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essence; men whose fiery minds, outrunning the very laws of nature, have burst upon the world “in full orbed glory," unheralded by a dawn; who, without waiting to pluck of “the tree of knowledge,” bave become “as gods," knowing all things by insight instead of experience. Of such, no conjectures can be made ; to them no reasonings apply. But the rest of the fifty thousand are, to say the least, teachers untaught, leaders untrained, prophets uncalled and uninspired.
Still, if there were no danger in the political game, a young man, though ignorant, might throw himself into it for amusement, and carry off bis blunders with a laugh. But, for him, what are the stakes? Independence-character. He has nothing else to risk. Independence of opinion, independence of action, independence of position ; character for sincerity, for prudence, for all that constitutes the solidity of virtue. These are his only reliance. When these are swept away, every thing goes. Better secure these, then, before he plays deep. Better have these to fall back on if he fail, to stand on if he win. Behold the bankrupt, hanging round the table at which he has squandered his fortune and his hopes-the poor, broken-down party hack, without consistency, without honor, without decency, whose worst degradation is, alas! that he is not entirely without usefulness. Ever ready to do the dirty duties of a slave at the bidding of his more successful competitors, he shrinks from no meanness, and shudders at no iniquity. And when his humble and humbling services are performed, he fawns at the feet of his owners, a crouching suppliant for the wages of shame. This is no imaginary creature ; nor does he only skulk in silence and darkness around the purlieus of kingly courts. Who has not seen him, in open day, here in this land of equality;-him and a miserable throng only less abandoned than himself, bold, hungry, and clamorous, choking up the avenues to every place where Power grudgingly dispenses the crumbs of her table to uninvited guests? Who has not met him at the caucus? Who has not seen him in processions ? Who has not been jostled by him in the lobby? Who has not blushed to behold him “on the floor of the House ?” Who has not heard his loud hosannas or his louder lamentations at the result of every election ? Who has not been asked to give him a vote or to sign his petition ? It is possible, for facts prove it, nay, it is common for high-minded and honorable men to sink thus low ; men, who, at the outset of their career, would have shrunk from such degradation as proudly as the victim of strong drink would once have recoiled from his now wretched condition. And how do they do it? By a regular course of irregularities like that which turns the sober citizen into a shistless vagabond. By indulging too much in the pleasures of political excitement before they are strong enough to bear it ; getting intoxicated, perhaps, with temporary success, gradually addicting themselves to loose and careless habits, and finally casting themselves off on the popular tide, without an anchor, to ride its flow, or be left stranded at its ebb.
Allow that the case just supposed may be an extreme one, though in political vices, as in some others, extremes are not so called
because of their rarity. Still, it behooves the young partisan to consider for what probable advantage he perils his integrity and independence at all. What does he look for? Only the pleasure of serving his country? The proud consciousness of having deserved well of the republic? We know what these things mean. As a general rule, there is but one class of persons now-a-days who sacrifice themselves on the altar of patriotism—those unwilling martyrs to whom we have alluded. What then does he expect-money or fame? Of all unsure roads to either, he chooses the worst. The nobleman by birth has been styled “an accident of an accident." The man who gets rich by politics is the accident of a thousand accidents. As for Fame, she is a fickle coquet, most easily won by him who scorns to woo her. She flies from those who depend wholly on her favors, who run about and “beg us for Heaven's sake to believe them great men;" but, among those who stand aloof on the strong basis of self-wrought character, she seeks her favorite, and solicits him to wear her laurel. Nor is it by beginning life as a forward politician that any such firm character is best built. For, as the good of the State, whatever the poets may say, must be, and is, of less consequence to any individual than his own personal interests, except so far as the former includes the latter; so attention to politics ought to be, with any one, a secondary object, compared with the pursuit of his particular business. Now it is always an act of weakness in a man to neglect his own concerns for those of other people. It shows a want of sound judgment, if not of sound principle. It is a fault which a common-sense world will see and despise ; dangerous to any reputation, particularly that of a young man who has not yet secured the confidence of the public. To start in this way, putting the first last and the last first, is to commit—what in Talleyrand's opinion was worse than a crime—a great blunder. One such mistake is sure to beget another; and it will not take many of their like to put an efl'ectual bar on the recovery of credit once lost.
