Archive for June 29th, 2012

Darrow the Cynic

June 29, 2012

Image from REA

DARROW THE CYNIC

In many ways Donald R. Richberg and General Johnson came off the victors in their public quarrel with Clarence Darrow. The defenders of NRA proved easily and conclusively the gross inconsistencies of Mr. Darrow’s reasoning, but they did not thereby validate the National Recovery Act and other measures of the Roosevelt recovery program. By exposing the addled thinking of Mr. Darrow, they have gained nothing in constructive defense of the follies of the NRA and its underlying philosophy.

It seems to be fate that the cause of opposition to administration policies falls into the hands of the Wirts and Darrows. They snatch the spotlight and the big headlines, while the calm, well-reasoned criticism of Ogden L. Mills is shunted into the background.

Mr. Darrow’s social philosophy has been shaped by his past experiences as an advocate for the accused, the oppressed, the unfortunate. He has become the champion of the underdog.

In a battle between society and a coupled of murderers, Mr. Darrow indicts society and excuses the criminals. A man of this type of mind would be expected to have a low opinion of the possibilities of human nature.

You might expect him to say, as he did say, “All competition is savage, wolfish and relentless and can be nothing else. One may as well dream of making war lady-like as of making competition fair.”

Mr. Darrow overlooks the fact that all advancement in social justice has consisted in applying workable rules for the enforcement of fair play — not perfect rules, by any means, but workable rules. They are ever being amended in an effort to reach a greater degree of fairness. As wolfish instincts become refined and sublimated better rules are accepted. We still have a long way to go, but we have certainly made a lot of progress in the last three centuries.

The most amazing thing about the Darrow report is that, while he is a professed cynic regarding human nature as applied to rules regulating fair competition, he advocates socialism, or socialized control of industry, which is based on the highest faith in mankind.

Mr. Darrow lacks the faith that business can ever be made to compete on a fair basis; yet he is willing to repose faith in a bureaucratic control over the lives of 120,000,000 persons.

Socialized industry means nothing less than the control of industry in the hands of a few tyrants. If takes a prodigious amount of faith in human nature to approve such a system.

Socialism, or socialized control of industry, to be successful, must presuppose: (1) That the leaders who battle their way to the top (through ruthless competition for leadership) will be not only superman, but also spotless, selfless characters; and (2) that the great mass of individuals will not be spoiled by the multiplicity of government props and aids that will surround them.

A people whose life is ordered for them by a small group of alleged supermen cannot retain the moral fibre of a people who are left to use their own initiative and invention.

A realist would concede that human nature is capable of great things, but in order to bring out the most and the best in him the individual must be left as far as possible a free agent, unhampered by manifold interferences from a paternalistic government. Political freedom means freedom for the individual to develop.

The question the country must settle is, how far, under our modern industrial set-up, must we go in ?? ???? down regulatory laws in order to protect individual liberty? What is the bare minimum of regulation consistent with modern conditions?

We believe that the National Recovery act, the Securities act, the Stock Exchange regulations bill and the other measures go far beyond the necessary minimum of regulation.

President Roosevelt and his advisers think that NRA and present legislation does not go far enough. There the ????  ?? ????ed, and it should be fought out along these lines.

Fitchburg Sentinel (Fitchburg, Massachusetts) May 22, 1934

To a Shred of Linen

June 29, 2012

Image from flickr-jennamay

The following article, from the Cincinnati Chronicle, bears upon it the impress of inspiration. It shows how easily the pencil of genius can hallow the most trilling subject. The pen of no ordinary mind could have imparted the playful dignity to a linen rag, which Mrs. Sigourney has thrown around it. There will be few objections to literary ladies, if their “shreds of linen” always receive so beautiful an apotheosis.

TO A SHRED OF LINEN.

