Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/719

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701
LITERARY NOTICES.

Modern writers note a decline in the sentiment of patriotism; but we can afford to let the old patriotism go, if we can get a better patriotism in its place. The old patriotism involved hardly less of hostility and ill-will to other countries than of attachment to one's own. The new patriotism calls upon us to serve our own country first, and no less in peace than in war, but to be desirous that other countries should be equally well served by their sons. The old patriotism formed easy alliances with selfish and unworthy interests, so that the trade of patriot became one of the most suspected of vocations—so much so that the sturdy old Tory, Dr. Johnson, denounced it as "the last refuge of a scoundrel"; but the new patriotism which can not commend itself by loudmouthed denunciation of other countries can only make itself known and felt by useful activity in the public interest at home.

The complete instruction of our youth in civics will have to embrace, we regret to say, a description of the principal evils which dog the steps of representative government. We have just glanced at the evil of indifference in political affairs, but in a course of instruction it would merit much fuller treatment. Then there is the opposite evil of excessive partisanship leading to the gravest abuses of administration, and through the frauds which it introduces into the working of the political machine threatening even the stability of the State. There is the evil of excessive taxation, resorted to in order that the party in power may have more money to distribute for political purposes. There is the evil of corrupt understanding between the party in power and business men whose pecuniary interests that party can promote by legislation—so much tariff (for example) meaning so much money to be contributed at election times. The celebrated letter in which the chairman of a certain committee threatened to "fry the fat" out of certain manufacturers who, after having been put in the way of enriching themselves at the expense of the public, had failed to respond with due liberality and gratitude when the hat was being passed round for a great political campaign, should be printed for an everlasting remembrance and illustration of "how it works." As regards the thieves and pirates who obtain government contracts and enrich themselves by furnishing inferior articles, it would be easy to rouse against them the fierce indignation and reprobation of any class of ingenuous youths; and it would not be hard to show that many other frauds upon the Government, such as charging undue prices for things, obtaining by collusion contracts at figures beyond what would afford a fair profit, and so on, are all of an infamous nature and utterly unworthy of any man pretending to be a good citizen. Great care should be taken not to deal with any of these subjects in a cynical spirit or to create the impression that the evils indicated are more widespread than they really are. It ought to be a paramount object to promote respect for the country in which we live, and while the evils and dangers which beset our system of government should be plainly pointed out, stress should also be laid upon the vast amount of faithful service and unselfish devotion which the country receives from its worthier sons. The spirit to cultivate is not one of despondency, but one of hope, of confidence, and of resolute endeavor. Let our young people but have the right kind of teaching, and they will respond to it, and in less than ten years the effect for good upon the public opinion and public life of the country will be very apparent.