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A great lecture must have a great theme. One of the supreme tests of a
lecturer's judgment presents itself when he is called upon to choose his
subject. Look over the list of subjects on the syllabus of any speaker
and the man stands revealed. His previous intellectual training, or lack
of it, what he considers important, his general mental attitude, the
extent of his information and many other things can be predicated from
his selection of topics.

Early in his career the lecturer is obliged to face this question, and
his future success hinges very largely on his decision. Not only is the
selection determined by his past reading, but it in turn largely
determines his future study.

Not long ago a promising young speaker loomed up, but he made a fatal
mistake at the very outset. He selected as his special subject a
question in which few are interested, except corporation lawyers--the
American constitution.

The greatest intellectual achievements of the last fifty years center
around the progress of the natural sciences. Those greatest of all
problems for the human race, "whence, whither, wherefore," have found
all that we really know of their solution in the discoveries of physics
and biology during recent times. What Charles Darwin said about "The
Origin of Species" is ten thousand times more important than what some
pettifogging lawyer said about "States' Rights." The revelations of the
cellular composition of animals by Schwan and plants by Schleiden mark
greater steps in human progress than any or all of the decisions of the
supreme court. Lavoisier, the discoverer of the permanence of matter and
the founder of modern chemistry, will be remembered when everybody has
forgotten that Judge Marshall and Daniel Webster ever lived. From these
and other epoch-making discoveries in the domain of science, modern
Socialism gets its point of departure from Utopianism, and without those
advances would have been impossible.

Here is a new and glorious world from which the working class has been
carefully shut out. Here we find armor that cannot be dented and weapons
whose points cannot be turned aside in the struggle of the Proletariat
for its own emancipation.

Any lecturer who will acquaint himself with the names of Lamarck,
Darwin, Lyell, Lavoisier, Huxley, Haeckel, Virchow, Tyndall, Fiske,
Wallace, Romanes, Helmholtz, Leibnitz, Humboldt, Weismann, etc., in
science, and Marx, Engels, Lafargue, Labriola, Ferri, Vandervelde,
Kautsky, Morgan, Ward, Dietzgen, etc., in sociology, and learn what
those names stand for, such a lecturer, other things being equal, has a
great and useful field before him.

It was well enough in the middle ages for great conclaves of clericals
to discuss sagely what language will be spoken in heaven, and how many
angels could dance a saraband on the point of a needle, but the
twentieth century is face to face with tremendous problems and the
public mind clamors for a solution. It will listen eagerly to the man
who knows and has something to say. But it insists that the man who
knows no more than it knows itself, shall hold his peace.

This is why the Socialist and the Scientist are the only men who command
real audiences--they are the only men with great and vital truths to

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