Salutation to Contemporaries and Subscribers
SALUTATION TO COTEMPORARIES AND SUBSCRIBERS.
It has long been a debated point in good manners, whether a new comer should pay or receive the first visit. I prefer, in sign of good will, to take the former course. This number is sent, therefore, to many who have not subscribed for it, and to fellow-editors. If my call is returned, I promise a welcome. If the card is sent back, I shall intrude no more.
First, then, Brother Reformers! God speed! The hope of the Reign of Heaven brightens. From high and low are heard the commands of a stern, yet easy Ethics, personal and social. The profound maxims, sowed centuries ago in human hearts by the Son of God and the Son of Man, begin to bear fruit a hundredfold. "Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be the servant of all," will soon be the only test of greatness; and the New Commandment, "Love one another," the sole badge of Christians. War, and legalized murder, and the punishment of the unfortunate—neglect of the young and the ignorant, of the tempted and fallen—the unjust apportionment of drudging toil to the many, and of large gains to the few—the ruin of bodily and mental health by excesses, and monotony of labors, by cares and indulgence—black and white slavery of all kinds and degrees—the enforced selfishness of our isolated modes of production and distribution—the ambitious overreachings of religious and political demagogues—the weary and wasting collisions of nations and classes, and all social evils, are yielding beneath the influence of stronger faith in God's present inspiration and providence, and a warmer respect for man. Let us receive the baptism of a holy and hopeful humanity, with a fullness that shall purge away our personal prejudices, our self-will, and love of power. Let love tune the voices which controversy makes harsh. Let puritan rigidity, transmitted from our sires, unbend before the courteous manliness of a freer age. Let our zeal be of the sunshine, not of volcanic heat. Let us outgrow evil by living goodness; and melt opposition by confidence, which will be generous while just. The Watchwords to-day are, prayer, study, and reconciliation. Piety will make us humble though brave ; philosophy will give at once patience and practical skill; and away with the spirit of dictation and excommunication. Candor is not compromise; tolerance implies no timidity. In this wide field, waving white for the harvest, there is room for all manner of reapers and gleaners. The laborers are only too few.
Next, oh! patient and persevering friends of the daily press, who, week by week and month by month, through long years, draw cool water from the spring, and spread tables of refreshment for the dusty wayfarers, will you bear with an idler, who, retired from the party questions of the hour, may seem to some of you to be dreaming of Utopia 1 Would that I could bring your tact and facility of expression to the advocacy of reforms, more practicable, as well as efficient, than the political measures which attract so constantly your readers' regard. The radicalism which the Present urges would grow from the root up; the revolution it wishes to hasten is peaceful as the process by which the crag becomes a rounded hill; the social reorganization it advocates is a truer union of the order and freedom already partially existing, and which all the tendencies of our age are aiding to enlarge. In every movement fitted to secure the rights of labor, and a more equitable division of profits—to disseminate more widely opportunities of culture and refinement—to advance the various classes of our communities to that level, where each and all may prove what they are in mind, energy, and character, and receive the honor due to their powers of usefulness, or aid for their infirmity—to cleanse our land from pauperism, crime, and degrading influences, and bind nations in one by reciprocal justice, the Present will be with you a faithful fellow-worker.
And lastly, oh! bright coterie of Weeklies and Monthlies! who fling wreaths and scatter flowers, and sow the earth with tales, verses, and brilliant essays, let me come among your revel with plain dress, and say some friendly words of Yea and Nay. I believe with you, that smiles are manlier than sorrow, and cheerfulness a fitter sacrifice than gloom. He truly lives in the Present, who can let in the fresh air of hope upon sick hearts, and spread blossoms of joy before the fainting eye. It is well that mirth should tune down to concert pitch, sometimes, the tense strings ; that humor should blunt the keen arrows of necessity. Gladness is healthful. True! But frivolity is not. Let us go to work with a song; but let us not forget to work. Let evil never subdue courage; but let us never mock at or slight wrongs which exist. Who, that is disinterested, can be light of heart, while the thousands around us are crushed to the dust under burdens of care, and want, and oppression. How the literature of the day everywhere is hushing its voice to solemn strains of actual life. Pour, now, the freshness of your buoyant tempers into the channels of Reform. Our land and age summons all from fiction to the romance of reality. We have poems of Manhood and Society to write in facts upon these mountains and plains, and by these mighty rivers. The Young America should be prophets of justice, heroes of peaceful industry.
And now, kind subscribers, you can judge of this periodical. Much as a performer preludes on his instrument to show its compass and to test how far it is attuned, have I rapidly touched some of the topics, from which fuller harmonies may be drawn. You are not invited, however, to hear solos on one or several strings, but rather a concert. I do but strike the key note and mark the time: There is good reason to expect the constant aid of writers, who already command the public ear. In these days of licensed puffery it might be more prudent to announce their names. But they shall introduce themselves. Friends! more than one have objected to the title of this monthly on the ground of its double meaning. They fear that the Present will be taken literally to mean a present. Certainly it would be ominous of a scanty purse to offer thus a paper as a gift. But there is small chance that any editor will be suspected of such mad generosity. As our business is to be conducted strictly upon the cash plan, and as its accounts are to be cleared every month, I must urge the promptest payments. If now you are pleased with the proposed objects and the spirit of this little monthly, let me enlist your aid to give it a wide circulation.
The Present! did we but appreciate the fact that days and moments are gifts from eternity forever renewed. In longings for blessings past, in discontent with transient imperfection, in dreams of future deliverance from ills which it is our privilege to subdue with good, shall we grieve the Angel Hours who offer us fresh fruits from the tree of life? Truly to live in the present is to enter heaven, or rather to welcome heaven to dwell in us.
W. H. C.