the infidel. If a moderate drinker has sufficient self-control to escape being a drunkard, the total abstainer is equally safe; but if the moderate drinker loses his self-control and becomes a drunkard his doom is sealed. The safe definition of temperance is: "Moderation in regard to things useful and right, total-abstinence in regard to things hurtful and wrong." Is alcoholic liquor as a beverage hurtful and wrong? It's the source of more misery, cruelty and crime than any other evil of the world!
Some years ago after a lecture along this line, a doubting Thomas said to me: "What answer have you for the scholar who claims your very word 'temperance' is the offspring of a word that signifies moderation?" I said: "The same I would give to a Darwinian if he were to tell me I am a descendant of the ape; and that is, I rejoice to know I'm an improvement on my ancestor. To one who charges me with being a distant relative of the chimpanzee, I give the reply of Henry Ward Beecher: 'I don't care how far distant.'" I acknowledge my ignorance of the derivation of the word temperance, but I do know drunkenness comes from drinking intoxicating liquor, therefore I favor total-abstinence and recommend it as the safe side of life for young men.
While, by quoting isolated passages of the Bible, advocates of moderation have succeeded in filling the air with dust of doubt about the teaching of the Scriptures on the wine question, there is one thing about which there is no question, and that is the consent of the Bible to total-abstinence for anyone who desires and "dares to be a Daniel." I would rather search my Bible for permission to give up that over which my brother may stumble into ruin, than to see how far I can go in the use of it without committing sin. Marriage feasts in Cana of Galilee two thousand years ago do not concern me so much as the social feasts of the present age where "wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging," and many are "deceived thereby."
A noted Bible scholar says: "The Bible is not simply a schedule of sins and duties catalogued and labeled, but a revelation of immutable principles, in the application of which God tests the sincerity of our profession." To drink intoxicating liquor in this enlightened age, with all the woes of intemperance about us and responsibilities of life upon us, is a violation of every immutable principle laid down in the Bible. First, it's against the law of prudence, which says of two possible paths one should take the safer. Which is the safer, moderation or total-abstinence? Next, it's against the law of humility, which teaches where mightier than we have fallen, we must distrust ourselves. Have mightier than we fallen through strong drink? Next, it's against the law of human brotherhood, which makes it imperative upon the strong to bear the infirmities of the weak. Is the drinker weak? Next, it's against the law of expediency; "it is good neither to eat flesh nor drink wine nor anything whereby thy brother stumbleth." Do our brothers stumble over strong drink? Last, it's against the law of self-denial; "if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend." Does strong drink make our brother to offend? On these immutable principles the cause of sobriety is built, and the gates of the devil of drink shall not prevail against it.
Young man, let me give you a bit of advice and assurance. Never take a drink of intoxicating liquor as a beverage, and when you are as old as I am you will not regret it. You cannot find me in all the world, one man between forty and eighty years of age, an abstainer all his life, who would change that record if he could. Boys, that's a very safe rule that has not a single exception. But how many are there who regret they ever put the bottle to their lips? "If I had only let strong drink alone" is the bitter wail of millions of men and women. From pauper poverty and prison cells, electric chairs and dying drunkard's lips comes the cry: "Drink has been my curse!"
Does some young man in this audience say, "I can quit if I please?" Then I beg you to please, ere you reach the time when you will strive to quit, but in vain. I know you don't intend to go beyond your power of control; neither did the drunkards who have gone before you. Do you suppose Edgar Allen Poe dreamt when he took his first drink in the social gathering of an old Virginia gentleman's home that it would bring from his brilliant brain the weird strain:
"Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."
Do you suppose Thomas F. Marshall, our gifted Kentucky orator, dreamt when he stood at the foot of the ladder of fame and all Kentucky pointed him to the golden glory of its summit, that his last words would be: "And this is the end. Tom Marshall dying; dying in a borrowed bed, under a borrowed sheet, and without a decent suit of clothes in which to be buried!"
I well remember the first time I saw Thomas Marshall. He had returned from Washington, where he had thrilled Congress by his eloquence. He was announced to speak in Lexington on court day afternoon. I went with my father from our country home to hear the then golden mouthed orator. For nearly two hours he swayed that audience as the storm king sways the mountain pine. On unseen wings of eloquence he soared to heights I had never imagined within the reach of mortal tongue.
I also remember the last time I saw this brilliant Kentuckian. He was standing on a street corner in Lexington, Kentucky. His hair hung a tangled mass about his forehead, his eagle eyes were dimmed by debauch, and a thin, worn coat was buttoned over soiled linen. As he straightened himself and started to the bar-room, I could see traces of greatness lingering about his brow like sheet lightning about the bosom of a summer storm cloud. Not long after he was telling political stories in a drinking tavern. When he tired of the tumult of the bar-room and a sense of his better self came over him, some one said: "Give us another, Tom." Rising to his feet he said: "You remind me of a set of bantam chickens, picking the sore head of an eagle when his wings are broken."
At one time in a temperance revival in Washington he took the pledge and kept it for months. During this time in a temperance meeting he was called upon to speak. The following brief extract shows the charm of his eloquence:
"I would not exchange my conscious being as a strictly sober man, the glad play with which my pulse now beats healthful music through my veins, the bounding vivacity with which my life blood courses its exultant way through every fiber of my frame, the communion high which my now healthful eye and ear hold with the universe around me, the splendors of the morning, the softness of the evening sky, the beauty, the verdure of the earth, the music of winds and waters. No, sir! with all these grand associations of external nature re-opened to the avenues of sense, though poverty dogged me, though scorn pointed its slow finger at me as I passed, though want, destitution and every element of early misery, save only crime, met my waking eye from day to day: Not for the brightest wreath that ever encircled a statesman's brow; not if some angel commissioned by heaven, or rather some demon sent from hell to test the resisting power of my virtuous resolution, were to tempt me back to the blighting bowl; not for the honors a world could bestow, would I cast from me this pledge of a liberated mind, this talisman against temptation, and plunge again into the horrors that once beset my path. So help me Heaven, I would spurn beneath my feet all the gifts a universe could offer, and live and die as I am—poor but sober."
