Warner Van Norden.

Addresses delivered by Justice David J. Brewer & Mr. Warner Van Norden ... on July the 4th, 1908 online

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Online LibraryWarner Van NordenAddresses delivered by Justice David J. Brewer & Mr. Warner Van Norden ... on July the 4th, 1908 → online text (page 2 of 2)
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In peace secure, in justice strong ;

Around the priceless heritage of freedom draw

The safeguards of thy righteous law.

And cast in some diviner mold

Let the new cycle shame the old."

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I know it is common for a Fourth of July speech to be
given up to the telling of the marvelous things that we have
done in these material directions. Pardon me if I depart
therefrom and suggest some other matters which to my mind
give better assurance of permanent and increasing glory to this
nation.

And first, the universal education that prevails. In the
ancient civilizations there were a few learned men but the
great mass were absolutely ignorant. Today we have eighteen
million boys and girls in school, and many of the states have
truant laws in order to bring within the limits of the teacher*s
power and influence the children of unwilling parents. For
it is the purpose of this Republic that no boy or girl shall grow
to manhood or womanhood destitute of the blessings of an
education. Boys and girls, for we educate the girls as well as
the boys, a thing that was not thought of a century and a
half ago. You remember Queen Christine said to Mademoi-
selle Dacier, "Are you not ashamed of yourself, you are so
beautiful, to be so learned? ** As though beauty and knowl-
edge were incompatible. Now the schools are open to the
girls as well as the boys, and both sexes are led along the
highways of knowledge. And do you believe that an educated
people are going to give way to the temptations of a few
wealthy and ostentatious men and bfecome the willing slaves
of a mere vicious display ? When Abraham Lincoln said that
he believed in and trusted the plain people, he did not mean
either those in palatial homes or those in the slums, but he
thought of the honest farmer toiling on his farm, and the
honest laborer working in his shop, and those who in the mid-
dle ranks were carrying the great burden of the nation's work
and life and who were and are still honest and patriotic, and if
ever the time, which God forbid, shall come when a necessary
call is made upon these plain people to ri}e in defense of their
liberties, the defense of this flag, the armies will be so large
that they will stretch from ocean to ocean.

I say we are educating the girls. They are no longer
looked upon as destined to be only nurses or kitchen girls,
they are to become the companions, counselors, and best
friends of their husbands. It is said that giving them knowl-

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edge tends to make them independent. Well, I am glad of
it. Three or four years ago I went to Vassar College and
delivered the commencement address. After the address as I
walked with Mrs. Kendrick and my wife back to the main
buildings, three members of the graduating class passed, evi-
dently not seeing or at least recognizing us, for I heard one of
them say most earnestly to the others, " I am disgusted, two-
thirds of the girls are engaged already.'* That simply showed
that the young men of this country have good sense and know
where to get a good thing.

Milton, the great English epic poet said, in his picture of
our first parents, before their sin and fall :

** For contemplation he, and valor fonned ; for
softness she, and sweet attractive grace.''

I object to that word ** softness.*' Although it may spoil
the meter, it is more correct to substitute the word gentleness.
The sex is not soft, they are not creatures of putty.

I remember hearing a story of a scientific gentleman
much engrossed in his investigations, whose wife was quite
garrulous and had a world of curiosity — I believe that is said
to be a vice, or misfortune of the sex. Someone has said that
Lot's wife was on account of her curiosity turned into a pillar
of salt, and that if curiosity was punished now as it was then,
this fair land of ours would be dotted all over with saline
pillars of a departed sex, but of course that is not so. Now
this wife was inquisitive and annoyed her husband by her
questions and suggestions, much interfering with his studies.
In the course of time she died, and after the proper interval he
married again and went on a wedding tour. When he came back
someone asked him what sort of a time he had had. '^Oh,"
he said, **a most excellent time; I have the best wife in the
world, she don't know a blankety-blank thing." Now that
kind of a wife no man wants — at least no intelligent man. An
education they say gives them an independence. I am glad
of it.

Some of us, perhaps all of us, occasionally read the Bible,
and there is in it a passage which husbands and wives are
very apt to dispute about: "wives obey your husbands." In

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our constitutional history there have been two schools of
thought, one of strict constructionists, contending that every
word should be taken as it is written, and be given its exact
meaning and none other. The other, the liberal construction-
ists, holding that the words should generally be given their
ordinary meaning, but that if necessary, the public welfare may
qualify that interpretation. Now, I have always noticed that
the husband is a strict constructionist and when he reads he
emphasizes the word **obey." But the wife, on the other
hand, is a liberal constructionist. She obeys when it is wise,
but when it seems to her that the family welfare would be
better served, she quietly ignores the obedience. But none of
us are any longer troubled on that score. I have had a little
experience, have been married twice, had a promise to obey at
one time and not in the other. I do not see that it made a
particle of difference. While woman has gone into public
life within the last fifty years, and is no longer confined to the
home as she was three-quarters of a century ago, while she is
taking an active part in public affairs, while her influence is
felt directly upon the public activities of the day, the time will
never come when she will cease to be the queen of the home.
,There is not a married man but what knows, if he is sensible,
that he had better leave all the management of his house to
his wife. There is a deftness in her touch that no man can
equal. You go into a bachelor's quarters, no matter how
methodical and precise he may be, and then into a home where
a woman has arranged the parlor, and you see the difference
in a minute. And in the quiet peacefulness of the home she
will always be supreme, the trusted adviser, counselor and
friend, and she will give instruction in a great many things, to
her husband, wise as he may be. The fact of it is we all
know she is a born teacher, and the man that heeds what his
wife says is very apt to get along better than one that puts her
to one side.

