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corporation, a "soulless” corporation, a “grinding" corporation or a “cruel” corporation, but I might be excused if I should here, by way of parenthesis, say that some corporations have cruel officers, for I might charge it is exbibited here to-night by my brother Holmes, imposing on me the burden of responding to this toast, and having such desultory remarks as I have made, inflicted upɔn you. But seriously, my dear brother members of this Association, ladies and gentlemen, I am glad of the opportunity to appear before you to-night and greet you in this great world-renowned city of Washington. The history of this city, the deeds of great and honored men who have lived here, the scenes of eloquent and learned debates in legislative halls, of horrible and deplorable tragedies and grim-visaged war, all crowd upon us and make us wonder-yet fixed in admiration, this day we are enthused with patriotic fire and we are proud of our great Capital and its history. To be here surrounded as we are by all the traditions and landmarks of a free country, our inmost patriotism is aroused, and the objects around us give us the inspiration of freemen and make us feel the pride of American citizens, who have performed well for their country's good and future welfare.
I thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for your kind attention. [Applause.]
"THE PRESS." RESPONDED TO BY MR. STILSON HUTCHINS.
The President: We all take an interest in the subject of the next toast :
The Press.— The greatest blessing, and the deadliest bane of modern society.”
Mr. Stilson Hutchins, of Washington, will respond : MR. HUTCHINS: Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen-I am sure that your Committee has made a most infelicitous selection in appointing me to respond to this toast ; and I am very sorry, indeed, that I did not have the good sense (perhaps you gentlemen who represent the street-car lines of the far East would call it "gumption ") to imitate, not the gentleman who last spoke, but the gentleman who last declined to speak, by pleading inability to reach the
If I had had the “gumption," or good sense to plead inability to reach the hotel on this occasion, I am sure my reputation would have gained by my absence, and your pleasure would have been augmented. (Laughter.] I do not think that I am a fit and proper person to respond to “ The Press " for many reasons, and the first, and perhaps the best one is that I belong to it. I am a good deal like Sydney Smith, who wrote a stinging review of a book, and when asked if he had read the book, said he had not ; for how could he have criticised impartially a book that he had been prejudiced against, or for, by reading. [Laughter. 1
I belong to the press, and am therefore an interested party. I know a great deal about it, so much indeed that it is not possible for me to represent it impartially.
I think it was somewhere in Greece (I do not intend to ring in any classical “chestnuts" upon you), but I think it was in Greece that a street lounger was asked to give his opinion of a statue that was being exhibited previous to its erection at a great altitude, for the gratification of the populace. The critic said it was too broad in its shoulders, its nose was too long, its eyes too wide, the ears were huge, and so he went on finding a great many faults, and picking out a flaw here and a flaw there, not for a moment considering the combined merits of the work, until the artist came forward and observed that that was not the place from which to view it ; that the statue was intended for a high elevation, and when it was placed in proper position all its large lines and seeming disproportions would blend harmoniously and result in an effect pleasing to the eye.
So with the press ; a man must stand a great way off from a newspaper to view it impartially and fairly. If you look at it too closely, you think it is “the bane" of civilization ; but if you view it at a proper distance, and not merely to criticise and find fault, you will think it something of a “ blessing."
Ladies and Gentlemen : If you will stop to reflect for one moment, and I make the time short so as not to put upon you any severe hardship, if you will stop to reflect for a moment, you will see that a great responsibility rests upon the press of this Republic. In the first place, the United States within the last fifty years have forged ahead with such strides in every path of material and physical progress, that it is very difficult for an elementary art or institution to keep up with it. Within my lifetime (perhaps I had better put in a qualifying clause, if I may be allowed to,) not quite within my lifetime, but not many
years than it comprises, we have seen steam, electricity, and other cognate inventions brought to a point of perfection that even the oldest and most daring Biblical prophet would hardly have ventured to predict, and yet the press has been obliged to keep pace with all this progress. I think, ladies and gentlemen, if you will estimate the press in its proper relations to society, to the public and the public's interests, as well as to the public good, you will be obliged to admit there is no particular feature of this great Republic or its institutions that has advanced so far and so rapidly, and yet is so little open to real and honest objection, as the newspaper press of this country. If you will compare the New York papers—I will not name any one of them, because there are probably numbers of you who hate them all—but if you will compare any New York paper with the newspaper which Benjamin Franklin published in the city of Boston, or attempted to publish, but was driven away from, or the paper which he published in Philadelphia ten or fifteen years later, I think you will be obliged to admit that nowhere in the realm of civilization, with all of the progress in science, the arts, in literature, mechanics, or general unclassified development, has any greater advance been made than you see demonstrated in that department of our fierce, every-day life, the newspaper, as represented by the press of New York and other large cities. [Applause.]
