War, as a social function, differs in kind, not merely in degree, from a croquet party or an afternoon tea. This important truth, apparently self-evident, is realized only with much travail by a peace-loving and peace-wonted people. For the present generation of Americans three years of fighting in Europe have done much to prepare our minds for the whole truth.
H.G. Wells says "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, by James Joyce is a book to buy and read and lock up..."
Early in November, 1864, immediately after his reelection, President Lincoln made a brief speech upon the results of the election which compares in substance, if not in form, with the Gettysburg address and the Second Inaugural. In a few pregnant phrases he sketched what the peculiar dangers were which are bound to beset a democracy when engaged in a serious war.
Abraham Lincoln by Lord Charnwood. Makers of the Nineteenth Century Series. New York: Henry Holt & Co. $2.00. The frankness and commonsense of Lord Charnwood's treatment of much debated matters in our political history may be illustrated by a passage relating to Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence. That was not a very candid state paper, he says, and the sentiments aroused for it afterwards by the popularity of Jefferson not wholly free from humbug. But the critics of the equality clause misconceive it.
The bland manner is extremely useful in some difficult situations, social and political, and it is as foolish to criticize a man for employing it as it would be to criticize a photographer for working in a dim light. The bland manner enables a physician to pursue his treatment without defining its object too clearly, often the condition of success. But there are other situations where the attempt to deal in sedatives is peculiarly unsuitable.
Few American Presidents have been more profoundly distrusted and more entirely misinterpreted by their opponents than Mr. Wilson, except perhaps Mr. Roosevelt, and the two men have been distrusted by much the same classes in American society and misinterpreted, if not for the same, at least for similar reasons. They both of them sought to accomplish a group of salutary reforms in the operation of the American political and economic system and in the prevailing use and distribution of political power.
Mr. Hughes had complicated work to do last Monday at Carnegie Hall. There was the usual task of the candidate, which is to be all things to sufficiently many men, and added to it the inner necessity, more imperative to Mr. Hughes than to most, of being true to his own instincts. He had to represent the Roosevelt propaganda, the Republican party's desire to win, and his personal relations to American politics. He managed with considerable skill to find the least common denominator of all three. Mr. Roosevelt sat in a box, and scattered through the hall were many who still wanted Teddy.
It is at least a century since the law of nations last stood in such urgent need of rational analysis and revision. The whole international system is in the crucible of barbaric strife. Its reconstruction requires lastly more than merely restoring what the belligerents have destroyed. There is need for new concepts and the elaboration of new principles. There is work for constructive thinkers and for those who are bold in exposition. It would gratify Americans if their statesmen should assume the leadership in this great enterprise.