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The craftsman
Vol. V, No. 2 (November 1903)

[Chips from the Craftsman workshop],   pp. [192]-200 PDF (3.2 MB)

Page 193

HE Craftsman, faithful to his prototype,
        Hans Sachs, sat the other day in his work-
        shop, laboring hard at his piece in hand,
        and, at the same time, reasoning much of
human life, when the sound of enthusiastic ap-
plause rose to him from the neighboring square.
  There, a concourse of all sorts and conditions of
men was listening to the first citizen of the United
States. The President was not making the rostrum
a focus of party-venom. He stood spiritually, as
well as literally, above the heads of his hearers.
He was not playing upon their passions with ora-
torical power, nor seeking to turn aside the sharp
edge of their reasoning faculties by the parry and
thrust of anecdote. He was not even dealing with
the political questions of the passing hour. He
did not speak of taxes and crops to the farmer, of
tariff to the industrial and mercantile elements of
his audience, of organization and methods to the
party-leaders among the throng. He had indeed a
word for all and each. But it was a collective
message. He stood as one qualified by professed
principles, by education, experience and right liv-
ing, teaching those surrounding him the elements
of nation-building.
  In listening to him the citizen, the most pessi-
mistic concerning the future of the country, could
take heart; for, first of all, he could not doubt the
sincerity of the man whose every word rang clear
and true. Further than that, he could not regard
the President, if judged by these same sincere
words, as a prejudiced partisan, or even as a stu-
dent of a special school of governmental science,
warped by theories, and bound to maintain certain
economic and social principles. Finally, if the
pessimist were well informed in history, he could
not do otherwise than recognize in the words of
the simple, forceful speaker the condensed wisdom
of all epochs and all schools of political thought,
which had passed thrqugh the clear medium of a
vigorous intellect. Here appeared no trace of the
demagogue, fanatic, pedant. Instead, every con-
cept was stamped with the sterling mark of truth.
But it was truth of a practical nature, with no
visionary quality. An Ideal Republic was certainly
outlined by the President's words, but it was a
modern state, thoroughly possible of construction,
and if once built up, capable of long existence by
reason of its vigor and purity.
  It is unnecessary to say that there were scoffers
in the throng: first, members of different social
classes, united for the moment by party-spirit.
Then, more to be condemned than the others, be-
cause they were not blinded by prejudice, came
those whom a little learning had made dangerous;
men of minds immature either by reason of youth,
or of arrested development; for the most part,
those for whom the college was not yet seen in the
proper perspective; those who felt themselves far
above the "mechanical" element of the concourse,
and too wise to be taught by that simplicity of
statement which they chose to call platitude. The
representatives of this class commented: "The
President says nothing new. He speaks to us as
if we were children. His ideas can be summed up
in what our nurses told us when we were yet in
kilts: 'Be good, and you will be happy.' As adult
thinkers we demand something stronger. We do
not want a kind of mental Mellin's Food."
  The injustice of such criticism can best be shown
by direct quotation from the President's opinions,
as he gave them that day, upon men and women,
capitalists and laborers, legislation and govern-
ment. Aphoristic sentences, worthy to be treas-
ured in the minds of Americans, irrespective of
class or condition, occurred at short intervals,
throughout the discourse, and among these The
Craftsman chose such as seemed most in accord-
ance with his individual views of life and society.
As a representative of the people, as one working
hard for his maintenance, yet having a deep sense
of the dignity of labor, he delighted in the follow-
ing thought expressed in the homeliest of language:

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