網頁圖片
PDF

How objects. There is no profession that does not feel it. The lawyer must confine himself to his office, without vacation, to adjust a business which never sleeps or relaxes. The physician must labor day and night to repair bodies, never well from over-exertion, over-excitement, and over-indulgence. The minister must stimulate himself to supply the cravings of diseased moral appetites, and to arouse the attention of men deafened by the noise, and, dizzy with the whirl in which they constantly live. We call our country a happy country; happy, indeed, in being the home of noble political institutions, the abode of freedom; but very far from being happy in possessing a cheerful, light-hearted, and joyous people. Our agricultural regions even are infected with the same anxious spirit of gain. If ever the curse of labor was upon the race, it is upon us; nor is it simply now “by the sweat of thy brow thou shalt earn thy bread.” Labor for a livelihood is dignified. But we labor for bread, and labor for pride, and labor for pleasure. A man's life with us does consist of the abundance of the things which he possesseth. To get, and to have the reputation of possessing, is the ruling passion. To it are bent all the energies of nine-tenths of our population. Is it that our people are so much more miserly and earth-born than any other 4 No, not by any constitutional baseness; but circumstances have necessarily given this direction to the American mind. In the hard soil of our common mother, New England—the poverty of our ancestors—their early thrift and industry—the want of other distinctions than those of property—the frown of the Puritans upon all pleasures; these circumstances combined, directed our energies from the first into the single channel of trade. And in that they have run till they have gained a tremendous head, and threaten to convert our whole people into mere money-changers and producers. Honor belongs to our fathers, who in times of great necessity met the demand for a most painful industry with such manly and unflinching hearts. But what was their hard necessity we are perpetuating as our willing servitude! what they bore as evil we seek as good. We cannot say that the destiny of this country did not demand that the spirit of trade should rule it for centuries. It may be that we are now carrying out only the decree of Providence. But if so, let us

[ocr errors]

consider ourselves as in the wilderness, and not in the promised land. Let us bear the dispensation of God, but not glory in our bondage. If we are doomed to be tradesmen, and nothing but tradesmen—if money, and its influences and authority, are to reign for a season over our whole land, let us not mistake it for the kingdom of heaven, and build triumphal arches over our avenues of trade, as though the Prince of Peace and the Son of God were now and thus to enter in. It is said that we are not a happy people. And it is true; for we most unwisely neglect all those free fountains of happiness which Providence has opened for all its children. Blessed beyond any people with the means of living, supplied to an unparalleled extent with the comforts and luxuries of life, our American homes are sombre and cheerless abodes. There is even in the air of comfort which their well-furnished apartments wear something uncomfortable. They are the habitations of those who do not live at home. They are wanting in a social and cheerful aspect. They seem fitted more to be admired than to be enjoyed. The best part of the house is for the occasional use of strangers, and not to be occupied by those who might, day by day, enjoy it, which is but one proof among many that we love to appear comfortable rather than to be so. Thus miserable pride hangs like a mill stone about our hospitality. “We sacrifice the hospitality of a year to the prodigality of a night.” We are ashamed of anything but affluence, and when we cannot make an appearance, or furnish entertainments as showy as the richest, we will do nothing. Thus does pride close our doors. Hospitality becomes an event of importance. It is not our daily life, one of our chiefest enjoyments, but a debt, a ceremony, a penance. And not only pride, but anxiety of mind, interferes with sociality. Bent upon one aim, the merchant grudges his thoughts. He cannot expend his energies in social enjoyment. Nay, it is not enjoyment to him ; society has nothing of the excitement of business. The excessive pursuit of gain begets a secrecy of thought, a contradiction of ideas, a barrenness of interest, which renders its votary any thing but social or companionable. Conversation incessantly takes an anxious and uninteresting turn; and the fireside becomes only a narrower exchange, and the parlor a more private news-room.

It is rare to see a foreigner without some taste for amusement, some power of relaxing his mind, some interest in the arts, or in literature. This is true even of the less privileged classes. It is rare, on the contrary, to find a virtuous American past middle life, who does not regard amusements of all sorts either as childish or immoral ; who possesses any acquaintance with or taste for the arts, except it be a natural and rude taste for music ; or who reads any thing except newspapers, and only the political or commercial columns of those. It is the want of tastes for other things than business which gives an anxious and unhappy turn to our minds. It cannot be many years before the madness of devoting the whole day to the toils of the countinghouse will be acknowledged ; before the claim of body and mind to relaxation and cheerful, exhilarating amusement will be seen. We consider the common suspicion which is felt of amusements among thoughtful people to be one of the most serious evils to which our community is exposed. It outlaws a natural taste, and violates and ruins the consciences of the young, by stamping as sinful what the have not the force to refrain from. It makes our places of amusement low, divides the thoughtful and the careless, the grave and the gay, the old and the young, in their pleasures. Children are without the protection of their parents in their enjoyments. And thus, too, is originated one of the greatest curses of our social state—the great want of intimacy and confidence between children and their parents, especially between fathers and Sons. The impulses that incline to pleasure, if opposed, tend to vice. Nature finds a vent for her pent-up forces. Alas! for what are called strict morals in this view ; when, by an unnatural restriction, innocent and open pleasures make way for secret vices or sins of the heart. While the commercial spirit in this extravagant form gives a certain sobriety and moral aspect to society, it occasions an excessive barrenness of real moral excellencies. This is a very difficult and delicate distinction to render popularly apparent, although of the most vital and substantial reality. There is a very great difference between what are called strict morals, and morals that are really profound in their sources, and pervading in their influence. We are more strict in our morals in these Northern States Vol. 1.-no. I.

