In Memory of Henry Lloyd
c.1903 — Memorial Meeting for Henry D. Lloyd, Chicago IL
In the few minutes at our disposal I should like to speak of the passion for a better social order, the hunger and thirst after social righteousness which Mr. Lloyd’s life embodied beyond that, perhaps, of any of his fellow-citizens.
Progress is not automatic; the world grows better because people wish that it should and because they take the right steps to make it better. Progress depends upon modification and change; if things are ever to move forward, some man must be willing to take the first steps and assume the risks. Such a man must have courage, but courage is by no means enough. That man may easily do a vast amount of harm who advocates social changes from mere blind enthusiasm for human betterment, who arouses men only to a smarting sense of wrong, or who promotes reforms which are irrational and without relation to his time. To be of value in the delicate process of social adjustment and reconstruction, a man must have a knowledge of life as it is, of the good as well as of the wrong; he must be a patient collector of facts, and furthermore he must possess a zeal for men which will inspire confidence and arouse to action.
I need not tell this audience that the man whose premature death we are here to mourn possessed these qualities in an unusual degree.
His search for the accomplished good was untiring. It took him again and again on journeys to England, to Australasia, to Switzerland, wherever, indeed, he detected the beginning of an attempt to “equalize welfare,” as he called it, wherever he caught tidings of a successful democracy. He brought back cheering reports of the “Labor Co-partnership” in England, through which the working men own together farms, mills, factories and dairies, and run them for mutual profit; of the people’s banks in Central Europe, which are at last bringing economic redemption to the hard-pressed peasants; of the old-age pensions in New Zealand; of the “Country Without Strikes” because compulsory arbitration is fairly enforced; of the national railroads in New Zealand, which carry the school children free and scatter the unemployed on the new lands.
His new book on “The Swiss Sovereign” is not yet completed, but we all recall his glowing accounts of Switzerland, “where they have been democrats for six hundred years and are the best democrats, where they can point to the educational results of the referendum, which makes the entire country a forum for the discussion of each new measure, so that the people not only agitate and elect, but also legislate; where the govt pensions fatherless school children that they may not be crushed by premature labor. The accounts of these and many more successful social experiments are to be found in his later books. As other men collect coins and pictures, so Mr. Lloyd collected specimens of successful cooperation — of brotherhood put into practice.
He came at last to an unshaken belief that this round old world of our is literally dotted over with groups of men and women who are steadily bringing in a more rational social order. To quote his own words:
“We need but to do everywhere what someone is doing somewhere.” “We do but all need to do what a few re doing.” “We must learn to walk together in new says.” His friends admit that in these books there is an element of special pleading, but it is the special pleading of the idealist who insists that the people who dream are the only ones who accomplish, and who in proof thereof unrolls the charters of national and international associations of working men, and open accounts of municipal tramways, the records of coöperative societies, the cash balances in people’s banks.
Mr. Lloyd possessed a large measure of human charm. He had many gifts of mind and bearing, but perhaps his chief accomplishment was his mastery of the difficult art of comradeship. Many times social charm serves merely to cover up the trivial, but Mr. Lloyd ever made his an argument to create a new fascination for serious things. We can all recall his deep concern over the changed attitude which we, as a nation, are allowing ourselves to take toward the colored man; his foreign as to the grave consequences in permitting the rights of the humblest to be invaded; his warning that if in the press of our affairs we do not win new liberties that we cannot keep our old liberties.
He was an accomplished Italian scholar, possessing a large Italian library; he had not only a keen pleasure in Dante, but a vivid interest in the struggles of New Italy; he firmly believed that the United States has a chance to work out Mazzini’s hopes for Italian working men, as they sturdily build our railroads and cross the American plains with the same energy with which they have previously built the Roman roads and pierced the Alps. He saw those fine realities in humble men which can easily remain hidden to dull eyes.
I recall a conversation with Mr. Lloyd, held last September, during a Chicago strike, which had been marred by acts of violence and broken contracts. We spoke of the hard places into which the friends of labor unions are often brought when they sympathize with the ultimate objects of a strike, but must disapprove of nearly every step of the way taken to attain that object. Mr Lloyd referred with regret to the disfavor with which most labor men look upon compulsory arbitration. He himself believed that as the state alone has the right to use force and has the duty of suppression toward any individual or combination of individuals who undertake to use it for themselves, so the state has the right to insist that the situation shall be submitted to an accredited court, that the state itself may only resort to force after the established machinery of government has failed. He spoke of the danger inherent in vast combinations of labor as well as in the huge combinations of capital; that the salvation of both lay in absolute publicity. As he had years before made public the hidden methods of a pioneer “trust” because he early realized the dangers which have since become obvious to many people, so he foresaw dangers to labor organizations if they substitute methods of shrewdness and of secret agreement for the open moral appeal. Labor unions are powerless unless backed by public opinion, he said; they can only win public confidence by taking the public into their counsels and by doing nothing of which the public man not know.
It is so easy to be dazzled by the combined power of capital, to be bullied by the voting strength of labor. We forget that capital cannot enter the moral realm, and may always be successfully routed by moral energy; that the labor vote will never be “solid” save as it rallies to those political measures which promise larger opportunities for the mass of the people; that the moral appeal is the only universal appeal.
Many people in this room can recall Mr. Lloyd’s description of the anthracite coal strike, his look of mingled solicitude and indignation was he displayed the photograph of the little bunker boy who held in his pigmy hand his account sheet, showing that at the ned of the weeks work he owed his landlord-employer more than he did at the beginning. Mr. Lloyd insisted that the simple human element was the marvel of the Pennsylvania situation, sheer pity of continually breaking through and speaking over the heads of the business interest. We recall his generous speculation as to what the result would have ben if there had been absolutely no violence, no shadow of law-breaking during those long months; if the struggle could have stood out as a single effort to attain a higher standard of life for every miner’s family, untainted by any touch of hatred toward those who did not join in the effort. Mr. Lloyd believed that the wonderful self-control which the strikers in the main exerted, but prefigured the strength which labor will exhibit when it has at last learned the wisdom of using only the moral appeal and of giving up forever every form of brute force. “If a mixed body of men can do as well as that they can certainly do better.” We can almost hear him say it now. His ardor recalled the saying of a wise man, “That the belief that a new degree of virtue is possible acts as a genuine creative force in human affairs.”
Throughout his life Mr. Lloyd believed in and worked for the “organization of labor,” but with his whole heart he longed for what he called “the religion of labor,” whose mission it should be “to advance the kingdom of God into the unevangelized territory of trade, commerce and industry.” He dared to hope that “out of the pain, poverty and want of the people there may at last be shaped a new loving cup for the old religion.”
Let us be comforted as we view the life of this “helper and friend of mankind” that haply we may, in this moment of sorrow, “establish our wavering line.”
“O strong soul, by what shore
Dost thou now tarry? . . .
Somewhere, surely, afar,
In the sounding labor-house vast
Of being is practiced that strength
Zealous, beneficent firm!”
Source: Modern Eloquence, The Outstanding After-Dinner Speeches, Lectures and Addresses of Modern Times, by the most eminent speakers of America and Europe, Vol V: Tributes to Great Men, ed. Ashley H. Thorndike, (Modern Eloquence Corporation) 1923, pp. 1-5.