Every-day Thoughts in Prose and Verse
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
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Is the World Growing Better?
Periodically the old question is revived by
the clergy and the press, "Is the world grow-
ing better or worse?
    It makes a subject for discussion and helps to
occupy time and newspaper space, but that there
can be any absolute doubt regarding the progress
of humanity in any mind seems scarcely possible.
    In the days of Washington, every gentleman was
expected to be rather the worse for drink now and
    Drunkenness was not considered a vice save by
the females of the day.  It was a weakness which
statesmen and gallants prided themselves upon
possessing rather than regretted.
    Drunkenness exists at present, but the statistics
show a smaller percentage of drunkards than ever
    It militates seriously against a statesman to-day
if he is known to be a man who drinks to excess.
    Young men in society no longer boast of this
weakness, but endeavor to hide it when afflicted
with the habit.
    It is regarded by the thinking public as a malady
and so treated by science.  This fact alone proves
that a healthier moral tone prevails in this matter.
And certainly the matter is an important one; for
drunkenness is the father of all other vices.
    Until humanity fully develops its sixth and sev-
enth senses, the social sin will exist.  But even in
this respect the world is moving onward and upward.
    Time was, not so very long ago, when a king's
mistress ruled the nation and the king was but a
figurehead.  He never tried to conceal the presence
or the power of these favorites from his people, who
were taxed to support them in luxury.
    There is not a civilized country upon the face of
the earth to-day which would submit to such a state
of things.
    Favorites of kings are to be found in every
imperial land, without doubt, and scandals come to
our ears regarding some of them.  Yet again herein
follows the proof of the progress of moral sentiment,
since a hundred or two hundred years ago these
subjects were not ranked among the scandals, but
among the current events of the day.
    Princes and other men are possible as weak and
prone to err, where fair woman is concerned, as
ever.  But they are restrained by public opinion
from flaunting their vices in the eyes of the world.
    War, horrible as it is and ever must be, is robbed
of some of its most terrible features by the growth
of humanitarian principles.
    Where of old prisoners were flung into dungeons
and forgotten or subjected to a cruel death, they
are to-day treated with considerate kindness and
well fed and cared for by humane victors.
    Slowly but surely the world is gaining a higher
moral plane; slowly, but surely, the selfish animal in
man is giving way to Man the Image of Divinity.
The image is still but a crude design, yet it is
nearer what it should be than ever before.
    The world is growing better with every whirl
upon its axis.
Every-day thoughts in prose and verse. by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Chicago: W. B. Conkey Company, 1901.
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