Mr. F. Hopkinson Smith delivered a stirring lecture in the Living Room of the Union last evening on "American Mud, and Those it Spatters," in which he maintained that the United States shows a want of civilization which has not its counterpart in any other country of the world. We neither honor the dead nor the living; we "throw mud."
Mr. Smith cited the instance of Lieutenant Hobson who, ready to die for his country in the Spanish War, blocked the entrance to the harbor in which the enemy's fleet lay at anchor. Immediately the whole country rang with the praises of this daring young officer--until a newspaper story stamped him as vain and sentimental. It was the same with the man who won the battle of Manila Bay. When our nation, anxious to show its gratitude to Admiral Dewey, presented him with a house, he turned it over to his wife, and immediately "mud" was thrown at the "ungrateful" recipient.
But "mud" has not only been thrown at our naval officers; it has even reached our greatest presidents. Lincoln, bearing the troubles of a great war upon his shoulders, was mercilessly reviled; Grant was attacked; McKinley, at the crisis of the Spanish War, was fiercely slandered by the papers. Today Theodore Roosevelt, fearless and straightforward, is being criticised on all sides.
Mr. Smith then declared that his purpose was to teach the men in the University to reverence their brother Americans, because they are true men. We admire courage, and yet accord it but small protection against the "mud" thrown by the unscrupulous newspapers. It is our duty to praise the good and to take little notice of the bad; and it will eventually disappear. Then we can obey the commandment "Love thy brother as thyself" or, in the words of Theodore Roosevelt, "Give every man a square deal."