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years several of our State conventions have not been afraid to say "gold standard » in their platforms, and to speak of gold » instead of «coin» or «sound money » merely. This shows an awakening of courage, and the time may soon come when some of our public men can hear themselves called gold-bugs » without shying or shivering. What is a gold-bug? Simply a man who insists that the people of the country shall have the best possible kind of money in which to transact their business; that the laborer shall be paid in the best money only; that the widow and the orphan who live on the interest of the money which has been left to them shall not be cheated of half their principal and interest by having a fifty-cent silver dollar substituted for a one-hundred-cent gold one. There is not a truer benefactor of all the people in this country to-day than the gold-bug; for he is contending for the maintenance of trade and commerce and industry, for the just dealings of man with his fellow-men-in short, for civilization itself.

The Unavailability of Trimmers.

A FEW months ago the editor of a Western newspaper addressed a request to something like a dozen wellknown aspirants for a Presidential nomination, asking each to define the position which he holds on the currency question. As this was then, as it is now, the most important of all issues before the country, it was not unreasonable to suppose that the candidates addressed would be glad of the opportunity to make public their views upon it; but this was not the case. Only two responded at all, and they failed to define their attitude. One said he was in favor of «sound money,» and the other that, «if possible, the unity of the party must be preserved.» All the others kept silent, thus maintaining that attitude of trimmers, which, at the time of this writing, they persist in holding, in spite of all importunities to abandon it.

It is a curious fact that we are on the eve of Presidential nominating conventions with a larger number of candidates whose views upon the leading question of the day are absolutely unknown than we have ever had before in our history. This is all the more surprising since the whole country is looking eagerly for a man who will take a decisive position upon the money question. There has not been a time during the last six months when a Presidential candidate, by placing himself squarely upon the gold standard as his platform, could not virtually have secured a nomination in advance of the meeting of the conventions. In fact, it would be easy to mention several candidates who apparently have lost all chance of a nomination by their persistent trimming or studied silence upon this question. To all appeals of friends and admirers that they should come out boldly and say gold if they mean gold, they have turned a deaf ear, either making no response at all, or so meaningless a one as to create disappointment and even disgust. Conduct of this kind is specially fatal with one great class of voters-the industrial and business men. These are so well aware of the absolute necessity of a sound financial system that they will take no chances about a President. They will not elect him and run the risk of his being a safe man on the money question after election.

Undoubtedly many of the trimmers who are hoping for a nomination think that they can take a position safely after the nomination shall have been won. The campaign is pretty certain to force them to take one side or the other. It will certainly be difficult this year for any candidate to go through the campaign without letting the people know where he stands, for such knowledge is of the first importance to them. They know from experience that Congress cannot be trusted on this question. For the last quarter of a century we have had to depend for the safety of our financial system upon our Presidents. It was President Grant who saved us from the Inflation Bill of 1874; it was President Hayes who vetoed the Bland Silver Bill in 1877, and whose known opposition prevented the contemplated repeal of the Resumption Act in the same year; it was President Cleveland who secured for us the repeal of the Sherman Silver Act, and whose firm stand against all efforts to force this country off the gold standard has preserved the national credit and prevented the wide-spread confusion and industrial and commercial disaster which a descent to the silver standard would have caused. Two Congresses in succession, one Democratic and the other Republican, have refused to sustain the National credit by saying that when we promise to pay all our obligations in «coin » we mean that they will be paid in gold. That refusal would have caused incalculable harm to us had not the whole civilized world known that so long as Mr. Cleveland shall remain President we shall pay our debts in gold.

In view of these facts, it is well-nigh incredible that a National convention should venture to take the risk of nominating for the Presidency a man who is a trimmer upon this subject. Can a man who has not the courage to say before a nomination and election where he stands upon the most vital issue of the day be trusted to develop sufficient courage after election to oppose the wishes of a possible silver Congress which may refuse him all support in case he ventures to antagonize it? Nothing is more insidiously destructive of character than a lifelong habit of trimming. A man who loses the courage of defining his opinions loses also the power of forming definite convictions, and can never be trusted to act decisively and bravely in a great emergency. Then, too, nearly every man who becomes President is susceptible to the desire for reëlection; and to secure that he will inevitably employ the same methods that he employed successfully in getting his first nomination and election. If he succeeded as a trimmer he will be a trimmer throughout his term, and the country can place no sure reliance upon him.

