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working up all that is wasted to-day into to-morrow's creation ;-not a superfluous grain of sand, for all the ostentation she makes of expense and public works. It is because Nature thus saves and uses, labouring for the general, that we poor particulars are so crushed and straitened, and find it so hard to live. She flung us out in her plenty, but we cannot shed a hair, or a paring of a nail, but instantly she snatches at the shred, and appropriates it to the general stock. Our condition is like that of the poor wolves: if one of the flock wound himself, or so much as limp, the rest eat him up incontinently.
That serene Power interposes an irresistible check upon the caprices and officiousness of our wills. His charity is not our charity. One of his agents is our will, but that which expresses itself in our will, is stronger than our will. We are very forward to help it, but it will not be accelerated. It resists our meddling, eleemosynary contrivances. We devise sumptuary laws and relief laws, but the principle of population is always reducing wages to the lowest pittance on which human life can be sustained. We legislate against forestalling and monopoly; we would have a common granary for the poor; but the selfishness which stores and hoards the corn for high prices, is the preventive of famine : and the law of self-preservation is surer policy than any legislation can be. We concoct eleemosynary systems, and it turns out that our charity increases pauperism. We inflate our paper currency, we repair commerce with unlimited credit, and are presently visited with unlimited bankruptcy.
It is easy to see that we of the existing generation are conspiring with a beneficence, which, in its working for coming generations, sacrifices the passing one, which infatuates the most selfish men to act against their private interest for the public welfare. We build railroads, we know not for what or for whom; but one thing is very certain, that we who build will receive the very smallest share of benefit therefrom. Immense benefit
will accrue; they are essential to the country, but that will be felt not until we are no longer countrymen. We do the like in all matters :
“Man's heart the Almighty to the Future set
By secret and inviolable springs.” We plant trees, we build stone houses, we redeem the waste, we make long prospective laws, we found colleges, hospitals, but for many and remote generations. We should be very much mortified to learn that the little benefit we chanced in our own persons to receive was the utmost they would yield.
The history of commerce, which of course includes the history of the world, is the record of this beneficent tendency. The patriarchal form of government readily becomes despotic, as each person may see in his own family. Fathers wish to be the fathers of the minds of their children, as well as of their bodies, and behold with great impatience a new character and way of thinking presuming to show itself in their own son or daughter. This feeling, which all their love and pride in the powers of their children cannot subdue, becomes petulance and tyranny when the head of the clan, the emperor of an empire, deals with the same difference of opinion in his subjects. Difference of opinion is the one crime which kings never forgive. An empire is an immense egotism. “I am the State,” said the French Louis. When a French ambassador mentioned to Paul of Russia, that a man of consequence in St. Petersburgh was interesting himself in some matter, the Czar vehemently interrupted him with these words, “There is no man of consequence in this empire, but he with whom I am actually speaking; and so long only as I am speaking to him, is he of any consequence.” And Nicholas, the present emperor, is reported to have said to his council, “ Gentlemen, the age is embarrassed with new opinions. Rely on me, gentlemen, I shall oppose an iron will to the progress of liberal opinions.”
It is very easy to see that this patriarchal or family management gets to be rather troublesome to all but the papa: the sceptre comes to be a crowbar. And this very unpleasant egotism, Feudalism or the power of Aristocracy opposes, and finally destroys. The king is compelled to call in the aid of his brothers and cousins, and remote relations, to help him keep his overgrown house in order; and this club of noblemen always come at last to have a will of their own: they combine to brave the sovereign, and call in the aid of the people. Each chief attaches as many followers by kindness, and maintenance, and gifts, as he can; and as long as war lasts, the nobles, who must be soldiers, rule very well. But when peace comes, the nobles prove very whimsical and uncomfortable masters; their frolics turn out to be very insulting and degrading to the commoner. Feudalism grew to be a bandit and brigand.