Drinking young man, Thomas F. Marshall once stood where you now stand. He said then what you say now, yet after that beautiful tribute to sobriety and the pledge of total-abstinence, he stood at a blacksmith shop door, and as the smith drew the red hot iron from the forge, Mr. Marshall said to some friends: "Gentlemen, I would seize that rod of heated iron and hold it in my hand till it cools, if it would cure me of my terrible appetite for strong drink." This is but one of the many fallen stars the demon of drink has snatched from the galaxy of Kentucky's greatness and hurled into the darkness of eternal night.
A man who could drink and not get drunk said to me: "I have no patience with, nor sympathy for a drunkard. If I couldn't eat what I want and quit when I choose, I wouldn't claim to be a man." Whether he could or not, depends on conditions. Let my arm represent the scale of life, with will on one side and appetite on the other. When a man is healthy his will stands at eighty, his appetite at fifty. That man eats when he likes, or lets it alone as he chooses. But let this healthy, strong man take typhoid fever, and after six or eight weeks be reduced to almost a skeleton. At this stage, the fever having subsided, let the doctor say to the once strong man: "The fever is broken; be careful about your diet, no solid food, only chicken broth and gruel." Place by the bed of this once strong man a table and on this table a roast turkey, stuffed with oysters. On the floor place a coffin and say to the patient: "You see that turkey and that coffin. If you eat the turkey today, you'll be in the coffin tomorrow." Go out and leave the man alone with the turkey. Will he eat it? I don't care if he's a preacher or a doctor he will, regardless of the advice of doctor or terror of the waiting coffin. Why will he eat when he knows it means death? Because his will has gone down to twenty and his appetite up to one hundred.
My father had typhoid fever and when the time of convalescing came my mother left him alone while she was in the yard with her flowers. I went into the house and found father had left his bed, crawled to the cupboard and had hold of what was left of a chicken. I called to mother; she came running, and taking the chicken from him said: "Don't you know to eat solid food will kill you?" Father replied: "I know if you hadn't come in I would have had one square meal."
Did I say too much when I said the preacher would eat the turkey? Years ago Saint John's pulpit in Louisville, Kentucky, was filled by a preacher so gifted that strangers in the city were attracted by his fame as an orator. He had an invalid mother, who in her wheel chair would attend every service, and was made happy in her affliction by the sermons of her eloquent son. He married a wealthy widow and had everything wealth and refinement could suggest. He saw no wrong in the wine glass and kept a supply in his cellar. Gradually appetite demanded stronger drinks and one morning his wife said: "Husband, you were drunk last night." A few months later he resigned his position and went west, hoping to break the spell of his habit. But no mountain was high enough, nor cavern dark enough for him to hide from his mad pursuer. He returned to Louisville and gave himself up to the maddening bowl. His wife left him and went to a country home which she had saved out of her wealth. One night when he was sleeping drunk in one room, his old mother in another said: "Oh God, is my cup of sorrow not yet full?" The pitying angel pushed ajar the golden gates and the broken heart entered into rest.
Time and again this man took the pledge, but only to fail. When the "blue ribbon" wave swept the country he again took the pledge, and this time went on the platform as a temperance advocate. He drew great audiences, and when he had kept his pledge for months we invited him to Louisville. It was my privilege to introduce him, or rather to present him to the great audience. Before going on the platform he said: "I have made a mistake in coming here. It was here I lost everything a man could ask to make him happy. The memory of my sainted mother comes over me, and my wife is so near and yet so far from me."
To bring him back to himself I said: "These things will help you to give the greatest lecture of your life. Come, a great audience of old friends are waiting."
When introduced he said: "My friends, if I ever did a dishonorable act before I fell from the pulpit through drink, rise and tell me." Soon he had his audience in tears and lifting his eyes heavenward he said: "O my sainted Mother, look down from your home in glory and see your poor drunken boy. He has staggered all the way back, his feet upon the up-hillward way, and will travel it with a martyr's step."
He further said: "Will I ever drink again? No; this brow was not made to wear the brand of a vassal, nor these hands the chains of a drunkard. Here in Louisville, where I fell in my manhood's might, I vow I will never drink again." Manhood's might is too weak to win alone in the battle against sin. Poor J.J. Talbott went down to rise no more, and on his dying bed, when a minister quoted passage after passage of promise from God's word, the answer came: "Not for me! Not for me!" Peace to his ashes.
Young man, will you tamper and trifle with strong drink? Do you say you can drink or let it alone? I admit you can drink but are you sure you can let it alone? If you can now, are you sure you can two years hence? I saw a giant oak tree lying in the track of the wind. It had been called "the monarch of the Sierras." Under the very nests where tempests hatch out their young, it grew to its greatness. It had seen many a storm, clad in thunder, armed with lightning, leap from its rocky bed and go bellowing down the world. But the storms that shook it only sent its roots down and out that it might fasten itself the more firmly to the earth. For long years this old tree stood there, bowing its head in courtesy to the passing storm, while its branches were but harp strings for the music of the winds. One evening as the sun went down over the mountain's brow, not a storm cloud on the sky, a little wind went hurrying round the mountain's base, struck the great oak and down it went with a crash that made the forest ring. Young men, why was it a tree that had withstood the storms of ages, should, before such a little gust of wind bow its head and die? Years before, when in the zenith of its strength and glory, a pioneer with an axe on his shoulder, went blazing his way through the wooded wilderness that he might not be lost on his return. Seeing the great tree he said: "That's a good one to mark," and taking his axe in hand, he sent the blade deep into the oak. Time passed with seemingly no effect from the stroke given by the axeman. But steadily the sun smote the wound, rain soaked into the scar, worms burrowed in the bark around it, birds pecked into the decayed wood and finally foxes made their home in the hollow trunk, and the day came when resisting force had weakened, boasted strength had departed and the giant monarch of the Sierras stood at the mercy of the winds that have no respect for weakness.
There are young men before me today, who can drink or let it alone. Temptation to them is no more than the gentle breeze in the branches of the oak in the zenith of its strength. True, temptation has been along their way blazing, here a glass of wine, there a glass of beer and yonder a glass of whiskey. They can quit when they please, but the less they please the more they drink, the more they drink the less they please. They don't quit because they can, if they couldn't quit they would, because they can, they won't. Thus they reason, while appetite eats its way into their wills, birds of ill omen peck into their characters and finally they will go down to drunkards' graves, as thousands before them have gone. Young men, in the morning of life, while the dew of youth is yet upon your brow, I beg you to bind the pledge of total-abstinence as a garland about your character and pray God to keep you away from the tempter's path.
