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7 page printout Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship. Contents of this file page ADDRESS TO THE PRESS CLUB. 1 LOTOS CLUB DINNER IN HONOR OF REAR ADMIRAL SCHLEY. 4 **** **** This file, its printout, or copies of either are to be copied and given away, but NOT sold. Bank of Wisdom, Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 The Works of ROBERT G. INGERSOLL **** **** ADDRESS TO THE PRESS CLUB. New Orleans, February 1, 1898. LADIES AND GENTLEMEN of the New Orleans Press Club: I do not remember to have agreed or consented to make any remarks about the press or anything else on the present occasion, but I am glad of this opportunity to say a word or two. Of course, I have the very, greatest respect for this profession, the profession of the press, knowing it, as I do, to be one of the greatest civilizers of the world. Above all other institutions and all other influences, it is the greatest agency in breaking down the hedges of provincialism. In olden times one nation had no knowledge or understanding of another nation, and no insight or understanding into its life; and, indeed, various parts of one nation held the other parts of it somewhat in the attitude of hostility, because of a lack of more thorough knowledge; and, curiously enough, we are prone to look upon strangers more or less in the light of enemies. Indeed, enemy and stranger in the old vocabularies are pretty much of the same significance. A stranger was an enemy. I think it is Darwin who alludes to the instinctive fear a child has of a stranger as one of the heritages of centuries of instinctive cultivation, the handed- down instinct of years ago. And even now it is a fact that we have very little sympathy with people of a different country, even people speaking the same language, having the same god with a different name, or another god with the same name, recognizing the same principles of right and wrong. But the moment people began to trade with each other, the moment they began to enjoy the results of each other's industry and brain, the moment that, through this medium, they began to get an insight into each other's life, people began to see each other as they were; and so commerce became the greatest of all missionaries of civilization, because, like the press, it tended to do away with provincialism. You know there is no one else in the world so egotistic as the man who knows nothing. No man is more certain than the man who knows nothing. The savage knows everything. The moment man begins Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 1 ADDRESS TO THE PRESS CLUB. to be civilized he begins to appreciate how little he knows, how very circumscribed in its very nature human knowledge is. Now, after commerce came the press. From the Moors, I believe, we learned the first rudiments of that art which has civilized the world. With the invention of movable type came an easy and cheap method of preserving the thoughts and history of one generation to another and transmitting the life of one nation to another. Facts became immortal, and from that day to this the intelligence of the world has rapidly and steadily increased. And now, if we are provincial, it is our own fault, and if we are hateful and odious and circumscribed and narrow and peevish and limited in the light we get from the known universe, it is our own fault. Day by day the world is growing smaller and men larger. But a few years ago the State of New York was as large as the United States is to-day. It required as much time to reach Albany from New York as it now requires to reach San Francisco from the same city, and so far as the transmission of thought goes the world is but a hamlet. I count as one of the great good things of the modern press -- as one of the specific good things -- that the same news, the same direction of thought is transmitted to many millions of people each day. So that the thoughts of multitudes of men are substantially tending at the same time along the same direction. It tends more and more to make us citizens in the highest sense of the term, and that is the reason that I have so much respect for the press. Of course I know that the news and opinions are written by folks liable to the same percentage of error as characterizes all mankind. No one makes no mistakes but the man who knows everything -- no one makes no mistakes but the hypocrite. I must confess, however, that there are things about the press of to-day that I would have changed -- that I do not like. I hate to see brain the slave of the material god. I hate to see money own genius. So I think that every writer on every paper should be compelled to sign his name to everything he writes. There are many reasons why he has a right to the reputation he makes. His reputation is his property, his capital, his stock in trade, and it is not just or fair or right that it should be absorbed by the corporation which employs him. After giving great thoughts to the world, after millions of people have read his thoughts with delight, no one knows this lonely man or his solitary name. If he loses the good will of his employer, he loses his place and with it all that his labor and time and brain have earned for himself as his own inalienable property, and his corporation or employer reaps the benefit of it. There is another reason establishing the absolute equity of this proposition, a reason pointing in other directions than to the writer and his rights. It is no more than right to the reader that the opinion or the narrative should be that of Mr. Smith or Mr. