« AnteriorContinuar »
ferent hemispheres must be modified—the lan-the relics of more barbarous periods, which, like guage, the destiny of mankind must be altered— iron fetters, bind them to an inheritance of poverty, the assimilating tendencies are hastened, and man ignorance, and oppression. Individual and segrewill have in these a guerdon of general protection gated man begins to think, to feel, to act, without or a chain to general degradation. Are they not the incurring the penalties of treason; and thus thinkefficient means to enlighten the nations—to pass ing, feeling, and acting, must combine, peaceably away the leaden lethargy that suspends the prog- if it may be, by convulsion if needs be, to change ress of some-to revive them, to recall and redeem an order of things, oppressive without reason, disibem from their lottering tendencies to topple to tinctive without general benefit. A system that their ruin and place them upon a broad platform of separates to the use of royal descent, to princes, Equal and universal civilization, of equal and uni- dukes, marquises, earls, viscounts, barons “ et id versal progress?
omne genus,” with or without brains, tracts of ler. These effects have already been partially fore- ritorial munificence, to be appropriated to pleasure shadowed in the regenerating influences of com- or to taste, while want and famine are wasting the merce. It has gradually, for the last few centu- lives of thousands fashioned like themselves, whose ries, been lifting the dark pall of superstition and blood, though honored with less distinction, is disignorance, that the middle ages hung upon the na- honored with less crime. Think you that such tions; and has expanded the horizon of civiliza- can be so ? that such inequality and injustice can tion, almost to the borders of the earth ; so that be borne in this age, when light is diffusing a spirit pations that were bolted to the ground, with all the of redemption from the ferid coils of ignorance ? infernal machinery that is forged in the workshops Think you when the very bowels of political opof ignorance, witchcraft, and error, are rising from pression are being opened and its accursed heresies their bed of blood and brutality, to enjoy the rays are heralded from the prolific jaws of a thouof a purer light that is beaming from the know. sand presses and borne with electric precipitation ledge of other nations. The great divisions of the through the wide universe, to be conned over and Earth, as well as the litile isles that float in dismal talked over, so that the learned and the unlearned, solitode, “ few and far between,” are now being one and all that have an or an ear can catch visited by the redeeming throng, of a busy and a the promise of deliverance from the grave of opbetter population, that mingling the purer waters of pression—think you, that man, intellectual, thinkscience and learning with the foul streams of shame ing man, with such lights, will hoy his chains and and crime, filler and defecate them, to the perma- bear the yoke of bondage without a murmur? Will pent, perhaps, the eternal welfare of their inhabi- not " houseless heads” begin to look up to the comtants, redeeming a land of Juggernaut, that it forts of a shelter? Will not the “unfed sides" may become the land of freedom. Commerce, with hope to enjoy the comforts of a frugal repast, and the ausiliaries which she has imparted efficacy to,“ luoped and windowed raggedness,” anticipa!e a has fornished a zone like the zodiac, that diffuses cleanly and comfortable habit ? Do they not feel the light of learning and truth, before which are the life-giving warmth of the sun of equal politiwithering the weeds of a false morality, to give place cal liberty that is now coursing to his zenith ? to the wholesome fruits of a more humane and hallowed system of ethics. Religion and moral light
“Take physic, pomp; have been, and are yet more being, diffused. The
Expose thyself to seel, what wretches feel
That thou may'st shake the superflux to them rights of man in a personal and political sense have
And show the heavens more just." been, and are yet more being, unlocked. But a little while ago he was looked upon as the mere Governments, however much in love with pow. appendage and appurtenant of place and suffered er, must yield. Power, however hallowed by prethe conditions of the soil on which he labored. scription, however congenial to the wishes of the The unchanging propriety in estate, has found him few that exercise it, however surrounded by the at the termination of a life devoted to labor, at the bulwarks of time, of talent, or of stratagem, must very point at which he started, to give place to sooner or later, by concession or by compulsion, children doomed to tread the same circle of sub- submit to the terms of a different age and different mission.
