« iepriekšējāTurpināt »
heard of modern times we ought to send them as many intimations of modern movements as they are willing to print. There is a simile that was used by a very interesting English writer that has been much in my mind. Like myself, he had often been urged not to try to change so many things. I remember when I was president of a university a man said to me, “Good heavens, man, why don't you leave something alone and let it stay the way it is?” And I said, “If you will guarantee to me that it will stay the way it is I will let it alone; but if you knew anything you would know that if you leave a live thing alone it will not stay where it is. It will develop and will either go in the wrong direction or decay." I reminded him of this thing that the English writer said, that if you want to keep a white post white you can not let it alone. It will get black. You have to keep doing something to it. In that instance you have got to keep painting it white, and you have got to paint it white very frequently in order to keep it white, because there are forces at work that will get the better of you. Not only will it turn black, but the forces of moisture and the other forces of nature will penetrate the white paint and get at the fiber of the wood, and decay will set in, and the next time you try to paint it you will find that there is nothing but punk to paint. Then you will remember the Red Queen in "Alice in Wonderland," or "Alice Through the Looking Glass”—I forget which, it has been so long since I read them—who takes Alice by the hand and they rush along at a great pace, and then when they stop Alice looks around and says, “But we are just where we were when we started." "Yes," says the Red Queen, "you have to run twice as fast as that to get anywhere
That is also true, gentlemen, of the world and of affairs. You have got to run fast merely to stay where you are, and in order to get anywhere, you have got to run twice as fast as that. That is what people do not realize. That is the mischief of these hopeless dams against the stream known as reactionaries and standpatters, and other words of obloquy. That is what is the matter with them; they are not even staying where they were. They are sinking further and further back in what will sometime comfortably close over their heads as the black waters of oblivion. I sometimes imagine that I see their heads going down, and I am not inclined even to throw them a life preserver. The sooner they disappear, the better. We need their places for people who are awake; and we particularly need now, gentlemen, men who will divest themselves of party passion and of personal preference and will try to think in the terms of America. If a man describes himself to me now in any other terms than those terms, I am not sure of him; and I love the fellows that come into my office sometimes and say, “Mr. President, I am an American." Their hearts are right, their instinct true, they are going in the right direction, and will take the right leadership if they believe that the leader is also a man who thinks first of America.
You will see, gentlemen, that I did not premeditate these remarks, or they would have had some connection with each other. They would have had some plan. I have merely given myself the pleasure of telling you what has really been in my heart, and not only has been in my heart but is in my heart every day of the week. If I did not go off at week ends occasionally and throw off, as much as it is possible to throw off, this burden, I could not stand it. This week I went down the Potomac and up the James and substituted history for politics, and there was an infinite, sweet calm in some of those old places that reminded me of the records that were made in the days that are past; and I comforted myself with the recollection that the men we remember are the disinterested men who gave us the deeds that have covered the name of America all over with the luster of imperishable glory.
ADDRESS TO THE LEAGUE
TO ENFORCE PEACE
Washington, May 27, 1916
When the invitation to be here tonight came to me, I was glad to accept it,-- not because it offered me an opportunity to discuss the programme of the League,that you will, I am sure, not expect of me,-but because the desire of the whole world now turns eagerly, more and more eagerly, toward the hope of peace, and there is just reason why we should take our part in counsel upon this great theme. It is right that I, as spokesman of our Government, should attempt to give expression to what I believe to be the thought and purpose of the people of the United States in this vital matter.
This great war that broke so suddenly upon the world two years ago, and which has swept within its flame so great a part of the civilized world, has affected us very profoundly, and we are not only at liberty, it is perhaps our duty, to speak very frankly of it and of the great interests of civilization which it affects.
With its causes and its objects we are not concerned. The obscure fountains from which its stupendous flood has burst forth we are not interested to search for or explore. But so great a flood, spread far and wide to every quarter of the globe, has of necessity engulfed many a fair province of right that lies very near to us. Our own rights as a Nation, the liberties, the privileges, and the property of our people have been profoundly affected. We are not mere disconnected lookers-on. The longer the war lasts, the more deeply do we become concerned that it should be brought to an end and the world be permitted to resume its normal life and course again. And when it does come to an end we shall be as much concerned as the nations at war to see peace assume an aspect of permanence, give promise of days from which the anxiety of uncertainty shall be lifted, bring some assurance that peace and war shall always hereafter be reckoned part of the common interest of mankind. We are participants, whether we would or not, in the life of the world. The interests of all nations are our own also. We are partners with the rest. What affects mankind is inevitably our affair as well as the affair of the nations of Europe and of Asia.
One observation on the causes of the present war we are at liberty to make, and to make it may throw some light forward upon the future, as well as backward upon the past. It is plain that this war could have come only as it did, suddenly and out of secret counsels, without warning to the world, without discussion, without any of the deliberate movements of counsel with which it would seem natural to approach so stupendous a contest. It is probable that if it had been foreseen just what would happen, just what alliances would be formed, just what forces arrayed against one another, those who brought the great contest on would have been glad to substitute conference for force. If we ourselves had been afforded some opportunity to apprise the belligerents of the attitude which it would be our duty to take, of the policies and practices against which we would feel bound to use all our moral and economic strength, and in certain circumstances even our physical strength also, our own contribution to the counsel which might have averted the struggle would have been considered worth weighing and regarding.
And the lesson which the shock of being taken by surprise in a matter so deeply vital to all the nations of