I blush to confess it, and yet I must, that we who conduct the daily newspapers of this country have our intirmities. We are not born great or wise ; are obliged to achieve both. We are obliged sometimes, upon fifteen minutes' notice, to frame and express opinions upon subjects which require from good lawyers a full year of consideration. And
what is more difficult is this, there is no appeal to a higher court from our decision. (Laughter.] We have no courts of appellate jurisdiction in the newspaper fraternity where we may hope to see our trivial errors corrected. When we once say a thing we are obliged to stick to it, whether we have made a mistake or not. This course is absolutely necessary for the protection of our business, and our standing as oracles. Consequently, as I am frequently away from my office (as some have said, for the benefit of my subscribers), and my .newspaper comes out with two or three columns of a diatribe against bob-tail cars, which seriously injures the interests of my friend, Mr. Pearson (who has wrought a terrible revenge upon me to-night by appointing me to speak to this toast), and I return after it is all over, there is absolutely no help for it. It has got to stand, and the policy of the paper from that time on must be to denounce bob-tail cars. (Laughter.]
I have not been so soothed for a long while as I was when I heard the last speaker declare and almost prove that a corporation could do no harm. I acted wiser than I knew when I made a stock company of the newspaper which I publish. I hope my friend “spoke true,” for if “ The Post ” should at any time be sued for slander or libel, such a plea would be very convenient. We should not have any enduring prejudices against corporations, for everyo body loves them, I have noticed, who can make money out of them.
Newspapers will undoubtedly in time be better, for better men will, by the process of evolution and involution, get worked out of and into them. I do not know whether they can improve upon the present managers, or not; there are perhaps those that can be improved upon ; but if you will consider for a moment what they have to do; what subjects they have to traverse ; what encyclopædias of knowledge they have to be ; what brief :ime is given them in which to form and put out opinions that will stand the criticism of all and every individual subscriber, you must admit that they have a pretty hard task, and that they perform it, everything considered, with as great an approach to per. section as could be expected. Still, we have no doubt, that with the improvement of other things there will also come further improvement in the press. I think you have made a great deal of improvement in the street-cars in the last few years; but all your lines—the very best of them could be improved somewhat. I do not believe that in time to come the people will be satisfied with anything short of a newspaper that maintains an efficient force in all of its departments ; that will be so equipped and so appointed that it will express really able opinions upon all subjects ; that it will be the people's defence against impositions of all kinds ; that it will protect their interests ; that it will set forth considerately all their wants and needs, and that in very many ways it will take the place, as it is rapidly taking the place, of lawyers (I suppose that will be considered objectionable by some), of preachers—because we can give you more religion in thirty pages of a Sunday journal than you can get in five years' study and steady attendance at church; of school teachers—for there is no educator so good as a newspaper ; in fact, the newspaper will become in time the basic support, the very bulwark of a free government. [Applause.) This is its mission! There is no doubt that there are very many men who employ it for the purposes of individual gain and preferment, or for illegitimate objects, and at the expense of the interests of the public; but if you will think for a moment of the great power that is lodged in the hands of the conductor of a great metropolitan newspaper, for weal or woe, and if you will closely examine and carefully discern the restraints that are put upon it ; how willing it is to repair any injury it may have inadvertently done, I believe you will agree that the newspaper press of this country, take it all in all, is more powerfully, more carefully, and more guardedly restrained for the purpose of preventing injury to any interest or any individual, than any other institution. There is no more conservative class, as a whole, than the men who cater to the reading wants of the great masses of the people, as obtained through the channels of the newspaper press. I thank you very kindly for your attention. [Applause.)
