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man, I hold, whatever his income, has true success, till, in all his labor and contrivance, he has respect for something wider and deeper than his own purse, or fame, or even the mere perfection of his workmanship; that is, for Humanity, Freedom, Truth and Right. And this he does with his Heart. The last earthly object of every useful art, and every ingenious inven. tion, is to reach the vital springs of society, to ennoble its estate, purify its relationships and dignify its manners.
A striking proof of this is found in the fact that the appearance of original men has always been called for by peculiar social conditions — showing that God always values men more than abstractions, and the people more than institutions. Pe. riods of intellectual activity have been times of heaving revolutions, of growing empires, of nascent commonwealths. Your own Association furnishes an instance, honorable enough to have mention any where. Its origin was essentially revolutionary. The energies that give it being were stung into activity by the Stamp Act and the Boston Port Bill. For it was just in the vigorous youth of the republic, under the bracing influence of the recent perils and struggles of the war — a war which their own sturdy sense and clear-sighted patriotism and strong right arms had helped most signally to carry to its proud result — that the mechanics of the town of Boston met at the old “Green Dragon,” to institute this very fraternity of industry and charity — sending abroad every year new mercies at home, and new inventions through the world. As a toast offered at a festival made by your Association thirty-one years ago, in honor of the visit of Lafayette, June 20, 1825, three days after the corner-stone was laid for the monument at Bunker Hill — so happily and dynamically expressed it: “Our revolutionary mechanics: their intelligence was the lever which upset the colonial government — their bravery the screw which kept
down the enemy — and their honor the pulley which lifted the country to independence.” Indeed, it is quite striking that the brilliant cluster of mechanicians that have given such progress and lustre to the mechanic arts in America were born or bred in this revolutionary period — Fitch, Evans, Fulton, Franklin, Slater, Whitney, Perkins, Whittemore, Eckford. Could we only look far enough down into the underlying harmonies of things, and read history from that point, we should see how human wants are the divinely commissioned begetters of all intellectual power. Before a great seer, or doer, or inventor is born, hidden causes, working in the bosom of God's social family, require him. Every splendid discovery is wrung out of reluctant, inexhaustible Nature, at the cry of a mortal desire. Not more certainly is the planet built for man than every intellectual birth in it is a straight answer to his solicitation. So the religion of Judea and the Norse manhood — Love and Strength, or Heart and Will - met and married on the old Roman hearthstone, to generate a new line of ideas and of persons. Copernicus came to find the physical centre, just when the dawning truths of science began to demand that the axle-point of the heliocentric system should be fixed. The age of Raphael opened just when the rough lineaments of western civilization supplicated, inarticulately, the refining graces of Christian art. Every age, and every jubilee in it, every glorious and hallowed Sabbath, is made for man, not man for it. Columbus was but the finger of one crowded continent, feeling after room and rights in another — an industrial America to atone for military Europe - a missing hemisphere to finish the fragmentary globe. Lord Bacon was the answer of tired scholasticism, begging to get out of the labyrinth into a simple path. A hurrying century felt hindered in its restless emigrations, and Fulton came up to help it along. Busy and intimate and related and yet
widely divided nations ached for instant conversation, and Franklin found, and Morse equipped, the nimble medium that should be a tongue for all latitudes, talking face to face.
A thorough and principled confession of this vital relationship between personal progress and the good of society, appears to me one of the prime necessities of even our modern and American systems of industry and education. Take an example. If our fifty thousand educated heads, in America, were fifty thousand Christian hearts also, think you that for every one of them there would be five other intelligent persons, at least, in the nation, that wait for work, and can find no honest paying work to do? There is one problem. That here, in all New England, there should be no skill yet, no captain, no marshal, no engineer, to put so much idle capacity to some satisfying and fruitful labor, seems to me a dismal satire on boasting; and that so few should be concerned about it, an intellectual crime. The age does not want mere manualists and functionaries, but whole-souled lovers of their kind. It does not want embalmers with their spices, but planters and Promethean lungs; not ideas plastered in pyramids and mausoleums, but moving in marts and throbbing with the pulsations of joy and love. And if these happen to be a little unlike the old fashions, have no fear of being called visionaries — so long as you see what you say -- whether your neighbors see it, or blink it. See visions— it is the thinker's vocation; and turn them into facts - that is the workman's business. Dream dreams, and bring them to pass. Yonder exhibition rooms are full of such dreams brought to pass — embodied shapes of visionaries' silent rev. eries. Be hospitable to every faint, uncertain beam that straggles to your window. Who knows but it may travel from the skies, and have a sun on its track ?
It comes to this: personal character, with altitude and breadth of manly stature, is the chief matter. Man is one with the species. If knowledge is to help society through him, it must only make him more entirely, largely, heartily, a man disengaging every energy in his structure, teaching him at once the immensity of his trust, the completeness of his dependence, the wide openings for his wit, the possible splendors of his fate. To unbind the coarse clasp of poverty galling his affections; to emancipate him from the fear of mean masters jobbing with his conscience; to lead him out over the limitations of superstition humiliating his honor; to pacify those angry antagonisms that torture him with a perpetual terror of defeat; to abate the vulgar competitions that would make the holder of property a watch-dog over his heap; to wash out the vices that stain his soul, and animate the lethargy that benumbs his prayers;this is surely the laborer's complete success.
Here, then, gentlemen, open upon us worthy objects for the ambition of the manly mechanics of a Christian age. These many centuries the mental character of the race has been slowly ripening towards this moral and social maturity. Oriental antiquity unfolded the theosophic instincts, and fed exploring fancies with fables of impossible adventures by impossible monsters. But the ascetic's creed, like the sand and rock of the deserts where it grew, discouraged industry, and the haughty dreamer treated the hungry serf with contempt. Grecian culture refined the perception of Beauty. But even from the golden tongue of Plato, and in the ears of Archytas, it ridiculed what it called the condescension of science to the busi. ness of improving machinery to lighten the handicrafts of laborers. Roman discipline marshalled the faculties of man under that stern Duumvirate of the Will and the Talent for empire. But “ the finding out of things useful,” Seneca was
silly enough to say, “is not the work of a philosopher, but drudgery for slaves.” The valor of the North has battled for ancestral privilege, and hereditary national renown.
And now the rising Genius of the West appears, to be called to a more exalted ministry yet. If it has stooped a little to gather the material jewels scattered so prodigally at its feet, let that be pardoned to the impetuosity of a young nation's blood, and the pressure of the temptation. Its true destiny is to emancipate and to bear forward the whole oppressed and obstructed life of man into its due liberty and victory. When the banner of the republic was unfurled from a rifle ramrod on the icy peak of the Rocky Mountains, by one of the bravest sons of science, it was not merely a conquest of physical adventure; it was a type of our national enterprise, a prophecy of the part we have to play in rearing the great Home of equality and freedom for social man. Every mechanic has a personal interest in that peaceful capture of the wilderness — that splendid symbol of the final subjection of the empire of Nature, in her vast and most imperial solitudes, to the empire of man in the might of his Hand and Brain and Heart. The ocean to which those subjugated mountains look off — that globe-completing sea, on whose shores the last and grandest act in the world's unfolding drama is to be displayed, is the Pacific; name of hope, of promise, of consolation, to the weary and warring and westward-looking tribes of men !
In the settlement of those social problems which now agitate and threaten, I believe that an intelligent industry has more to do than many people have imagined. The poverty of our great cities — the terrible idleness and consequent degradation of woman, inequality between work and wages, between capital and labor, slavery — all these involve questions which you help to settle, just so far as you inform workingmen with just ideas