I have referred to this for the sake of saying that in my
judgment no nation where all the people are educated is ever
going to sink in the scale of civilization. It is bound to go
up. Hand in hand, husband and wife, man and woman, will
toil in uplifting the nation and adding to its glory.

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Another thing I want to speak of, and that is, there is a
growing and purified sense of manhood and womanhood.
Manhood and womanhood imply both subjective and objective
duties. A man who appreciates what manhood requires is
himself manly. He is just, he is true, he is honest, he is pure,
he is righteous. And a woman who recognizes womanhood
in its truest sense is gentle, refined, delicate, pure. And there
is in this country both on the part of the men and women a
growing and deepening and purified sense of manhood and
womanhood. It is not wholly personal, but it reaches to all
our relations in life. Take the sailors and soldiers in our
army. If that gallant admiral who now lies on a bed of sick-
ness and pain, who was to be here this evening, whom we all
love and are proud of, was present, I should have no hesitation,
in appealing to him to substantiate my statement, a statement
which I have heard from many of our army and naval officers,
that the character of the army and navy, both officers, soldiers
and sailors has wonderfully improved during the last half cen-
tury. The gross brutality that was not uncommon has passed
away. The officers are gentlemen, and they treat the sailors
and soldiers as though they were men and not mere servants,
and in consequence the men themselves treated in that way
are of a higher character and respond more fully and faithfully
to the calls of duty. And I have heard it said by those who
are in a position to know whereof they speak, that there is not
a navy or an army on the face of the globe that has in its
officers, sailors and soldiers, a higher style of men than those of
the American army and navy. It means we are recognizing
manhood as meaning something, a duty to ourselves in our
own lives and also a duty to others.

Nor is this the only illustration. Some of you have read
the writings of Howard and Miss Dix, who visited the peni-
tentiaries of England and other like places years ago,^ and re-
member the revolting pictures of the conditions of those
penitentiaries and jails. You recall Dickens telling us in some
of his stories of the horrible things to be seen in a debtors
prison. Now we have abolished imprisonment for debt
excepting in cases of fraud and then the punishment is not for
the indebtedness but the fraud perpetrated in its contraction.

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Our prisons and jails are palaces compared with those that
existed a hundred years ago and the prisoners are treated as
men and women.

In Kansas the penitentiary was a few miles from my
home in Leavenworth. Majol- Hopkins was warden for many
years. He enforced discipline, but without brutality of pun-
ishment or a harsh word. It was a model prison, and it was
one of the pleasant things on the Fourth of July — for I used
to go there most every Fourth of July and speak to the
prisoners — to see the ex-convicts, fifteen, thirty, forty or fifty
in number, come back in order to shake hands with and see
how Major Hopkins was getting along. He had treated them
as men and women and they respected and loved him for it,
and they went out from that penitentiary better men and
better women for the very reason that they had been placed
under the care of one who had so treated them.

We have abolished many barbarous punishments of days
gone by ; they used to hang a man for almost any offense, even
for stealing a couple of shillings. Now, capital punishment is
confined to two or three offenses. There is a growing tend-
ency toward humanity in the treatment of the criminal.
The parole system prevails in many states, and after some con-
finement the prisoner who behaves himself is allowed to go at
large, reporting from time to time, and so long as he lives a
decent honorable life he is permitted to be with his family at
home. All this shows the growing sense of manhood and
womanhood which is teaching us to recognize the sublime
truth not merely the fatherhood of God, but also of the
brotherhood of man.

One thing more — for I do not want to weary yd\i — I am
afraid I have already done so — and that is the matter of
religion. We do not worry much about creeds and dogmas.
We do not discuss predestination and free-will. I might safely
hazard a guess that probably there are not half a dozen here
who can tell the difference between transubstantiation and
consubstantiation. Theologians say that religion is at an ebb.
It is not that ; theology may be at an ebb. If I may quote the
language of Wall Street, I should say we in America are short
on theology but long on religion. Jealousy between sects

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is passing away. Some of you perhaps were here at one of
the conferences, when on one morning Cardinal Gibbons of
the Catholic Church officiated, on a second morning Bishop
McVickar of the Episcopal Church, and on the third morn-
ing Dr. Lyman Abbott of the Congregational Church. Do
you doubt that the prayers of those three men went with equal
force up to the great white throne, or that the spirit of
worship was each morning equally sincere and true ? Bishop
Paret of the Episcopal Church of Maryland, told me this
incident. Some years ago he was invited to a gathering in
Baltimore at which official rank was entitled to recognition.
He met Cardinal Gibbons and said, ** Cardinal, which has
the higher rank, a Cardinal in the Catholic or a Bishop in the
Episcopal Church ?'* The Cardinal quickly replied " I do not
know. Let us not argue the question, but go in arm in
arm.'' And they did. There was an ignoring of official dis-
tinctions, a recognition of the fact that each of them was
serving the same Divine Master, walking by di£Eerent roads
towards that great congregation of the one church on high.

