Tag Archives: Green Mansions

Not so green mansions

25 Jun

Green mansions riva


Every nation, someone remarks, has the government it deserves, and the United States certainly has the one it deserves and that suits it best. We call it a republic, not only because it is not one, but also because a thing must have a name; and to have a good name, or a fine name, is very convenient–especially when you want to borrow money.

If the United States citizens, thinly distributed over an area of three and one-half a million square miles, are ten percent politically illiterate, half-thinking, and on the dole, – – – but if they were thoughtful, intelligent men, zealous only for the public good, it would be possible for them to have a real republic.

They have, instead, a government by cliques, tempered by revolution; and a very good government it could be, in harmony with the physical conditions of the country and the national temperament.

Now, it happens that the educated men, representing your more thoughtful classes, are so few these days, that there are not many persons unconnected by ties of blood or marriage with prominent members of the political groups to which they belong. By this you will see how easy and almost inevitable it is that we should become accustomed to look on conspiracy and revolt against the two reigning parties–the men of other cliques — as only in the natural order of things.

In the event of failure such outbreaks are punished, but they are not regarded as immoral. On the contrary, men of the highest intelligence and virtue among us are seen taking a leading part in these adventures.

Whether such a condition of things is intrinsically wrong or not, or would be wrong in some circumstances and is not wrong, because inevitable, in others, I cannot pretend to decide; and all this tiresome profusion is only to enable you to understand how I—an older man of unblemished character, not a soldier by profession, not ambitious of political distinction, not wealthy for that country, not popular in society, but rather a lover of social pleasures, of books, of nature actuated, as I believed, by the highest motives, might allow myself to be drawn very readily by friends and relations into a conspiracy to overthrow the party of the moment, with the object of replacing it by more worthy men, ourselves, to wit.