President McKinley’s Death
President McKinley is dead. Again,
the third time, the American people are bowed in grief and dismay
at the taking-off of their chief magistrate by the assassin’s hand.
The whole world sorrows with them, for in their president, there
has died a man who, as nearly as any, was a citizen of the world.
It is strange that the nation which
is the greatest example of popular government in all history, should
suffer most from the king-killer. That the assassins have all used
the revolver, is likely because they have a preference for the national
weapon. Americans have been fond of clinching an argument with lead.
There is especial pathos in the grief
of the Americans at this time, becanse [sic] it fell upon them in
the mid-day of their prosperity. Flushed with easy victory over
an old-world power, and proud of the Imperial sweep of their arms
and policy over the islands beyond the sea, the cup of their triumph
was surely full, when like a bolt from the blue there fell upon
them the blight of a great calamity. The cheer became a moan and
the song of victory a funeral dirge.
It may be that in the hour of their
sorrow they will consider some great problems that will not be silenced
by the commands of wealth or the shouts of victory. There are those
who claim to trace the murder of the president to the oppression
of capital. That appears an idle claim, [sic] The workingman suffers
most from the oppression of capital, but the workingman is not an
anarchist. It can scarcely be that anarchy will be traced back to
the fued between capital labor [sic], or that it is more or else
than a menace imported full-grown from over-seas. But in their quest
for the cause of their calamity the American people may come upon
and correct many evils that threaten their country more than anarchy
as it exists to-day. There is great injustice and great misery in
that coun[t]ry. It may be that the Americans have been slow to hear
or heed the appeals of those among them who suffer. They have turned
away to the carnivals of wealth and war, and in the day of their
rejoicing disaster came. The words once uttered by an eminent English
speaker are true:
“We may close the eyes and the
ears, and say that we will not look upon the things that affright
and affront us. We may close the doors and curtain the windows
and hide, as it were, our faces from misery, but it is in vain.
The flaring lights flicker, the storm outside begins to mutter
and to break, and the inexorable call comes, and we have to
open our eyes and look out on the woe and the wrong and the
torture of this world, on all the wretchedness that is rising
against us to sweep us from our place.”
Often when the security seems greatest
and the feast is at its highest, there comes the handwriting on
the wall. There are things that inevitably bring national disaster.
The nations of the past have taken hold of them to their overthrow.
These things have a strange fascination for the nations of to-day.
It may be that in their sorrow the American people will seek again
some forsaken paths and take a firmer hold upon those principles
by which alone a nation can escape disaster.