Practical Agitation

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C. Scribner's Sons, 1900 - Political ethics - 157 pages
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Page 53 - ... they were dealing with the hide of the rhinoceros. If you look at the work of the antislavery people by the light of what they were trying to do, you will find that they had a very clear understanding of their task. The reason of some of them canted a little from the strain and stress, but they are so much nearer being rightminded than their contemporaries that we may claim them as respectable human beings. They were the rock on which the old politics split. They were a new force. As soon as...
Page 50 - Remember . . . that there is no such thing as abstract truth. You must talk facts, you must name names, you must impute motives. You must say what is in your mind. It is the only means you have of cutting yourself free from the body of this death. Innuendo will not do. Nobody minds innuendo. We live and breathe nothing else. If you are not strong enough to face the issue in private life, do not dream that you can do anything for public affairs. This, of course, means fight, not tomorrow, but now.
Page 105 - Beauty and elevation flash from the currents set up by intense speculation. Beauty is not the aim of the writer. His aim must be truth. But beauty and elevation shine out of him while he is on the quest. His mind is on the problem ; and as he unravels it and displays it, he communicates his own spirit, as it were incidentally, as it were unwittingly, and this is the part that goes out from him and does his work in the world.
Page vii - I know that there are as many ways of stating the main idea of the book as there are minds in the world. That idea is, that we can always do more for mankind by following the good in a straight line than we can by making concessions to evil.
Page 58 - You yourself cannot turn Niagara; but there is not a town in America where one single man cannot make his force felt against the whole torrent. He takes a stand on a practical matter. He takes action against some abuse. What does this accomplish? Everything. How many people are there in your town? Well, every one of them gets a thrill that strikes deeper than any sermon he ever heard. He may howl, but he hears. The grocer's boy, for the first time in his life, believes that the whole outfit of morality...
Page 46 - The first discovery we make is that the worst enemy of good government is not our ignorant foreign voter, but our educated domestic railroad president, our prominent business man, our leading lawyer. If there is any truth in the optimistic belief that our standards are now going up, we shall soon see proofs of it in our homes. We shall not note our increase of virtue so much by seeing more crooks in Sing Sing as by seeing fewer of them in the drawing-rooms. You can acquire more knowledge of American...
Page 55 - Have you ever been in need of money? Almost every man who enters our society joins it as a young man in need of money. His instincts are unsullied, his intellect is fresh and strong, but he must live. How comes it that the country is full of maimed human beings, of cynics and feeble good men, and outside of this no form of life except the diabolical intelligence of pure business?
Page 56 - What has happened to these fellows at the end of three years, that their minds seem to be drying up? I have seen many men I knew in college grow more and more uninteresting from year to year. Is there something in trade that desiccates and flattens out, that turns men into dried leaves at the age of forty? Certainly there is. It is not due to trade, but to intensity of self-seeking, combined with narrowness of occupation. If I had to make my way at the court of Queen Elizabeth...
Page vii - An attempt," the writer says, "to follow the track of personal influence across society." The first three chapters are taken up with discussions of political reform, the fourth chapter with contemporary journalism. The results of these discussions are then summarized in the chapters called "Principles.
Page 116 - ... business interests exclusively. This is never entirely true even in trade, and the doctrines of the economists become more and more misleading when applied to fields of life where the money motive becomes incidental. The law of supply and demand does not govern the production of sonnets." 181 But, "when you see cruelty going on before you, you are put to the alternative of interposing to stop it, or of losing your sensibility.

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