Would they swept cleaner!—
Here’s a littering shred
Of linen left behind, —a vile reproach
To all good housewifery. Right glad am I,
That no neat lady, train’d in ancient times
Of pudding making, and of sampler work,
And speckless sanctity of household care,
Hath happened here  to spy thee. She, no doubt,
When looking through her spectacles, would say,
“This comes of reading books:”—or some spruce beau
Essenced and lily-handed, had he chanced
To scan thy slight superfices, ‘twould be
“This comes of writing poetry.”—Well—well—
Come forth—offender!—hast thou aught to say?
Canst thou by merry thought, or quaint conceit,
Repay this risk, that I have run for thee?
——Begin at alpha, and resolve thyself
Into thine elements. I see the stalk
And bright, blue flower of flax, which erst o’erspread
That fertile land, where mighty Moses stretched
His rod miraculous. I see thy bloom
Tinging, though scantly, these New England vales.
But, lo! the sturdy farmer lifts his flail,
To crush thy bones unpitying, and his wife
With ‘kerchief’d head, and eyes brimful of dust,
Thy fibrous nerves, with hatchel tooth divides.

——I hear a voice of music—and behold!
The ruddy damsel singeth at her wheel,
While by her side the rustic lover sits.
Perchance, his shrewd eye secretly doth count
The mass of skeins, which, hanging on the wall,
Increaseth day by day. Perchance his thought,
For men have deeper minds than women—sure!
Is calculating what a thrifty wife
The maid will make; and how his dairy shelves
Shall groan beneath the weight of golden cheese,
Made by her dexterous hand — while many a keg
And pot of butter, to the market borne,
May, transmigrated, on his back appear,
In new thanksgiving coats.

Fain would I ask,
Mine own New England, for thy once loved wheel,
By sofa and piano quite displaced —
Why dost thou banish from thy parlor-hearth
That old Hygean harp, whose magic ruled
Dyspepsia, as the minstrel-shepherd’s skill
Exorcised Saul’s ennui? There was no need,
In those good times, of callisthenics,
And there was less of gadding, — and far more
Of home-born, heartfelt comfort, rooted strong
In industry, and bearing such rare fruit,
As wealth might never purchase.

But come back,
Thou shred of linen. I did let thee drop,
In my harangue, as wiser ones have lost
The thread of their discourse. What was thy lot
When the rough battery of the loom had stretch’d
And knit thy sinews, and the chemist sun
Thy brown complexion bleach’d.

Image from Vagabond Language

Methinks I scan
Some idiosyncrasy, that marks thee out
A defunct pillow-case.—Did the trim guest,
To the best chamber usher’d, e’er admire
The snowy whiteness of thy freshen’d youth
Feeding thy vanity? or some sweet babe
Pour its pure dream of innocence on thee?
Say, hast thou listen’d to the sick one’s moan,
When there was none to comfort?—or shrunk back
From the dire tossings of the proud man’s brow?
Or gather’d from young beauty’s restless sigh
A tale of untold love?

Still, close and mute!—
Wilt tell no secrets, ha! Well then, go down,
With all thy churl-kept hoard of curious lore,
In majesty and mystery, go down
Into the paper-mill, and from its jaws,
Stainless and smooth, emerge. Happy shall be
The renovation, if on thy fair page
Wisdom and truth, their hallowed lineaments
Trace for posterity.  So shall thine end
Be better than thy birth, and worthier bard
Thine apotheosis immortalize.

Alton Observer (Alton, Illinois) Jul 6, 1837

Image from Cynthia’s Linen Room

From History of American Women:

Lydia Sigourney (1791–1865) was a popular poet, essayist and travel writer during the early and mid 19th century. Most of her works were published with just her married name Mrs. Sigourney. Her poetry, like her prose, was about public subjects – history, slavery, missionary work and current events – or treated personal matters, especially loss and death, as experiences common to all. In contrast to Emily Dickinson or Ralph Waldo Emerson, Sigourney wrote for popular consumption, and was among the first American women to establish a successful writing career.

Read more at the  link.