In spite of the bad weather a large audience assembled last evening in the lecture room of the Fogg Art Museum to hear Mr. Herbert Welsh, editor of "City and State." The subject of Mr. Welsh's talk was "The College Graduate and the Civil Service." The address was full of interest and very much to the point. A summary of it follows:
The founders of Harvard College had in their minds a very noble conception-that the duty of a college consisted not only in endowing its students with intellectual power, but also to give them over to the higher and broader interest of the state. In the questions and aims of political life men like James Russell Lowell and George William Curtis are needed to come forward,- men who, through a deep love for their country, are ready to place their intellectual attainments in its service.
Today the country stands at a crisis as great as that which confronted it during the Civil War: namely, whether the politics of America are to be pure and the lofty ideals of the Republic preserved, or the country allowed to fall into the hands of those strong enough, rich enough, and shrewd enough, ready to lend its government to their own principles and interests. The moment a country allows its liberty to go, all its greatness is destroyed. Surely the highest and most necessary duty of a university is to teach her sons allegiance to the state.
The longer reformation is delayed, the harder it is to bring about. The lack of principle, which the spoils system carries with it, is fast corrupting the morals of the youth. A striking example of the evils of the spoils system is the way the Indian trouble was conducted a few years ago. Those men who were fitted for the position were not chosen, but those who had most political pull, no matter how great was their unfitness. This fact added to the frequent changes brought on by a new incoming administration, has accounted for more than one Indian war.
City government in the United States presents a new battle ground for good government. Cities afford the greatest opportunities and richest harvests to spoils workers. Examples of this are the Tweed and Tammany rings in New York. Dr. Parkhurst has proved that the police, the body which ought to protest, was in direct league with vice. So powerful was the influence of the ring that laws were passed to enable the police to levy blackmail. Theodore Roosevelt is now enforcing these laws.
Philadelphia, like every other large city, has its tale of grievance. Near the spot where in 1776 the bell rang out liberty to all the land, one sees today a curious kind of liberty. The state legislature is ruled by a boss, accepting or rejecting an amendment according as he nods or shakes his head. In Pennsylvania nobody can enter politics, unless he wears Mr. Quay's collar around his neck. Not long ago a gentleman went to the legislature to urge the passage of a bill. He was told that nothing could be done until the opinion of Mr. Quay, then a senator at Washington, was obtained.
These are a few of thousands of examples which show the power of machines; yet, great as that power is, it is not equal to the power of conscience, and in the end it is bound to succumb. The secret of every political reform is that every man should get into his mind a sense of political duty. If the American Republic is to attain its ideals, not a few but all must have a sense of the necessity of incurring its political responsibilities.