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ment would be more detrimental to the United States than to any other nation.
Distinction should, however, be made between the fostering by our Government of legitimate trade and its support of exploitation by American interests entrenched in Latin America. The mere fact that powerful American interests have invested in Latin America does not imply that they are necessarily worthy of the support of this Government. Governmental support was in fact withdrawn some years ago from a highly important American concern believed to have been involved in the overthrow of a constitutional Government in Central America. Nothing can be conceived more prejudicial to real understanding between the United States and its neighbors than the exertion of undue influence through corruption of governmental officials by American interests in Latin-American countries. There are certain large American companies, for example, doing business to-day in Central America, which have done much to foster good feeling and promote a more cordial relationship between our country and the nations of Central America. Such companies build and support schools, assist in the development of good roads, maintain public hospitals at their own expense in the districts where they are located. By refusing to employ any but the nationals of the country in which they are doing business, even in the highest positions, they secure the confidence and respect of native populations.
Other companies, on the other hand, have exploited the countries in which they are situated in the most shameless manner, and by a policy of obtaining that to which they were not entitled by corruption of governmental officials, ranging from the president of the republic to the local alcalde, have not
only created suspicion of the purposes of the United States and the American people, but have blocked the measures of reform toward the realization of which this Government had exerted its energies. Cases have been known where American companies of this character have even gone so far as to foster revolution, supplying the revolutionaries with funds and with munitions in order to secure the establishment of a Government subservient to their desires. The policy now determined upon by the United States, however, to refuse to accord recognition to a Government in Central America which has come into power through the overthrow of a constitutional Government recognized by the United States — a development of the policy initiated by President Wilson after the Tinoco Revolution in Costa Rica in 1915 — has almost entirely eliminated that danger.
That policy must be persisted in if the moral influence of the United States Government is to continue to increase.
It is easy for one not familiar with the perplexing problems which our relations with Latin America present to point out inconsistencies in policy and errors of judgment of which our Government and its agents have been guilty. A careful analysis of the history of our relations with Latin America during the past twelve years will, it is believed, demonstrate conclusively, that, for every error of judgment, additional progress has been made in instilling in the hearts of our neighbors belief in the sincerity and unselfishness of our purpose. South of the Rio Grande faith is increasing, notwithstanding the occasional difficulty of the Latin to comprehend the Anglo-Saxon mentality, that our Government is responsive solely to the desire to promote good understanding and to remove discord, using its powerful influence at all times on the side of right and justice.
The personality of the present Secretary of State looms larger in Latin America than is perhaps realized in this country. His previous service in the Supreme Court of the United States has strengthened the impression that he is the embodiment of justice. Submission to the arbitration of the United States of such long-standing and dangerous controversies as the Tacna-Arica dispute between Peru and Chile, and the boundary dispute between Peru and Ecuador, not only evidences the trust of the Governments involved in the justice and impartiality of this Government, but also demonstrates that they are not driven by resentment or fear of the United States. The support by our Governmen in a practical manner of the constitutional Government of Mexico during the days of the de la Huerta revolution has strengthened even more the general belief in the justice of the man shaping the foreign policy of our nation.
No more satisfactory expression of the desire of this Government in its dealings with its American neighbors could be found than that employed by President Wilson in his address before the Southern Commercial Conference in Mobile, Alabama, in 1913, when he said, speaking of the Latin-American republics: —
We must prove ourselves their friends and champions upon terms of equality and honor. You cannot be friends upon any other terms than upon the terms of equality. You cannot be friends at all except upon the terms of honor. We must show ourselves friends by comprehending their interest, whether it squares with our own interest or not.
To that declaration may be added the declaration of Secretary Hughes in his address before the American Bar Association in August 1923: —
We are aiming not to exploit, but to aid; not to subvert, but to help in laying the foundations for sound, stable, and independent government. Our interest does not lie in controlling foreign peoples; that would be a policy of mischief and disaster. Our interest is in having prosperous, peaceful, and law abiding neighbors, with whom we can cooperate to mutual advantage.
These utterances sound the keynote of this Government's Latin-American policy. We may not have reached our ideal; in some instances we may have fallen far short of it; but these solemn pledges, supported as they are by the great majority of the American people, stand as positive assurance that no imperialistic policy will ever be supported by the American people and that such mistakes as we may make will be rectified, as they were in the case of Colombia and the Dominican Republic.