I wonder that young men will trifle with this great "deceiver." I wonder too at so much ignorance on the question among intelligent people. Some years ago after a temperance address a gentleman was introduced to me as the finest scholar in the city. Next morning we were on the same train, and referring to the lecture of the evening before, he said: "I heard your address and was pleased with your kindly spirit, but I beg to differ with you, believing as I do, that when properly used, alcoholic liquor as a beverage is good for health and strength." I felt disappointed to hear a great scholar make such a statement, but I ventured the reply:
"If that is true God made a mistake, since He made the whole phenomena of animal life to run by water power. He made it in such abundance it takes oceans to hold it, rivers and rivulets to carry it to man, bird and beast, while in all the wide world He never made a spring of alcohol. If it's good for strength, why not give it to the ox, the mule and the horse?" It takes a good deal of faith to trust a sober mule; I'm sure I wouldn't want to trust a drunken one. There is not a man in my presence who would buy a moderate drinking horse, and no one would wilfully go through a lot where a drunken dog had right of way. Yet we license saloons to turn drunken men loose in the street, some of them as vicious as mad dogs.
Good for strength? When Samson had slain the regiment of Philistines and was exhausted and athirst; when in his extremity he cried to the Lord: "Thou hast given this great deliverance into the hand of thy servant, and now shall I die from thirst." What was done to revive him and renew his strength? Was strong drink recommended as a stimulant? The Bible account informs us God "clave an hollow place in the jaw, and water came thereout." Don't you think if alcoholic liquor had been intended as a beverage for mankind, the great Creator would have made a few springs of it somewhere? Bore into the earth you can strike oil, but you can't strike whiskey. You can find sparkling springs of water almost everywhere, but nowhere a beer brewery in nature. It's water, blessed water all the time. On your right it bubbles in the brook; on your left it leaps and laughs in the cascade; above you it rides in rain clouds upon the wings of the wind; beneath you it hangs in diamond dew upon the bending blade; behind you it comes galloping down the gorge "from out the mountain's broken heart;" before you it goes gliding down the glen, kissing wayside flowers into fragrance and singing, as rippling o'er the rocks it runs: "Men may come and men may go, but I go on forever." Oh, bright beautiful water! may it soon be the beverage of all mankind.
I know some say: "This is a free country; if a man wants to drink and be a brute, let him do so." The trouble about that is, while strong drink will degrade some men to the level of the brute, drunkards are not made of brutes. Some thirty or more years ago a grandson of one of the greatest statesman this country ever produced, was shot in a saloon while intoxicated. While that young man was dying, but a few blocks away a grandson of one of the greatest men that ever honored Kentucky in the Senate of the United States, was in jail to be tried for murder committed while drunk; and in the same city at the same hour in the station-house from drink was a great grandson of the author of "Give me liberty or give me death." Whom did Daniel Webster leave his seat in the Senate that he might hear his eloquence? S.S. Prentice went down under the cloud of drink. A gifted family gave to a Southern State a gifted son. His state sent him to the halls of national legislation, but drink wrought his ruin. Horace Greeley was his friend, and finding him drunk in a Washington hotel said to him: "Why don't you give up what you know is bringing shame upon you and sorrow to your family?"
He replied: "Mr. Greeley, ask me to take my knife and sever my arm from my shoulder and I can do it, but ask me to give up an appetite that has come down upon me for generations, I can't do it." He threw his cane upon the floor to emphasize his utterance. A few days later in the old Saint Charles Hotel, he pierced his brain with a bullet and was sent home to his family in his coffin.
Bring me the men who are drunkards in this city, strip them of their appetite for strong drink, and they are husbands, brothers, fathers, sons, and as a rule, generous in disposition.
Thank God, while drunkenness will drag down the gifted and noble, temperance will build up the humblest and lowest. Bring me the poorest boy in this audience, let him pledge me he will never take a drink of intoxicating liquor as a beverage, let him keep that pledge, be industrious and honest; my word for it, in twenty years from now he will walk the streets of the city in which he dwells, honored, respected, loved, and the world can't keep him down. I rejoice we live in a land where I can encourage a boy, a land where rank belongs to the boy who earns it, whether he hails from the mansion of a millionaire or the "old log cabin in the lane;" a land where a boy can go from a rail cut, a tan yard, or a toe-path, to the presidency of the United States; a land where I can look the humblest boy in the face and say:
"Never ye mind the crowd, my boy, or think that life won't tell; The work is the work for aye that, to him that doeth it well. Fancy the world a hill, my boy; look where the millions stop; You'll find the crowd at the base, my boy; there's always room at the top."
Have you a trade? Go learn one. Do you know how to do things? Go try; you may make mistakes, but do the best you can like the boy who joined the church. At his uncle's table soon after he was asked to say grace. He didn't know what kind of a blessing to ask, but he did know he was very hungry, so bowing his head he said: "Lord, have mercy on these victuals." I have faith in the boy who will try to do a thing. I believe in a boy like that one in a mission Sabbath school in New York, who though he had but little knowledge of the Bible, had a way of reasoning about Bible lessons. The teacher of his class said to him: "James, who was the strongest man of whom we have any account?"
He quickly replied: "Jonah."
"How do you make that out?" said the teacher.
Promptly the answer came: "The whale couldn't hold him after he got him down."
Boys, are you poor? Columbus was a weaver; Arkright was a barber; Esop, a slave; Bloomfield, a shoemaker; Lincoln, a rail-splitter; Garfield tramped a toe-path with no company but an honest mule; and Franklin, whose name will never die while lightning blazes through the clouds, went from the humble position of a printer's devil to that height where he looked down upon other men. If you would win in the battle of life, take the right side of life and build a righteous character. The saddest scene on the streets at night is the young man, whose clothes are finest in quality and fittest in fashion, but whose principles sadly need "patching." I dare say there are young men before me now who would not go into refined company indecently dressed for any consideration, but who will rush into the presence of their God before they sleep with a dozen oaths upon their lips. Will Carleton puts it this way:
"Boys flying kites, haul in their white plumed birds; You can't do that when flying words; Thoughts unexpressed, may sometimes fall back dead, But God Himself can't kill them when they're said."
