Nicola Gigliotti.

Cor mundi: The heart of the world; online

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queror." Decadence in literature always is a twin sister of
effeminacy. Great natural vigor and strength of character
modified by the influences just named produced monstrosities
like Catilina and Julius Caesar, both Romans from Rome, both
patricians, both in different ways a strange mixture of altru-
ism and selfishness, generosity and cruelty. Roman vigor had
been emasculated by Greek perversion. When genius and folly
appear in the same individual, be positive that something is
wrong somewhere; generally the one who makes victims has
been a victim before. If you allow your daughters and sons
to go and drink and dance with everybody in cabarets, you
have no right to complain of the inevitable harvesting !

The Roman — ^the typical Roman genius — in the intellec-
tual history of the capital of the world of yore is Lucretius.
De Rerum Natura is the masterpiece of an age.

If not corrupted by Greek decadence, Rome would have
had masterpieces galore, with the national trade-mark; and
we would not be compelled to shudder only at the idea that our
children might read the shocking obscenities of Ovid, garbed
in verses of rapturing beauty. Admirable is certainly Virgil ;
but we cannot separate him from Homer; while Dante, who
calls Virgil "his master and his author," is always Dante, per-
haps the greatest poet and artist of all ages, as Thomas Carlyle
practically declares in his lectures on Hero Worship. For Ugo

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Foscolo the three masters of all divine geniuses were Homer,
Dante, and Shakespeare. Amen.

The New Rome, Washington, situated in the center of the
modern world, must be its natural heart. Washington, Cor

The idea of conquest is extraneous to our conception of
greatness, and socialism, as preached by the followers of
Marx, is not a product of the American soil. We advocate
human brotherhood, without communism ; true altruism, with-
out suppressing the greatest incentive of progress and happi-
ness — ^well-directed individualism. We want everybody at
his place, in order to work effectively and efficiently for the
common good, for the advance of the race and of humanity.
A man, no matter how clever and great, cannot accomplish
everything. Mazzini was a great thinker, the greatest of all
philosophers of freedom, the educator and apostle of an age of
giants. But he was absolutely unfit to have a position which re-
quired executive ability. He ruined the Roman Republic, he
made a mess of many of the revolts which preceded the unifi-
cation of Italy. And the resentment of Garibaldi was more than
justified. Who can read the famous letter of Garibaldi, without
going with the mind to the miserable conditions created in
Russia by theorists lacking executive ability? Disgusted with
the uncertainties of Mazzini and the other triumvirs, on June
2nd, 1849, the great liberator wrote to the great master of lib-

"Mazzini : Here I cannot avail anything for the
good of the Republic, save in two ways : as a dicta-
tor with unlimited plenary powers, or as a simple
soldier. Choose! — Giuseppe Garibaldi."

I have related the incident, in order to show that to criti-
cise inefficient officials in Washington does not mean to be
poor patriots. Nobody loves Mazzini more than I do; but I do
not believe I am guilty of any lack of respect to his memory, if
I state that he had no executive ability. I have, in order to
avoid misunderstandings, taken examples from Italy, picking
up exactly the men whose memories I worship most.

It is absolutely necessary to avoid and eliminate all
strange dualisms of good and evil. If we have to offer the
world, with much good, some evil, it is better to give up the
task. America cannot be but good. Like many of the ancient
— all religions show the same dualism — ^the old Russians had
two gods — ^Belibodg, the genius of good; and Tschemobog,
the genius of evil : they were worshiping the former for grat-
itude, and the later for fear. If our country has to be a god-
dess for all nations on earth, she must be worshiped for grati-
tude, and not for fear. We can have in this country but one
great mission — ^that of spreading all over the world private^
social, and political virtue.

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Gigliotti—Car Mundi 88

More fortunate than any other people, ancient or mod-
em, also in this respect we had, combined in the same man,
the theoretical and executive ability. Abraham Lincoln, who
was our inunortal teacher of freedom, was also the greatest
President this country ever had; or, if you please, the most
wonderful chief executive in the history of the world. The
ancients would have made a god of him. Great was George
Washington, but his greatness is essentially American.