Can there be any thing, then, more precarious than the rewards expected by the young politician ? No security for wealth ; a mere lottery, in which the chances are a thousand to one against him, and the highest prizes hardly equal in value to those offered by any of the various departments of trade. No security for enduring same, which, if it come at all, will come to crown only a strong and settled reputation.
Distinction, without honor, however, is easily gained, by a great variety of methods; and those who are not too honest to wish for it, or too proud to accept it, may indeed find in the political field a wide range for the play of their humble talents and the gratification of their humbler appetites. They, it is true, cannot begin their career too early. Plunging into the midst of intrigue and chicanery, they will never find themselves in a false position, never endanger their virtue or good name, and never fail of their reward.
Reasons far more weighty than any here presented, might be brought up to dissuade young men from dabbling extensively in politics. The whole subject might be discussed on moral and religious grounds alone, and the conclusions at which we aim, might, in that way, be reached
more readily, and impressed upon the mind more forcibly, than they can be by our leaving out of sight all arguments not drawn from calculations of mere worldly expediency. But a restricted view of the question is here purposely taken ; and owe are now to inquire what general line of conduct, different from that we have thus far been considering, would most advance the interests of such a person as was imagined in the commencement of our reflections-a young man not destitute of capacity and not devoid of a generous ambition.
It is easy to see, if it has not already been shown, that the grand mistake of those who have failed of success in political life, has been the neglect of duties which they owe to themselves, for those which they do not owe to the public. This is “a horrible mischief and dampable error," the root of evils too great to estimate, and too numerous to count. If there are any two obligations enforced upon a man alike by a sense of interest and a sentiment of patriotism, the one is to choose a profession on which he can rely for subsistence and reputation, and the other—to rely upon it. “ Worse than an infidel” is he who provides not for his own household. A traitor to the common weal is he who deprives the State of a good citizen, by unfitting himself for any other occupation than that of an adventurer. And with especial reference to our subject, be it granted that there is nothing better, nothing nobler, nothing more likely to satisfy the desires and complete the earthly happiness of a man of sense and spirit than the name of a great politician. Even for one who believes all this, and is ready to give up every other good, so that he may only be conspicuous in the world, be pointed out by the finger, and hear men say, as they pass him, “that is he;" even for him the best course is to select a profession that will give full scope to his powers ; in which, without looking to adventitious aids, and without giving up one jot of his integrity or self-esteem, he may raise himself, by his own exertions, to an eminence that shall command attention and respect. This gained, himself known and appreciated, his standing in the community settled on a firm foundation, his mind matured, his knowledge of men and things extended,- he may then employ some portion of his time, with credit to himself and usefulness to his fellow citizens, in the public service. Having secured abundant resources on which to retire in case of disappointment in political life, he will not be likely to meet with disappointment. His weight of character will give him momentum enough to carry him over obstacles at which others would stumble. If he is fit for a statesman he will not be long in finding it out, and may then, with good reason, spread oui his sails to every fair popular breeze that springs up. All this may be done by any one who has talent enough to gain him a high rank as a politician in any other way–done without presumption on his part, without danger, and without entangling himself in the tricks of parties, if he is only capable of forming strong and decided opinions on party measures, of expressing them forcibly when called on to express them at all, and of maintaining, at all times, in public and private, a high-toned, consistent, straight-forward course of conduct. It may be urged, that it will take time to achieve greatness in this way; that the process is slow and tedious. Why should it not take time? Why should not the process be slow? Why should one aim at the prize, and not be willing to wait and work for it? They who think it worth winning, should think it worth paying for. Perhaps it does cost too much. If so, good sense would counsel a lowering of the ambition that hankers after it. At any rate, there is no safer or surer way to reach it.