Will Carleton puts it in poetry, let's have it in prose. Boys, pay more attention to your manners than to your moustache; keep your conduct as neat as your neck-tie, polish your language as well as your boots; remember, moustache grows grey, clothes get seedy, and boots wear out, but honor, virtue and integrity will be as bright and fresh when you totter with old age as when your mother first looked love into your eyes.
Little Lucy Rome was taken up for vagrancy in a great city. When brought before the court an austere judge said: "Who claims this child?"
A boy arose and walking down near the Judge, said: "Please, sir; I do. She's my sister; we are orphans, but I can take care of her if you'll let her go."
"Who are you?" asked the Judge.
"I'm Jimmy Rome, and I have been taking care of my sister; but two weeks ago the man for whom I worked died and while I was out looking for another place, Lucy begged some bread and they took her up. But now I've a good place to work, Judge, and I'm going to put little sister in school. Please let me have her, sir."
The Judge said: "Stand aside. Officer, take the child to the children's home."
The boy with tears streaming down his cheeks, as he heard his sister sobbing, said: "Judge, please don't take her from me."
The Judge, moved by the pleading of the brother, said: "Well, my boy, if you can find some reliable person to go your security you may have her."
"Judge, I don't know anyone to give you; my good friend is dead, but I told you the truth. I don't drink, nor smoke nor swear oaths; I try to be a good boy; I work hard, but I can't give you any security. Judge, will you please let me kiss my little sister before you take her from me?"
With this the boy put his arms about his weeping sister and printed, as he thought, the last kiss upon her cheek. The Judge, with a lump in his throat, said: "Take her, my boy; I'll go your security. I'll give Lucy to the care of such a brother."
Hand in hand the homeless orphan pair walked out of the court room together, Jimmy Rome to make his mark in the business world and his sister to be the wife of a merchant prince.
Boys, be industrious, be honest, be sober. "I will" fluttered from the worm-eaten ships of Columbus; "I will" blazed upon the banners of Washington and Grant; "I will" stamped the walls of Hudson river tunnel, and dug the canal of Panama. Young man, write "I will" upon your brow, give your heart to God and hope will herald your way to victory as the reward of a well spent life. Keep your eye upon the star of ambition. Don't be like the owl, who when daylight comes hides himself within the shadows of the ivy-bound oak and moans and moans the days of his life away; but rather be like the proud eagle that leaves its craggy summit, starts on its pinion flight through the clouds, rides upon the face of the storm, then on beyond bathes its plumage in the "sunlight of the day god, and laughs in the face of the coming morrow."
Some one said, and trifled with the secret of success and happiness when he said it: "There's only a dollar's difference between the man who works and the man who pays, and the man who pays, gets that." There is an old superstition that somewhere on the earth, under the earth or in the sea, there is a stone called the "philosopher's stone" and whoever finds it will be "chiefest among ten thousand." The same superstition prevails with many today; only the name of the stone is turned to "luck," and thousands of young men are waiting for luck to come along and turn up something for them. There is a rule of life, young men, more reliable than luck. It is called an ancient law and runs thus: "By the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread." It is the foundation of more sweet bread and pure enjoyment than all your luck. On it the feet of Abraham Lincoln rested, while he wedged his way to the highest office in the gift of the American people. On it Shakespeare stood, driving a shuttle through the warp and woof of a weaver's loom and wove out for himself a name and fame immortal. On it Elihu Burrett wielded a sledge hammer, while developing a mind that mastered many different languages. On it Henry Clay made his way from the mill-sloshes of Virginia to the United States Senate, and on it James A. Garfield tramped his toe-pathway from driving a mule, to presiding over the destinies of seventy-five millions of people.
Boys, don't be idle. I know a man to-day who always looks so lazy it really rests me to look at him. A boy working for a farmer was asked by his employer if he ever saw a snail. The boy answered that he had. "You must have met it, for you surely did not overtake it," said the farmer. I know an old man who seems to take pride in saying he never worked. The first time I saw this man was in my youth. While his father was husking corn in a field, he was seated by a fire reading a novel. Often after that, when I would go to the postoffice in the winter, he would be there by the fire. He moved to the city thirty years ago, where he spends his winters sitting around a fire. He doesn't drink or gamble. I don't think he will have many sins of commission for which to answer; he never commits anything; he sits by the fire. When he dies an appropriate epitaph for his tomb will be:
"He was never much on stirrin' round, Sich wasn't his desire; When weather cool, he was always found, A sittin' round the fire.
"When the frost was comin' down, And the wind a creepin' higher, He spent his time just that way, A sittin' round the fire.
"Same old habit every day, He never seemed to tire; While others worked and got their pay, He sat there by the fire.
"When he died, by slow degrees, Some said, 'he's gone up higher;' But if he's doin' what he did, He's sittin' round the fire."
The man or woman who lives in this age of the world and lives in idleness, should have lived in some other age. When ox-teams crept across the plains, and stage coaches went six miles an hour, idleness may have been in some kind of harmony with the age, but now, when horses pace a mile in two minutes, express trains make fifty miles an hour, and aeroplanes fly a mile in a minute; when telephone and telegraph send news faster than light flies, the idler is out of place. Carlisle said: "The race of life has become intense; the runners are tramping on each other's heels; woe to the man who stops to tie his shoestrings!"
Young man, if you would keep step with the energy of the age in which you are living, and be ever found on the safe side of life, you must not only be equipped with education, stability and ambition, but to make sure you should start right. If you are going to California tomorrow, which way would you start, east or west? You say: "We would start west." A man riding along a highway said to a farmer by the wayside: "How far to Baltimore?"
The farmer answered: "About twenty-five thousand miles the way you're going; if you'll face about and go the other way, it's fourteen miles."
Young man, which way are you going?
