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dollars a year.
ULTRA REFORMERS. [We take the following article, entire, from Brownson's Quarterly Review, No. 3, for July We assure our readers there are in this number, an hundred pages more, as well worth reading. It is published at Boston, by B. H. Greene, at three
The following article is upon a work on regimen, diet, &c. &c. written by a gentleman who wishes every one to leave off eating meat.]
The author of this volume is a worthy, and, we would fain believe, a useful man. He is sincere, earnest, and ambitious to do what in him lies for the advancement of his race. He is quite a Reformer, and appears to doubt not that he shall soon be able to recover for mankind the long lost Eden.
According to him, so far as we have been able to collect his theory, the seat of life, thought, and virtue is in the stomach, and the Devil, or soul-destroyer, always makes his appearance in the form of roast beef, pig, mutton, fish, rich sauces, or some savory dish or other, and is to be vanquished only by inducing mankind to feed on apples, mush, cold boiled potatoes, with now and then a dessert of parched corn. Apples are the author's favorite dish for reforming the world, and curing all the ills that flesh and spirit are heirs to. His love for apples seems to be very great, even surpassing the love of women; and we cannot help fancying that should he be admitted into Paradise and find no apples there, it would be no Paradise to him. May apples go with him wherever he goes. We too are fond of apples. But as for mush, to be eaten without milk, butter, sugar, or molasses, Yankee dish under the name of Hastypudding, and immortalized by the immortal Barlow's song, though it be, we will none of it. Cold boiled potatoes unsalted, and no water even to wash them down-may the author of the delectable book before us, enjoy the sole monopoly of digesting them!
We have no doubt that many of the ills of life come from indigestion. We certainly would not be ungrateful to the man who labors to give us a good digestion. We moreover do by no means object to a simple diet. A simple diet, and by simple diet we mean one into which little animal food enters, is the most favorable to health, and to enjoyment. But because
man wishes to recommend a simple diet, he need not ryn mad. The earth is filled with a profusion of good things, suitable for food, and we see no reason why we should reject all of them, save apples, mush, and cold potatoes. The way to preserve health and enjoy life is not to starve oneself to death, or to compel oneself to feed on the coarsest and least nutritious
provender. Why, therefore, may not the advocates of a simple diet speak with moderation, and content themselves with urging such changes only as the good sense of the community will approve?
The author of this book doubtless means well, and so may all those who are laboring with him; but we confess that we are sorry to find them calling themselves Reformers.
They almost make a sensible man ashamed to enrol himself among the friends of reform, as the shape and tricks of monkeys do sometimes make us ashamed of our humanity. It is well to be reformers; it is our duty to labor for the progress of our race; but we should do it with a becoming modesty, feeling that it is but dimly we can see the new good to be obtained, and but little that we can do to obtain it. It is an unpleasant sight to a wise man, that of one of our modern Reformers astride the millionth part of an idea, cantering away as a Tenth Avatar, and fancying that he bears with him the universal palingenesia of man and nature.
In fact are not our modern Reformers carrying the joke a little too far? They are becoming, it strikes us, a real annoy
The land is overspread with them, and matters have come to such a pass, that a peaceable man can hardly venture to eat or drink, to go to bed or to get up, to correct his children or kiss his wife, without obtaining the permission and the direction of some moral or other reform society. The individual is bound hand and foot, and delivered up to the sage Doctors and sager Doctresses, who have volunteered their services in the management of his affairs. He has nothing he can call his own, not even his will. There is left him no spot, no sanctum, into which some association committee cannot penetrate, and dictate to him what he may do or what he ought to suffer. What is most intimate and sacred in his private relations, is laid before the public, and he is told that he ought to be thankful that there is no dearth of disinterested lecturers, ready in public discourses to explain to his wife all the mysteries of the conception and birth of a human being.
Now this in our judgment is to be philanthropic overmuch. It is making philanthropy altogether too great an annoyance. No real good can come to the community from sacrificing the individual. There are things which an individual ought to be allowed to call his own, and over which he shall have the supreme control. Around each individual there should be traced a circle, within which, no stranger should presume or be suffered to enter. It is no service to virtue to keep us all forever in leading strings. If we are to be men and to show forth the
virtues of men, we must be permitted to think and act for ourselves. That philanthropy which proposes to do every thing for us, and which will permit us to do nothing of our own accord, may indeed keep us out of harm's way, but it is a lefthanded philanthropy, and will be found always to diminish our virtues in the same proportion that it does our vices.
It must joy the heart of every benevolent man to see efforts made for the advancement of humanity. There is room enough for reform. But we do wish our modern Reformers would enlarge their conceptions and seek to add knowledge to their zeal. It is well to be zealously affected in a good cause; but zeal in a good cause, if not guided by just knowledge, may work as much evil as good. The world is not to be regenerated by the exertions of Reformers who have but one idea, and who fancy that one idea embraces the Universe. Life is a complex affair.
The good and the evil it is subject to are so intermixed, and run one so into the other, that it is often no easy matter to say which is which. There is no one sovereign remedy for all the ills of life, no one rule which is applicable at all times to all cases for the production of good. Good and evil both have their source in human nature.
