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Humanly Speaking   By: (1857-1927)

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HUMANLY SPEAKING

BY SAMUEL McCHORD CROTHERS

BOSTON AND NEW YORK

HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY

MDCCCCXII

COPYRIGHT, 1912, BY SAMUEL MCCHORD CROTHERS

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Published November 1912

By Samuel M. Crothers

HUMANLY SPEAKING. AMONG FRIENDS. BY THE CHRISTMAS FIRE. THE PARDONER'S WALLET. THE ENDLESS LIFE. THE GENTLE READER. OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES: THE AUTOCRAT AND HIS FELLOW BOARDERS. With Portrait. MISS MUFFET'S CHRISTMAS PARTY. Illustrated.

HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY

BOSTON AND NEW YORK

CONTENTS

HUMANLY SPEAKING

IN THE HANDS OF A RECEIVER

THE CONTEMPORANEOUSNESS OF ROME

THE AMERICAN TEMPERAMENT

THE UNACCUSTOMED EARS OF EUROPE

THE TORYISM OF TRAVELERS

THE OBVIOUSNESS OF DICKENS

THE SPOILED CHILDREN OF CIVILIZATION

ON REALISM AS AN INVESTMENT

TO A CITIZEN OF THE OLD SCHOOL

The author wishes to express his thanks to the Editors of the Atlantic Monthly and the Century Magazine for their courtesy in permitting the publication in this volume of certain essays which have appeared in their magazines.

HUMANLY SPEAKING

"Humanly speaking, it is impossible." So the old theologian would say when denying any escape from his own argument. His logical machine was going at full speed, and the grim engineer had no notion of putting on the brakes. His was a non stop train and there was to be no slowing down till he reached the terminus.

But in the middle of the track was an indubitable fact. By all the rules of argumentation it had no business to be there, trespassing on the right of way. But there it was! We trembled to think of the impending collision.

But the collision between the argument and the fact never happened. The "humanly speaking" was the switch that turned the argument safely on a parallel track, where it went whizzing by the fact without the least injury to either. Many things which are humanly speaking impossible are of the most common occurrence and the theologian knew it.

It is only by the use of this saving clause that one may safely moralize or generalize or indulge in the mildest form of prediction. Strictly speaking, no one has a right to express any opinion about such complex and incomprehensible aggregations of humanity as the United States of America or the British Empire. Humanly speaking, they both are impossible. Antecedently to experience the Constitution of Utopia as expounded by Sir Thomas More would be much more probable. It has a certain rational coherence. If it existed at all it would hang together, being made out of whole cloth. But how does the British Empire hold together? It seems to be made of shreds and patches. It is full of anomalies and temporary makeshifts. Why millions of people, who do not know each other, should be willing to die rather than to be separated from each other, is something not easily explained. Nevertheless the British Empire exists, and, through all the changes which threaten it, grows in strength.

The perils that threaten the United States of America are so obvious that anybody can see them. So far as one can see, the Republic ought to have been destroyed long ago by political corruption, race prejudice, unrestricted immigration and the growth of monopolies. The only way to account for its present existence is that there is something about it that is not so easily seen. Disease is often more easily diagnosed than health. But we should remember that the Republic is not out of danger. It is a very salutary thing to bring its perils to the attention of the too easy going citizens. It is well to have a Jeremiah, now and then, to speak unwelcome truths.

But even Jeremiah, when he was denouncing the evils that would befall his country, had a saving clause in his gloomy predictions. All manner of evils would befall them unless they repented, and humanly speaking he was of the opinion that they couldn't repent. Said he: "Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good that are accustomed to do evil... Continue reading book >>




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