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may know, not only itself, but all the world as well, for the small price of learning to read and keeping its ears open. All the world, so far as its news and its most insistent thoughts are concerned, is fast being made every man's neighbor.
Carlyle unquestionably touched one of the obvious truths concerning modern democracy when he declared it to be the result of printing. In the newspaper press a whole population is made critic of all human affairs; democracy is 'virtually extant,' and 'democracy virtually extant will insist on becoming palpably extant." Looked at in the large, the newspaper press is a type of democracy, bringing all men without distinction under comment made by any man without distinction; every topic is reduced to a common standard of news; everything is noted and argued about by everybody. Nothing could give surer promise of popular power than the activity and alertness of thought which are made through such agencies to accompany the training of the public schools. The activity may often be misdirected or unwholesome, may sometimes be only feverish and mischievous, a grievous product of narrow information and hasty conclusion; but it is none the less a stirring and potent activity. It at least marks the initial stages of effective thought. It makes men conscious of the existence and interest of
affairs lying outside the dull round of their own daily lives. It gives them nations, instead of neighborhoods, to look upon and think about. They catch glimpses of the international connections of their trades, of the universal application of law, of the endless variety of life, of diversities of race, of a world teeming with men like themselves, and yet full of strange customs, puzzled by dim omens, stained by crime, ringing with voices familiar and unfamiliar.
And all this a man can nowadays get without stirring from home, by merely spelling out the print that covers every piece of paper about him. If men are thrown, for any reason, into the swift and easy currents of travel, they find themselves brought daily face to face with persons native of every clime, with practices suggestive of whole histories, with a thousand things which challenge curiosity, inevitably provoking inquiries such as enlarge knowledge of life and shake the mind imperatively loose from old preconceptions.
These are the forces which have established the drift towards democracy. When all sources of information are accessible to all men alike, when the world's thought and the world's news are scattered broadcast where the poorest may find them, the non-democratic forms of government must find life a desperate venture. Exclusive privilege needs privacy, but cannot have
it. Kingship of the elder patterns needs sanctity, but can find it nowhere obtainable in a world of news items and satisfied curiosity. The many will no longer receive submissively the thought of a ruling few, but insist upon having opinions of their own. The reaches of public opinion have been infinitely extended; the number of voices that must be heeded in legislation and in executive policy has been infinitely multiplied. Modern influences have inclined every man to clear his throat for a word in the world's debates. They have popularized everything they have touched.
In the newspapers, it is true, there is very little concert between the writers; little but piecemeal opinion is created by their comment and argument; there is no common voice amidst their counsellings. But the aggregate voice thunders with tremendous volume; and that aggregate voice is 'public opinion.' Popular education and cheap printing and travel vastly thicken the ranks of thinkers everywhere where their influence is felt, and by rousing the multitude to take knowledge of the affairs of government prepare the time when the multitude will, so far as possible, take charge of the affairs of government, the time when, to repeat Carlyle's phrase, democracy will become palpably extant.
But, mighty as such forces are, democratic as they are, no one can fail to perceive that they
are inadequate to produce of themselves such a government as ours. There is little in them of constructive efficacy. They could not of themselves build any government at all. They are critical, analytical, questioning, quizzing forces; not architectural, not powers that devise and build. The influences of popular education, of the press, of travel, of commerce, of the innumerable agencies which nowadays send knowledge and thought in quick pulsations through every part and member of society, do not necessarily mould men for effective endeavor. They may only confuse and paralyze the mind with their myriad stinging lashes of excitement. They may only strengthen the impression that 'the world's a stage,' and that no one need do more than sit and look on through his ready glass, the newspaper. They overwhelm one with impressions, but do they give stalwartness to his manhood? Do they make his hand any steadier on the plough, or his purpose any clearer with reference to the duties of the moment? They stream light about him, it may be, but do they clear his vision? Is he better able to see because they give him countless things to look at? Is he better able to judge because they fill him with a delusive sense of knowing everything? Activity of mind is not necessarily strength of mind. It may manifest itself in mere dumb show; it may run into jigs as well as into strenuous work
at noble tasks. A man's farm does not yield its fruits the more abundantly in their season because he reads the world's news in the papers. A merchant's shipments do not multiply because he studies history. Banking is none the less hazardous to the banker's capital and taxing to his powers because the best writing of the best essayists is to be bought cheap.
Very different were the forces behind us. Nothing establishes the republican state save trained capacity for self-government, practical aptitude for public affairs, habitual soberness and temperateness of united action. When we look back to the moderate sagacity and steadfass, self-contained habit in self-government of the men to whom we owe the establishment of our institutions in the United States, we are at once made aware that there is no communion between their democracy and the radical thought and restless spirit called by that name in Europe. There is almost nothing in common between popular outbreaks such as took place in France at her great Revolution and the establishment of a government like our own. Our memories of the year 1789 are as far as possible removed from the memories which Europe retains of that pregnant year. We