his own section, he can afford, in a very large measure, to despise the judgment of the other three.
He has, to some extent, a refuge and a breakwater against the tyranny of what we call public opinion.
But in a country like ours, of absolute democratic equality, public opinion is not only omnipotent, it is omnipresent.
There is no refuge from its tyranny; there is no hiding from its reach; and the result is, that if you take the old Greek
lantern, and go about to seek among a hundred, you will find not one single American who really has not, or who does not fancy at least that he has, something to gain or lose in his ambition, his social life, or his business, from the good opinion and the votes of those about him. And the consequence is, that,--instead of being a mass of individuals, each one fearlessly blurting out his own convictions,--as a nation, compared with other nations, we are a mass of cowards.
More than any other people, we are afraid of each other.
If you were a caucus to-night, Democratic or Republican, and I were your orator, none of you could get beyond the necessary and timid limitations of party.
You not only would not demand, you would not allow me to utter, one word of what you really thought, and what I thought.
You would demand of me — and my value as a caucus speaker would depend entirely on the adroitness and the vigilance with which I met the demand — that I should not utter one single word which would compromise the vote of next week.
That is politics; so with the press.
Seemingly independent, and sometimes really so, the press can afford only to mount the cresting wave, not go beyond it. The editor might as well shoot his reader with a bullet as with a new idea.
He must hit the exact line of the opinion of the day. I am not finding fault with him; I am only describing him. Some three years ago I took to one of