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* Undovetedly, simplicity of manners is one of the great pillars of morality. It circumscribes our wants, and thus diminishes those besetting temptations to extravagance and dishouesty which originate in and receive their power from the love of dress, splendor, display, and luxury. Those who set an inordinate value upon the gratification of these vanities, will come in time to sacrifice to their attainment all that solid stock of happiness which is derived from the possession of integrity and independence. An age of simplicity is, therefore, an age of morality; and hence it is that the wisest writers of antiquity have made simplicity of manners essential to the preservation of that liberty which cannot be sustained by a luxurious and corrupt people. That our own high feelings of independence are rapidly fleeing away before the quick steps of ostentation and luxury, and that the love of wealth, as the means of attaining to these gratifications, is becoming the ruling passion, must be obvious to all observers.'
It is to the agricultural portion of our community that we must look for the preservation of our liberties. The simplicity of their manners, and their isolated situation, enable them to think, and judge, and act for themselves. Uninfluenced by the power of sympathy with the many, and devoid of that restless excitability which places the populace of our cities in the power of every demagogue who harangues them from the polls or the market-place, and who can fire them either to acts of destruction or deeds of patriotism, this sober and independent body of freemen govern their feelings by their reason, and their actions by their sense of right.
With what consciousness of superiority must the farmer look down upon those who are childishly triumphing in the possession of fine houses, fine furniture, and splendid equipages; and with what pity must he regard those who are wearing out their lives and energies, to gain those gilded play-things and gewgaws of mature age. As for him, he treads the imperial carpet with as much indifference as he does the dusty pathway; and the grassy bank affords a more inviting seat than the most luxurious ottoman or fauteuil.
From my heart, I honor the countryman, in whatever situation he may be found. Look at the wagoner beside his team; the manliness of his gait, the flourish of his whip, the very wearing of his hat, show that he is a freeman — that he feels no superior. Contrast him with the journeyman mechanic of the city. The latter is either a copyist of others, in a different station in life, or he is embittered by jealousy and envy of that class whom he styles the aristocracy, and whom he imagines to be leagued in an unholy alliance against the rights and privileges of his fellow-workmen.
Look at the wealthy farmer — the man of character and intelligence. When among his laborers
, he gives them the right hand of fellowship, and converses with them as with fellow-countrymen. Conscious of his own standing and influence, he assumes no superiority, but admits them to his house, and often to his table. And, in their turn, they always regard him with that deference and respect which is due, not to his estate, but to his mind and character.
How different is the man of fortune in our cities, whose riches are the result of a life devoted to gain. His workmen, his clerks, his less wealthy neighbors, are those whose society he most wishes to avoid. Fearful, lest those with whom he cannot help associating in the way of business, should make this acquaintance an opportunity of visiting him, he wraps himself up in the mantle of self-consequence, as the only way of preventing personal contact. He looks at his losiy mansion, his liveried servants, and thinks all beneath him, whose means will not enable them to live in the same luxury and ostentation. Having commenced as a pedlar or mechanic, he tries to banish it from his memory, and strives more anxiously to keep this unknown to his children, than he would do had he been a forger or defaulter. He would rather meet an enemy than the friend of his father, or of his own early days; and his near-sightedness prevents his recognising any one who patronized him in his former trade. Such are the pitiful shifts
, the meannesses, of those whose only claims to distinction are their riches and their gorgeous display.
A country life appears as favorable to the moral healthfulness of man, as it is to his physical well-being; and its effects are equally manifested in the day-laborer as in the landed proprietor. It is this noble stock of American freemen that will prevent our becoming a puny and degenerate race. It is amidst this host that we must look for ihat true worship of liberty, which is well nigh extinct in the bosoms of those who bow at the crowded shrine of Mammon.
Wherever human beings congregate in masses, there will always be found the workings of human corruption. In the society of cities, the influence of evil will ever be more apparent than that of good, even if it be not greater, as some have said. It is true, there is much that is pure and elevated, there is much that is high and holy, among the dwellers in cities; but its effects are not sensibly felt beyond its own immediate circle of action. The still small voice' of religion and of reason is only heard in the hours of retirement and reflection. The hurrying crowd are impelled by their passions — those impetuous leaders, whose clamor overpowers the claims of truth, integrity, and virtue.
. The multitudes that throng our thoroughfares, are divided into two prominent classes – those who are toiling and grasping for wealth,
and they who are ostentatiously spending it. Look at the money-seeker; observe his care-worn, his anxious countenance. Follow him to his counting-room; see him clutch, with nervous eagerness, the sum he has just gained in the way of trade, but not in the way of upright dealing. Look at him as he goes over page after page of his leger, and sums up column after column of its figures, to estimate the profits
of the past year.
Newton could not have shown half the trembling anticipation, the eager delight, as he was about concluding the calculation that was to establish his great discovery, that this man exhibits as his pen writes down the thousands that have been added to his former gains.
This craving desire for wealth is the fruitful source of fraud and forgery, and of every species of gambling, from the wild speculation to the lottery and the card-table. This lust for gain - this master passion that deadens every other emotion - has spread its baleful influence far and wide throughout our cities. It is not confined to the avowed worshippers of Mammon; it is not only amidst the money-changers, in the outer court of the temple, that its corruption is seen; it has entered within the veil, and those who have openly. professed to have renounced the world and its lusts,' by becoming the followers of Him, who, when on earth, had not where to lay his head'. even these will lift the sacramental cup to their lips, while every desire of their hearts is devoted to the accumulation of money. I have heard Christian mothers try to convince their youthful daughters of the happiness to be enjoyed in the possession of splendid establishments, and in having wealth at command. I have seen Christian fathers give their blooming, lovely girls to the arms of sensualists and dotards, and then complacently and smilingly receive the congratulations of their friends on the happy occasion. Is this a false picture? Would that it were ! But it is too true! The canker of gain hath eaten deeply into the very heart's core of society.