circumstances. For the absolute Governments of Civil rights, accelerated through the instrumen- the slavish periods of the past are as unfil for the dalilies which we have briefly noticed, are being conditions of man as he now is, and is becoming, beller understood ; a sense that “ God's heritage” as the free governments of the present would have is abused ; that it is inconsistent with the designs been for the periods to which we refer. Hence of Providence and the influences of reason, that we behold that where the name and form of such the few should lord it over the many, alike with or systems prevail, the despotic spirit is gone; and without their sanction, has step by step been work- royalty but hugs the last insignia of its power. ing like leaven in the circles of the masses-diffu- The storm of delusion and darkness is past, and its sing a dissatisfaction with those laws of property,'mutterings and shadow are now heard and seen only in some of the secluded sections of the earth series spoken of, exhibiting one of the elements of that are not yet penetrated by the improvements of distinction incident to the condition which mest more civilized nations. But the instruments are have existed in ages gone by, when nations so often at work, mighty to the pulling down of the strong perished. Efficient causes are at work to produce holds of tyranny-that, in spite of the resistance sooner or later universal freedom, and as a matter of prejudice and ignorance, are drawing such coun. of course such Governments will be instituted as tries closer to the light, and they must see and must will secure the greatest amount of individual free. act.
dom that is consistent with law and order. As we have advanced from the dark periods of No doubt can exist that many attempts will be the past, so has been the progress of popular free- made, and unsuccessfully too, upon existing gor. dom-in other words, as civilization has advanced. ernmenis—as there can be no doubt that many efso has been the improvement of the masses, and forts will for some time be abortive-from the fact, the revolutions of these and other times represent among others, that people must pass through the the volcanic action of the material world; when initiative of free government, before they cao build ever and wherever the resistance has been most up those permanent structures that are properly unyielding, there the violence has been correspond- adjusted and sustained on the only sure foundation, ingly obvious. True wisdom is better displayed that of a rational self-control. The almost gorain giving room to the progress of popular advance, rying effect of revolution from despotic systems. is that the action may be regular and not by convul- to the opposite extreme of popular licence. The sive leaps. It is vain to attempt to arrest it until convulsive effort to cast off oppressive goverathe chains of tyrants have all fallen. It may be ments-the popular phrenzy that proceeds, accomhindered for a season, but it will have its free course panies and follows such a state, is inimical to tha! ultimately. The imperial ukase may exclude the calm and sober sense of individual obligation wbich lights of learning and civilization, but they shall is so necessary to the success of such liberal ingather so thick, that walls, nor edicts, nor arms, stitutions. The storm that shatters and dismanties shall be sufficient ultimately to prevail. The pro- is adverse to every principle of reconstruction, 10 gress of invention is the mighty auxiliary that se- beauty and order. It is, however, but the storcures and sustains every remove from oppression and my entrance to a peaceful and tranquil sea—o82 transmits the benefits to other nations promoting that must and will be made. The laws which have an universal freedom. We may almost venture the regulated power, political science, property, labot, remark, that but for the rapid communications of this are of necessity, by means now at work, to he age, that our own country would have been already modified. Nations heretofore beyond the reach of harassed by many different idioms, which would communication are speedily to be brought nigh, have resulted like the confusion of the builders of the circumference of the earth will be shortenedBabel. And can it be doubted, that even in those so that a greater uniformity will exist in the care countries where such differences of language al toms, the dialects and the desting of man, which ready exist, that the same causes will not greatly must work an important change in the causes which modify them, as the drop of water wears the stone have marked the decline and fall of empire. upon which it often falls ? The shores of our own I have summarily thrown together some of the country are visited every year by thousands of peo- most striking causes which are leading, and mach ple of every tongue and nation, and yet in language lead, to important effects in the moral, social, and and in custom they assimilate to the prevailing lan- political conditions of the earth and perhaps to the guage and customs of our own nation. The peo- greater perpetuity of nations. ple of a particular Siate coming here in multitudes,
T. B. R. connected by common ties, seek in our western hemisphere a common home. Think you, that but for the incessant mixture of our people, with whom they are in hourly intercourse, they would not prefer and preserve in distinct and separate commu
A religious hubbub, such as the world has seldom sees, nities their own native peculiarities?
was excited, during the reign of Frederick II., by the end Our form of Government itself, requiring repre- ined virulence of a book entitled " The Three las posters." sentatives from every State to meet and deliberate It was attributed to Pierre des Vignes, chancellor of the on one common arena, is calculated to complete king, who was accused by the Pope of having treated the that which however is chiefly the result of accele- religions of Moses, Jesus, and Mahomet
, as political fabies rated intercourse. This government, representing abused, defended, and familiarly quoted by all parties, is
The work in question, however, which was squabbled abortil such a people, over such a surface of country, well proved never to have existed. would dissolve in its vast extent; and States with independent and hostile Governments, having dif
There is no particular air known throughout Switzerferent laws, languages, and customs, would even has its own song, varying in words, notes, and even las
land by the name of the Ranz des Vaches. Every cantaa by this time have been forming, but for the discov- guage.
