Friday, January 13, 2012

"No Mean City"

"No Mean City"
Reverend Jesse Halsey

A Roman Citizen of the first century, who was one of the most extensive travelers of his time, whose journeying took him round the Mediterranean repeatedly, and into the remote highlands of Asia Minor, who had lectured in Athens, under the shadow of the Acropolis and prayed in Jerusalem on Mt. Zion, and walked the proud streets of Imperial Rome, that much-travelled man speaks of the provincial town where he was born, as, “No Mean City.”

There is a legitimate pride that each one feels in his hometown and that pride ought to express itself in devotion to the welfare of that particular town. We are quick to accept the privileges and advantages accorded us by the fact that we are residents of this, our “no mean city,” but the spirit of Cincinnati flourishes, and will persist, only as devoted citizens make sacrifices on her behalf. No worthy life, individual or social, national or municipal is ever developed without devotion and generous giving of self and time and energy and substance.

As Isaiah wandered through Jerusalem, worshipping in her temple, denouncing her wickedness, looking out over her battlements, proud of her history, glorying in her future, so do I love and fain would serve this the city which as adopted me.

As Socrates walked the narrow streets of Athens, the Acropolis towering over all, asking questions, teaching, learning, worrying about human problems (traffic congestion, for example—mules with him, autos with us), so would I rub elbows in our town with all sorts and conditions of men, I who must be chiefly a learner.

I see Sir Walter limping through the Cow Gate and climbing toward the Castle Hill, looking out over “Auld Reekie” with his love transforming all the shadows, and the very smoke made clouds of glory in the westerning sun

The echo of a voice and life, devoted to this hilled town of ours I often hear in fragments from many whom he taught and influenced. He was our great “Philopolist” (he coined that word for, “city love”). A short generation ago his name was on every tongue—Charles Frederic Goss; his spirit, his influence, is with us still: those whom he trained and taught and inspired are among our most useful citizens today.

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