The one cannot be greatly increased, or the other essentially diminished, but in proportion as human nature itself is more fully developed ; but in proportion to its general culture and growth. The tree of evil is not destroyed by pruning away a branch here, and a branch there. So long as its root remains in the earth, so long will it live and flourish. All classes of reformers see and deplore its growth. One class thinks all evils come from the breach of the seventh commandment, another class ascribes them all to the eating of flesh or fish, to the drinking of rum, wine, or cider; this class fancies that the world would move on as it should, if women were but allowed equal civil and political rights with men; that class is sure all things will be restored to primitive innocence, love and harmony, the moment negroes are declared to be no longer slaves; and this other class, when nations shall no longer appeal to arms to decide their disputes. Each of these classes of Reformers mounts its hobby and rides away, condemning all as children of the past, as wedded to old abuses, as the enemies of truth and virtue, who will not do the same. But not one or another of these classes shall succeed. All these classes of evils are mutually connected, and no one of them can be cured separately. The cause of them all lies deep in human nature, as now developed, and they must be regarded as inseparable from the present stage of human progress. The doctors, who are vaunting
their skill to cure them, are merely prescribing for the symptoms, not the disease. War is a melancholy thing. Philanthropy cannot but weep over its doings. But as
But as long as the passions of the human heart remain as they are, and the interests of the world continue in their present complicated state, it is perfectly idle to talk of the cessation of war. Every thing manly in our nature rises indignant at the bare name of slavery ; but should the negroes be declared free, and all other things remain as they were, slavery would not be abolished. One of its forms might be slightly changed, but its substance would continue the same. Give woman equal civil and political rights with man, and if her present tastes and culture remain, her influence will be just what it now is. Intemperance is not a mother-evil. It is the symptom, not the disease. Temperance lectures will not cure it. It will remain in spite of Temperance Societies, in spite of law, in spite of religion, till the causes producing it are removed, and men are able to find an innocent source of the excitement they crave. Chastity may be commended, but it will not be universal, till the whole community is so trained that it can find more pleasure in sentiment than in sense. The object of each class of reformers is, we are willing to admit, good, and praiseworthy; but it can in no case be insulated and gained as a separate object.
The work of reforming the world is a noble one. gress of man and society goes on. But it goes on slowly, much more so than comports with the desires of our one-idea reformers. These reformers, with one idea, are no doubt worth something. Each class of them may contribute something to aid on the work. But no one of them can do much, or run far ahead of the general average of the race. The evils of life rise as lofty mountains in our path. We cannot go over them, nor turn our course around them. They rise alike before all of our race, and form the same barrier to the on ward march of all. . We must remove them. If we take ourselves to the work with faith and energy, we can remove them.
But we can do it only a little by little. Our generation works its brief day at the task, and worn out gives way to another; another comes and removes its portion, and gives way to yet another. Thus do generations labor, and yet centuries elapse before we can perceive that they have made any impression on the mountain. Ever and anon a company may undermine a portion of rock and earth, which come down with thundering noise and raise much dust, and some of the spectators may fancy the work is done. But when the noise has subsided, and the wind
has brushed away the dust and smoke, it is seen that many of their number have been crushed under the falling masses, and that fragments have rolled back and blocked up the path which had already been cleared. There may be something sad and depressing in this view. Life is full of deep pathos to the wise
Sorrow springs from experience. He, who knew most of man and his trials, was said to be a “man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” Man's path from the cradle to his union with God, is not of smooth and easy ascent, strewed with flowers, and shaded by groves from which the sweet songsters are ever warbling their wild notes. It is steep and rugged, and we ascend not without labor and difficulty. Yet is there no cause for complaint. Man has some strength; let him use it, and not murmur because he has also some weakness. Something he can do; let him do it, and complain not that there is something he cannot do. Each generation has its alloted work; let it take itself cheerfully to its performance. The race is immortal; and as one generation does its work and passes off to receive its reward, a new generation comes on to take up the work where its predecessor left it. The work shall then go on, and the race be ever achieving its destiny. What is it then, though this generation cannot do so much as to leave nothing to its successor ?
We have no fellowship with the philosophy, that teaches us to regard with indifference the efforts of a single individual, however puny, to advance the cause of humanity. True philosophy teaches us to find a sufficient reason for whatever occurs, and to see good in every thing. We ought therefore never to condemn outright any class of reformers, or plan of reform, we may meet; but we cannot refrain from regarding most of the reformers who fill our age and country as extremely short-sighted, and their plans as most wofully defective. We would not make war upon them, nor in our sober moments treat them otherwise than with great tenderness; but we cannot bring ourselves to act with them. .Whoever would pass for a man of correct feelings, and of some degree of philosophic wisdom, must see and deplore the ills that afflict himself and brethren; he must labor with all his might to cure them: but he will proceed always calmly, with chastened hopes, and with the conviction that the only way to cure many evils is to bear them. The lesson, To Bear, though difficult to learn, and one that many of us never do learn, is one of the lessons most essential to man in his earthly pilgrimage. Even these evils, of which we complain, may be made the ministers of our virtues and the means of our spiritual growth.