the freest of the Boston
journals a letter, and by appropriate consideration induced its editor to print it. And as we glanced along its contents, and came to the concluding statement, he said, “Could n't you omit that?”
I said, “No; I wrote it for that; it is the gist of the statement.”
“Well,” said he, “it is true; there is not a boy in the streets that does not know it is true; but I wish you could omit it.”
I insisted; and the next morning, fairly and justly, he printed the whole.
Side by side he put an article of his own, in which he said, “We copy in the next column an article from Mr. Phillips
, and we only regret the absurd and unfounded statement with which he concludes it.”
He had kept his promise by printing the article; he saved his reputation by printing the comment.
And that, again, is the inevitable, the essential limitation of the press in a republican community.
Our institutions, floating unanchored on the shifting surface of popular opinion, cannot afford to hold back, or to draw forward, a hated question, and compel a reluctant public to look at it and to consider it. Hence, as you see at once, the moment a large issue, twenty years ahead of its age, presents itself to the consideration of an empire or of a republic, just in proportion to the freedom of its institutions is the necessity of a platform outside of the press, of politics, and of its church, wheron stand men with no candidate to elect, with no plan to carry, with no reputation to stake, with no object but the truth, no purpose but to tear the question open and let the light through it. So much in explanation of a word infinitely hated,--agitation and agitators,--but an element which the progress of modern government has developed more and more every day.
The great invention we trace in its twilight and