Does someone in my presence say: "I have started wrong; I take a glass of beer now and then; occasionally utter an oath, and am sowing wild oats in a few other fields; but I'll come out right in the end." Two diverging roads keep on widening; they don't come together at the other ends. If you would make sure of the safe side of life in the end of the journey, then start right. Luke Howard graduated from a fine college and went to a large city to practice his profession. He boarded in a fine hotel and frequented fine saloons. He became dissipated and one morning after a drunken debauch the landlord said: "Sir, you disturbed my boarders last night and I must ask you to leave." Young men, did Luke Howard go to a better hotel? No, but to a grade lower; he started wrong. In this hotel a few months later, he was asked to move on. Did he go to a better? No, still lower, until at last he went to board in the low tavern on the river front. The landlord said: "I remember when you graduated from college. I was present, saw the flowers and heard the applause that greeted your success. I feel honored to have you as a boarder." A few months later, on Christmas night, Luke Howard lay drunk on the bar-room floor. The landlord had borne all he could and, with a kick, he said: "Get up and get out, you brute; I will not keep you another hour." The drunkard with help arose and said: "Where am I? Why, this is my boarding place, my home, and you are my landlord. You said you felt honored to have me board here. What's the matter?"
"Luke Howard, you're not the man you once were, and I want you to leave here at once."
The poor fellow started for the door muttering: "I am not the man I was. I'm not the man I was." Missing the step as he went out, he fell, striking his head against the stone curbing. A physician was summoned and recognizing the injured man as an old friend said: "Luke, speak to your old college chum; I'm here to help you."
The poor drunkard, looking through the blood that flowed from the gaping wound said: "Listen to me, Tom, I'm not the man I was, I'm not the man I was." And thus died the poor fellow.
Young man, start wrong and end right? No, start wrong and you may expect in the autumn of life a penniless, friendless old age; opportunity gone, health shattered, and the "long fingers of memory" reaching out and dragging into its chambers thoughts that will "bite like a serpent and sting like an adder." Bad as this is, it is even worse when your depravity involves another life. What if that other life is your mother, who went to the door of death to give you life, and whose every breath is another thread of sorrow woven into her wasting heart while her boy is bound like Mazeppa to the wild steed of passion.
There are some things I cannot understand about this drink question. I can understand how a young woman with jeweled fingers can tempt a young man to drink wine. I had a bit of experience some years ago down in Texas, that helped me to appreciate how young men are tempted. I gave an address in a Y.M.C.A. lecture course in a city, and at the close of my address a prominent citizen said to me: "Kentucky has a reputation for beautiful women, but we think Texas has the handsomest women in the world. At the hotel where you are stopping, there is a leap year ball tonight and the most beautiful women for a hundred miles around are gathered there. I will call for you at your room in a little while and you must take a look at our Texas girls." A little later I stood in a hallway where I could see down the long ball room, and I declare they were as pretty women as I have ever seen, and I live in Kentucky. I was invited to step inside the door, where between dances I was introduced to couple after couple. It being leap year the ladies were soliciting their partners for the dance, and a very handsome young lady invited me to be her partner. Having never danced and being a Methodist steward, I declined. Another and another asked me to dance, and again and again I declined, giving as an excuse my utter ignorance of the function. Finally a very beautiful, blue-eyed, charming young lady said: "Since you do not dance, may I engage you for a promenade around the ball room?" Boys, if I had been a young man the chances are I would have started down the "turkey-trot" road that evening. I can appreciate how young men are tempted.
There is one thing, however, about the drink habit that is difficult for me to understand, and that is how a young man, who loves his mother, whose mother loves him as only a mother can love, loved him first, loved him best and will love him to the last, can go from home and mother to the impure, degrading vileness of a liquor saloon. If we enter that young man's home what do we find? Perhaps on one of the side-walls, "What is home without a mother," on the altar the family Bible, every picture on the walls suggestive of home life and purity, every chair and piece of bric-a-brac linked with the sweet association of childhood, the conversation as pure as the sunlight on which the young man lives; yet he will kiss his mother, leave this home, and down the street make his way to a liquor saloon, where often vile pictures hang on the walls, cards lie on the table instead of the family Bible and the air is freighted with oaths and obscenities.
Boys, have any of you done this within the past month, or six months? Promise me now you will never do this again. Oh what a grand meeting this would be if every young man and boy in my presence would make the promise! I plead with you, young man, by the sleepless nights your mother spent to give you rest; by the shadow you have hung over her pathway; by the bleeding heart you've wounded but which loves you still:
"Come back, my boy, come back, I say, And walk now in thy mother's way."
I would that every boy in our land were as grateful to his mother as was that Southern girl to her father, who stood years ago in front of an open fire, her back to the fire, her face toward the door, her bare arms full of flowers, waiting for her brother to call with a carriage to take her to a party. While standing there a flame caught her dress; she gave a scream, dropped the flowers and ran through the door to where her father was standing in the yard. When the father saw his child coming with flame following, he ran toward her. As he ran he took off his coat and wrapping it about her face, arms and shoulders, threw her to the ground. With his left hand he kept the flame from the body, while with his right hand he fought the fire. He saved his daughter but burned his right arm to the elbow. Day after day when the doctor would unwrap the arm to dress it, the girl, though burned herself, would go to her father's bed, gently lift the burned arm and caress it. When the father recovered his hand was so maimed and scarred, that when introduced to strangers, he would hold his right hand behind him and shake hands with the left. One day his daughter, seeing him do this, went to his side and reaching for the scarred hand, held it to her lips and kissed it. She was not ashamed, for that hand had been burned for her. When the father died and lay in his casket ready for burial, the family came to take their last look. First came the mother of the girl, then a brother and sister, and then the girl herself. She kissed the cold brow of her father, then kneeling she took up the disfigured hand and kissed it over and over again. My boy, your mother has suffered more for you than that father did for his daughter. I beg you, go home and kiss your mother. If she is dead or far from you, kiss her memory. Go to your bed room, kneel there, and pray God to help you to live worthy the love of your mother.
I now turn from young men to parents and say, use every means possible to make safe the way of your boys. Some years ago in one of our cities, after a lecture in which I appealed to parents, a leading merchant of the city said: "I wish I had heard that lecture years ago."
"You never used liquor?" I said.
