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individuals. In our country there is no poor caste like the peasantry or serfs of Europe. No healthy man, who is industrious, sober, frugal, virtuous and persevering, need ever be a pauper, or a dependant on the charities of others. He can and will create a path to manly independence. Our richest and worthiest citizens have made their own fortunes and risen to eminence in Church or State by their own efforts and enterprise. These constitute the best portion of our citizens. They have made our country what it is the most beautiful, flourishing, abundant and prosperous of all lands; the home of the persecuted and oppressed of every nation. Hopeless, invincible, incurable poverty among us, is the result of sheer idleness or vice. A drunken husband and father may render a wife and children miserable and the proper objects of charity and beneficence. And there will ever be sufferers from sickness or misfortune-re quiring aid, etc. The poor widow and orphan must be cared for
Demagogues in the pulpit, at the hustings, in the halls of legislation, and at popular meetings of all sorts, are very much in the habit of declaiming against the richas if they were criminal oppressors of the poor — as if they had amassed their wealth by dishonest means or by hard dealing with the poor, etc. And thus they strive to create and keep up sentiments of hostility towards the rich, as the natural enemies of the poor, etc.
Nine-tenths of the paupers in our cities are foreigners -and most of them Romanists, etc. The terms wealth, riches, etc., are comparative. The
possessor of a few thousands in the country is accounted rich--while in the large cities, scores and hundreds of thousands would be required to entitle a man to such enviable distinction. Thus, I read in the American Messenger of January, 1855, that the income of William B. Astor, of New York, is one million two hundred thousand dollars per annum. Again, in the New York Observer of December 28, 1854, it is said: “The estate of the late Anson G. Phelps foots up at $2,500,000, (two and a half millions.) He was a Connecticut boy, and carried nothing but his hands and brains to New York.”
“The tax of Nicholas Longworth, of Cincinnati, amounts this year to $40,000.” (N. A. Tribune of Jan. 5, 1855.)
All combinations of mechanics, tradesmen and labourers to establish arbitrary or fixed prices for work or commodities—and strikes for higher wages—are unwise, impolitic, anti-republican, and greatly injurious to the parties intended to be benefited. It is a selfimposed check upon industry, economy, enterprise and wholesome competition. It reduces all to a dead level. It is opposed to the principle of free trade and free action. Why should not the employer and the employed, in all cases, be at liberty to make their own contracts without fear or control — without dread of frown or penalty from any club or association, or of violence under Lynch law? Look too at the expensethe tax actually levied upon the members -of every such combination. The loss of time-idle and wasteful habits acquired—the discouragement of all manly aspirations, of all self-reliance, of all desire or effort towards an advanced or improved condition, etc. “Live, and let live.” Let every man be free to work—free to earn, to save, to enjoy the fruit of his labours—to become rich if he will or if he can. Let the law protect him in all honest pursuits—and encourage him to better his condition by virtuous industry, economy and enterprise.
Again, the labouring and poorer classes are exceedingly prone to join various expensive (and often demoralizing) associations--such as Freemason, Oddfellows, Washingtonian, and others political or military, or merely festive. Even the ordinary city fire companies are so organized as to become burdensome to the members. Compute the waste of time in their public meetings and parades and celebrations—and at the funerals of their brethren-the cost of uniform or distinctive dresses, insignia, regalia, etc.
Every city has its volunteer finely equipped militia companies-of no manner of use, except to show off in the streets, and to pay large bills at hotels, etc. Here, in New Albany, on the 8th of January, 1855, the “Spencer Greys," headed by the “Banner Band,”
66 turned out on a dress parade and target excursion. Their beautiful and soldierly appearance attracted great admiration. In the evening the “Greys,' with the ‘Banner Band,' and a number of invited guests, sat down to a magnificent supper at the De Pauw House,” etc. Thus (and much more) writes the Editor of the New Albany Daily Tribune of this morning-Jan. 10, 1855. I happened to witness a part of the street spectacle, and thought it rather a sorry affair. At midnight, I was aroused from sleep by .a tremendous uproar in the street, occasioned by the light-headed “Greys” after
The poor also in cities frequent the theatre, circus, balls, musical concerts, dancing parties, drinking shops, gambling houses, and all sorts of amusements, shows, frolics, -of fun, folly, vice and ruin. Our cities are filled with European paupers—and the New York papers abound in descriptions of suffering, wretchedness, destitution and beggary, without a parallel hitherto in our country. The city is threatened with violence by the starving poor, etc.
It is now midwinter, (Jan. 11, 1855,) and the dread of riots, tumults, mobs, etc. is daily increasing.
Among the plans of aiding the suffering poor, are balls, concerts, fairs, etc.—the net proceeds to be appropriated to their relief. This is bad, mischievous, unchristian. It is holding out a premium to folly, mirth, expensive extravagance and dissipation, under the garb and plea of charity, benevolence, philanthropy, etc. But small sums are raised in this way at best, compared with the amount actually expended in getting up such fashionable amusements. Why not give the whole and dispense with amusement altogether? Our good church-going people seem to think that, in this case at least, the end will sanctify or justify the means. Or that it is lawful to do evil that good may come, etc.
Poverty is nowhere represented in Scripture as a desirable state. But like sickness, blindness, deafness, persecution—it is regarded and treated as a misfortune or a punishment.
That some men may be providentially called to labour without any visible means of support, is most true:-as were the apostles, evangelists, and many of the primitive Christians: and as are not a few of the ministers and missionaries of our own times. All such have a right to trust in God for their daily bread and for the supply of their daily wants. It is both their duty and their privilege. They live by faith, etc.
But even in the days of Christ and the Apostles, men were not condemned merely because they were rich or powerful —as in the case of Herod, Agrippa, Festus, Felix, etc. Nor were the rich required to become poor when they became converts to the Christian faith—as witness Cornelius.
Even Ananias and Sapphira were doomed to death, not for possessing wealth, but for lying to the Holy Ghost, etc.
The instance of the rich young ruler, as given by Mark, (chap. x. 17 to 21,) and by Luke, (chap. xviii. 18 to 23,) is no exception to the general rule or fact or doctrine. The above young man appealed to Jesus for direction, as to one whose authority he fully acknowledged, and whose instructions or commands he was therefore bound to obey. And Jesus, knowing the deceitfulness of his heart, and the vanity of all his pretensions to a legal righteousness, imposed a trial or test which would clearly demonstrate his real character, etc. None but He, or those inspired by His Spirit,