Page:The World's Famous Orations Volume 5.djvu/258

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


THE WORLD'S FAMOUS ORATIONS

there is nothing for supplying it like a definition. Or shall we say that most definitions hang be- tween platitude and paradox? There are said, tho I have never counted, to be 10,000 definitions of religion. There must be about as many of poetry. There can hardly be fewer of liberty, or even of happiness.

I am not bold enough to try a definition. I will not try to gauge how far the advance of moral forces has kept pace with that extension of material forces in the world of which this con- tinent, conspicuous before all others, bears such astounding evidence. This, of course, is the question of questions, because as an illustrious English writer — to whom, by the way, I owe my friendship with your founder many long years ago — as Matthew Arnold said in America here, it is moral ideas that at bottom decide the stand- ing or falling of states and nations. Without opening this vast discussion at large, many a sign of progress is beyond mistake. The practise of associated action — one of the master keyr of progress — is a new force in a hundred fields, and with immeasurable diversity of forms. There is less acquiescence in triumphant wrong. Tolera- tion in religion has been called the best fruit of the last four centuries, and in spite of a few bigoted survivals, even in our United Kingdom, and some savage outbreaks of hatred, half re- ligious, half racial, on the Continent of Europe, this glorious gain of time may now be taken as secured. Perhaps of all the contributions of 220

�� �