Let us now turn to the money-spender, and see what was the object for which these treasures were so anxiously laid up. He has now left the worship of Mammon for that of fashion. He surrounds himself and his family with the splendor that is to gain him admission into those circles that have been the heaven of his desires and endeavors. At first, he may meet with something like a repulse; but if he repeat his advances, and continue to increase the number and the brilliancy of his gilded trappings, he will see the gates unclose, and find himself most warmly welcomed by those who most loudly condemned his presumption. This being gained, it is now requisite for him to copy the motions, the manners, and the fashions of those around him. He finds that these are all drawn from European models, and in order to make a faithful imitation, it is considered necessary to take his family across the Atlantic, that they may catch the living manners,' from seeing the nobility passing in their equipages, from living near their palaces, or perhaps by the supreme happiness of gaining admission to an entertainment given by some one who is second cousin to a lord or a baronet. Oh, fashion ! — what follies are committed in thy name! To an European observer, these follies would be a fit theme for ridicule, but in a true American, they excite feelings of the deepest mortification. Can such an one read or hear of the conduct of some travelling Americans, and of American society in Paris, and not feel his ears tingle and his cheeks blush with honest indignation ? And it is by society like this, both at home and abroad, that Americans are judged by Europeans. The fashionable world, in any country, is but an unfair specimen of national character. It is generally composed of the imitators of other nations — the idle, the vain, and the unintellectual — and this is especially so in our own coun
Our men of character and intelligence are occupied on the busy arena of life. Our women of cultivated minds and simplicity of manners are found in the social circle, or at their own firesides. In fashionable society, as it is at present constituted, there is little to attract such men or such women, and it is unfortunate that this is the case. For, however pretty or light may be the materials of which it is composed, its prominence in the public eye, its blazonings, its efforts to draw attention and admiration, will always give it influence. And this influence is powerful. From the Almack system of London, to its pitiful imitations in our own cities, we see the uncontrolled sway it can exercise at will. And what are the effects of this influence? It is to this we owe that love of splendor and display which has infected all classes of our citizens. It is this that has made wealth so attractive, that men will sacrifice their integrity, their reputation, and even Heaven itself, to obtain it. It is this that is undermining the fair fabric of our national prosperity, by giving rise to those jealousies and heart-burnings that cause the cry of * Down with the aristocracy!' to be muttered between the teeth, or boldly to be proclaimed, in times of popular excitement. To this also is owing that fearful tide of foreign notions and foreign innovations that is pouring along our commercial emporiums, and which, unless arrested in its course, will swallow up every thing like American individuality and republican simplicity.
In tracing the unhappy effects of this influence, let us go back and see what portion of this society gives the tone to its usages and opinions. If we discover the origin of this evil, we may also find the remedy that is needed. I hope I shall not be considered a libeller of my own sex, when I lay the blame at their feet. The influence of fashionable society is the reflected influence of woman, and to her we must look for the reform and rëorganization of American society:
Let the female of intellect and judgment, who has leisure at command, consider whether she has done her duty in leaving such power in the hands of coxcombs, silly women, and girls who still need a teacher. If men of integrity, when disgusted with the chicanery and corruption of some politicians, were to retire from public life, and leave every thing to mercenary office-seekers, what would become of our government? But such men know and perform their duty better : exerting the whole weight of their influence to counteract the evil doctrines disseminated by designing men, and striving to bring the unthinking mass to a sense of their true interests, they firmly fix their feet on the rock of political principle, and point out the course to the ignorant and unwary, while the tide of calumny and corruption rushes by them unheeded. It cannot move them from their place, for their object is their country's good.
Our government — the bulwark of our liberties — is intrusted to the care of America's sons. And let them guard it well, for it is the Freedom of the World that is committed to their charge. And since they have left female influence to regulate society, let the daughters of America remember their responsibility. Let them speedily unite in throwing off the yoke of European bondage, and proclaim their independence of foreign fashions and imported customs. And then, and then only, will American society be, what it ought always to have been, a beautiful illustration of republican simplicity and republican principles.
G. VOL. VIII.
Years have circled away, since the lovers were laid
At the foot of a sycamore tree,
On the banks of the dark Genesee.
By the son of a perishing race,
That renders more holy the place.
In the tremulous accents of grief,
Yon mould on a maiden and chief:
Where suns in the West never set,
Her dark eye is visible yet.
With a smile like the dawning of light;
Is bestudded with genis of the night.
For trophies to lay at her feet,
Wild blossoms, of fragrancy sweet.
Of passion in many a breast;
Her vow of fidelity blest.
In battle his hatchet was true;
That rider or rein never knew.
And gave their loud mirth to the air ;
Were inwoven with ornaments rare.
When the Seneca prophet thus spake -· The heart that is beating so gladly to day,
With grief on the morrow will break!'
While the many his coming await ?
Or some proud bridal gift for his mate?
Will darken with horror, ere long,
And forebodingly chaunted her song.
Sought a fiuwery couch in the shade,
The heart of his beautiful maid.
And darkness infolded the cloud,
And presentiment dark, went the crowd.