"No, but I am responsible for its use in my family. I am a Methodist, and a total abstainer. In my employ I had a number of clerks, and let it be known I would not allow any of them to drink even moderately. One day a man came to my store with a paper in his hand and said: 'I want to set up a saloon on the next block and I am getting signers to my petition. I am one of your customers; you know me and know I will keep an orderly place.' I said to myself, 'if he doesn't sell others will and we need the revenue anyway,' so I signed the petition. A few months later I chanced to see my youngest boy and one of my clerks coming out of the door of that saloon. Soon after when they entered the store I called them into my office and said: 'Young men, did I see you coming out of a saloon, and had you been taking a drink in there?' When they admitted they had, I said to my son: 'Did I ever set such an example for you to follow?' He answered: 'No, father, but you signed that man's petition to set up the saloon; whom did you expect him to sell to? Did you sign it for him to sell to other fathers' sons and not yours?' I realized as never before the wrong I had done, not only to my own son, but to every father's son to whom that saloon-keeper would sell if they had the money to pay for liquor. I said: "Forgive me, my boy. Promise me you will never enter a saloon again and I promise never to sign a petition or vote to have a saloon-keeper sell to anybody's boy!"
But it was too late; that boy went to ruin and carried his old father to financial ruin with him. The store was sold and the father went on to a little farm in Missouri, where he died a disappointed, grief-stricken man. He was a good man and a kind father, but he did not realize the full meaning of the warning, "whatsoever ye sow, that shall ye also reap." Fathers, be careful of your example. Your sons think they can safely follow where you lead. Could the turf break above the drunken dead; could they come back to earth in their bony whiteness to testify to the cause of their ruin, how many would point to the old sideboard filled with all kinds of liquors, to father's moderate use of strong drink, or his vote for the saloon at the ballot box.
Too often the careless indulgence of mothers is responsible for the ruin of their sons. If mothers were as watchful of their sons as of their daughters, the magic chain of mother love would be far more binding to their boys. There are homes in this city where at night you can hear the mothers say to servants: "Are the clothes in off the line; did you bring the broom and the pitcher from the porch; are the blinds all down; are the girls in bed; is everything in order for the night?" No, mothers, everything is not in order. Your girls are safe, the windows and doors are locked, but your boys are on the outside with night keys in their pockets, to come in at midnight from God only knows where. The double standard reaches too often back into the home.
"Mother, watch the little feet, Climbing o'er the garden wall, Bounding through the busy street, Ranging garret shed and hall: Never count the time it cost, Never think the moments lost; Little feet will go astray, Watch them, mother, while you may.
"Mother, watch the little tongue, Prattling, innocent and wild, What is said and what is sung By the joyous, happy child; Stop the word while yet unspoken; Seal the vow while yet unbroken, That same tongue may yet proclaim, Blessings in a Savior's name.
"Mother, watch the little heart, Beating soft and warm for you; Wholesome lessons now impart, Keep, O keep, that young heart pure. Extricating every weed, Sowing good and precious seed; Harvests rich you then shall see, Ripening for eternity."
Once more I turn to the young men to say, if you would make life safe take the Bible as the man of your counsel and the guide of your life; love God and keep His commandments. In this age of glittering literature, many consider the Bible dull reading. Sir William Jones, one of England's greatest jurists and scholars, said: "I have carefully perused the Bible, and independent of its divine origin, I believe it contains more true sublimity, more exquisite beauty, purer morality, more important history and finer strains of poetry and eloquence than could be contained within the same compass, from all the books ever published in any age or any idiom."
A passionate lover of poetry has said: "The Bible is a mass of beautiful figures. It has pressed into its service the animals of the forest, the flowers of the fields and the stars of heaven; the lion, spurning the sands of the desert; the wild roe, leaping the mountains; the lamb led to the slaughter; the goat, fleeing to the wilderness; the Rose of Sharon; the Lily of the Valley; the great rock in a weary land; Carmel by the sea; Tabor in the mountains; the rain and mown grass; the sun and moon and morning stars. Thus hath the Bible swept creation to lay its trophies upon the altar of Jehovah." Patrick Henry continually sought the Bible for gems of expression, while today the politician on the rostrum and the lawyer at the bar, quote the Bible to give force and effect to their speeches.
Some say: "There is so much in the Bible we cannot comprehend." Yes, there's very much in there doubtless God did not intend you should understand. One wades in the ocean knee deep, waist deep, neck deep, and gives it up that he can't wade the ocean. If God had intended one should wade the ocean He would have made it shallow enough to wade. So, one finds he can climb to the mountain's top, or sail thousands of feet above the mountain in an air ship, but he can't sail to the skies. Two good women went to Sam Jones and said: "Mr. Jones, here are several passages of scripture we don't understand. We have been to several ministers and they cannot explain them satisfactorily; perhaps you can." The great evangelist said: "Sisters, you haven't as much good hard sense as my cow. We keep a cow and through the winter we give her hay to eat. Now Georgia hay has a considerable mixture of briars. When we give the cow an arm full of hay she has sense enough to eat the hay and let the briars alone. But with the blessed Bible full of good hay, you are 'chawing' away on the briars." Young people, there is enough in God's word you can understand to serve you if you live a thousand years, enough in there to save you if you die tonight, so don't worry over what you can't understand.
During the Civil War a terrible battle raged all day between the armies of Grant and Lee. When the night shadows shut out the light, dead and dying were strewn for miles. Surgeons were busy and the chaplains going their rounds. A chaplain heard a voice say, in clarion tone: "Here." Going to the spot from whence came the voice and bending over the prostrate form of a dying soldier, the chaplain asked: "What can I do for you?"
"Nothing, sir; they were just calling the roll in Heaven, and I was answering to my name."
Blessed book, in which there is enough a wounded soldier, dying far away from home and loved ones, can so understand as to fit him to answer the roll call in Heaven.
We may not comprehend the full meaning of faith, but we can grasp sufficient to be to our souls what the force of nature is to the trees, by which they stand with their branches reaching skyward and their roots drawing earth-centerward. Take from me this faith and you take away the best friend I ever had, the friend that stood by me in the darkest hour of my life, when a daughter in the bloom of womanhood said, "good-bye," and went away to live with the angels; that stands by me now pointing to where my child is waiting for me in the bowers that kiss the very porch of Heaven. Without this faith how awful would be the dirge, "earth to earth, dust to dust." Blessed book that tells us we shall meet "beyond the river, where the surges cease to roll;" that death is but the doorway to a better land, "the grave a subway to a sweeter clime."
