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the day. But, then, enterprise and labor have done their wonders, too.
The Erie canal! What an achievement for a young people! The Chesapeake and Ohio canal, too! Go over it, and see how labor has wrought with mountain rocks, and torn them from their beds, and dashed them aside, as if with the power of Milton's demons. See the fire-horse, with long trains of cars, careering through the air, over rivers, and pathless swamps, from Charleston, South-Carolina, to Hamburgh, on the Savannah. Take the railroad from Boston to Providence, and see the rocks that have been cleft asunder, the mountains of dirt thrown up- the track now through caverns, and anon over a massive bridge of mason work, that almost staggers human faith to believe it has been done.
And then mark what enterprise is planning, and will execute, too. Why, railroad tracks are projecting in all directions, from New Orleans to Nashville, in the South, and from Quebec to Portland, in the North. No enterprise staggers us. Nothing appals us. No hazard too great to be run. Ingenuity is racked to the utmost. Every body is awake, and wide awake. There is, as it were, an atmospheric maelstrom all about us.
We talk in a hurry. We walk in a hurry. We make love in a hurry, and are married in a hurry. We eat, drink, sleep, and die in a hurry, and, alas! are buried in a hurry. Every thing is on the high pressure principle. No doubt such a state of fermentation, in any society, has its advantages and disadvantages
It is one of the advantages of our free institutions, that they give society such a stimulus.
Our politics, even with all their bitterness and occasional outbreakings, do us much good They teach us that no man is above the influence of public opinion; and they also teach each man the responsibility he takes in forming it. They raise up the humble, and rank them with the proud. They stimulate in the bosoms of all, the ambition to advance - or, to “ go ahead” — to use a phrase better descriptive of the thing itself.
The political cauldron that is always boiling in such a government as ours, throws up on the surface of society many men of strong minds, and high purposes: and though often — too often, it may be — the very seethings of the cauldron will come up too, yet, in a moment of calm, they sink to their proper level, while what is good remains. Death, too, is a great leveler
a among us; and if it would not be impious, I would add, the severest of all Republicans.
The family whom overgrown wealth was making proud to-day, death cuts up to-morrow - dividing its inheritance, scattering its members, and often robbing it of its natal soil. The incipient aristocracy is thus nipped in the bud. The wealth of a Girard is instantly divided among many persons.
How remarkable the fact, all over this country, that wealth seldom runs long in the same line, but that the heritage is rather a curse than a blessing for the children: and how remarkable the other fact, too, that almost all the large holders of property are the makers of their own fortunes; men who have earned it with their own hands, and by their own struggles. The poor are ever coming upward and the rich are ever going downward. Such is the effect of this fermentation-such the stimulus of free institutions, and the operation of our laws of inheritance. But then, again, we must open our eyes the wider to the disadvantages of such a state of things, so as to check and improve them.
We must forget, that it generates an inordinate thirst for office, and often a daring and reckless ambition - that it makes wealth the god of thousands -engulphs them in its pursuit, anil often throws into the distance the man of genius, and the achievements of Literature, Art, and Science. Thus, politics and moneymaking engross the talents of the country: and thus Literature is kept at a partial stand-when, in a free country, men of learning, and men of genius, whose efforts stamp the age, and refine its manners, ought to be, if not the first, among the first. This, we must use our efforts to counteract.
Genius must be won from the ranks of political combatants. The sparks of poetical fire that blaze in the columns of the partisan press, must kindle up the pages of the Muse. Haughty, dictatorial, pampered Wealth, that frowns upon genius, must receive the lash of genius. Men of property must be made to see that their true glory consists in encouraging the arts, the sciences, the achievements of the pen or pencil. Above all, the schoolmaster must go abroad more and more. Education, universal education, not little, but much, free schools, popular clubs, literary newspapers, and periodicals, must be cherished. Literary men must respect themselves, and speak loud
and strong - and when they sell their labors, not sell themselves.
A vast amount of talent we have at command, if it can be united and combined. Our newspapers often show it — our periodicals show it. It is a remarkable fact that our periodical literature — the only kind which this country has really patronized — has ever been unrivaled by any nation on earth. The State Papers of the Revolution did almost if not quite as much for us as our soldiery. The best diplomatists of Europe have confessed their power, and paid us the tribute — and sure I am, that in this respect we have not degenerated.
With the same strength that we develop our national resources, we must develop the moral and intellectual energies among us.
There is great danger that such a busy, practical people, will forget that they have hearts and souls. There is danger, too, that such a moving, journeying people, will lose their attachments to home — their love for the rocks, and hills, and valleys, that their eyes first saw. Home, home, home-is the sentiment that we need to cherish. Our country must be our idol, if idols we have.
Next to the preservation of liberty, is the preservation of the Union - and this, in a territory so vast, can only be effected but by an interchange of feelings, by intercommunications, by forming friends, and making visits, all over our wide domain. We must know, and understand each other, in order to love each other. We must see with our own eyes what a glorious heritage our fathers have bequeathed us, before we can appreciate its value. Dangers threaten us, above all
other people--and such dangers as only high patriotism, and pure affection, can overcome.
We have not achieved our independence yet. Washington and his compatriots gave us freedom. industry has liberated us from a servile dependence upon foreign skill and foreign artisans--and now we want a literary freedom — the independence to think, write, and criticise for ourselves — not driving our scholars abroad to acquire a reputation at home, and then reflecting at home the light of foreign glow-worms from abroad. We want local attachments, too — then a national pride—a just sense of our own importance.
Another duty we have laid on our hands and that is, to elevate and refine public feeling, by associations, by lectures, by lyceums, and in every practicable manner, so as to give society a tone and a character, and so as to combat the physical and lower tendencies of the day. There is an atmosphere encompassing every circle, either light or lurid, just in proportion to the splendor of the minds that sparkle within it. There is a sympathetic link in the chain of social intercourse, that vibrates well or ill, when ever it is touched.
The tone of a whole society may be compared to the winds that float through an Æolian harp. If but a summer breeze plays upon its strings, it is like the melodious notes that sprang 'from Memnon's statue, when touched by the rays of the morning sun. But if the rude and gusty storm runs roughly over the cords, it flings off notes harsh and discordant. See, then, the duty of the American. But tune society, and it will pour forth melodies from a thousand strings.