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nians, were not an intelligent peo- “ The virtue of a Roman citizen ple? Were they not intelligent when consisted in personal bravery, and they banished the ablest statesmen in devotion to the defense and extent and generals, and the purest patriots of the commonwealth. In particular of their state? Was their intelli. men there existed a strong sense of gence sufficient to insure, at all right or political duty, which may times, a just administration of the take rank as a moral virtue. But laws ? In short, if intelligence could such instances were rare, and most preserve a republic, why were not rare in the decline of the commonthe Grecian republics preserved ? wealth, when the citizens were most
“ Then let us turn our attention to intelligent. But in general, the virthe Roman state. Were not Sylla tue of the Romans was a passionate and Marius intelligent men, when attachment to the commonwealth, for they rent the commonwealth with the grandeur of which they fought faction, and deluged Rome with and conquered, till they had brought blood ? Were not Cæsar and An- the civilized world to the feet of the thony and Lepidus, and Crassus and republic. This virtue extended the Brutus and Octavianus, intelligent dominion, but did not secure the ex. men? Did not the Roman common- istence of the republic. wealth fall into ruins in the most en- “ If by virtue is intended the oblightened period of its existence? servance of the common social duties, And were not the immediate instru. this may proceed from a respect for ments of its overthrow some of the custom, and a regard to reputation; most intelligent men that the pagan and either, with or without better world has produced ?
principles, is a useful practice. “ Then look at France during the " But such virtue as this will not revolution, when there was no set- save a republic, unless based on bettled government to control reason. ter principles than a regard to cusWere not the leading men of the tom or to reputation. The reason is parties intelligent men ?-men who obvious; such morality will often, cut off the heads of their opponents, not to say generally, yield to selfish. with as little ceremony as they would ness; that is, to the ambition of obtread a worm under their feet, and taining power and wealth. When for the sake of liberty. When one strongly tempted by private interest, party was crushed, the others cried men often find the means of enlistout, the republic or liberty is safe. ing reason in its service; and invent When another party fell under the excuses for disregarding the public guillotin, then the triumphant party good, which ought to be, and for the shouted, liberty is safe. But after preservation of republican governall, the republic was not saved ; and ment must be, the ruling motive of all parties at last were glad to find citizens. peace and security under a throne. “ The virtue which is necessary to
“Intelligence alone then has not preserve a just administration and yet saved any republic. But intelli. render a government stable, is Chris. gence, it is said, must be accompanied tian virtue, which consists in the with virtue, and these united are to uniform practice of moral and reli. give duration to a republic.
gious duties, in conformity with the “Now, sir, what is this virtue ? laws both of God and man. This what does it mean in the sentiment virtue must be based on a reverence or opinion above cited ? What did for the authority of God, which shall Montesquieu intend by virtue, when counteract and control ambition and he wrote about its influence in pre- selfish views, and subject them to the serving a republic?-(Spiritof Lawsprecepts of divine authority. The passim.)
effect of such a virtue would be, to
bring the citizens of a state to vote On these topics he presents his and act for the good of the state, thoughts to us in his own excellent whether that should coincide with style of writing, perspicuous, terse, their private interest or not. But and vigorous, characterized, like when or where has this virtue been his other productions, by his intipossessed by all the citizens, or even mate acquaintance with our mother by a majority of the citizens of a tongue; reminding us of the best state? History does not authorize writings of Hamilton, Madison, and us to believe that such virtue has Jay ; breathing forth the same spirit ever existed in the body of citizens of patriotism, and instinct with the in any community; or to presume same intellectual life. that such a community will ever ex
Animated by the spirit that perist.”—pp. 269, 270.