My dear young friends, accept this faith and you will find in it a sweet companion up the hillward way of life, and down the sunset slope to the valley of death, where it will not leave nor forsake you, but will wait till you throw off your "burden of clay," then "bear you away on its balmy wings to your eternal home." Young men, may you so follow the safe side of life, that when its great trials come, you can with the wings of faith cleave the clouds and soar safely above the thunders that roll at your feet.
My closing advice is, "Walk not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stand in the way of sinners; but delight in the law of the Lord; and in his law meditate day and night. In due season your life will fruit and whatsoever you do will prosper."
Though announced to lecture on Platform Experiences, it is my purpose to give you a kind of platform analysis, to tell you what I know about lecturing, lectures, oratory and orators, using personal experiences for illustration.
We have about eight thousand Chautauqua days, and fifteen thousand lecture courses in this country every year, and yet comparatively few persons know the history of the platform. Many have an idea that free speech, like free air, has ever been a boon to mankind. They have no conception of what it has cost, in imprisonment, exile, blood and tears.
I am indebted to "Pond's History of the Platform" for facts and illustrations in the early history of the platform in England. Two hundred years ago in our mother land, the word platform meant no more than a resting place for boxes and barrels. A religious service was simply a routine of ritual, while such a thing as a public man addressing the masses was unknown. Sir William Pitt, one of England's greatest statesman and orators, in all his public life uttered only two sentences to the public outside of Parliament. If William Jennings Bryan had lived in Pitt's day, he would have been ignored by the Prime Minister of England.
The first leaders of thought to come in contact with the people and thrill them by the power of speech were John Wesley and George Whitefield. "On a mount called Rose Hill, near Bristol, England, George Whitefield laid the foundation of the modern platform." From Rose Hill his audiences grew until on Kensington Commons thirty thousand people tried to get within reach of his captivating voice. It has been truthfully said: "At the feet of John Wesley and George Whitefield the people of England learned their first lessons in popular government."
This innovation, however, met with sneers, jeers and persecution from the established conservatism of church and state, and when the platform attempted to enter the arena of politics, Parliament decided the "public clamor must end." A bill was framed forbidding any public gatherings except such as should be called by the magistrates.
In advocating this bill a member of Parliament said: "The art of political discussion does not belong outside of Parliament. Men who are simply merchants, mechanics and farmers must not be allowed to publicly criticise the constitution." To this the platform made reply: "From such as we the Master selected those who were to sow the seed of living bread in the wilds of Galilee." The bill passed by an overwhelming majority. Punishment ran from fine and imprisonment to years of exile from the country, and from this time on, the battle raged between Parliament and platform. Later on we shall note the results.
I am often interviewed by men, and sometimes by women, who desire to reach the platform. They say to me: "What steps did you take?"
My answer is, I never took any; I stumbled, was picked up by circumstances and pitched upon the platform.
At a picnic in a grove near Winchester, Ky., in 1869, a noted temperance orator was to give an address. He failed to reach the grove on time, and I was prevailed upon to act as time-killer until his arrival. I was not entirely without experience, having belonged to a debating society in a country school.
When I had spoken about thirty minutes, to my great relief, the orator of the day made his appearance. The flattering comments upon my talk induced me to accept other invitations to address temperance meetings, and before I knew what had happened, the platform was under my feet, calls were numerous and my life work was established. I suppose those who consult me are encouraged to know a mere stumble directed my course, and if so, by purpose and preparation they can surely succeed.
Some persons seem to think lecturing a very simple occupation, requiring only a glib tongue, and a good pair of lungs. Several years ago, I received a letter from a young man in which he wrote: "I heard you lecture last week. I would like to become a lecturer myself. I have no experience and very little education, but I have a very strong voice and am sure I could be heard by a large audience. I have been working in a horse-barn but am now out of a job. If I had a lecture, I think I could make a living; besides I would get to see the country. If you will write me one I will send you two dollars." I do not know whether the young man gauged the price by the estimate of the lecture he had heard me give, or his monetary condition, but if audacity is a requisite for the platform, this young man was not entirely without qualification.
This is an extreme case, and yet there are those whose minds are storehouses of knowledge, who can no more become popular platform speakers, than could the young man, who was ready to set sail on the sea of oratory, with a lusty pair of lungs and a two dollar lecture.
Charles Spurgeon, the great London preacher, said: "I have never yet learned the art of lecturing. If you have ever seen a goose fly, you have seen Spurgeon trying to lecture."
Mr. Spurgeon called lecturing an art, and why not? If the hand that paints a picture true to life and pleasing to the eye, is the hand of an artist, why is not the tongue that paints a picture true to life and pleasing to the mind's eye the tongue of an artist?
It is an art to know how to get hold of an audience. There was an occasion in my experience when I had extreme necessity for the use of this art. When President Cleveland wrote his Venezuela message in which he threatened war with England, the threat was published in Toronto, Canada, on Saturday and I was announced to lecture in the large pavilion on Sunday afternoon.
The message of President Cleveland had aroused the patriotic spirit of Canada. The hall was packed. It seemed to me I could see frost upon the eyebrows of every man and icicles in the ears of the women.
When introduced there was a painful silence. I began by saying: "Doubtless many of you have come to hear what an American has to say about Venezuela. I must admit I am not acquainted with the merits of the question. I suppose, however, the message of our President is one of the arts of diplomacy. But I do know I speak the sentiment of the best people of my country when I say: 'May the day never dawn whose peace will be broken by signal guns of war between Great Britain and the United States.'" I said:
"When John and Jonathan forget, The scar of anger's wound to fret, And smile to think of an ancient feud, Which the God of nations turned to good; Then John and Jonathan will be, Abiding friends, o'er land and sea; In their one great purpose, the world will ken, Peace on earth, goodwill to men."
The great audience arose and cheered until all sense of chill had departed.
It is not only an art to get hold of an audience, but equally a matter of good taste to know when to let go. This is a qualification some have not acquired. I followed a very distinguished man several years ago and the comment was: "He was fine the first hour and a half, but the last hour he grew tiresome."
In this busy age, the world wants thoughts packed into small compass. The average audience wants a preacher to put his best thoughts into a thirty-minute package. The day was, when people would sit on backless board benches and listen to a sermon of two hours; now they won't swing in a hammock and endure one of more than fifty minutes.
