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Continental Monthly, Vol. 4, No 3, September 1863 Devoted to Literature and National Policy   By:

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In these days of strange and startling events, of rapid and fundamental changes, of curious and unexpected developments; these days, tremulous with the vibrations of the political atmosphere, and quaking with the fierce earthquake of national war; these days, that are filling up a web of history with more fearful rapidity, more complete, important, and decisive results than any previous epoch in the world's annals, a history which, if ever truly and worthily penned, will demand a deeper search into moral causes and effects, a closer scrutiny of the philosophy of mind, and a more careful balancing of political judgments, than any drama ever before played on the great world's stage, in such days as these, I say, it is curious and profitable to subject each new moral phase that presents itself to a rigid analysis, and trace every effect, moral, political, governmental, or popular, to the cause or causes that may, after a fair showing, appear to have produced it. A fair and dispassionate application of true and just principles is as essential to a right political judgment as to a correct moral decision, and he who allows himself to be led by passion, selfishness, prejudice, or a blind adoration of party, instead of the calm convictions of educated reason and conscience, thereby dishonors himself, and abdicates the right he possesses of acting for the best interests of himself and all. Especially is this true under a democratic form of government where every citizen is a legislator, virtually, where opinion leads to political action, and is consequently responsible for the course that action may take, and where each one helps to swell the numbers of those great parties that in their plannings and counterplannings make or mar the general good fortune. If this is true of individual citizens, how much more is it true of those mighty engines of the press and of party, that sweep such grand circles of influence, and install, in grandeur or in gloom, such important national conditions. That these are fruitful of evil as well as of good, every great national struggle, every crisis in the affairs of nations and of humanity, bears witness. Every national contest has seen the rise and the fall of an anti war party, and felt the influence of a press wielded in the interest of that party. These have not, necessarily, always been in the wrong. The contrary has been often true, though their fall, and the opprobrium cast upon them have been none the less sure. It is only when these have arisen during the progress of a war involving great moral and humanitarian principles in its successful prosecution, that the whole force of such an opposing influence is felt, the whole evil apparent. No cause however just, no war however holy, no trust however high and honorable, but has met the violence of this evil opposition, and the danger of betrayal from this source. Not while men possess the greed of power, place, and gold; not while reason is held in abeyance to passion, is freedom safe without a guardian, or the liberties of mankind able to abide without 'eternal vigilance.' Even our national war, the grandest and holiest of time, both in its purposes and results, is only the last most mournful illustration of this fact. When these contemporaneous judgments, true or untrue, as they shall prove, now in the heat of the time evolved in the thoughts of those who do think, and becoming crystallized in the countless newspapers and periodicals which deluge our land, and in the party records of the hour, come to be thoroughly sifted, and the sure and impartial verdict made up to pass into 'the golden urn of history,' without appeal thenceforth, great will be the glory or the shame of the prominent actors in the drama now enacting before the eyes of the world... Continue reading book >>

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