vades this letter, we would say to
every one who intends to perform In the course of this letter he the duties of an American citizen, analyzes the expression, “all men it is not enough for you to become are born free and equal,” compares acquainted with the general feathe tyranny of kings and nobles, tures of American society, and of against which our fathers took care American institutions. What you to guard themselves and their pos
want to know so far as you can, is terity, with the tyranny of the peo- the exact “ form and pressure" of ple acting by a majority, against the present times. You want to which it is not so easy to guard. know the very shapes of the cir. He speaks of the operation of uni- cumstances in which you will be versal suffrage; of the rights of called personally to act. person and of property ; of the Our country, commencing its exdifficulty there is, from the ex. istence under the happiest auspices, tent of our territory, of the great is furnished with abundant materials body of the electors becoming ac- of present good; while the omens quainted with the comparative mer. of future good lead us to expect a its of the different candidates for glorious destiny. There are so office. He adverts to the extensive many physical causes in climate, patronage of the President, which soil, water power, and facilities enables him, if disposed, to bribe of intercourse ; so many political his supporters ; of the jealousies causes in the freedom of our insti. between the rich and the poor; tutions; so many moral causes in of the attempt to excite prejudices education, religion, and the power against learning and literary insti- of the press, that we very easily, tutions; of the opinion, that the in our self-admiration, adopt the legislator is bound to follow the opinion, that our country, in the wishes of his particular constituents; words of one of our own bards, of removals from office; of the “the queen of the world and the doctrine, that there are no vested child of the skies,” will go on in rights; of the opinion, that a state improvement, from glory to glory, may at the end of nineteen years until she will become the joy of the from the date of the contract, repudi. whole earth. ate its debts; of the doctrine, that if a But while one prophet from his small number of persons are guilty of elevated position is thus ready to violating law, they may be indicted, say, “How goodly are thy tents, O but if a great number outrage law Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel ! and rights, they are not to be indict. blessed is he that blesseth thee, ed or punished ; of the opinion, that and cursed is he that curseth thee ;" offices are created for the benefit of another prophet, gifted with as clear individuals, rather than for the state. a vision, is ready to say, “How is
the gold changed, and the fine gold divine honors, the man who made become dim! ah, sinful nation, a discoveries in science, or inventions seed of evil-doers, how art thou in the arts. In later periods, if become a hissing and a by-word they did not deify such, they still among all nations !" When some were willing to honor them as prin. political seer, some foreigner, puts ces in the empire of knowledge, to forth such a prediction, instead of whom others should do homage. giving him any credit for “ mystical Thus was it when Aristotle reigned lore,” which may enable him to with imperial sway, over the minds
coming events in their shade of men, who were contented with ows,” we upbraid him with the this intellectual vassalage. Thus insinuation, that his “ wish is the was it during the night of the dark father of his thought.” But instead ages, when he of the triple crown of this, should we not rather imitate proclaimed his infallibility to bethe prudent mariner, who, with a lieving millions. Thus was it duwary eye, looks out for storms even ring the dawn and after the risen in fair weather? Is there no evil day of the Reformation, when Luat work in our system, which with ther and Calvin, even when in their a terrible efficiency tends to this graves, ruled as lords paramount predicted result, which we rejoice over multitudes of retainers. Every to believe it will never reach ? village in Protestant as well as Pa
In the physical world there is pal countries, had its lord spiritual what is called a principle of com- and its lord temporal, who exacted pensation. Where there is a pe- the homage of the many as their culiar advantage or convenience, right; even though the one lord it is balanced by a corresponding was a New England justice of the deficiency or inconvenience. Thus, peace, and the other a parish minunder the sunny skies of beauti, ister. ful Italy, the malaria reigns. The But we in this
delivered same principle appears in the moral from this intellectual vassalage, enworld. In this mixed state of be- joy to the full the right of private ing, we find that when nations or judgment, and liberty both of speech individuals enjoy peculiar blessings, and of the press. they are subject to corresponding But while we rejoice in the good, evils.
let us look at the evils which in the What then are some of the ad. way of compensation are put into vantages which we as a nation en- the other scale. One evil growing joy, on the one hand; and what are. out of this state of the public mind some of the correspondent evils ? is, that in their opposition to au
First, then, the age in which we thority, men will not believe even live is characterized by great free on the authority of God, any truth dom of opinion, in opposition to that is mysterious. There is dan. mere authority. The ages of pre- ger that men in the pride of intelscription have gone by. Men will lect, will reject some of the fun. not adopt fundamental doctrines in damental doctrines of the gospel. politics, education, and religion, "There is danger, that, while they merely upon the authority of great avoid repairing to the great light names. They ask for evidence; of the world for illumination, they and they feel competent of them will in the pride of reason walk in selves and by themselves, to judge the light of their own fire, and in of the evidence. In the early pe. the sparks which their own hands riods of human society, the great have kindled. Are there not even mass of the people were willing to now those who lean away so far enroll among the gods, as worthy of from the authority of God to their own understanding, that they meas. pecially if by so doing, there is a ure themselves by themselves rather chance to lead the multitude. They than by the Bible, which they con- can not bear the loss of popular sider to a large extent as obsolete.favor. They cower and hang their Are there not those who reigning heads beneath the frown of popuas kings, without their teaching, set lar indignation. They tremble and themselves up to be teachers of quail beneath the tyranny of public what they do not understand, the opinion. The sense of their indi. originators of new and crude doc. vidual responsibility is lost in the trines in politics, new and wonder. mass of minds with which they are ful nostrums in medicine, and new associated. revelations in religion ? But do Moreover, the age in which we you say, give truth an open field live is characterized by the love of for encounter with error, and we practical, to the comparative neg. need not fear for the issue? Yes, lect of speculative truth. In former but you should remember that error times, there were sages and philoso. is multiform, while truth is but one. phers who retired from the haunts Error has a natural affinity for the of business, to seek for truth in universal depravity of man, while the calm meditations of contemplatruth can not be omnipresent with tive life. In their seclusion, they appropriate evidence, to meet it. held communion with God, with
