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but when the Federal Government has succeeded in getting under its control, directly or indirectly, nearly all the internal affairs of the States, and is able to make its acts, like the frogs of Egypt, reach to our domestic hearths, and to come up into our sleeping chambers and kneading troughs, we may be assured that the first barriers to a consolidated despotism have been leaped. This was well nigh done. The friends of freedom have made an effort to arrest the dangerous tendency; but whether with success or not time must determine. The universal tendency throughout Christendom to centralization, a tendency accelerated a hundred fold by the “ thousand and one" voluntary associations of the day, is somewhat alarming, and should teach our democrats, that this is no time to sleep at their posts, or to expect a victory without a long and obstinate struggle. They must be awake, always prepared for the battle, well armed, and stout of heart.
Lastly, the American Democrat must be on his guard against the tendency of the State governments to enlarge the dominion of the state at the expense of that of the individual. There are two antagonist tendencies at work; one to individual freedom, a tendency we traced in our April number, in our remarks on modern civilization; the other, a tendency to centralization, to the merging of the individual in the state, in the mass. This last is the only dangerous tendency in this country. The philosopher cannot fail to perceive that we have much more to apprehend from our reverence for law than from our disregard of it. Mobs, bad as they are, are not half so threatening to liberty, to the true working of our institutions, as the prosecution of a man for advocating an unpopular doctrine, or as is the prevalence of that modern doctrine of “ vested rights," a doctrine, which, if admitted and practised upon, may in time cover all the property of the State with charters, and lock it up forever in close corporations. We are called upon as democrats by every consideration that can touch our
sensibility, arouse our patriotism, or our love of humanity, to contend manfully for individual rights, and resist at the threshold every encroachment of power. We must frown upon every legislative enactment, upon every judicial decision, that restricts the sphere of individual freedom, and especially upon all those huge associations which cover the land, though called moral, religious, benevolent, which tend to swallow up the individual, and are a device of the devil, by which the same control under a free government may be exerted over individual opinion and action, that is exerted over them by despotisms and hierarchies. We must throw around each individual a bulwark of sanctity, and not permit society to break through it, though it were to do the individual an unspeakable good. God leaves man his freedom, and does not control it, though man in abusing it brings damnation to his soul. Let the Divine government be a model of ours.
We may not control a man's natural liberty even for the man's good. So long as the individual trespasses upon none of the rights of others, or throws no obstacle in the way of their free and full exercise, government, law, public opinion even, must leave him free to take his own course. In order to secure this end we must breathe a freer spirit into our schools, place men at the head of our colleges and higher seminaries of learning who sympathize with our democratic institutions, demand, will, create, and sustain a truly democratic literature.
Art. V. - The Mother in her Family; or Sayings
and Doings at Rose Hill Cottage. By the Author of “ The Young Wife,” &c. Boston: Weeks, Jordan & Co. 1838. 12mo.
THE Author of this volume is a worthy and, we would fain believe, a useful man. He is sincere, earn
est, and ambitious to do what in him lies for the advancement of his race. He is quite a Reformer, and appears to doubt not that he shall soon be able to recover for mankind the long lost Eden.
According to him, so far as we have been able to collect his theory, the seat of life, thought, and virtue is in the stomach, and the Devil, or soul-destroyer, always makes his appearance in the form of roast beef, pig, mutton, fish, rich sauces, or some savory dish or other, and is to be vanquished only by inducing mankind to feed on apples, mush, cold boiled potatoes, with now and then a dessert of parched corn. Apples are the author's favorite dish for reforming the world, and curing all the ills that flesh and spirit are heirs to. His love for apples seems to be very great, even surpassing the love of women; and we cannot help fancying that should he be admitted into Paradise and find no apples there, it would be no paradise to him. May apples go with him wherever he goes. We too are fond of apples. But as for mush, to be eaten without milk, butter, sugar, or molasses, Yankee dish under the name of Hasty-pudding, and immortalized by the immortal Barlow's song, though it be, we will none of it. Cold boiled potatoes unsalted, and no water even to wash them down, — may the author of the delectable book before us, enjoy the sole monopoly of digesting them!