cleanse; in darkening the fountain of others lives, INSTABILITY OF PUBLIC OPINION.
the springs of our own moral being are polluted, the white robe of life is defiled, and every better
aspiration and feeling perishes in the dank and The times are so far out of joint that opinion poisonous vapors which overhang us. is no longer truth-appearance no longer a reality, The errors of civilization seem comparative with and it is almost a miracle that the strong practical the unfolding of our progress and advancement, for and creative intellects of our time—those men who civilization both degrades and exalts humanity. bear the burdens of the world—who think for them. We take these errors with us into the sanctuary, selves and others do not rend this factitious veil of where selfish piety and spiritual pride become the society, and throw off the load of narrow preja- most fatal of human passions. A neglect to endice and superannuated folly that blights the trea- courage and fasten that large benevolence which sored dreams and hoarded schemes of a noble am- teaches that we are all human, shuts out those bition. How do the men of influence stand to- glimpses of truth which lead us unblinded to the wards their country and countrymen? How are heaven of the human heart. the vast stores of the knowledge of our genera- The distinction between respectable vice and tion full to overflowing of high thoughts, noble ragged virtue is a pointed illustration of our meanconceptions—of deep, solid and substantial wis- ing, and the same rule applied to the struggling dom, used? The whole series of political struggles efforts of genius is equally apposite. In the giddy, seems like so much laborious trifling—a busy idle- selfish and feverish excitement to satiate a craving ress while the real work is left undone. Scarcely for fashionable monstrosities heany man is equal to the effort of grappling with broad fixed principles,
“Who sounds the depths and shoals of honor"
“Who hears the veiled gods walk at night A vant of confidence in ourselves and others
Through the bushed chambers of his listening soul.” makes us content with partial views and partial statements, leaving the depths of truth unsounded. is elbowed and jostled, as if his body was a walkDoes a man stand forth as a sacrifice to his coun- ing certifieate, that master Snip had not stuck his try—a strong, bold, commanding, and above all a needle in the proper place. consistent and reforming character, the meander- One great drawback to the stability of opinion ings of verbal obliquity seize upon his name and is the fact that physical knowledge is in advance of actions, distort the truth, until dissent, distaste and the thought of the age. Steel-breasted enterprise disgust act upon the sympathies as the cries of meets and combats the silent current of sound opinanimals do towards their species, only signifying ion. The inhabitant of the pure realm of thought that the otterers are violently affected by some sen- is a man among a million, whereas the popular insation or emotion.
telligence as displayed in the action of men is turThere is in all conscience a sufficient want of char- bulent and revolutionary, but in thought the wildity in the world—its want is the besetting sin of our est emanations serve a rule and law. To be sure, day and generation, and when we consider the time there is a seed of sovereignty in the barrenness of wasted, the bad passions engendered, we irresistibly unflinching resolution ; to this must be ascribed the arrive at the conclusion that we do not sin against inexplicable constancy of that success for which earth but against heaven. Our thoughts are not our Sylla would have deified fortune. own, especially if they have harmony and beauty. Thought is not dependent: it need not follow a Natore has endowed such minds with a significance fixed paih of influence; hence it is the most valuwhich multiplies itself in others and sheds grace, able thing in existence, and if men will but bend dignity and feeling over every form of life. all their powers, all that deep and endless strength
The avoidance of allusion to the defects of others that inhabits the intellect, they may measure themthen is not only a duty but an advantage, and it is only selves with the mightiest of moral monarchs. in the calm hours of the spirit, when passion is exhaus- It has been said that the child is parent of the man, ted and personal feeling is forgotten, that the mind and this is proportionately true in spirit if not in can be prepared to receive these impressions. And feature ; children at a certain age begin to think, as few can be said to wind up the different acts of men at a certain age leave off thinking. Let any the drama they intend to perform, they should in- one form a vigorous habit of thinking on all the dulge at the end of each of these acts, with ap- affairs of life, and although he may generally think plause instead of regret—with the vigor of delight inaccurately and feebly, yet as the great body of instead of the degrading process of cynical expo- men never think at all, his perseverance, even in a sure. The spot opon the hands may be washed scanty method of regulation, will give him a ceraway but the stain upon the mind oceans cannot'tain and incalculable superiority—a precedence that
the half disciplined soldiery of Egypt, though not | journalists are dangerous; writing under the influ. to be named with the armies of Europe, possessence of intense feeling, they hurry the reader into over hordes of the desert.