This is preeminently a year when the people demand courage in their candidates. They are anxious about their business affairs, and suspicious also of the great power which the political bosses are wielding. They wish to see in the Presidency some man whose personal character and known views will be a guarantee that he will be a bulwark there against all possible Congressional folly, and against all efforts to deprive the people of their right to self-government. They want a courageous, able, and patriotic man in the White House, and not one who is afraid to define his views lest it may deprive him of a few hundred or a few thousand votes. All the Presidents best loved of the

people have been men who not only had clear convictions, but had also the courage to avow them. At no time have the people been more alive than now to the need of such qualities in a President. They see with alarm the steady deterioration in character and ability of both houses of Congress, and realize that, unless the standard for the Executive be kept high, the public interests may be seriously imperiled. Every man who talks with his fellows knows this to be the case. The National conventions will but poorly represent the feeling of the people if they are not impressed by this view. If one of them shall take the risk of putting forth as a candidate a man whose views, not only upon the currency, but upon all the great questions of the day, are unknown because of his cowardice in failing to reveal them, its members may find long before election day arrives that a serious blunder has been committed. The country cannot afford to take any chances this year; the possibilities of harm are too many and too great. The politicians will be wise to make up their minds to this fact; for, unless they do so, and act accordingly, a great surprise may come to them on the day after election.

A Duty of Englishmen to America. THAT was a high day in James Boswell's calendar on which he at last succeeded in bringing Dr. Johnson and Jack Wilkes together around Mr. Dilly's catholic dinnertable in the Poultry.» But another than Jack Wilkes was there, whose meeting with the redoubtable doctor bade fair to prove explosive. «I observed him,» says Boswell, whispering to Mr. Dilly, Who is that gentleman, sir?>

DILLY: Mr. Arthur Lee.)

never think of America without seeing in imagination a gigantic counter stretched all along our seaboard: and we bore Hunt's ridicule with a complacency that was the more cheerful because his caliber and weight of metal were scarcely great enough to do much execution over sea. Carlyle sneered: we remembered his dyspepsia, and forgave. Ruskin emptied the vials of his eloquent contempt upon our sacrifice to America's freedom and integrity: we abated no jot or tittle of our veneration for his prophet's message, while we strove to make just allowance for the vagaries of the hyperesthetic temperament. These things it was easy to condone.

But we found it more difficult to excuse the attitude of statesmen whose business it should have been to know us better. Mr. Gladstone's unwillingness or inability to grasp the true issues at stake in our great war has long since been forgiven, if not forgotten. The noble candor and the keen insight of Tom Taylor's tribute to Lincoln were ample apology for « Punch's » sarcasm and misapprehension. But scarce anything could better illustrate the profound ignorance of even eminent Englishmen concerning the elementary problems of our national life than the fact that so liberal and philosophic a statesman as Sir George Cornewall Lewis made bitterly contemptuous reference to our great President as he entered upon his stupendous task in 1861; and that, even three years later, so high-minded and generous a critic as Walter Bagehot repeated and emphasized the gibe.

If we recall these things to-day, it is in no sense to revive any bitterness of feeling which they may once have provoked. Though the Jingo rage and the demagogue imagine a vain thing, the great mass of self

JOHNSON: Too too too (under his breath), which restrained and sober Americans remember them with was one of his habitual mutterings.

Mr. Arthur Lee,» adds Boswell, «could not but be very obnoxious to Johnson, for he was not only a patriot, but an American.»

If any reciprocal feeling toward the great lexicographer ever animated Americans, the lapse of years must long since have assuaged it. We love him none the less that he was so high a Tory, and we can afford to forgive the blindness of his prejudice. There is a fine last-century flavor about it all that appeals to us. But when the presumably educated Englishman of to-day is content with Dr. Johnson's political point of view, and shows an equally indiscriminate prejudice, he seriously compromises either his intelligence, his honesty, or his loyalty to that love of fair play which we like to think our common Anglo-Saxon heritage.