Another evil connected with the nature, with the spirits of the mighty good mentioned above, is, that while dead, with their own great minds, men enjoy the advantage of being that they might become acquainted free in their opinions and conduct with the living form of truth, with from the authority of the press, they the first good and the first fair. are exposed to become the vassals Admiring the forms of intellectual of the many, in their subjection to beauty, they sought for them in what is called public sentiment. In the fields of original investigation. our popular form of government, They loved knowledge as an end, as the majority must rule, there is not merely as a means. In thus supposed to be a positive excellence extending the bounds of knowledge, in numbers, independent of the they were the benefactors of our virtue and intelligence which they race; but to a large extent they may include. As men are at lib. were so unintentionally. They did erty to form any opinion, they are not apply their knowledge to any under a constant temptation to adopt useful purpose. And besides, they the opinion of the majority as the not unfrequently employed their most profitable. Watch the work- minds on subjects that lie beyond ings of their minds. “ That cause the scope of the human intellect, will prevail, therefore I go for that or that in their nature are frivolous cause. Those opinions will gen- and unprofitable. erally be adopted, therefore I adopt But in our times there is not them now.” If they are in doubt this waste of intellect. The grand which side will prevail
, they are, inquiry now is for useful truths, in the language of the day, unwil. namely, for those that have a pracling to commit themselves, lest they tical bearing in promoting the arts should be found on the wrong, that of life, the well being of society, is, on the unpopular side. Now and the salvation of the soul. Look to talk of such men being free, for a moment at the application of when they are the slaves of the physical truths to the construction many! why, they will follow the of machinery, that can by one di. multitude to do good, or they will recting mind do the work of a thou. follow the multitude to do evil, es- sand hands; or at the application Vol. I.
of Political truth to a system of in- necessary to get a multitude of pa. ternal improvement, which is dif- tients; if the clergyman studies fusing through the land, wealth, theology only so much as is neces. convenience, and comfort; or at sary to draw after him a multitude the application of moral truth to the of admirers; can they be otherwise temperance reformation ; or at the than superficial ? Said one of the application of religious truth in Sun- most successful politicians of the day schools. If you look carefully present time, men do not love truth at things like these, you can hardly now-a-days. They want only so fail of being convinced, that there much truth in a given case, as will is scarcely an important truth known gild over a falsehood and give it in physical science, in politics, in currency. The whole secret of morals, in education, or in religion, success in politics is to employ a which has not been applied to some little truth, and a great deal of man. purpose, if not to some useful pur. agement. If political agitators find pose.
that they can arouse and sway large One evil to which we are expo- masses of men by party machinery, sed in consequence of this attention will they not be tempted to reject to the application of truth, is, that the doubtful aid of truth? They men will think lightly of those truths want only those truths which are which they can not perceive to be immediately available, and not the immediately useful. They are so whole truth. They want a candimuch accustomed to consider truth date that is available, and not the as valuable on account of its appli. best man. What they want is loy cation, that they overlook its intrin. alty to their party, just as in a mon. sic excellence. Thus the noble archy there is loyalty to the king. science of astronomy may be valued The party can do no wrong, just only as it is applied to the art of as the king can do no wrong. navigation; the wonderful science And is there not danger moreof chemistry, only because it can over, that religion will in this re. be applied to the prevention and spect follow in the steps of politics; cure of disease ; mechanical phi. that those who plead her cause will losophy, because it can be applied rely more upon machinery, than to steam engines; political truth, upon the great truths of the Bible. only as it will help to sustain a If the politician forsakes the grand party; and religious truth, only so principles of the constitution, in the far as it will help to make converts. use of truths that are available to In this way it is, that Truth, who the present success of his party, is dwelt of old in the bosom of God, there not reason to fear that Chrisas his own daughter, comes down tians may forsake the great docto man, not as the child of the skies, trines of grace, in the use of those but as a mere menial, useful, but fragments of truth that are found to degraded.
be most available? If the politiThe tendency of this, is, to give cian labors not so much to instruct, a superficial character to all the as to produce immediate results at important professions. If the far- an election, is there not reason to mer studies the art of agriculture fear that leaders in religion will aim only so far as is necessary in order chiefly at immediate results, rather to make money ; if the mechanic than at thorough instruction? I learns his trade in the shortest pos- the politician dares not trust the sible time, so far as it is necessary people to form their own views of in order to undersell his competi- public measures, but must make as tors; if the physician studies the many as they can, commit them. science of healing only so far as is selves at some public meeting, is