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504 > Page 504 of Compromises of life : and other lectures and addresses, including some observations on certain downward tendencies of modern society / by Henry Watterson.

Appendix multiplication of frivolous marriages, the desecration of the marriage tie, the increasing number of scandal- ous divorces, directly traceable to the spirit of lawless- ness in excessive wealth and the bad example of the infamous but prosperous rich. Yet, if we read our critics aright, we must not speak of these things except in decorous, half-excusing whispers. We must not call a spade a spade. If we do, we at once become "indis- creet" and "sensational," getting our information at "second hand," or else the subject of some "pique," or "resentment," or, at the very least, "ignorant" and "underbred." In certain circles, where money rules, and the pres- ence of Quality is indicated by the absence of all else, the one unpardonable sin is conviction. Whatever else you are, or are not, you must eschew enthusiasm. You may deal in vulgar double entendre; you may back- bite, or lie outright; you may make love to your friend's wife, or inveigle his daughter; but you must not be loud. The tone of your voice must suit itself to a kind of drawl that is in the very atmosphere. " 'Tis English, you know," they used to say, until a song made game of that form of expression and ex- pelled it from polite society. The average newspaper seems thence to have taken its cue. It, too, affects a fine superiority to feeling. Indifference serves as an excellent recourse, where either there is no belief at all, or the incapacity to express it in good round terms of robust English. Imperturbability takes the place of honest hate and scorn. To be in earnest is to be ex- cited; to be plain-spoken is to be inspired by personal motives, and to be personal is to be "damned." Is it not so hi OF OF Back of all this stands not alone a great moral prob- lem, but a great national and economic problem. The 504