That erratic rag peddler of swill barrel erudition and
gossip unworthy even of the Merry Wives of Windsor, Pro-
fessor Beard, in order to appear a man of great ability, tried
to belittle Washington and the other immortal fathers of the
country, picking up the piquant traits of human weakness.
The greater the man, the more human he is. The weakness
of our clay, contrasting stupendously with the marvels of
the spirit, gives a more bold and impressive projection to
genius. Bacon enunciated the greatest of all philosophical
truths, when he sentenced: Homo sum; humani nihil a me
alienum puto — I* am a man, nothing of what is human do I
count foreign to myself. Even Jesus was tempted by Satan.
Hypocrisy and greatness cannot blend. A great man without
faults, big or small, is an absurdity, a conventional lie, a mon-
strosity. Jesus spoke to mankind in the incident of the adul-
teress. Abraham Lincoln spoke to mankind when he answered
his "holier than thou" adviser: "I am sorry I don't know what
brand of whiskey General Grant drinks, or I would send him
a barrel." If George Washington belongs to America, Abra-
ham Lincoln belongs to mankind.

After Lincoln we had great Presidents. Who can ever
forget, if he is honest, the commanding figure of Grover Cleve-
land? He was a giant, surrounded by pygmies, who wanted
to reduce him to their size, or by political opponents blinded
by passion. President Roosevelt astonished the world with
his ability, foresight, culture, directness, and character. His
faults, big as they may seem, give wonderful relief to the im-
mensity of his figure. Even as a private citizen, in spite and
because of his outbursts, he is an extraordinarily inspiring
influence to our country and to the civilized world. And now
that political passion is not blinding us any more, we have to
admit that President Taft was as peaceful and lofty as head
of this country as peaceful and lofty he is as a private citizen.
President Wilson is to-day the greatest leader in the Arma-
geddon for democracy and justice. May the Lord keep him
and bless him. I wrote against him, when I judged him from
his history of the American people. I have nothing but ad-
miration for him, now that his work as a statesman makes of
him the most commanding public figure in the world. May
the Lord convince the Americans, whose prejudice against a
third term is founded on sentiment rather than reason, of the
wiseness and of the necessity of making Mr. Wilson President

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84 Gigliotti—Car Mundi

for the third time. If the war is not at an end by 1920, the
country needs absolutely his services; and if peace has
been restored, he is the man who can, on account of the ex-
perience and the knowledge of the last trying years, success-
fully face the arduous task of readjustment and reconstruc-
tion. Had Lincoln not been assassinated by Booth, the country
should have forced a third term on him. He could have done
in two years what his successors were unable to do in a quar-
ter of a century. The elevation of Johnson to the presidency
was a public calamity. This is the verdict of history, and his-
tory has not been shaped by any of us, author or readers. I
hasten to the conclusion. Foreign settlements must be wiped
off from big and small cities. Unless you cut the abominable
tree of disloyalty, treachery and corruption, and dig up the
roots, and burn them, scattering the ashes to the winds, the
same deleterious influences, which came from Greece and
ruined Rome, will disrupt inexorably this land of promise.
The deleterious work had started already. The world's war
came in time to take us from the brink of the abyss, and re-
store to us the virtues, the ideals, and the faith of the founders
of this great Republic.

In order to become worthy citizens of the New Rome,
"we must (these are the words of Abraham Lincoln) lay aside
any prejudices and march, shoulder to shoulder, in the great
army of Freedom. We must make of this a land of liberty in
fact, as it is in name."

May official Washington hear and accept the warning
and the pleading of this Vox clamantis in deserto, of this hum-
ble citizen who loves this country more than anything on earth
— ^more than his own life.

God bless our country! God bless our soldiers, making,
of them, more than unconquerable fighters and heroes, the
noble champions of justice, democracy, and love.

Providence has made of Washington the heart of the

The End.

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On page 15, tenth line of third paragraph should read *^ stiletto/'

On page 68, closing line of second paragraph should read ''Joan
of Arc.''

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Online LibraryNicola GigliottiCor mundi: The heart of the world; → online text (page 10 of 10)