labyrinths of thought, to which the bare approach “Think wrong and welcome,” says Lessing, is fatal. In the glow of intellectual production the “but only think" and the maxim is the corner stone highest, proudest pleasure of the mind is to see of greatness. Reflection is a faculty more than others take warmth from the kindred fire. all others improved by exercise, and with it are ad- Radicalism is perhaps a necessity to the press of vanced, in like degree, all the subsidiary qualities this country; the generous sentiments and plastie of the mind—for the custom of thought generates eloquence, necessary to ensure the attention of men, a habit of thoughtfulness. What is there in this may run into an extreme, but it should be tempered majestic world of ours that is the mind's master? with the discrimination of the public. Thought Is it not as Shelley has it, “ The measure of the "kindling in the fire of kindred thought" leads the universe ?" The power which we give :o destiny willing sense and sympathy astray in her bright or fate is mind—the effects of myriads of small and holy footsteps. To the tumultaous heart of minds weighing down the magnitude of a great one.
care the soothing influence goes; the laborer al It is this underrating of what fills the world his toil is strengthened with the cheering word, with its truest splendor which more than any thing diffusing hope to the suffering and oppressed-conelse tends to disrupt the elements of social life. veying touching and beautiful reflections upon life The physical knowledge of the age runs into vague and the prospects of man, and opening to the fuand visionary reforms without any force of thought ture the ways and means of amelioration. comparative to the amount of power that is exer.
There is a destiny that surrounds the lot of man cised. The statesman deals in physical and mate with darkened recollections : it spreads a sombre rial things; the scholar, sage, poet must let their hue over his prospects and aspirations, and he to thoughts run into such channels to maintain influ- whom is given the power to lift the reil and show
That philosophic and spiritual presence him a brighter lot, has a lofiy inheritance, it is as in thought which gave an elemental grandeur to the
Wordsworth says, character of the elder Platonists, and moulded the destinies of Greece, no longer exists in the souls
“ a gift The thought of immortality that enslaves
or aspect most sublime; that blessed mood
In wbich the burden of the mystery, us, emancipated them from thraldom ; it was the
In which the heavy and the weary weight soothing presence of an exalted truth-while in us
or all this unintelligible world it is the ingeniously wrought chain that holds us in Is lightened ; that serene and blessed mool, mental vassalage through the medium of a physi- In which the affections gently lead us on,
Until the breadth of this corporeal frame The obliquity of evil tongues--the fevered al
And even the motion of our human blood, ternations of change—the ruinous mistake of rea
Almost suspended, we are laid asleep
In body, and become a living soul. soning from ourselves in judging the actions of While with an eye made quiet by the power others and in measuring their motives, we recog
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy nize as one of the engrossing abuses of our age ; it
We see into the life of things." begets an irreverence for character and reputation, which is manifested in an appalling degree. Fre- Viewed in so strong a light the press necessarily quently the most sacred and private relations of reveals discrepancies in itself and in the public, life are dragged forth, and while being held up to which may cause it to suffer abatements of power, public scorn are tortured into the most hideous de- but it contains the means of correcting its own formity, and he who reigned the pampered idol of abuses—it is its own guide, monitor and censor. public caprice to-day, finds the avenger upon his The grand forms of truth, lying in the recesses of track to-morrow. So it is in literature and in art; our being, it evokes into living realities. Her gi: excellence, exalted beyond the reach of envy, is gantic spirit unfolds itself like the light of day, by some unaccountable reaction as suddenly for- when morning awakes the world. It is the lip of gotten, though there may be no accession of evil flame and tongue of fire which exposes the accuor diminution of good in any point of view. mulated forms of abuse, and gives the vital contra
The press more than any thing else, conspires diction to error and melts it away from the vision and provokes the heart-burnings and jealousies by of men. which society is so grievously distempered. The Give truth her proper interpretation through the press next to the pulpit has a most angust mission press, and political sophistry no longer exists; the to fulfil, and its errors arise as much from a per- pen, “mightier than the sword,” hews down the deverted public taste as from that of its conductors -- formed mass, until it crumbles into nothingness bethe error is mutual: a licentious press can only be fore the potency of its spell. The newspaper sustained by a licentious public. Under any eir. press is of all things the great destroyer of intelcumstances, perbaps, a certain class of writers as 'lect; it is a vanity of reputation to acquire so
