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adopted by the Lacedæmonian lawgiver to secure the supremacy of the martial spirit? What did he primarily aim to accomplish by his extraordinary enactments in relation to food, currency, education, honesty, and labour of all sorts ? A Lacedæmonian happening to be at Athens when the court was sitting, was informed of a man who had just been fined for idleness.
66 Let me see the person,” exclaimed he, “who has been condemned for keeping up his dignity !” What was the philosophy of the black broth, the iron money, the consummate virtue of successful theft, the sublime dignity of idleness? It was the war system, entrenching itself, where alone it could be safe, on the ruins of commerce! The annihilation of trade, and all its inducements, and all its incidents—the extermination of the mercantile spirit, root and branch-this was the only mode which the sagacious Lycurgus could devise for maintaining the martial character of Sparta.
Plato, who knew something of the practical value of commerce, if it be true that it was by selling oil in Egypt that he was enabled to defray the expenses of those travels and studies, by
which he prepared himself to be one of the great lights of the world, bore witness to the wise adaptation of this policy to the end to be accomplished, when he declared that in a well regulated commonwealth, the citizens should not engage in commerce, because they would be accustomed to find pretexts for justifying conduct so inconsistent with what was manly and becoming, as would relax the strictness of the military spirit ; adding, that it had been better for the Athenians to have continued to send annually, the sons of seven of their principal citizens to be devoured by the Minotaur, than to have changed their ancient manners, and become a maritime power.
It is this irreconcilable hostility between the mercantile and the martial spirit, which has led heroes, in all ages, to despise and deride the pursuits of tradem from the heroes of the Homeric age of ancient Greece, with whom a pirate is said to have been a more respected character than a merchant, to him of modern France, who could find no severer sarcasm for his most hated foes, than to call them "a nation of shopkeepers. ”
But, from the discovery of the new world, the
mercantile spirit has been rapidly gaining upon its old antagonist; and the establishment upon these shores of our own Republic, whose Union was the immediate result of commercial necessities, whose Independence found its original impulse in commercial oppressions, and of whose Constitution the regulation of commerce was the first leading idea—may be regarded as the epoch, at which the martial spirit finally lost a supremacy which, it is believed and trusted, it can never re-acquire.
I honour the advocates of peace wherever they may be found; and gladly would I hail the day, when their transcendent principles shall be consistent with the maintenance of those organized societies which are so clearly of Divine original and sanction; the day, when
“ All crimes shall cease, and ancient fraud shall fail,
In the mean time, let us rejoice that the great interests of international commerce are effecting practically, what these sublime principles aim at
theoretically. It is easy, I know, to deride these interests as sordid, selfish, dollar-and-cent influences, emanating from the pocket, instead of from the heart or the conscience. But an enlightened and regulated pursuit of real interests is no unworthy policy, either on the part of individuals or nations, and a far sighted selfishness is not only consistent with, but is often itself, the truest philanthropy. Commandments of not inferior authority to the Decalogue, teach us, that the love of our neighbour, a duty second only in obligation to the love of God, is to find its measure in that love of self, which has been implanted in our nature for no unwise or unwarrantable ends. Yet, gentlemen, while I would vindicate the commercial spirit from the reproaches which are too often cast upon it, and hail its triumphant progress over the world as the harbinger of freedom, civilization and peace, I would by no means intimate an opinion, that it is not itself susceptible of improvement- that it does not itself demand regulation and restraint. The commercial spirit has rendered noble service to mankind. Its influence in promoting domestic order, in stimulating
individual industry, in establishing and developing the great principle of the division of labourits appropriation of the surplus products of all mechanical and all agricultural industry for its cargoes—its demand upon the highest exercise of invention and skill for its vehicles—its appeal to the sublimest science for its guidance over the deep-its imperative requisition of the strictest public faith and private integrity—its indirect, but not less powerful operation in diffusing knowledge, civilization and freedom over the worldall conspire with that noble conquest over the spirit of war which I have described, in commending it to the gratitude of man, and in stamping it with the crownmark of a divinely appointed instrument for good. But that it requires to be tempered, and chastened, and refined, and elevated, and purified, and Christianized, examples gross as earth, and glaring as the sun, exhort us on every side. May you all be inspired with the ambition of securing for our own country and for our own city, so far as in you lies, some share in that noble tribute which was paid by the celebrated Montesquieu, a century ago, to the land of