Meantime Trade (or the merchant and manufacturer) had begun to appear: Trade, a plant which always grows wherever there is peace, as soon as there is peace, and as long as there is peace. The luxury and necessity of the noble fostered it. And as quickly as men go to foreign parts, in ships or caravans, a new order of things springs up; new ideas awake in their minds. New command takes place, new servants and new masters. Their information, their wealth, their correspondence, have made them quite other men than left their native shore. They are nobles now, and by another patent than the king's Feudalism had been good, had broken the power of the kings, and had some very good traits of its own; but it had grown mischievous, it was time for it to die, and, as they say of dying people, all its faults came out. Trade was the strong man that broke it down, and raised a new and unknown power in its place. It is a new agent in the world, and one of great function; it is a very intellectual force. This displaces physical strength, and instals computation, combination, information, science, in its room. It calls out all force of a certain kind that slumbered in the former dynasties. It is now in the midst of its career. Feudalism is not ended yet. Our governments still partake largely
of that element. Trade goes to make the governments insignificant, and to bring every kind of faculty of every individual that can in any manner serve any person, on sale. Instead of a huge Army and Navy, and Executive Departments, it tends to convert Government into a bureau of intelligence, an Intelligence-Office, where every man may find what he wishes to buy, and expose what he has to sell, not only produce and manufactures, but art, skill, and intellectual and moral values. This is the good and this the evil of trade, that it goes to put everything into market, talent, beauty, virtue, and man himself.
By this means, however, it has done its work. It has its faults, and will come to an end, as the others do. We rail at Trade, and the philosopher and lover of man have much harm to say of it; but the historian of the world will see that Trade was the principle of Liberty; that Trade planted America and destroyed Feudalism; that it makes peace and keeps peace, and it will abolish slavery. We complain of the grievous oppression of the poor, and of its building up a new aristocracy on the ruins of the aristocracy it destroyed. But there is this immense difference, that the aristocracy of trade has no permanence, is not entailed, was the result of toil and talent, the result of merit of some kind, and is continually falling, like the waves of the sea, before new claims of the same sort. Trade is an instrument in the hands of that friendly Power which works for us in our own despite. We design it thus and thus; but it turns out otherwise and far better. This beneficent tendency, omnipotent without violence, exists and works. Every observation of history inspires a confidence that we shall not go far wrong; that things mend. That is it. That is the moral of all we learn, that it warrants Hope, HOPE, the prolific mother of reforms. Our part is plainly not to throw ourselves across the track, not to block improvement, and sit till we are stone, but to watch the uprise of successive mornings, and to conspire with the new works of new days. Government has been a fossil;
it should be a plant. I conceive that the office of statute law should be to express, and not to impede the mind of mankind. New thoughts, new things. Trade was one instrument, but Trade is also but for a time, and must give way to somewhat broader and better, whose signs are already dawning in the sky.
3. I pass, in the third place, to speak of the signs of that which is the sequel of trade.
It is in consequence of the revolution in the state of society wrought by trade, that Government in our times is beginning to wear so clumsy and cumbrous an appearance. We have already seen our way to shorter methods. The time is full of good signs. Some of them shall ripen to fruit. All this beneficent socialism is a friendly omen, and the swelling cry of voices for the education of the people, indicates that Government has other offices than those of banker and executioner, Witness the new movements in the civilized world, the Communism of France, Germany, and Switzerland; the Trades' Unions; the English League against the Corn Laws; and the whole Industrial Statistics, so called. In Paris, the blouse, the badge of the operative, has begun to make its appearance in the saloons. Witness too the spectacle of three Communities which have within a very short time sprung up within this Commonwealth; besides several others, undertaken by citizens of Massachusetts, within the territory of other States. These proceeded from a variety of motives, from an impatience of many usages in common life, from a wish for greater freedom than the manners and opinions of society permitted, but in great part from a feeling that the true offices of the State, the State had let fall to the ground; that in the scramble of parties for the public purse, the main duties of government were omitted—the duty to instruct the ignorant, to supply the poor with work and with good guidance. These communists preferred the agricultural life as the most favourable condition for human culture; but they thought that the farm, as we manage it, did not satisfy the right