Imágenes de páginas

deliver without reading, is called "The Flag of Peace," a plea for the United States of Europe, and I think you will find that the admirable address of Miss Jane Addams formed a prelude to my remarks, in so far as she seems to believe that Peace should not leave entirely to war the spectacular element, but that we should try to employ the spectacular element on the side. of Peace. That is also the keynote of the thought I have now to present to you.

There is nothing new in the idea that the United States of America ought to serve as a model, or rehearsal, for the United States of Europe. I myself expressed it seven or eight years ago, in a little book upon America; and though I do not know that I actually borrowed or stole it from anyone, I was certainly not the first to hit upon so obvious a thought. A recently published extract from a commonplace book of Henrik Ibsen's shows that the essence of the idea was present to his mind at some time anterior to the unification of Germany in 1870. He says: "We laugh at the four-and-thirty fatherlands of Germany; but the four-and-thirty fatherlands of Europe are equally ridiculous. North America is content with one, or-for the present-with two." I am far, then, from imagining that this thought, in itself, will have any novelty for you. What I wish to do is to suggest a practical affirmation and application of the idea, which may have occurred to others, but has certainly not yet been put in practice.

My thought is briefly: "Why should Europe wait? There are unquestionably, in every country of Europe, thousands of men and women who, though they may be ardent lovers of their native land, have eliminated from their patriotism the taint of international envy, jealousy and rancor. These people are already, in spirit, citizens of the United States of Europe: why should they not formulate and assert that citizenship? Why should they not make, to-day or to-morrow, their Declaration of Independence from historic hatreds and racial antagonisms? In short, why should not we, who are of this way of thinking, forthwith establish the United States of Europe, hoist and salute the Union flag, and consciously and deliberately proceed to live in that Union, to realize it in our thoughts, to consolidate it in our endeavors, to sanctify it in our sentiments and affections?" That is the question I wish ultimately to put to you; and when I have

more fully explained its implications, I hope you will answer with me, "Why not?"

Perhaps I may best illustrate the idea by telling you how it came to me. I was reading "The Future in America," by Mr. H. G. Wells. And here, in parenthesis, let me record my belief that, with some scattered flaws, that is a wise and good book, worthy of very careful attention on this side of the Atlantic. The point is immaterial to my present purpose; but as Mr. Wells gave the immediate impulse to the idea I am trying to express, I should hold it ungrateful not to bear witness in passing to the esteem in which I hold that humane and stimulating thinker.

Mr. Wells relates how he was taken by "a pleasant young lady of New York, who seems to find sustaining happiness in Settlement work on the East Side," to see American citizens in the making at the Central School of the Educational Alliance in East Broadway. He proceeds:

"It's a thing I am glad not to have missed. I recall a large, cool room with a sloping floor, rising tier above tier of seats and desks, and a big class of bright-eyed Jewish children, boys and girls, each waving two little American flags to the measure of the song they sang.

"God bless our native land' they sang-with a considerable variety of accent and distinctness, but with a very real emotion. "Some of them had been in America a month, some much longer, and here they were-being Americanized. They sang of America 'sweet land of liberty'-they drilled with the little bright, pretty flags, swish they crossed and swish they waved back, a waving froth it was of flags and flushed children's faces; and then they stood up and repeated the oath of allegiance, and at the end filed tramping by me and out of the hall."

"It is touching,' whispered my guide. 'I told her it was the most touching thing I had seen in America.'

"And so it remains."

"Think of the immense promise in it! Think of the flowers of belief and effort that may spring from this warm sowing!"

Here, then, I dropped the book and did think. I thought of the Stars and Stripes waved by millions of childish hands from Maine to New Mexico, from the Florida Keys to Puget Sound; and I thought how the sentiment of affection, of devotion, thus engendered and fostered, was the true cement, the inde

structible and ever-renewed force of cohesion, holding together these vast and varied territories which we call the United States. You have here greater distances than those which separate the remotest corners of Europe. You have all sorts of physical and climatic differences, begetting differences of temperament, of manners, of material interests. You have such a medley of races as has never before been included in one commonwealth, save, perhaps, the Roman Empire. You have, in short, many principles of disunion, of dissension, of strife; while you have not, as in the Roman Empire as aforesaid, as in the Russian Empire, as in the British Empire of India, any potent military organization creating a sort of mechanical and superimposed unity. What have you in place of this external bond which constituted Pax Romana, and constitutes, so far as India is concerned, the Pax Britannica? You have simply the sentiment of devotion to the national flag—or rather, I may say, in the best and noblest sense, to the Imperial flag. For the greatest Republic on earth may quite as justly be called the greatest Empire on earth the greatest aggregate of sovereign and self-governing States, bound together by a sentiment, an ideal, which merges all differences of local ideal, sentiment and interest, and makes the very thought of internecine war a monstrosity and a horror. That ideal, that emotion, symbolized in your beautiful stars and stripes, is the great asset of the American citizen-a material as well as a spiritual asset, since it means his exemption from the major part of the ever-growing burdens imposed on us Europeans by our suspicions and fears of our next-door neighbors. So long as other quarters of the world are still prompt to resort to the stupid arbitrament of blood-stained iron, it behooves the Republic to be prepared for self-defense, and for her share in the policing of the world. But the United States, in itself, is untouched by the international rancors, jealousies and cupidities which keep Europe under arms. It is conceivable, indeed, that the problem of the distribution of wealth, so urgent on both sides of the Atlantic, may, on either side, lead to bloodshed; but that is a wholly different matter from the strife of nation against nation to which we are hourly exposed in Europe. It is what the insurance companies would call another order of risk, which we may eliminate from our present problem. And why have you not, over this vast continent, nation glaring at nation, with half