The fact is that the English public men who have understood America, or who have seemed to care to understand her, have, at least until recently, always represented a small minority. During the first century of our national life scarcely an Englishman of eminence was clear-sighted enough to perceive America's real devotion to great ideals. Our British kinsmen thought us a horde of Gradgrinds and nothing else; whereas, in spite of a seeming absorption in material things, the national life was grappling with mighty ethical and political ideas, which the selfishness and irresponsibility of politicians might sometimes distort, but could never stifle. Leigh Hunt, as Lowell used to remind us, could

sorrow rather than with anger. They furnish us, however, with a sufficient pretext for a word of kindly admonition to honest Englishmen.

It has been remarked in America that almost every Englishman one meets seems vastly more intelligent about India, Burma, or Central Africa than about the United States. This prevailing ignorance is unfortunate at all times; in a period of international stress it may prove calamitous. It breeds a factitious contempt on both sides, and contempt, when it is finished, bringeth forth hate. The Englishmen who have understood American life have judged it by something besides the froth of the irresponsible press and the antics of provincial statesmen.» Cobden's fatal exposure of his life to do us service, and John Bright's brave words in the hour of our distress, can never be forgotten. The memory of Thomas Hughes-alas! that we must write «memory» now-will always remain a rich and fragrant legacy, to which, in a peculiar sense, we are coheirs with Englishmen; while the work of Mr. Bryce has not only won our respect and gratitude, but is bound to leave deep impress on our life. None of these men was blind to the evident foibles, defects, and crudities of the strenuous life of an earnest and virile people. On the other hand, none invited distrust by silly attempts to flatter or cajole. But all were quick to recognize in American aspiration, achievement, and representative character something other and better than mere bigThey even ventured now and then to speak of


these things as great; but the word sits better on their there is no telling how many Miltons have been kept lips than on ours. mute by unwise repression of their noble rage.

We have heard not a little during the last half-year of England's essential friendliness toward America and pride in her. Is it too much to ask that this good will be put to the simple test of a thoughtful reading of Mr. Bryce's « American Commonwealth » and a candid study of the life of Lincoln? Or if this seem too plain and prosaic fare for palates long tickled by the high-spiced dainties of Captain Basil Hall and Mrs. Trollope, we may at least suggest that our English friends make better acquaintance with Lowell. In the world of letters he is as typical an American as Lincoln was in the world of politics. Neither sacrificed his sturdy and consistent Americanism to the demands of personal or party policy. Each was quick to discern the distinction between accident and essence in American life. Both represented a great multitude of their most influential countrymen in the depth and earnestness of their convictions, and in the possession of that kindly humor which purges conviction of fanaticism and moroseness. When Lowell made Jonathan say to John in reference to the «Trent » affair,

We give the critters back, John,

Cos Abram thought 'twas right,

he felt that the reason assigned was quite sufficient to justify the act, not merely to the world at large, but to the mass of his excited and sorely tried countrymen. And when the voices of wise and sober men in our colleges and churches were raised in the difficult juncture of last winter, demanding a careful and dispassionate consideration of a perplexing question in order that the right might be discovered and done, it was a characteristic assertion of the will of law-abiding and selfrespecting America. No one can hope to understand American life who shuts his eyes to the controlling influence of this conservative element, and keeps them open, as too many of our English visitors do, merely to the grotesque, the crude, and the bizarre among us.

A Plea for the Poets.