ephemeral a fame. It unfits the mind for tranquil answers the expectations of numbers in which we investigation in the constant draft made upon its excel. resources. It destroys that placid readiness for The boundlessness of the power that slumbers in which men are celebrated, who carry about them the press, is unknown either by the public or by the ready coin of wit and genius. The press too those engaged upon it, the echo of its mighty voice must change with the capricious changes of public pierces every household and touches like the ciropinion; all topics, civil, military, political, fiscal cling currents of the viewless air every object in and religious, are shaped by its power or dissolved the widest bounds of our nature. It holds in its by its individualism. It should be its duty to re- hands the destinies of the young, and the aged are mind those in power how much they owe to the peo- improved by its suggestions. Among a people so ple, and to show the latter how dependent they are enterprising as we are, there will always be found upon its wants and the intellect it sacrifices. Provi- those who are dissatisfied with the present state dence seems to grasp at random the men whom it of things, and to these the press should address has predestined to represent their generation on itself; it should strive to reconcile those differences earth; it imparts and assigns them the intellectual which grow out of the two great classes misunderand physical powers of society—to change the de- standing each other, and while with a firm and partments of thought and to destroy the idols of steady purpose it sustains the interest of one, it error, which sophistry and falsehood have erec- should not deny solace to the grieving but lead them ted.
lo hope and point out the means of redress. “This Place such men any where and they become is what the press should be,” exclaims the reader, great. Like those antique coins which wear the in- but how stands the fact ? Is it not too often the effaceable impress of some robust commander, they great disturber? In politics it surely is, for those stamp themselves upon the iron surface of the age. who conduct the party organs seem to hold themThis is the inevitable tendency of the press and selves in readiness to devour and be devoured. those who control it in this country; the demand for Do not its conductors, too, unhesitatingly countea strong, bold, and fearless interpretation of events nance and support by the authority of its transbas drawn out and filtered society of its ablest cham- forming and distinctive power the private schemes pions.
of politicians ? By a fraternizing and confederating The press should awaken men to a knowledge pliancy it becomes in turn the passive prey of a of their own worth, and in times of degeneracy, ruinous policy, instead of, by warning suggestions, restore their lost nobility; intent upon impartial informing and improving the primary conception of justice to all; magnificent in its expansion and do- true governing principles. minion, directing man to the true aims of life and There is a phasis of opinion that is beyond the unfolding the perfection of his progress.
reach of press or pulpit, which has its origin in In proportion as a writer has the ability and skill wild lusts and tyrannous desires—in bizarre and to control the intellects of those around him will contorted longings after that which excites and inhis power be felt. In his hand he holds the wand of terests. This tumultuous restiveness, having nothlight, and he must fill the void in his own soul and ing to stay its hunger, seizes upon the defects of that of others; he invites them to partake of the others and satisfies the annoyances of wounded amdelights of peace, of continuous comfort, and with bition by the madness of personality. To stem keen and comprehensive sympathies with their sor- this impetuous torrent requires a strong arm in the rows and enjoyments he points out the resting fight and a vigorous thought in council-one of places of memory and hope, and offers them a re- those men who "stand the centre of a whole to fuge, in his restless anxieties for the deep and se- many thousands" and are ready and willing to take rious interests of the living world. He suffers upon them all the temporary reproach which their with those who are suffering ; should he hold but impartial justice may foment. When this self dediscreet,-sincere in his convictions--a will firm pendence is accompanied with a corresponding as adamant; reiterating and accumulating proofs moral power, it generates all that is grand in acand with
tion, in plan or purpose, and is the great source of "Spirit large as peopled worlds that it would bless,"
influence. The strong soul setting in the serenity
of its sceptered strength holds universal dominion. he stirs op with inconceivable influence the purest Calmness in social life is one vital source of founts of feeling and of life. The conductors of stability and permanence. The tranquility of the the press seldom meet with all its obligations; like ocean is the greatest emblem of its strength; the religion, no one should be employed to minister its power that wakes its wrath is extraneous to its deoffices but those who are better and wiser than the structiveness--it is the one vast emblem of the humass; and when one fails to fulfil its exactions, man heart, in whose swift currents glide storms many should be employed to give its duties force. that shake the universe. Every wave that leaps This is the difference between the English press from its legitimate sphere sweeps away some timeand our own, a concentration of talent more than' honored evidence of social decay and desolation,