timorous, half-murderous and wholly evil eyes, across here a river, there a mountain range, or perhaps across some even less tangible barrier, which is the mere symbol of "old, unhappy, far-off things and rancors long ago?" Why, because you have, from the very first moments of your national history, wisely, sedulously and heroically maintained and cultivated that intense emotion regarding your national unity, and its symbol in red, white and blue, which Mr. Wells saw already implanted in those alien children whom your hospitable—perhaps too hospitable-empire had taken to her bosom. I say that Mr. Wells would have been not only a very stupid Englishman, but a bad citizen of the world, had he witnessed that spectacle without emotion; and I think no good citizen of the world can possibly fail to share the emotion which thrilled him.

And now I come to what is perhaps a ticklish point in my argument. You may have noticed how I said that you had "heroically" maintained the sentiment of national unity. That was an allusion, of course, to the fact that your unity had been preserved at the cost of the most terrible civil war recorded in history. Here, then, the scoffer may not unnaturally say: "Why vaunt the efficacy as a peace preserver of a sentiment which has failed to prevent, within the past half-century, a war at least as destructive as any of those which have arisen from the international rancors and cupidities which it is supposed to obviate? Ladies and gentlemen, I will answer this objection, perhaps paradoxically, by saying that it ought to have been more strongly put. Not only did the sentiment of unity not prevent the great Civil War; it was at bottom the motive and source of that gigantic struggle. The question of slavery was doubtless that which precipitated the war; but the real question at issue was the principle of unity against duality, or rather multiplicity. Once admit the right of secession, and every State or group of States which felt. its immediate interests divergent from those of its neighbors would have broken away, marked out its frontier line with forts and custom houses, and proceeded to glare across the said frontier in that overburdened, overwrought, nerve-straining condition of suspended belligerency which we, in Europe, miscall Peace. The strong sense of the Northern States instinctively realized that to suffer this condition of things to arise would be to throw away the one unique and inestimable advantage which history and

geography had conspired to bestow upon the American people. They felt that at all hazards this "flying in the face of Providence" must be prevented; and they heroically paid the price of its prevention. I am not afraid to confess that, in point of what may be called abstract legality, I think the South had at least as strong a case as the North; and I am full of admiration for its pathetic clinging to its not ignoble ideals. But the ideals of the South were allied to the past, the ideals of the North were in league with the future. Therefore I read with peculiar emotion the history of that battle of the giants; for I feel it to have been, in very truth, a war for peace and a victory for peace. Terrible as was the price paid, I think it was well paid, and paid once for all.

However much we may deplore the fact that the ideal of the Union had thus to be baptized in blood and tears, it would be folly, I think, not to recognize that this baptism has given a peculiar sanctity, among all the flags of the world, to the Stars and Stripes. It is a sanctity which may be profaned by thoughtless and boastful flag-flaunting-or in other words by a spirit of what we in England call Jingoism. But in its ideal, and in a great many of its actual manifestations, the sentiment with which Americans regard their national flag is a noble and beautiful thing, and full of hope, as I now proceed to suggest, not for the United States alone, but for the whole world. Such a sanctity as attaches to your flag cannot be created by an act of will, or in a moment of time. But there must be a beginning to everything. The Stars and Stripes themselves were once-and not so many generations ago—a new, an unfamiliar, a provisional, a questionable thing. What I want to ask is why the United States of Europe should not even now have their own Union flag, and cultivate in all generous and forward-reaching souls-in all souls. that are young, whatever be the age of their physical integument-an enthusiastic and lyrical sentiment towards it, such as that which Mr. Wells saw growing in the breasts of the new-made American citizens down in East Broadway.

A flag, ladies and gentlemen, is a very beautiful thing, a thing of spirit-stirring appeal. It has color, it has movement, it has life. It floats in the clear air above like a silent watchword of inspiration, leading our eyes and thoughts upward, far above the petty passions and distractions of the common day. I think

« AnteriorContinuar »