THE CONTRIBUTORS' CLUB
My friends of the most beautiful chrysanthemum garden in all this ancient Chinese city sent me some chrysanthemum slips to-day. Two days ago the Tai-tai, lovely lady of the old Cathay, graciously requested me, assuring me of my honorableness, to have my flower-pots ready to receive their miserable and unworthy ofTering.
The earth, so she gently insisted, must be field earth, unrobbed of its fertility. So from the silt-rich paddy fields, outside the East Gate of our age-old city wall, have come twelve loads of black soil. Blue-coated, chattering farmer women, swaying with rhythmic grace under their balanced carrying-sticks, have carried the earth in clam-shaped baskets. The old potter, with look as ancient as the timestained widow's arch under which his tiny shop huddles, brought some tens of his wares. The gardener journeyed to Bamboo Street to get a tray with meshes fine enough to sift the soil for the precious slips.
I learn that to-day, being the fifteenth day of the Third Moon, is the auspicious day for the sacred rite of chrysanthemum planting. It appears that the moon being full-orbed insures the flowers being likewise. Hence, that courteous insistence that I have all in readiness for this particular day.
My Tai-tai of the moth-antennae brows gave me other lute-voiced instructions. With the sharpest of scissors must I cut the roots off each little plant. The necessity is laid upon me to shelter their tender heads from
the drenching of heavy rains, and sprinkle them with the lightest of touches from a bowl of water. In the Eighth Moon, I must soak soy beans and pour the water over the plants.
An exact science, chrysanthemum raising, as well as an art, it would seem. In China, it is a scholar's pastime, which has been known to grow into a passion. A statesman of the Tsin Dynasty, an old Chinese tale has it, forsook the highest of Imperial honors, that he might tend his beloved chrysanthemum garden. Emperors have chosen the flower as their emblem. Poets have sung it. And to all who love the chrysanthemum is bestowed the gift of the crystal heart, for it represents purity.
The yellowed pages of an ancient Chinese herb-book tell one to pick the chrysanthemums and, wrapping them in a cloth, to use the fragrant bundle as a pillow; for it will drive away evil influences and all impurities. Legend has it that there is magic in the chrysanthemum, and there are ancient ones who by eating the petals became endowed with fairy powers. They tell of a mountain where chrysanthemums grew in such riotous profusion that its sparkling springs flowed fragrant with their perfume. And the blessed folk who drank of those odor-drenched waters were remarkable for longevity.
An old bard, in the musical cadences of Chinese poetry and the colorful pictorialness of the hieroglyphics which no English rendering can convey, sings to me of chrysanthemums through the lips of a young Chinese student who is not too moder n to reverence his country's long-ago poets: —
Bound, high-flung flower,
Its gold is untainted with alloy.
Of the snow all unafraid,
The loveliness of its heart.
A drink for the fairies.
Saturated in chrysanthemum lore, with its fairies, its magic, and its loves in old-time gardens, I was ready for the ceremonious bringing of my gift' from the loveliest chrysanthemum garden of all this Chinese city. The basketful of slips held the promise of just such sheen and glory as had hushed my heart last Ninth Moon when my ladies of the cassia-bud finger-tips and the swaying bamboo grace had led me through their garden's luring mazes.
They came — my chrysanthemum slips, each neat little bundle tied with twisted rice paper. Each was tagged bearing the name of the variety written in flowing soft-brushed Chinese hieroglyphics. These names made up a list with which Li T'ai-po might have conjured: 'Beauty of the Palace of Han,' 'Gold Pine-needles,' 'Silver Autumn Lotus,' 'Jade-dust on the Sun,' *A Skyful of Stars,' 'Snow of the Eastern Ocean.'
And now all my slips are cradled in the sifted earth. Sixty pottery pots sit in prim rows under a Dragon's-Eye tree. I must bide me in patience for chrysanthemums. But in the Ninth Moon — Month of Chrysanthemums — I shall be having promises fulfilled.