But suppose the only elevation sought is confined within the limits of one's professional walk. Suppose one does not consider an election to Congress, or an office under government, as the “summum bonum.” Suppose a man, if possible, so singular as to fancy the one dignity a criterion of doubtful merit, and the other, of undoubted servility. In fine, suppose him satisfied with his business, able and willing to depend on that alone. Even in this case, some seem to think that a young man has no chance of success unless he devote a large part of his time to politics. And it is doubtless under the influence of this opinion, that many young men, who have no relish for political notoriety, exert themselves, by the usual methods, to obtain it ; their main object being all the while to attract notice, and with it employment. There is policy in this ; bad policy. It may serve a temporary purpose, create a sudden flush of fame, and bring in a premature harvest. But an expedient like this, no really capable man need resort to; in the end he loses more than he gains by it; while one who is not capable can never by such tricks, for any length of time, delude people into the belief that he is so. Hot-houses are useful for raising early cucumbers; but the corn, the oil, and the wine, come by patience, toil, and sunshine. We venture to say, that a single coat well made, a single lot of goods well sold, a single patient well cured, or a single case in court well managed, will go farther towards convincing the public that any given individual is a good mechanic, merchant, physician, or lawyer, than a dozen speeches in mass-meeting, with “tremendous cheers" and “loud cries of go on.” Probably the experience of most persons has taught them this truth. Who that has seen a sudden rise, has not witnessed a sudden fall? Who cannot count over, within the circle of his own observation, many an instance of popularity quickly gained, by young men, in the very way of which we speak, and as quickly lost? And if the fact were not so, the question might still be raised, whether it would not be better to abandon an occupation which cannot support an honest and able man on his professional merits alone, than to continue in it bolstered up by mere shallow artifice ? For so long as the prairie remains untilled and the forest unfelled, there is room for sturdy independence, that “scorns a little thing," to labor and to live. But there is no profession of which it may not be truly affirmed, that in it, strict devotion to business is the surest road to eminence. To say so, indeed, is almost to utter a truism.
We maintain, then, that political life generally will appear less attractive to any young man, in proportion to the strength of his moral principle, the soundness of his judgment, and the care with which he considers the subject; but that his true policy, if he seek political distinction of an honorable kind, is to maintain a “wise and masterly"
reserve, until he shall have won himself a foothold in his profession; and that if he means to shine in that alone, he will find warm partisanship, especially at first, rather an injury than a help to him. Doctrines so broad and general as these, may be true without reaching every case. Our logic, 100, may be defective, and yet our conclusions just. And it may be because opinions contrary to those here advanced have too widely prevailed among the young men of our country, that the land is full of perverted talents and broken fortunes ; that corruption dogs the heels, if it do not lead the van, of every party; and that our national metropolis, whatever dynasty may be dominant for the time, is little better than an aviary of “ravens, that cry continually for food.”
RECOLLECTIONS OF SICILY.
It is a fact which I believe few will dispute, that the medium through which any object is seen by the eye, has fully as much to do with the formation of the impression, as the intrinsic nature of the object itself; and the same holds good in regard to the sensations conveyed by objects to the mind. The peculiar condition of the body, the relative position of circumstances, the associations connected with the method of conveyance, all exercise a strong influence in determining the effects experienced from the object conveyed; in short, the opinion is formed quite as much by incidentals which accompany, as by the object itself which is presented to the mind. More especially is this true, when what is presented is of no great importance in itself, and is calculated to excite pleasure or its opposite, rather than to conduce to the information or substantial improvement of the mind ; and hence it is that in the perusal of works of fiction, of tales and anecdotes, we find the sensations with which we gather their sweets, and the taste which they leave behind them, so essentially and apparently so strangely different at different times.
The same power of metamorphosis we perceive also exercised not only upon the receptive powers of the mind, but upon the judgment, the taste, the fancy, the good or ill will; and this fact would appear to have been observed in the earliest times, as is proved by the saying, “ It's ill talking between a full man and a fasting," a proverb distinctly conveying the idea that even hunger has much to do with both the desire and ability of exercising all the functions of the mind, since conversation of course embraces a possibility of employment for them all.
Now, without meaning to assume the premise as the foundation of a new school of Epicurism, or indeed to give it more importance than it deserves, I still must allow its force up to this point, that as I am ignorant of the exact time of day at which what I write may be read, and