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 2 ADDRESS TO THE PRESS CLUB. Brown or Mr. So and So, and not that of, say, the Picayune. That is too impersonal. It is no more than right that a single man should have his honor at stake for what is said, and not an impersonal something. I know that we are all liable to believe it if the Picayune says it, and yet, after all, it is the individual man who is saying it and it is in the interest of justice that the reader be appraised of the fact. I believe I have just a little fault to find with the tendency of the modern press to go into personal affairs -- into so-called private affairs. In saying this, I have no complaint to lodge on my own behalf, for I have no private affairs. I am not so much opposed to what is called sensationalism, for that must exist as long as crime is considered news, and believe me, when virtue becomes news it can only be when this will have become an exceedingly bad world. At the same time I think that the publication of crime may have more or less the tendency of increasing it. I read not long ago that if some heavy piece of furniture were dropped in a room in which there was a string instrument, the strings in harmony with the vibrations of the air made by that noise would take up the sound. Now a man with a tendency to crime would pick up that criminal feeling inspiring the act which he sees blazoned forth in all its detail in the press. In that view of the matter it seems to me better not to give details of all offenses. Now, as to the matter of being too personal, I think that one of the results of that sort of journalism is to drive a great many capable and excellent men out of public life. I heard a little story quite recently of a man who was being urged for the Legislature, and yet hesitated because of his fear of newspaper criticism of this character. "I don't want to ran," said he to his wife, who urged that this was an opportunity to do himself and his friends honor, and that it was a sort of duty in him. "I would if I were you," said his wife. "Will, but there is no saying," he responded, "what the newspapers might print about me." "Why, your life has always been honorable," said she; "they could not say anything to your disparagement." "But they might attack my father." "Well, there was nothing in his career of which any one might feel ashamed. He was as irreproachable as you." "Ay, but they might attack you and tell of some devilment you went into before we were married." "Then you better not run," said his wife promptly. I think this fear on the part of husband and wife is identical with that which keeps many a great man out of public service. Now, there is another thing which every one ought to abhor. All men and newspapers are entirely too apt to criticize the motives of men. It is a fault common to all good men -- except the clergy, of course -- this habit of attacking motives. And whenever we see a man do something which is great and praiseworthy, let us talk about the act itself and not go into a speculation or an attack upon the motive which prompted the act. Attack what a man actually does. But these are only small matters. The press is the most powerful of all agencies for the dissemination of intelligence, and as such I hail it always. It has nearly always been very friendly Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 3 ADDRESS TO THE PRESS CLUB. and kind to me and certainly I have received at the hands of the New Orleans press a treatment I shall never forget. Our Sunday newspapers, to my mind, rank among the greatest institutions of the present day. One finds in them matter that could not be found in several hundreds of books, -- beautiful thoughts, broad intelligence, a range of information perfectly startling in its usefulness and perfectly charming in its entertainment. Contrast please, how we are enabled by their good offices to spend the Sabbath, with the descriptions of hell with all its terrors and all the gloom characterizing the Sabbaths our forefathers had to spend. The Sunday newspaper is an absolute blessing to the American people, a picture gallery, short stories, little poems, a symposium of brain and intelligence and refinement and -- divorce proceedings. As I have said, the good will and the fair treatment of the American press have nearly always been my lot. There have been some misguided people who have said harsh things, but when I remember all the misguided thing I have done, I am inclined to be charitable for their short commings. I do not know that I have anything else to say, except that I wish you all good luck and sunshine and prosperity, and enough of it to last you through a long life. END **** **** LOTOS CLUB DINNER IN HONOR OF REAR ADMIRAL SCHLEY. New York, November 26, 1898. MR.PRESIDENT, GENTLEMEN OF THE CLUB -- Boys: I congratulate all of you and I congratulate myself, and I will tell you why. In the first place, we were well born, and we were all born rich, all of us. We belong to a great race. That is something; that is having a start, to feel that in your veins flows heroic blood, blood that has accomplished great things and has planted the flag of victory on the field of war. It is a great thing to belong to a great race. I congratulate you and myself on another thing; we were born in a great nation, and you can't be much of a man without having a nation behind you, with you. Just think about it! What would Shakespeare have been, if he had been born in Labrador? I used to know an old lawyer in southern Illinois, a smart old chap, who mourned his unfortunate surroundings. He lived in Pinkneyville, and occasionally drank a little too freely of Illinois wine; and when in his cups he sometimes grew philosophic and egotistic. He said one day, "Boys, I have got more brains than you have, I have, but I have never had a chance. I want you just to think of it. What would Daniel Webster have been, by God, if he had settled in Pinkneyville?" Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 4 LOTOS CLUB DINNER IN HONOR OF So I congratulate you all that you were born in a great nation, born rich; and why do I say rich? Because you fell heir to a great, expressive, flexible language; that is one thing. What could a man do who speaks a poor language, a language of a few words that you could almost count on your fingers? What could he do? You were born heirs to a great literature, the greatest in the world -- in all the world. All the literature of Greece and Rome would not make one act of "Hamlet." All the literature of the ancient world added to all of the modern world, except England, would not equal the literature that we have. We were born to it, heirs to that vast intellectual possession. So I say you were all born rich, all. And then you were very fortunate in being born in this country, where people have some rights, not as many as they should have, not as many as they would have if it were not for the preachers, maybe, but where we have some; and no man yet was ever great unless a great drama was being played on some great stage and he got a part. Nature deals you a hand, and all she asks is for you to have the sense to play it. If no hand is dealt to you, you win no money. You must have the opportunity, must be on the stage, and some great drama must be there. Take it in our own country. The Revolutionary war was a drama, and a few great actors appeared; the War of 1812 was another, and a few appeared; the Civil war another. Where would have been the heroes whose brows we have crowned with laurel had there been no Civil war? What would have become of Lincoln, a lawyer in a country town? What would have become of Grant? He would have been covered with the mantle of absolute obscurity, tucked in at all the edges, his name never heard of by any human being not related to him. Now, you have got to have the chance, and you cannot create it. I heard a gentleman say here a few minutes ago that this war could have been averted. That is not true. I am not doubting his veracity, but rather his philosophy. Nothing ever happened beneath the dome of heaven that could have been avoided. Everything that is possible happens. That may not suit all the creeds, but it is true. And everything that is possible will continue to happen. The war could not have been averted, and the thing that makes me glad and proud is that it was not averted. I will tell you why. It was the first war in the history of this world that was waged unselfishly for the good of others; the first war. Almost anybody will fight for himself; a great many people will fight for their country, their fellow-men, their fellow-citizens; but it requires something besides courage to fight for the rights of aliens; it requires not only courage, but principle and the highest morality. This war was waged to compel Spain to take her bloody hands from the throat of Cuba. That Is exactly what it was waged for. Another great drama was put upon the boards, another play was advertised, and the actors had their opportunity. Had there been no such war, many of the actors would never have been heard of. But the thing is to take advantage of the occasion when it arrives. In this war we added to the greatness and the glory of our history. That is another thing that we all fell heirs to -- the history of our people, the history of our Nation. We fell heirs to Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 5 LOTOS CLUB DINNER IN HONOR OF all the great and grand things that had been accomplished, to all the great deeds, to the splendid achievements either in the realm of mind or on the field of battle. Then there was another great drama. The first thing we knew, a man in the far Pacific, a gentleman from Vermont, sailed one May morning into the bay of Manila, and the next news was that the Spanish fleet had been beached, burned, destroyed, and nothing had happened to him. I have read a little history, not much, and a good deal that I have read was not true. I have read something about our own navy, not much. I recollect when I was a boy my hero was John Paul Jones; he covered the ocean; and afterward I knew of Hull and Perry and Decatur and Bainbridge and a good many others that I don't remember now. And then came the Civil war, and I remember a little about Farragut, a great Admiral, as great as ever trod a deck, in my judgment. And I have also read about other admirals and sailors of the world. I knew something of Drake and I have read the "Life of Nelson" and several other sea dogs; but when I got the news from Manila I said, "There is the most wonderful victory ever won upon the sea;" and I did not think it would ever be paralleled. I thought such things come one in a box. But a little while afterward another of Spain's fleets was heard