Rev. Dr. Dewey, of Brooklyn, New York, tells of a minister who was given to reading his sermons. On one occasion when he had read about twenty minutes, he halted and said: "I have a young dog at my house that is given to chewing paper. I find he has mutilated my manuscript, which is my excuse for this short sermon." A visiting lady after service said: "Doctor, have you any more of the breed of that dog? I would like to get one for our pastor."
In this age of crowded moments concentration means executation; energy means success. If you can't put fire into your sermon, put your sermon in the fire.
A few years ago when in New York City, I went to see Madame Bernhardt in her famous play, Joan of Arc. She spoke in French, an unknown tongue to me; but when she came to her defense before the court, I realized as never before the power of speech and action. She had given one-fourth of that marvelous appeal, when the great audience arose and began to cheer. Madame Bernhardt folded her arms, bowed her head and waited for silence.
When order was restored she sprang a step forward. It seemed to me every feature of her face, every finger on her hands, every gleam of eye and movement of body was an appeal to the stern tribunal. In the trembling, murmuring voice that ran like a strain of sad, sweet music through sunless gorges of grief, the great audience read her plea for mercy and wept. Some who could not restrain their emotion sobbed aloud.
When from the depths of solemn sound that same voice arose like the swell of a silver trumpet, and in clarion tones demanded justice, cheer after cheer testified to the power of the orator actress. Never was there a sob of the sea more mournful, than the voice of Sarah Bernhardt as she played upon the harp strings of pity; and never did words rush in greater storm fury from human lips, than when she demanded justice. No stop nor note nor pedal nor key in the organ of speech was left untouched by this genius in tragic art.
It would be well if every public speaker could hear Sarah Bernhardt give that defense of the Maid of Orleans. Indeed I believe if the forensic eloquence of the stage could be transferred to the pulpit greater audiences and greater rewards would follow. If you doubt this, go read the sermons of George Whitefield or the lectures of John B. Gough and you will wonder at their success unless you take into consideration their mysterious power of delivery.
I cannot give you one sentence Madame Bernhardt uttered, but I do know the influence of that address remains with me to this day and now and then I find myself reaching out after the secret of oratory. "It is not so much what you say as how you say it," has become a proverb.
Some years ago I lectured in an Iowa village on a bitter cold evening. The rear of the hall was up on posts. When introduced there was only one inch between my shoe soles and zero, while a cold wind from a broken window struck the back of my head. It occurred to me that if I would play Bernhardt I might save a spell of pneumonia.
In a few moments I was pacing the platform, swinging my arms and stamping my feet to keep up circulation. I put all the intensity, activity and personality possible into one hour and left the platform.
Returning to the hotel a commercial traveler who had heard me a number of times said: "I congratulate you; you get younger. I never heard you put so much life into your lecture."
I replied: "Why man, I was trying to keep my feet from freezing."
He said: "I advise you to go on the platform every evening with cold feet."
John and Charles Wesley were going along a street in London when they came upon two market women engaged in a wordy war. John Wesley said: "Hold up, Charles, and let's learn how to preach. See how these women put earnestness and even eloquence into their street quarrel. Can't we be just as earnest and eloquent in dealing out the truth?" No wonder John Wesley gave such impetus to the platform.
It is said what John Wesley and George Whitefield were to the religious platform, Fox and Burke became later on to the political platform. They saw the platform was fast becoming the voice of public sentiment and dared to indorse it.
When Mr. Fox made his first platform address he said: "This is the first time I ever had the privilege of addressing an uncorrupted assembly." Going back into Parliament he said: "Let's put an end to a policy that separates us from the people. Let's cut all cables, snap all chains that bind us to an unfriendly shore and enter the peaceful harbor of public confidence."
When Mr. Burke made his platform debut, he was so inspired by the enthusiasm of the people, it is said, he made the greatest speech ever made in the English language up to that time. When he appeared in Parliament next evening a leader of the government took occasion to denounce the platform as a disturber of public peace, directing his remarks to Mr. Burke. The great orator was ready with the reply: "Yes, and the firebell at midnight disturbs public peace, but it keeps you from burning in your beds."
It would seem after years of fruitless effort to silence the platform, Parliament would accept it as a power for good and give it wise direction. Yet we are informed that in face of its growing popularity when Henry Hunt attempted to address an audience in a grove in England, a regiment of cavalry charged the grove. Eleven were killed and several hundred wounded. Henry Hunt was thrown into prison, but when released later one hundred thousand people welcomed him to the streets of London.
As well now had Parliament attempted to prevent a London fog as to prohibit platform meetings. John Bright said: "When I consider these meetings of the people, so sublime in their vastness and resolution, I see coming over the hilltops of time the dawning of a nobler and better day for my country."
It is our privilege to live in the good day of which John Bright spoke. Yet while a public speaker today is in no dread of arrest or imprisonment for any decent expression of opinion, the platform is not without its hindrances; and some of these will never be cured, while babies cry, architects sacrifice acoustics to style, young people do their courting in public, janitors smother thoughts in foul air, and milliners persist in building up artistic barriers between speaker and audience.
Here let me give a bit of advice to my own sex. Gentlemen, when you purchase a new hat, no matter if a ten dollar silk, or a twenty dollar panama, do not attend a lecture, and taking a seat in front of some intelligent lady forget to remove your hat. The lady may want to see the speaker's face, and he may need the inspiration of her countenance, while you are interfering with both. "A hint to the wise is sufficient." This hint may not be in accord with the advice of Paul, but Paul never saw a twentieth century "Merry Widow" hat. Then too, Paul was already inspired and didn't need the inspiration of human countenances. I am speaking for the uninspired, to whom an audience of hatless heads is an inspiration.
But few persons realize how a public speaker is affected by little influences. The flitting of a blind bat over a church audience on a summer evening, will mar the most fascinating flight of eloquence ever plumed from a pulpit.
When Nancy Hanks broke the world's trotting record at Independence, Iowa, some years ago, her former owner, Mr. Hart Boswell, of Lexington, who raised and trained her, was asked if Nancy would ever lower that record. He replied: "Well, if the time comes that the track is just right, the atmosphere just right, the driver just right and Nancy just right, I believe she will." See the combination. Break it anywhere and the brave little mare would fail.