THE poets have always had a hard time of it, not only because they often beg their bread, and always learn in suffering what they teach in song, but because they receive treatment so unequal, being abused until they conquer recognition, and then worshiped as gods. Perhaps there is a good reason for this. There is an instinctive feeling that the poet is divine; if he is a pretender he should be put down, if he is genuine he is to be adored. But he would, upon the whole, be happier, and perhaps more productive, if at the outset he had somewhat kinder treatment, even if the later recognition were less emphatic. It seems to be regarded as a main function of current criticism to trample poets under foot, and to sweep them out of the way, with utter disregard, not only of generosity, but of economy; for poets come about as do other choice products: there must be many in order to produce one; the whole choir of birds must be suffered to warble in order to secure the nightingale and the lark. It makes one tremble to reflect how narrow an escape from extinction Keats and Wordsworth and Tennyson underwent at the hands of the critics; and

Just now the process is very active. By an unusual conjunction of events there is hardly a great living English-speaking poet, and we are taking our revenge for this spiritual orphanage by abusing the fledglings and young birds of song (some of whom already pipe melodiously) as though they were to blame for the lack of Shelleys and Brownings. The magazines come in for a full share of this unreasoning censure, because they do not give us monthly an «Each and All» or an «Ode to a Water-fowl » or a «Locksley Hall.» To sneer at « magazine poetry,» as it is called in the cant of the day, is virtually to sneer at American poetry in general, which always has found its channel largely through the monthly periodicals and their congeners. To take this magazine as a familiar example,-and THE CENTURY gives more space to verse than any other similar publication,-a careful estimate covering two years shows that five sixths of our contributors have been sufficiently serious in the pursuit of the art to have collected their metrical work into volumes. A review of current American magazine poetry will show, if not great qualities, at least a fine sense of rhythm, and much delicacy, subtlety, intensity, and range. These are qualities to be encouraged, and it is only to be regretted that in these pages the limitations of space do not make practicable a larger hospitality. In no other way can the great poet be brought forward; all the birds must be heard in order to reveal the one supreme singer. Moreover, there is much cheer in the full chorus, and if the single clear note of the robin were hushed we should feel a loss.

We are not entering a protest against criticism, nor asking that it shall abate its high function of intelligent judgment; but we deprecate the discouragement which is cast upon poets and publishers of poetry by the tone of contempt with which the poetry of the day is received. The general attitude is destructive; it should be fostering. The critics and the public do not know what they are doing by discouraging the production of poetry: it is not only like opposing the cultivation of flowers; it is like trampling down wheat, for poetry is the bread of intellectual and spiritual life.

Hardly a better service could be rendered to literature at present than to revive a knowledge of Shelley's «Defense of Poetry,» a work that has been undertaken by Professor A. S. Cook of Yale University, in a thin volume well packed with judicious comment. There are, perhaps, better defenses of poetry than this of Shelley's, but it has an indefinable charm as well as cogency of statement. It is a plea for the value of poetry. As with all other values, the condition of its production and the measure of its worth should be thoroughly understood.

There are many things that we profess to value which are in reality poetry, or draw their charm or power from poetry. We are now redeeming religion from dogma to ethics; but we must learn that religion is also poetry, because it is truer than dogma, and is the soul of ethics, and holds them both, as it were, in a solution of moral beauty. Dr. Bushnell put the matter in a nutshell, and also into a dozen stout volumes, in the title of one of his essays, "Our Gospel a Gift to the Imagination.» And Shelley is on the track of the same thought in his remark that a man, to be greatly good, must imagine

greatly and comprehensively; he must put himself in the place of another, and of many others; the pains and pleasures of his species must become his own.» It is to the poets we must go for our rendering of religion. They are the true theologians, from Dante down to Tennyson and Browning and Whittier, and when the poets cease to sing, religion will perish-if it does not live in the echoes of their songs.

In the same way education and culture lean on poetry. Here also Shelley says a good word: «Poetry enlarges the circumference of the imagination by replenishing it with thoughts of ever new delight, which have the power of attracting and assimilating to their own nature all other thoughts, and which form new intervals and interstices, whose void forever craves fresh food,»-a remark which puts the poetic function at the root of all growth in knowledge, and falls in with his sayings, that all high poetry is infinite. Veil after veil may be withdrawn, and the inmost naked beauty of the meaning never be exposed,» and that it is the very image of life expressed in its eternal truth.>>

In like manner poetry underlies history and government. No one has said a truer or profounder thing of Homer than Shelley in his remark that «he embodied the ideal perfection of his age in human character,» the very office and highest achievement of history. And as for government, Shelley translates the saying of Andrew Fletcher, that «< if a man were permitted to make all the ballads, he need not care who should make the laws of a nation,» into the assertion that «poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world, because they measure the circumference and sound the depths of human nature with a comprehensive and all-penetrating spirit,» and are thus the very «spirit of the age,» which dominates society and issues in laws.

