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Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919). Through the Brazilian Wilderness. 1914.

Page 59

reflection on sloth and moral laxity. The government in each of these commonwealths is doing everything possible to further the cause of education, and the tendency is to treat education as peculiarly a function of government and to make it, where the government acts, non-sectarian, obligatory, and free—a cardinal doctrine of our own great democracy, to which we are committed by every principle of sound Americanism. There must be absolute religious liberty, for tyranny and intolerance are as abhorrent in matters intellectual and spiritual as in matters political and material; and more and more we must all realize that conduct is of infinitely greater importance than dogma. But no democracy can afford to overlook the vital importance of the ethical and spiritual, the truly religious, element in life; and in practice the average good man grows clearly to understand this, and to express the need in concrete form by saying that no community can make much headway if it does not contain both a church and a school.
  We took breakfast—the eleven-o’clock Brazilian breakfast—on Colonel Rondon’s boat. Caymans were becoming more plentiful. The ugly brutes lay on the sand-flats and mud-banks like logs, always with the head raised, sometimes with the jaws open. They are often dangerous to domestic animals, and are always destructive to fish, and it is good to shoot them. I killed hafl a dozen, and missed nearly as many more—a throbbing boat does not improve one’s aim. We passed forests of palms that extended for leagues, and vast marshy meadows, where storks, herons, and ibis were gathered, with flocks of cormorants and darters on the sand-bars,