IN DEFENSE OF AN HONEST LIAR
One of the memorable sermons of my childhood was on lying. I was a precocious child and developed at a very early age a talent for the imaginative interpretation of commonplace events and a gift for creative narrative that distressed, more often than charmed, my environment. My failure to enter
tain these matter-of-fact people who surrounded and cramped my childhood, was more discouraging to me then than it would be now. I did n't realize then as I do now, that lack of appreciation of my rare quality is merely evidence of the superiority of my imagination and humor.
The theme of this sermon was the inescapable depravity of man in his relation to absolute truthfulness. No man had ever been absolutely truthful. It was said to be impossible for anyone to be scrupulously, religiously truthful. We strayed from the narrow and literal path, however ardently and reverently we devoted ourselves to the spirit of probity. I was comforted and elated to hear authoritatively from the pulpit that my obliquity to truth was a common failing of all humanity. I did n't analyze the degree to which one might indulge this original sin without becoming a moral offender. I was satisfied to know I was normal and I planned to develop my talent intensively and refine its artistic expression.
My composure was completely upset by the discussion that took place during dinner. My mother made the surprising statement that the sermon was quite wrong, that absolute truthfulness is a congenital virtue in some people and that perfection could be achieved. My moral point of view changed immediately, my background shifted. I was again a sinner, a liar. My mother then gave her definition of a lie — a malicious intent to deceive. I was again morally reinstated, absolved. Of course I had no standards of my own. I was perfectly obedient to all forms of discipline and subordinate to every form of recognized authority. I was not a liar for I never intended to deceive. My desire was to entertain. I was never malicious.
Then my mother did an overwhelmingly gracious and courageous thing. In preference to two infinitely more deserving, though undeveloped, examples, she chose me and said she would tell the preacher that to her mind he had preached a wrong and questionable sermon; for I, her son, who was already a local celebrity as a perverter and colorist of truth, had never told a lie to her, nor to any one else as far as she knew. I was a notorious prevaricator, yet I had never told a lie. The strict moral aspect of the question has never been settled in my mind and my concern as I grew up was more in its technique than in its principle.
I still do not tell malicious lies with deliberate intent to deceive. The facts of a situation or incident interest me only as the outline of a plot. The facts are rarely important, certainly not sacred, and their usefulness depends only upon the way in which they are employed artistically for the development of the plot. Details and all the tricks of embroidery and elaboration must be spontaneous, inspired by the interplay of the story and the audience, and for this reason a story should never be told twice to the same audience. I never tell a story the second time if I can avoid it, for my memory is as poor as my scientific and moral attitude is weak. I can't remember just how I told it the last time and it is the details, the emphasis upon exact incidental facts, quotations, and precise figures, preferably odd numbers, that give my stories plausibility.
The risks I sometimes take with figures are not worth the reward. I am oftener checked in the matter of figures than in facts. Incidental facts can be made so picturesque and their origin so obscured that it is a mean person indeed who will aggressively contradict them. I never trust a person the second time who fails to grasp the humor of a shade, a touch, or a tone that, even though it varies the truth considerably,
still compensates by an appreciable heightening of interest.
Of all the elements that go toward the making of a good story, figures are invariably the most dangerous. An honest liar should never use figures conspicuously or thematically. Round numbers are, of course, safer than exact figures because of their very roundness, by which I mean their elasticity. But in their tendency to inflate, increase, collect, or propagate a nought, they are treacherous, slippery, and unreliable. A nought, in itself harmless and negligible, may multiply your intention ten times — and without warning.
My most shameful betrayal by round numbers was in connection with an enthusiastic account I was giving in behalf of propaganda for a summer camp my cousin had just opened. I said he had fifty boys and since his tuition was $1500, he ought to have a profitable summer. If some one had made this perfectly unselfish statement to me, merely in the interest of creating a belief in his cousin's prosperity, I should never have maliciously multiplied 50 by 1500 mentally and arrived at an incredible figure. The fact that I can't do mental arithmetic that involves more than two figures has nothing to do with the consideration of the incident. The fact that the number of boys may have been generously doubled and the tuition accidentally multiplied by five, has nothing to do with the motive, which was a friendly desire to convince a skeptical person of a successful enterprise toward which we should have been mutually indulgent and moderately sympathetic.
This discussion of technique will illustrate the only real problem the honest liar has, after the moral phase has been settled, his principle defined and his limits set. This illustration does not include a very treacherous objective condition and I should