from. Oh, those Spaniards! They have got the courage of passion, but that is not the highest courage. They have got plenty of that; but it is necessary to be coolly courageous, and to have the brain working with the accuracy of an engine -- courageous, I don't care how mad you get, but there must not be a cloud in the heaven of your judgment. That is Anglo-Saxon courage and there is no higher type. The Spaniards sprinkled the holy water on their guns, then banged away and left it to the Holy Ghost to direct the rest. Another fleet, at Santiago, ventured out one day, and another great victory was won by the American Navy. I don't know which victory was the more wonderful, that at Manila Bay or that at Santiago. The Spanish ships were, some of them, of the best class and type, and had fine guns, yet in a few moments they were wrecks on the shore of defeat, gone, lost. Now, when I used to read about these things in the olden times, what ideas I had of the hero! I never expected to see one; and yet to-night I have the happiness of dining with one, with one whose name is associated with as great a victory, in my judgment, as was ever won; a victory that required courage, intelligence, that power of will that holds itself firm until the thing sought has been accomplished; and that has my greatest admiration. I thank Admiral Schley for having enriched my country, for having added a little to my own height, to my own pride, so that I utter the word America with a little more unction than I ever did before, and the old flag looks a little brighter, better, and has an added glory. When I see it now, it looks as if the air had burst into blossom, and it stands for all that he has accomplished. Admiral Schley has added not only to our wealth, but to the wealth of the children yet unborn that are going to come into the great heritage not only of wealth, but of the highest possible riches, glory, honor, achievement. That is the reason I congratulate you to-night. And I congratulate you on another thing, Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 6 LOTOS CLUB DINNER IN HONOR OF that this country has entered upon the great highway, I believe, of progress. I believe that the great nation has the sentiment, the feeling of growth. The successful farmer wants to buy the land adjoining him; the great nation loves to see its territory increase. And what has been our history? Why, when we bought Louisiana from Napoleon, in 1803, thousands of people were opposed to "imperialism," to expansion; the poor old moss-backs were opposed to it. When we bought Florida, it was the same. When we took the vast West from Mexico in 1848 it was the same. When we took Alaska it was the same. Now, is anybody in favor of modifying that sentiment? We have annexed Hawaii, and we have got the biggest volcano in the business. A man I know visited that volcano some years ago and came back and told me about his visit. He said that at the little hotel they had a guest-book in which the people wrote their feelings on seeing the volcano in action. "Now," he said, "I will tell you this so that you may know how you are spreading out yourself. One man had written in that book, 'if Bob Ingersoll were here, I think he would change his mind about hell.'" I want that volcano. I want the Philippines. It would be simply infamous to hand those people back to the brutality of Spain, Spain has been Christianizing them for about four hundred years. The first thing the poor devils did was to sign a petition asking for the expulsion of the priests. That was their idea of the commencement of liberty. They are not quite so savage as some people imagine. I want those islands; I want all of them, and I don't know that I disagree with the Rev. Mr. Slicer as to the use we can put them to. I don't know that they will be of any use, but I want them; they might come handy. And I wanted to pick up the small change, the Ladrones and the Carolinas. I am glad we have got Porto Rico. I don't know as it will be of any use, but there's no harm in having the title. I want Cuba whenever Cuba wants us, and I favor the idea of getting her in the notion of wanting us. I want it in the interest, as I believe, of humanity, of progress; in other words, of human liberty. That is what the war was waged for, and the fact that it was waged for that, gives an additional glory to these naval officers and to the officers in the army. They fought in the first righteous war; I mean righteous in the sense that we fought for the liberty of others. Now, gentlemen, I feel that we have all honored ourselves to- night by honoring Rear Admiral Schley. I want you to know that long after we are dead and long after the Admiral has ceased to sail, he will be remembered, and in the constellation of glory one of the brightest stars will stand for the name of Winfield Scott Schley, as brave an officer as ever sailed a ship. I am glad I am here to-night, and again, gentlemen, I congratulate you all upon being here. I congratulate you that you belong to this race, to this nation, and that you are equal heirs in the glory of the great Republic. **** **** The Bank of Wisdom is always looking for more of these old, hidden, suppressed and forgotten books that contain needed facts and information for today. If you have such books please contact us, we need to give them back to America. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 7


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