We have no doubt that many of the ills of life come from indigestion. We certainly would not be ungrateful to the man who labors to give us a good digestion. We moreover do by no means object to a simple diet. A simple diet, and by simple diet we mean one into which little animal food enters, is the most favorable to health, and to enjoyment. But because a man wishes to recommend a simple diet, he need not run mad. The earth is filled with a profusion of good things, suitable for food, and we see no reason why we should reject all of them, save apples, mush, and cold potatoes. The way to preserve health and enjoy life is not to starve oneself to death, or to
compel oneself to feed on the coarsest and least nutricious provender. Why, therefore, may not the advocates of a simple diet speak with moderation, and content themselves with urging such changes only as the good sense of the community will approve ?
The author of this book doubtless means well, and so may all those who are laboring with him ; but we confess that we are sorry to find them calling themselves Reformers. They almost make a sensible man ashamed to enrol himself among the friends of reform, as the shape and tricks of monkeys do sometimes make us ashamed of our humanity. It is well to be reformers; it is our duty to labor for the progress of our race; but we should do it with a becoming modesty, feeling that it is but dimly we can see the new good to be obtained, and but little that we can do to obtain it. It is an unpleasant sight to a wise man, that of one of our modern reformers astride the millionth part of an idea, cantering away as a Tenth Avator, and fancying that he bears with him the universal palingenesia of Man and Nature.
In fact, are not our modern Reformers carrying the joke a little too far? They are becoming, it strikes us, a real annoyance. The land is overspread with them, and matters have come to such a pass, that a peaceable man can hardly venture to eat or drink, to go to bed or to get up, to correct his children or kiss his wife, without obtaining the permission and the direction of some moral or other reform society. The individual is bound hand and foot, and delivered up to the sage Doctors and sager Doctresses, who have volunteered their services in the management of his affairs. He has nothing he can call his own, not even his will. There is left him no spot, no sanctum, into which some association committee cannot penetrate, and dictate to him what he may do or what he ought to suffer. What is most intimate and sacred in his private relations, is laid before the public, and he is told that he ought to be thankful that there is no dearth of disinterested lecturers, ready in public discourses to explain to his wife all the mysteries of the conception and birth of a human being.
Now this in our judgment is to be philanthropic overmuch. It is making philanthropy altogether too great an annoyance. No real good can come to the community from sacrificing the individual. There are things which an individual ought to be allowed to call his own, and over which he shall have the supreme control. Around each individual there should be traced a circle, within which no stranger should presume or be suffered to enter. It is no service to virtue to keep us all forever in leading-strings. If we are to be men and to show forth the virtues of men, we must be permitted to think and act for ourselves. That philanthropy which proposes to do everything for us, and which will permit us to do nothing of our own accord, may indeed keep us out of harm's way, but it is a left-handed philanthropy, and will be found always to diminish our virtues in the same proportion that it does our vices.
It must joy the heart of every benevolent man to see efforts made for the advancement of Humanity. There is room enough for Reform. But we do wish our modern Reformers would enlarge their conceptions and seek to add knowledge to their zeal. It is well to be zealously affected in a good cause; but zeal in a good cause, if not guided by just knowledge, may work as much evil as good. The world is not to be regenerated by the exertions of reformers who have but one idea, and who fancy that one idea embraces the Universe. Life is a complex affair. The good and the evil it is subject to are so intermixed, and run one so into the other, that it is often no easy matter to say which is which. There is no one sovereign remedy for all the ills of life, no one rule which is applicable at all times to all cases for the production of good. Good and evil both have their source in human nature. The one cannot be greatly increased, or the other essentially diminished, but in proportion as human nature itself is more fully developed ; but in