conscience of a nation to mould its laws.”
Its means are reason and argument,--no appeal to arms.
Wait patiently for the growth of public opinion.
That secured, then every step taken is taken forever.
An abuse once removed never reappears in history.
The freer a nation becomes, the more utterly democratic in its form, the more need of this outside agitation.
Parties and sects laden with the burden of securing their own success cannot afford to risk new ideas.
“Predominant opinions,” said Disraeli
, “are the opinions of a class that is vanishing.”
The agitator must stand outside of organizations, with no bread to earn, no candidate to elect, no party to save, no object but truth,--to tear a question open and riddle it with light.
In all modern constitutional governments, agitation is the only peaceful method of progress.
, Rowland Hill and Romilly
and John Bright, Garrison
, have been the master-spirits in this new form of crusade.
Rarely in this country have scholarly men joined, as a class, in these great popular schools, in these social movements which make the great interests of society “crash and jostle against each other like frigates in a storm.”
It is not so much that the people need us, or will feel any lack from our absence.
They can do without us. By sovereign and superabundant strength they can crush their way through all obstacles.
They will march prospering,--not through our presence;
Songs will inspirit them,--not from our lyre;
Deeds will be done,--while we boast our quiescence,
Still bidding crouch whom the rest bid aspire.
The misfortune is, we lose a God-given opportunity of making the change an unmixed good, or with the slightest possible share of evil, and are recreant besides to a special duty.
These “agitations” are the opportunities