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arts themselves obliterated from the records of life. We might live, live like the Esquimaux, or Indian in the unsophisticated state of original existence. The arts are themselves luxuries; the exhibition of them is a luxury. The mind enjoys this luxury as a high elevation of its nature; as a lawful indulgence in the rich blessings of Providence; as a progress toward that perfection which it is enabled to work out for itself, by the exertion of its noblest faculties, and in conformity with its proud destination.
It is a cavilling spirit that makes the luxury of life a subject of complaint because its direct enjoyments are necessarily confined to limited numbers. Indirectly they extend to all classes. They keep in circulation the vital air of the political system. Hardly will it do for our industrious yeomanry, who are covering the country with the Morus Multicaulis, until our silk-worms shall out-number the produce of the celestial empire, to rail at the luxury of a silk dress as an aristocratic distinction. Our splendid manufactories of silver are worse than useless, if it is a sin against Democracy to use a silver fork. The coach-maker must change his trade, if the fair daughters of the country may not be indulged with a carriage. The saddlery, which is in such exquisite finish in the Hall of Exhibition, is something like the armor of treason against the republic, if we come to the conclusion that it is for the benefit of the laboring classes that every man who rides at all must go bare-back.
But it is indeed true on a great scale as a small one, that “there is always weal and wo in the world's gear.”
One of the misfortunes of our social system is, that there is no great and leading object of ambition or desire that comes into competition with wealth. Hence the love of accumulation is the absorbing and maddening spirit of the country. It is supposed that its impetuous influence, which in its excess does not augur well for the purity or duration of the Republic, has of late greatly increased. Yet it was so mighty in its operations twenty-five years ago, that
an eminent statesman* of Massachusetts advocated a war with Great Britain for this, among other reasons, “ that the spirit of patriotism was descending into a grovelling spirit of gain, and the nobleness of public virtue into the chicanery of private interest, and that it was for the common good of the country to revive the selfdevotion of the Revolution, by opening a new field of danger and
There may be some cause for such sentiments in the present day. An intemperate desire for wealth leads to illegal acts for its acquisition; to devices of ingenious fraud ; and to controversy and complaint between the possessors and competitors for property.
But the appropriate remedy for this disease does not appear to be that harsh and caustic application, suggested from high authority, - "a more righteous and equal division of property."
This can hardly be done without “revolutions and agrarian disorders,” and a violation of that right of possessing and protecting property which the constitution secures. Nor is it easy to see how the term righteous, introduced into the receipe, is any thing more than a paradoxical expression.
But the answer is, that it is not the possession of property, and of course not the inequality of it in the hands of its legitimate owners, that produces the evil. The trouble proceeds from that intensity of desire, which no quantity could satisfy; from an appetite for its pleasures, whose increase doth grow by what it feeds on ; from an ill-regulated state of moral feelings, which are reckless of justice or right, and seek only their self-indulgence, whatever may be the consequences.
These incidents do not in the least cast a doubt upon the progress of that improvement, which is to form the new era of history. We are passing through a revolution, not closing it. The elements of
* Vice-President Gerry.
life, of thought, of feeling are in commotion, as are those of the natural world when the sun-light is struggling through the storm. When they shall be tranquillized, is for Him to determine with whom one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. Nobody pretends that the social system is yet perfect. But the fault, where any remains, is in the character of the individuals, and not in the principles on which it is adjusted. All force or violence of action or feeling will only serve to protract the time for the consummation of its advantages. We know indeed that the demon of war is not yet banished from the earth, nor indeed can be, while encouragement is given to a pitiful submission to insult or national degradation, which invites his continuance and exasperates his ferocity. But a better temper than ever before prevailed, regulates the exercise of power in this respect.
“ Neither government or people, - thank God for it, - can now trifle with the general sense of the civilized world; and the civilized world would hold them to a very strict account if, without very plain and apparent reasons, deeply affecting the independence and great interests of the nation, any controversy should have other than an amicable issue."*
The evil spirit of intemperance is not exorcised, nor indeed can be, under the operation of penal laws that fetter the action without influencing the will. But who doubts that this enormous monster is in the hands of a giant, and that intelligence, the Hercules of our day, will signalize by its overthrow, the most important of its labors.
Slavery is not abolished, nor indeed can be, while an irritating opposition is kept up, that strengthens the passions of the master, and inflames the ferocity of the slave. But under the influence of the principles of the age, the manacles of oppression will melt in the solvent of time.
* Mr. Webster's speech at Oxford, England, 1839.
Power is not sufficiently limited, nor indeed can be, while it is advanced or retarded by organized associations, acting on their private opinion beyond or against the legitimate expression of the public will.
Labor is not sufficiently respected, nor indeed can be, while Trades Unions undertake to regulate by compulsion, what belongs to the voluntary efforts of equity and justice; or while the active and industrious laborer places himself under the direction of lazy and idle declaimers, and permits those who dread the very thought of a day's work, to be representatives of working-men.
But the temples of an ignorant idolatry totter to their base. The cause of peace, temperance, emancipation, and justice are in glorious progress, and have most need to implore that they may be saved from pretended friends.
The natural world furnishes us with an analogy to these expected changes in human society. Modern geologists reveal to us an age of reptiles, at some period of remote antiquity, before the creation of man; when Saurians and Icthiosaurians, to whom our sea-serpent is a tape-worm, swarmed in the ocean; and Megatheria, to whom, in magnitude the mammoth is a lamb, and in ferocity the tiger a kitten, roamed on the shore in frightful multitudes.
sole occupants, and fitted to endure the turbulence and continual convulsions of the unquiet surface of our infant world, until by some revolution in the physical condition of the globe, as astonishing as unaccountable, these teriffic monsters disappeared, and man became its proprietor and lord.
The moral geologist of a future age, looking backward through a long vista of time, till he reaches the fossil remains of the period
through which we are passing, will describe to the incredulous ears of his astonished countrymen, how the tremendous Saurian of war, and the more horrible Icthiosaurian of intemperance, and the mighty Megatherium of slavery, with all the extinct species of kindred reptiles of deformity and crime, swarmed in this eocene period of our moral formation, until the revolution was completed, and intelligence and christianity swept them from the earth.
In producing this grand amelioration of the condition of our race, the mechanic interest has exerted, and is exerting, an immense influence as one of the most prominent classes of intelligent labor.
Every occupation recognised in the business of life, comprises, in a greater or less degree, an exertion of body and mind. But society is very much indebted to classes of men, who do very little manual labor; and to other classes, whose mental faculties are in a very humble way called into action ; while between these there is a great class, who unite theoretical knowledge with practical skill. " In this class,”
says an eminent writer, “ the power of man appears in its full perfection, and fits him equally to conduct, with a masterly hand, the details of ordinary business, and to contend successfully with the natural difficulties of new and hazardous situations."
This description includes the mechanic interest of the United States. Intelligence and strength, intellectual and corporeal labor, ability to conceive and to execute, vigor of mind and of body, clear heads and hard hands are its characteristic distinctions.
The agency of this class, in the improvement of the age, was first exerted to bring respect and honor to their occupation and themselves. How nobly they succeeded this proud exhibition of mechanic industry, now open to public inspection, the long roll of distinguished mechanics sent to the councils of the country, and the unrivalled influence which, as a class, they maintain over public opinion, are trumpet-tongued witnesses.