The Gospel According to St. Andrew
Andrew Carnegie, library purveyor and morality expert (what a tribe of experts there seems to be in the world) has been at it again, He thinks “wealth is so obviously unequally distributed that the attention of civilised man must he attracted to it from time to time.” He adds “no amount of charity in spending fortunes in any way compensates for misconduct in making them.” He quotes with approval President Roosevelt’s statement that he “would discriminate in the sharpest way between fortunes well won and fortunes ill won, between those gained well as a whole and those gained in evil fashion by keeping just within the bounds of mere law honesty.” and concludes, “There are fortunes swollen beyond all healthy limits; but I say my partners are the people ” !
Dear, good Saint Andrew! His partners are the people. How true ! How trite! Of course they are all in the firm. All partners of the somnolent variety — sleeping partners in short. And while they sleep Andrew may sing on and preen his flight feathers prettily, preparatory to taking his place in the angelic choir wherein he has already, with canny prescience, booked a prominent place, as I doubt not. Well for Andrew, now and presently, if his shrewdness impel him to take his departure before his sleeping partners wake; for I fear the much that it will be woe indeed for Andrew if he should in that day be with us in the flesh.
“There are fortunes swollen beyond all healthy limit” Most upright judge! “No amount of charity in spending fortunes in any way compensates for misconduct in making them.” Oh ‘a Daniel come to judgment.’ What a lead for the “partners” when they wake!’ Under the spur of such urging, under the whip of such counsel, how readily will they locate the owner of the fortune which, despite all its possessor’s widely advertised and loudly lauded efforts to dispose of it, persists in accumulating without even a hand-stir effort on the part of its owner; and how quick will they be to recognise this “fortune swollen beyond all healthy limit.” And when they hear the story of Pittsburg and how the history of its rise and development has stank in the nostrils of ‘‘civilised man” for years, in what a flash will come the appreciation of the inwardness of Andrew’s other pronouncement as to the insufficiency of charity to compensate for the methods by which fortunes are built up.
Verily there is a great day in store for the “partners” and for Andrew—when the sleepers wake. And one of the surest signs that the “partners” still snore, is in the fact that Andrew can walk abroad giving off his smug and unctuous dicta without risk of more than a halting effort at half humourous protest even from the most desperately “advanced ” organs of public opinion. Well, the sleepers will not always sleep. There’s a good time coming and the Laird of Skibo’s share in that good time may not be altogether what he would himself design.
And I’m not quite sure that, assuming he has left us before that day dawns, he will be quite happy in that “undiscovered country from whose bourne’’ etc. I claim no special knowledge in the matter, but I am reminded of the story told, upon as good authority as any story of the sort, of the experience of one, Pullman, who at one time was in the sleeping car business (these sleeping care were not much used, I believe, by Andrew’s sleeping “partners” referred to). It chanced that Pullman died and found himself at heaven’s gate whereat he knocked loudly. In response to his peremptory summons Peter appeared and of him Pullman demanded admittance. “And who are you?” asked Peter. “I’m Pullman,” answered the applicant, “ Pullman, of Pullman, U.S.A.” “Ah!” said Peter, “1 think we have heard something of you. Will you be good enough to wait a moment while I refer to my instructions?” And Peter opened a large book on his janitor’s desk. “Well, hurry up then,” quoth Pullman. “I’m not accustomed to being detained in this way. My time’s precious.” Peter turned the leaves leisurely. “Don’t worry,” said he. “Time doesn’t matter quite so much here as it does where you came from. Ah! here we are. Pullman of Pullman, U.S.A. M—yes! I thought I was not mistaken. Will you kindly take a seat in the lift yonder.” Pullman entered the lift and waited. The liftman made no sign. “Well, what’s the matter? Why don’t you start?” he asked. “There’s no hurry,” replied the liftman. “I’m expecting a few more along shortly. We generally fill up fairly quick.” Pullman stumped about impatiently and one or two more came in, but the lift was still not full. “Come! Come!” he said, “I shan’t get in to-day if you’re much longer. When are we going up?” “Sir,” replied the attendant, “ this lift does not go up!”