The part that poetry has played in public events is indeed a matter of familiar knowledge. Aside from the distinctive song-writing which animates all patriotic hearts, one recalls, to cite but a single instance, the glowing work of that band of poets who gave life and power to the anti-slavery cause. - Lowell's philippics against the spurious statesmanship of the spoils system have not yet lost their occasion nor their animating force. Such large utterance » realizes what Milton had in mind in the concluding lines of his sonnet, «To the Lord General Fairfax »:

O yet a nobler task awaits thy hand (For what can war but endless war still breed?) Till truth and right from violence be freed, And public faith clear'd from the shameful brand Of public fraud. In vain doth valor bleed,

While avarice and rapine share the land.

It is time to take to heart these suggestions, and to open our minds a little more widely to these candidates and aspirants for the highest place the world can offer and the greatest service it can require. They can forego their hopes and miss possible fame, but society cannot go without what the poets can give, and must give, to save it from the slough of misconceived utility.

"Four Lincoln Conspiracies.» A Correction. IN the article with the above title, printed in the April CENTURY, reference was made to Mr. Louis J. Weichmann as having escaped punishment for supposed know

ledge of the plot against President Lincoln, through his services as the most important government witness at the trial of the assassin conspirators.»

In refutation of the imputation contained in that statement, Mr. Weichmann has referred us to General H. L. Burnett, who was Special Judge Advocate of the commission which tried the conspirators. General Burnett says that Mr. Weichmann at the time was a clerk in the War Department, and, as a college-mate of three years' standing and friend of John H. Surratt, became a boarder in Mrs. Surratt's house nearly three months before Booth's advent there. Mr. Weichmann voluntarily explained his connection with the Surratt household, was at once sent by Secretary Stanton to Canada with the party searching for John H. Surratt, and on his return and during the trial conducted himself like a person innocent of wrong-doing, and willing to state the facts within his knowledge. Also, in a letter dated January 27, 1867, General Burnett said to Mr. Weichmann: «I have always believed that in that trial of Mr. Lincoln's assassins you enacted an honorable and truthful part, and did our struggling country great service.»>

In a letter inclosing copies of other letters from officers connected with the trial, Mr. Weichmann says: I was appointed to an honorable position in the government service at Philadelphia on April 15, 1869, which I retained until the first day of October, 1886, when I resigned. During the early part of 1886 I was President of the Civil Service Board in the Philadelphia custom-house. My position was given me not as a reward, but as a measure of justice for what I had been compelled to suffer by reason of my testimony in the conspiracy trials.»

To quote from a few of these letters, Judge Advocate General Joseph Holt wrote to Congressman W. D. Kelley on March 30, 1869: «Referring to our conversation this evening in regard to Mr. Louis J. Weichmann, a constituent of yours, I write to say that ever since this young man gave his testimony on the trial of the assassins of the President, he has been subjected to the most malignant proscription and persecution. . . In giving his testimony on that occasion, which I verily believe he did with entire truthfulness, he performed a public duty imposed upon him with a conscientious faithfulness which entitles him to the support of the government, and to the commendation of all loyal and honorable men. . . He has fine intelligence and culture, and sustains an irreproachable character.>>

General Lew Wallace, a member of the commission which tried the conspirators, wrote November 8, 1865: «Friend Weichmann: Please accept my regards and consider me your friend.» General James A. Ekin, another member, wrote, June 7, 1876: «It affords me pleasure to bear testimony to your integrity of character. It was never questioned by me, and you were on several occasions favorably mentioned in conversation both by the late Secretary Stanton and General Joseph Holt. During the memorable trial of the conspirators your testimony was considered by the court as conclusive and clear, and your evidence was regarded as truthful in every particular. It stood the test of crossexamination, and remained unshaken on the record.» General R. S. Foster, another member, wrote, July 30,

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President Lincoln and the Widow of General Helm.

