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brings into the world, and carries through it, an appetite for food; and this appetite perpetually tends to an excess ruinous to health and fatal to life, among the vulgar running into the coarseness of gluttony,―among the refined to a no less injurious epicurism. Each individual brings into the world, and carries through it, an appetite for beverage; and what multitudes has this desire stretched upon the "burning marle" of Intemperance! All are born with a love of wealth, or, at least, of acquisition, which leads to wealth;and we should be unfit to live in such a world as this is, without such an innate tendency; because, in health, we must lay by something for sickness, and in the strength of manhood, something for the helplessness of children, and for the feebleness of old age. Yet how easily does this propensity run out into avarice and cupidity, leading on to fraud, robbery, rapine, and all the enormities of the slave-trade, the opium-trade, and the rum-trade. So we all have a desire for the good-will of others, -an instinct beautifully adapted to diffuse pleasure over all the intercourse of life. But in this country, where the rule once was that the honors of office should be awarded to merit,-detur digniori,the sign seems to have been mistaken for the thing signified; and now, whenever there is an office to be filled, a crowd of applicants throng around, more than sufficient, in point of numbers, to fill the vacancy for the next thousand years. Again, a certain feeling of self-estimation is absolutely essential to us all; because, without it, every man would be awed into annihilation before the majesty of the multitude, or the glories of the visible universe. But how readily does this feeling of self-importance burst out into pride and a love of domination, and that intolerance towards the opinions of others, which does not seek to enlighten
or persuade, but dogmatizes, denounces, and per
All history cries out, with all her testimonies and her admonitions, proclaiming to what excesses these innate and universal appetites may grow, when supplied with opportunities and incitements for indulgence. If men consult their propensities alone, no sacrifice ever seems too great to purchase indulgence for the lowest and meanest of them all. Each one of them is not only capable of unlimited growth, but each, also, is blind to all consequences, and demands gratification, though the next hour brings perdition as the penalty. We need not go back to patriarchal or primeval times to find a man who, because he was hungry or thirsty, would barter a glorious inheritance for a mess of pottage; or a woman who would forfeit paradise through curiosity to taste an apple. When the political destiny of his family and of all France depended upon the speed which Louis XVI. should make in his flight from Paris, he paused by the way-side to drink a bottle of Burgundy,said coolly, that it was the best bottle he ever drank, and suffered the scale which held the fortunes of twenty-five millions of people, to turn, irrevocably, while he prolonged his gustations. To add a few more items to his inventory of conquered nations, Napoleon snatched the scythe from the hand of Death, and, forerunning the great Destroyer, he strowed the earth, from torrid sands to Arctic snows, with the corses of human slain, mowed down in the morning beauty and vigor of life; and, rather than not to be emperor at all, he would have reigned the emperor of a European solitude. He played the game of war, as he played his favorite game of chess,-for the sake of triumph,-making no more account of nations than of pawns. Pope Innocent III, founded an Inquisition, modelled after the plan of Pandemonium,
that he might compel mankind to acknowledge the infallibility of his dogmas. Notwithstanding the manifest intentions of nature in making the sexes almost numerically equal, the Sultan culls nations to fill his seraglio with beauty. Did not Mark Anthony forget his hard-earned fame, perfidiously abandon his faithful troops, and shut his eyes upon the vision of a kingdom, for a transient hour of voluptuousness in the arms of Cleopatra? Herod hears that a man-child is born in Judea, who may one day endanger his throne; and forthwith, to avert that possible event, he murders all the male children in the land under two years of age; and the moment power was given, a woman, to avenge a private pique, brings in the head of John the Baptist in a charger. Even good men,-those for whose steadfastness we would almost be willing to pledge our lives,exemplify the terrible strength of the propensities. Moses rebels; David murders; Peter, although forewarned, yet denies his Master, and forswears himself.
Now, the germs or elements of these propensities belong to us all. We possess them at birth; they abide with us till death. Vast differences exist in the power which they exert over men, owing to differences in their innate vigor; still greater differences, perhaps, result from early education. In bad men they predominate, and break out into the commission of as much iniquity as finite beings, with limited means, can compass. They exist also in good men; but, in them, they are either feebly developed, or they are bound and leashed in by pure and holy affections. By nature, there were boiling seas of passion in the breasts of Socrates and of Washington; but godlike sentiments of justice and duty and benevolence kept down their rage, as the deep granite beneath New England's soil keeps down the cen
tral fires of the globe, and forbids earthquake or volcano to agitate her surface. When subordinated to conscience and the will of God, these propensities give ardor to our zeal and strength to our exertions; just as the genius of man converts wind and fire from destroyers into servants.
From our very constitution, then, there is a downward gravitation forever to be overcome. The perpetual bias of our instincts is, from competency and temperance to luxury and inebriation; from frugality to avarice; from honest earnings to fraudulent gains; from a laudable desire of reputation, and a reasonable self-estimate, to unhallowed ambition, and a determination to usurp the prerogative of God by writing our creeds on other men's souls. Hence these propensities require some mighty counterpoise to balance their proclivity to wrong. They must be governed,— either by the pressure of outward force, or by the supremacy of inward principle. In other countries and ages, external force, the civil executioner, Pretorian cohorts, Janizaries, standing armies, an established priesthood, have kept them down. The propensities and appetites of a few men have overlaid and smothered those of the rest. A few men, whom we call tyrants and monsters, having got the mastery, have prevented thousands of others from being tyrants and monsters like themselves. And although it is with entire justice that we charge the despotisms of the old world with having dwarfed and crippled whatever is great and noble in human nature; yet it is equally true that they have dwarfed and crippled, in an equal degree, whatever is injurious and base. The Neros and Napoleons have prevented others from being Neros and Napoleons, as well as from becoming Senecas and Howards.
But with the changed institutions of this country, all is changed. Here history may be said, in
familiar phrase, not merely to have turned over a new leaf, but to have opened a new set of books. With our Revolution, the current of human events was turned quite round, and set upon a new course. That external power which, theretofore, had palsied the propensities of the mass, was abolished. Instead of the old axiom, that the ruler is a lord, -a vicegerent of God,-here, to a proverb, rulers are servants. Lightly and fearfully the law lays its hand upon men; and, should the wisest law ever framed, chafe the passions or propensities of the majority, or of men who can muster a majority, they speak and the law perishes. The will of the people must be our law, whether that will reads the moral code forwards or backwards.
Now, for one moment, compare the collected vastness of men's desires, with the sum of the world's resources. Compare the demand with the supply, where the propensities are the customers. Suppose the wealth of this country were divided into fifteen million equal parts, and each man were allowed to subscribe for what number of shares he might please; how many, think you, would have subscribed, before it would be announced that all the stock had been taken up? Had each man permission to drop a folded ballot into the urn of fate, designating the rank and the office which he and his children should hold, would not the nominal aristocracy be tremendous? Were each religious dogmatist and bigot authorized to write out articles of faith for universal adoption, what a mad-house of creeds and theological systems would there be! But this is endless. All know, if every holder of a lottery ticket could name the amount of his prize, how soon the office would be bankrupt.
Now the simple question for an American, is, whether all this mighty accession of power, growing out of our free institutions, shall or shall not