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About The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923 | View Entire Issue (Jan. 30, 1901)
. . v
VOL. I. NO. 2
LINCOLN, NEBRASKA, JANUARY 30, 1901,
$1.00 a Yeair
Williaum J. Bryan,
Editor and Proprietor.
England's queen has closed her long and event
ful career and her death has brought sincere
sorrow to her subjects.
Her administration was popular because her
personal virtues were worthy of admiration, and
for the further reason that she allowed her people
(those who have parliaments), to have their own
way in matters of legislation. Her birth, her
education, her environment and her own interests
all led her to support the monarchical principle of
government, but, measured by any rule that can
be applied to a throne, her reign will compare
favorably with any previous reign in English
history or with the reign of any contemporaneous
sovereign. Her influence tended toward peace, and
there is every reason to believe that war was al
ways a source of real regret to her.
Her age, her high character and her womanli
ness combined to make her name revered among
her own people and respected abroad. Lacking,
for the most part, the qualities of head and heart
which make kings odious, she has done inuclf'tcj
lessen the opposition to arbitrary power which sixty
years ago menaced European rulers. Whether her
successor will profit by her example or develop less
popular traits remains to be seen. If Edward YII
proves that he has a just claim to the confidence
bestowed upon her, she, as his mother as well
as his predecessor, will derive credit from his good
deeds; if, on the other hand, he fails in the diffi
cult task of filling her place satisfactorily her reign
will grow the brighter by contrast.
It is a high yet a deserved tribute, to her to
say that no one exercising royal prerogatives could
have done better and that the world at large has
cause to mourn her demise.
The Richest Prince.
Mr. Jefferson said that the best government
was that in which the people were governed the
least. Sumptuary laws are not agreeable to the
people, and history shows that the best citizen
ship in peace and the best soldiery in war are ob
tained where men feel that they are part of the
government and where men love its institutions
because of their practical value.
A contented people is always a patriotic peo
ple. Apart from the correctness of the principle,
' 'consent of the governed" is of intensely prac
tical advantage to the state wherein that principle
prevails. It promotes contentment among the
people, and consequently adds to the strength
of the government. The government whose
strength cornea from the power of love must be
mightier and more enduring than the government
whose strength depends upon the sword. The
object of good government is to secure the great
est good to the greatest number.
So long as selfishness exists the only way by
which the attainment of this object may be as
sured is to keep the power with the people.
If we could be certain that all kings would
rule as well as "Wurtemberg's beloved monarch,"
of whom Kerner, the German poet, wrote so well,
then we might be more willing to abandon popu
lar government and rest our hopes for happiness
upon the goodness of the crown, but the risk is
too great. The ends of government the con
tentment and happiness of the governed were
well described in tlie splendid boast of the riches
possessed by the German prince. . Kerner wrote
of "the richest prince" in these words:
"All their wealth and vast possessions, vaunt
ing high in choicest terms, sat the German princes
feasting in the knightly Hall of Worms.
" 'Mighty,' cried the Saxon ruler, 'are the
wealth and power I wield; in my country's moun
tain gorges sparkling silver lies concealed.'
" 'See my land with plenty growing' quoth
the Palgrave of the Rhine, 'Bounteous harvests
in the valleys, on the mountains noble wine.'
" 'Spacious towns and wealthy convents,'
Louis spake, Bavaria's lord, 'make- my land to
yield me treasures great as those your fields af
ford.' "Wurtemberg's beloved monarch, Eberard
the Bearded cried: 'See my land hath little cities;
among my hills no metals bide; yet one treasure
it hath borne me! Sleeping in the woodland free,
I may lay my head in safety on my lowliest vas
"Then, as with a single utterance, cried aloud
those princes three: 'Bearded Count, thy land
hath jewels! Thou art wealthier far than we.' "
The people have nothing to fear from open
enemies. The man who boldly proclaims a princi
ple, no matter what it may be, can do but little in
jury. No amount of intellect, learning or eloquence
can make him dangerous. As Jefferson has ex
pressed it, ' 'Error of opinion may be tolerated where
reason is left free to combat it. " Truth grows in the
open field; the sunshine nourishes and strengthens
it. It is secret influence which is constantly cor
rupting government and securing special privileges
for the few at the expense of the many. The man
who advocates a thing which he believes to be
good for the people as a whole has no reason to
conceal his purpose, but the man who tries to
secure an advantage which he knows to be bene
ficial to some class or combination but hurtful to
' the public naturally and necessarily employs stealth.
Would the directors of a railroad company
adopt and publish a resolution designating their
favorite candidate for the legislature, cougress,
the senate or the bench? Would they candidly
set forth why they wanted him and what they
expected of him after they got him? And yet it
is well known that railroads often take an active
part in the selection of public officials.
Would the directors of a- trust adopt and
publish a resolution naming the presidential
candidate they would support and announcing the
contribution they would make to the campaign;
fund? And yet it is certain that the trusty have1
in the past interested themselves in campaigns.
Eternal vigilance is the price of protection
against bad laws and misrule as well as the price
of liberty. Since laws are made, construed and
enforced by public officials, it is necessary that
great care should bo exercised in the selection of
them in order that they, when selected, shall guard J
me interests ot tne whole people anil not be th
mere agents of some corporation.
In the early days of Koine, there was a law
specifying the crimes of Lese-Majeste. Tho
punishment was death. Augustus was tho first
to extend the list of offenses that wore "Lese-Majeste,"
and under his successors further extensions
were made. If the relative of a subject was ex
ecuted, the subject must exhibit delight else Jie
would be hold accountable under this law. One
suspected of a sentiment not in harmony with
the throne must be particular as to tho expression
of his eye; even a sigh might be the undoing of a
Recently we have heard ..ofjXeseiMajeBlc" in
the United States of America. Men who have
dared criticise a republican administration havo
been subjected to suspicion under this "law."
Men who have protested against a policy of im-
penalism, who have objected to a violation of
the Constitution, who have insisted that tho chief
magistrate does not represent the legislative arid
the judicial as well as the executive branch of the
Government, men who have refused to applaud
every act of administration agents, have been
branded as traitors by the administration press,
and pointed out as disloyal by the administration
Fortunately, however, the administration press
juid the administration orators have not framed'
the law of treason in this republic. The Con
stitution, framed by the men who founded tho
republic, provides that treason shall consist only!
in levyiug war against the United States or in
adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and
It is as much the duty of a good citizen to,
protest when his country is about to engage upon'
a policy of wrong as it is for him to take up arms -in
defending his country from an army of invasion.'
Edmund Burke, Pitt, and other Englishmen
of their time, were regarded in the light of traitors
by some, and yet today no names occupy higher
places in tho world's history than the names of
those Englishmen who dared protest against
wrong and speak in behalf of truth when tho
American colonists were struggling for the prin
ciples of government by the consent of the govi
No man protested more bitterly against tht
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