“STREET-RAILWAYS," RESPONDED TO BY MR. Thomas Lowry. The President: We will now hear from Mr. Thomas Lowry on Street-Railways-their past and their future. Reflections, criticisms and suggestions thereon"
Mr. Lowry: Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen—" Honesty is the best policy;" a man told me that once who said that he had tried both. I will be honest with you to-night. I had intended to attempt a suitable response to the toast assigned to me ; but after listening to the eloquent speeches of Mr. Holmes and those who succeeded him, I have come to the conclusion that I had better do like the old man who wrote the epitaph for himself and wife, supposing that they were both on their death-beds : He said:
Beneath this stone my wife and I,
If she gets up, then I'll lie still.” (Laughter.] As. a rule, the closer a man sticks to his toast, and the sooner he disposes of it the better his audience is pleased. Street-railways have had a past ; and will, undoubtedly, have a future. Their past and future I might graphically describe in the manner of a friend of mine who wrote an elaborate essay on babies. He said, “ Babies are of two kinds : male and female ; and they are found in allin almost all-parts of the inhabited world." I would say that street-railways are just a little ahead of the babies; they are of three kinds: good, bad and indifferent. All of them are bad enough ; and I do not know that I can better describe their past than by telling a true incident. A gentleman who takes a prominent part in the affairs of this Association, runs a street-railway not a thousand miles from here. He has a good many miles of road and they extend out into the suburbs quite a distance. One evening a car was slowly nearing its destination, after many tedious delays, and there was only one passenger on board. When it was coming to about the place where it had to " pull in,” the driver asked the passenger for his fare. The passenger said he had paid his fare ; the driver said “ No you didn't ; when I started to bring this car in there was only one small boy on the car." The passenger said, “That is right ; that was me.” In the future, we do not expect that a boy will grow to be a man on one trip on a street-car. We expect in the future to have rapid transit; and we expect to run our cars by, I suppose I had better say, electricity, because that has not been practically introduced yet ; and as to the cable, our friend Mr. Holmes has told you all about that.
Mr. President, there have been a good many pleasant things said to-night about street-railways ; and, therefore, I am rather inclined to take the side of finding fault with them. I know that a great many people find fault with streetcars who ought to know better. I had an experience myself cnce. An old gentleman took me out a little way one day to see a farm on the west side of the river from Minneapolis; and on returning he stopped his horse and said: “ Tom, there comes a car and you can ride across the river on it and I will go to lunch!" I said “all right,” and boarded the car, but soon found I hadn't a cent of money in my pocket. It was very embarrassing, but I undertook to explain to the conductor that I would give him a little slip to get the money at the office. I told him I wanted to go over the river. It was hot and dusty. I told him that I was the president of the road. He said: “You don't mean to say that you are Tom Lowry? Why, Tom Lowry is old enough to be your father ; no one ever saw him ride on a street-car.” The result was I had to get off the car and walk. As I was crossing the bridge, feeling pretty tired, I was in no very good humor. I then remembered a story that was told to me by an old ferryman who runs a ferry with a rope. A man came up to him one day, and said: “Well, Mr. Ferryman, I have no money ; but I want to go on the other side of the river." "My friend,” said the ferryman, “if you haven't any money, it makes mighty little difference to you which side of the river you are on." (Laughter.]
I am certainly very glad indeed to meet you all here to-night. The next Convention that assembles, I understand, is going to be in Minneapolis. We will extend to you as hearty a welcome as we know how to give. In Washington I feel very much at home ; I find here so many men in the same condition as myself ; so many men who want to borrow money ; and I think there are a good many in Washington, also, in the same category with Parson Brown who came to Washington, and who said he had not been here fifteen minutes when a disposition came over him that he wanted to steal something. I feel especially glad to be here to-night in Willard's Hotel. I think one can truly say of Willard's, as was said by someone years ago :
Whoe'er has traveled life's dull round,
Where'er his stages may have been,
The warmest welcome at an inn.” [Applause. ]
INTRODUCTION OF THE PRESIDENT-ELECT, MR. GEORGE B. KERPER,
The President : Ladies and Gentlemen--I have the pleasure and the privilege now of introducing to this audience our Presi