« PreviousContinue »
ing it to the applause, the affection, and the adoption of every nation which is yet a stranger to it.
5 Here, perhaps, I ought to stop. But a solicitude for your welfare, which cannot end but with my life, and the apprehension of danger natural to that solicitude, urge me, on an occasion like the present, to offer to your solemn contemplation, and to recommend to your frequent review, some sentiments, which are the result of much reflection, of no inconsiderable observation, and which appear to me all-important to the permanency of your felicity as a people.
6 These will be offered to you with the more freedom, as you can only see in them the disinterested warnings of a parting friend, who can possibly have no personal motive to bias his counsel. Nor can I forget as an encouragement to it, your indulgent reception of my sentiments on a former and not dissimilar occasion.
7 Interwoven as is the love of liberty with every ligament of your hearts, no recommendation of mine is necessary to fortify or confirm the attachment. The unity of government,
which constitutes you one people, is also now dear to you. It is : justly so; for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real in
dependence; the support of your tranquillity at home; your peace abroad; of your safety, of your prosperity; of that very liberty which you so highly prize.
8 But as it is easy to foresee, that from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed, to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth : as this is the point in your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of infinite moment, that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national union, to your collective and individual happiness;
9 That you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and inimoveable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts.
10 For this you have every inducement of sympathy and interest. Citizens by birth or choice of a common country,
that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of American, which belongs to you in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations.
11 With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion, manners, habits, and political principles. You have in a common cause fought and triumphed together; the independence and liberty you possess, are the work of joint councils, and joint efforts-of common dangers, sufferings, and successes.
12 The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government. But the constitution which at any time exists, until changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all. The very idea of the power and the right of the people to establish a government, presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established government.
13 I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the state, with particular references to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a inore comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner, against the baneful effects of the spirit of party, generally.
14 This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy. .
15 The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism..
16 The disorders and miseries which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual ; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty;
17 Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind, (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight,) the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party, are
sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.
18 Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness-these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connexions with private and public felicity.
19 Let it simply be asked, where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principles.
20 It is substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule indeed extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?
21 Promote, then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.
22 Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all: religion and morality enjoin this conduct; and can it be that good policy does not equally enjoin it? It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and, at no distant period, a great nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence.
23 Who can doubt that in the course of time and things, the fruits of such a plan would richly repay any temporary advantages which might be lost by a steady adherence to it? Can it be, that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a nation with its virtue? The experiment, at least, is recommended by every sentiment which ennobles human nature. Alas! is it rendered impossible by its vices?
24 In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential than that permanent and inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and ami. cable feelings towards all should be cultivated.
25 In offering to you, my countrymen, these counsels of an old and affectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make the strong and lasting impression I could wish that they will control the usual current of the passions, or prevent our nation from running the course which has hitherto marked the destiny of nations.
26 But if I may even flatter myself, that they may be productive of some partial benefit, some occasional good; that they may now and then recur to moderate the fury of party spirit; to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue; to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism ; this hope will be a full recompense for the solicitude for your welfare, by which they have been dictated,
CHAPTER 2. EXERCISE, PUBLIC EDUCATION, TEMPERANCE, HEALTH, &c.
SECTION I, Sunday schools: education of the poor: books. ... i It might appear a paradox in politics, if we were not daily accustomed to absurdities, that Sunday schools have been discountenanced because they have a tendency to cause people to think, and expose them to the risk of reading incendiary publications. People who reason after this man. ner may be divided into two classes.
2 The first would confine all knowledge within the factitious arrangements of fortune, and consequently, would make fortune only the test of moral obligation, and of ability. The second, actuated by milder sentiments, although by timorous motives, are apprehensive of evils arising from the abuse of the principle.
3 Their opinions, therefore, are to be respected, while the former merit contenipt and abhorrence. Wise and virtuous magistrates would rather govern thinking men, than mechanical brutes; but knaves prefer legislating for fools. Their sentiments are worthy of a Turkish Cadi, and of the meridian of Constantinople, but destructive of the happiness of a free community.
• 4 If knowledge be a pernicious acquisition, it is evidently more dangerous in the hands of those who possess the gifts of fortune, and thereby power, than in the hands of the commonalty, who are deprived of those accursed resources by which the fountains of honor, justice, and freedom have been often corrupted and poisoned.
5 If on the contrary, its efforts be 'beneficial, who will presume to limit its circulation?. The law of England declare's that ignorantia legis non excuset; [The ignorance of the law will not avail the delinquent,] this is the principle of all free governments. In what manner therefore we can reconcile the commission of a crime, and its punishment with utter ignorance, I leave to the explication of those political sophists, who delight to make a mystery of government, and to confound the plainest principles of common sense and justice.
.6 It cannot be denied, that a disposition to obtain knowledge is common to all, and that talents display themselves to a very high degree among the unlettered parts of the community. Poverty is no more an evidence of incapacity, than wealth is, of capacity for knowledge; for many a Cicero has kept sheep, many à Cæsar followed the plow, and many a Virgil foddered cattle. York.--Nicholson's Literary Miscellany.
7 It is a truth which cannot be too strongly impressed, · that of all our exertions for the benefit of our fellow-creatures, the education of the poor is the most efficacious: it invigorates the body politic, and forms and prepares, from every class of society, useful and active members, to fill the most important duties and stations of life.--Moir.-Ibid.
8 Ignorance is the bane of society; it is the greatest foe against which a nation has to contend-destroy its reign, and a tyrant falls. Who is the midnight murderer? Who are the disturbers of the peace ! Are they the well-instructed ? Against whom is the strong hand of the magistrate uplifted ? against the man who knows his duty ? No; but against him whom ignorance has made brutish.
9 Where is the person that will plead for ignorance as for virtue? Who will say that she is the mother of devotion; or the source of subordination ? She is the mother of no good thing. Bigotry and superstition are her offspring. She is the parent of cruelty, and the nurse of crimes.
10 Read, in the history of the world, the effects of igno. rance. The wandering Arab, the fierce and barbarous Indian, are what they are from ignorance. England, when barbarous,