Again true religion expresses itself in the care that has
been referred to by Mr. Smiley, of the mentally and physically
disabled and unfortunate. I was at Worcester week before
last and saw a great building there holding two thousand
insane patients. At Ogdensburg two years ago I found the
same thing. Seventy-five years ago things of that kind were
unknown. Now it is almost literally true that under the
teaching of careful instructors the deaf hear, the dumb speak,
the blind see and the poor have the gospel preached to
them.

And it expresses itself in the care of those who are bowed
down by disease or poverty, as is shown in the lives of many
individuals. Take General Sternberg as one. He had been
the head of the medical department of the army and earned
great distinction by the efficiency with which he had managed
that department, and by the improvements he had made in its
service. When he retired, as required by law at sixty-four
years of age, instead of saying as some do, ''Well my life-
work is finished," he saw in cities, especially in the larger
cities, like New York, tenement houses, many of them

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mere shacks, and believing that Washington would be blessed
if comfortable homes were provided for those in the lower
walks of life, he undertook that work and as a result of his
labors there have been built two hundred and forty brick
houses, with two apartments in each house, that is, homes
for four hundred and eighty families, with plenty of sunlight,
fresh air and pure water and all sanitary conveniences in each
apartment, and, excepting for the size, just as convenient as
many of the larger homes in the city. Four hundred and
eighty families have come out from tenements, such as we
find in many places, and are dwelling in these homes. There
is an inspector who regularly goes around, not interfering with
any family life but watching everything to see that all is kept
clean and neat, so that the homes shall be, though small,
model homes for the poorer classes. Well, you would think
that was work enough for one man. But at the same time
he has been president of the Citizens Relief Association,
which collects funds and distributes them for the relief of those
who need immediate help. And that is not all. Like Alex-
ander the Great, he sought for more worlds to conquer, and
he has gone twenty or thirty miles out from Washington and
established a tuberculosis sanitarium, where twenty or thirty
patients are treated according to the most approved scientific
methods. All of this work he has done without pay and from
the spirit of brotherly love.

Some of you may, as I have done, stood by the bedside of
a loved daughter and seen the white plague lay its hand upon
her, and the pale face grow paler and the thin body grow
thinner until at last the silver cord was loosed and the golden
bowl was broken, and all that I could do was to take with
tender hands her pale and sacred clay and place it in the
bosom of mother earth. Do you wonder that I look upon
that man as one of nature's noblemen, and that I rejoiced to
join with others in a testimonial on his seventieth birthday for
the good work he has done for the sufiEering and needy and
those whom science alone can well help.

Well that is only a sample. Some of you may have been
in the slums of our cities and seen the wretched tenements of

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four, five or six stories, where whole families are gathered in
single rooms without any sanitary conveniences, with scarcely
a ray of sunlight and very little fresh air or pure water, and
wondered at the lives there lived. Now, all over this land, a great
e£fort is being made to change these conditions — take Miss
Jane Addams, for illustration ; a lady of means, of culture and
refinement, who has gone to the Hull House in Chicago, in
one of the worst districts in that city, and there has worked
day by day. She has her lecture-room, scientific apparatus,
printing presses and things of that kind, and she gathers from
the hopelessly poor and strives to lift up to a better life, tries
to put into them a hope and ambition and aspiration for some-
thing in the future. Does she not know the meaning of the
Master's words in his picture of the final judgment, ''Inasmuch
as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my children,
ye have done it unto me."

And it is not one individual alone. In all our large cities
there are noble men and noble women that are doing just that
work. Is this country going downward or upward ? Is our
civilization a failure or is it a success ? Is it promising better
things in the future or promising worse ? These things move
me, and I cannot help it. I beg your pardon if I have departed
from the ordinary style of a Fourth of July address, but as I get
old — well I am not eighty, I am past seventy, I feel as though
I should not spend my life in trying to simply make fun. I
believe in fun, I believe in a laugh. But I feel, that so far as
I can, I should, vnthout trespassing upon the patience of
others, try to put in motion forces, or to help forces already in
motion, which are tending to make this nation in the truest
sense of the word the hope of humanity. And now let me
close with these beautiful words of Longfellow :

** Thou, too, sail on, O ship of state !
Sail on, O Union, strong and great!

Humanity with all its fears,

With all the hopes of future years,
Is hanging breathless on thy fate !

Sail on, nor fear to breast the sea !

Our hearts, our hopes, our prayers, our tears,

Our faith triumphant o'er our fears,
Are all with thee, are all with thee !

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Online LibraryWarner Van NordenAddresses delivered by Justice David J. Brewer & Mr. Warner Van Norden ... on July the 4th, 1908 → online text (page 2 of 2)