Read LETTING THE CROWDS BE GOOD - CHAPTER VIII of Crowds A Moving-Picture of Democracy, free online book, by Gerald Stanley Lee, on


Perhaps it has leaked out to those who have been following these pages thus far, that I am merely at best, if the truth were known, a kind of reformed preacher.

I admit it.  Many other people are.  We began, owing to circumstances, with the idea of getting people to take up goodness by talking about it.

But we have grown discouraged in talking to people about goodness.  More and more, year by year, we have made up our minds, as I have hinted, to lie low and to keep still and show them some.

And I can only say it again, as I have said it before, if everybody in the world could know my plumber or pay a bill to him, the world would soon begin, slowly but surely, to be a very different place.

The first time I saw B - I had asked him to come over to arrange with regard to putting in new waterpipes from the street to my house.  The old ones had been put in no one could remember how many years before, and the pressure of water in the house, apparently from rust in the pipes, had become very weak.  After a minute’s conversation I at once engaged B - to put in the new and larger pipes, and he agreed to dig open the trench (about two hundred feet long, and three feet deep) and put the pipes in the next day for thirty-five dollars.  The next morning he appeared as promised, but, instead of going to work, he came into my study, stood there a moment before my eyes, and quietly but firmly threw himself out of his job!

There was no use in spending thirty-five dollars, he said.  He had gone to the City Water Works Office and told them to look into the matter and see if the connection they had put in at the junction of my pipe with the main in the street did not need attention.  They had found that a new connection was necessary.  They would see that a new one was put in at once.  They were obliged to do it for nothing, he said; and then, slipping (figuratively speaking) thirty-five dollars into my pocket, he bowed gravely and was gone.

B - knew absolutely and conclusively (as any one would with a look) that I was not the sort of person who would ever have heard of that blessed little joint out in the street, or who ever would hear of it or who would know what to do with it if he did.

Sometimes I sit and think of B - in church, or at least I used to, especially when his bill had just come in.  It was always a pleasure to think of paying one of B -’s bills-even if it was sometimes a postponed one.  You always knew, with B -, that he had made that bill out to you as if he had been making out a bill to himself.

Not such a bad thing to think about during a sermon.

I do not deny that I do lose a sentence now and then in sermons; and while, as every one knows, the sermons I have been provided with in the old stone church have been of a rare and high order, there have, I do acknowledge, been bad moments-little sudden bare spots or streaks of abstraction-and I do not deny that there have been times when I could not help feeling, as I sat listening, like sending around Monday morning to the parsonage-my plumber.  One could not help thinking what Dr. - if he once got started on a plumber like B - (had had him around working all the week during a sermon) could do with him.

I have a shoemaker, too, who would help most ministers.  I imagine he would point up their sermons a good deal-if they had his shoes on.

Perhaps shoes and pipes and things like these will be looked upon soon to-day as constituting the great, slow, modest, implacable spiritual forces of our time.

At all events, this is the most economical, sensible, thorough way (when one thinks of it) that goodness can be advertised.