HE following appeared in THE CENTURY for DecemThe following appeared in s to Lincoln's Clemency:

Mr. Lincoln's absolute impartiality when dealing with affairs wherein he was personally interested is well illustrated in the following despatch to a Union general:

« WAR DEPARTMENT, WASHINGTON, D. C., August 8, 1864.

MAJOR-GENERAL BURBRIDGE, Lexington, Ky.: Last December Mrs. Emily T. Helm, half-sister of Mrs. L., and widow of the rebel general Ben. Hardin Helm, stopped here on her way from Georgia to Kentucky, and I gave her a paper, as I remember, to protect her against the mere fact of her being General Helm's widow. I hear a rumor to-day that you recently sought to arrest her, but was prevented by her presenting the paper from me. I do not intend to protect her against the consequences of disloyal words or acts spoken or done by her since her return to Kentucky, and if the paper given her by me can be construed to give her protection for such words or acts, it is hereby revoked pro tanto. Deal with her for current conduct just as you would with any other. A. LINCOLN."

This despatch is a surprise to me, since I was never arrested and never had any trouble with the United States authorities. The circumstances of the protection paper given to me by President Lincoln were these: I had lost two of my brothers: one was killed at Corinth, the other died at Vicksburg from a wound received at Baton Rouge; at the battle of Chickamauga my husband had fallen. I had accompanied my husband South, and after his death I received from Mr. Lincoln a permit to return to Kentucky under flag of truce. Upon reaching Fort Monroe, a United States officer came on the boat and told me he had orders to require an oath of allegiance to the United States from every one who landed. I asked for permission to proceed to Washing ton on parole, stating that I would return in case I was called upon to take the oath. I had just left the friends in arms of my husband and brothers, with tears in their eyes and hearts for me in my great bereavement, and they would have felt, if I had taken the oath, that I had deserted them and had not been true to the cause for which my husband had given up his life. My refusal was therefore not bravado.

Soon after my conversation with the officer I was allowed to go on to Washington, and I immediately called on President Lincoln. Both Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln (who

was my half-sister) received me with every sign of affecburied from the White House a little son who had loved tion and kindness. Since I had last seen them they had me very much; on each side we had had overwhelming sorrow, which caused our meeting to be painful and agitating.

I told Mr. Lincoln my object in coming, explained my position, and stated that I did not intend to embarrass him or make myself conspicuous in any way, in case he allowed me to proceed to my home in Kentucky. I was his guest for several days; when I left he gave me a paper worded to protect me in person and property (except as to slaves), and as I thanked him he said, "I have known you all your life, and I never knew you to do a mean thing.>>

After I arrived in Kentucky I was careful that no act or word of mine should make him regret being so considerate of me. Every one was kind to me in Kentucky, irrespective of opinions; and I do not think I made any enemies on account of my opinions. I had no occasion to use the paper except once, when asking a Federal officer to keep his soldiers, who were camped near me, from trespassing upon the grounds and taking our meals as they were cooked from our kitchen, which he did in the kindest manner. It is possible that he reported the fact of the protection paper to General Burbridge, who was his superior officer; and the latter, perhaps, desired orders from President Lincoln as to what he ought to do in case I made myself conspicuous. I was not arrested; I gave no cause; I could never have been so lost to my sense of obligation to President Lincoln. That he did not believe that I had been imprudent is shown by the fact that in March, 1865, under the escort of his son (my nephew), with Mrs. Bernard Pratt, a relative of General Zachary Taylor and General Singleton of Illinois, I was allowed to go South on some private business of my own; but finding it impossible to go farther than Richmond, Virginia, and being advised by friends, I returned to Baltimore, where I had been only a short time when Richmond fell.

Emily Todd Helm.

Remington's "Bronco Buster.» "THE CENTURY'S AMERICAN ARTISTS SERIES. (SEE PAGE 265.) A GOOD deal has been said and written about American subjects for American artists, and some fault has been found with such of our painters and sculptors as prefer

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