than anywhere in the world, but it is questionable whether our morality is not of a somewhat inferior quality, and in a too narrow view. It is artificial, conventional. There is no quarter of the earth where the Sabbath is more scrupulously observed—where religious institutions are so well supported, or where more abstinence from pleasure is practised. The great virtue of industry prevails. Overt sins are more rare here than elsewhere. As far as morality is restrictive in its nature, it has accomplished a great work in America. The vices or sins which are reducible to statute, or known by name, are generally restrained. We have a large class of persons of extraordinary propriety and faultlessness of life. Our view of morals has a tendency to increase this class. Our pursuits are favorable to it. The love of gain is one of the most sober of all desires. The seriousness of a miser surpasses the gravity of a devotee. Did not every commercial city draw a large body of strangers to it, and attract many reckless and vicious persons, it would wear avery solemn aspect. The pleasure-seeking, the gay, the disorderly, are never the trading population. Large commercial cities tend to great orderliness and decency of manners and morals. But they also tend to very low and barren views of moral excellence. And the American spirit of our own day illustrates this. Our moral sense operates only in one direction. Our virtues are the virtues of merchants, and not of men. We run all to honesty, and mercantile honesty. We do not cultivate the graces of humanity. We have more conscience than heart, and more propriety than either. The fear of evil consequences is more influential than the love of goodness. There is nothing hearty, gushing, eloquent, in the national virtue. You do not see goodness leaking out from the full vessel at every motion it feels. Our goodness is formal, deliberate, premeditated. The upright man is not benevolent, and the just man is not generous. The good man is not cheerful. The religious man is not agreeable. In other words, our morals are partial, and therefore barren. It is not generally understood how great scrupulousness of character may be united with great selfishness, and how, along with a substantial virtue, there may exist the most melancholy deficiencies. This seems to be very common with us, and to be the natural result 13

of our engrossing pursuits. Every one minds his own business, to the extreme peril of his own soul. The apostolic precept, Mind not thine own things, but also the things of another, is in danger of great neglect. Our social condition makes us wary, suspicious, slow to commit ourselves too far in interest for others. The shyness of the tradesman communicates itself to the manners of the visiter; we learn to live within ourselves; we grow unsocial, unfraternal in feeling; and the sensibility, the affection, the cordiality, the forth-putting graces of a warm and virtuous heart, die of disuse. For our part, we are ready to say, let us have more faults and more virtues; more weaknesses and more graces; less punctilio, and more affluence of heart. Let us be less dignified and more cordial; less sanctimonious and more unselfish ; less thriving and more cheerful ; less toilsome and more social.

We want, as a people, a rounder character. Our humanity is pinched; our tastes are not generous. The domestic and social virtues languish. The dearest relations of life are stripped of beauty; a wretched utility usurps that proper theatre of beautiful sentiment, our very homes. Children grow up unknown to their parents. The mature despise their own youth, and have no sympathy with the romance, the buoyancy, the gayety of their children. Enterprise is our only enthusiasm. We grow to be ashamed of our best affections. We are afraid to acknowledge that we derive enjoyment from trifles, and make apologies for being amused with any thing. Thus is the beautiful field of life burnt over, and all its spontaneous flowers and fruitage destroyed; a few towering trunks alone redeeming the landscape. Happiness is made up of little things, and he who would be happy at all, must enjoy the little things day by day. So fraternal love, benevolence, virtue, consist in small acts prompted by love, and binding the day with a chain of delicate moral links. Character, too, is the result of right purposes, and pure feelings, and generous emotions, exercised upon trivial occasions day after day; and heroic and high virtue is the necessary result of this mode of life. We fear that the ruling passion of our community, the habits of business which it has established, the anxious and self-concentrated mind which ensues, the morals which it engenders, are very hostile to anything like perfect

ed humanity. It is very probable that we may have erred in supposing a greatly better state of things to exist in other communities. But we know that we are right as to the positive state of our own, whatever it may be relatively to others. We know, too, very well the almost insuperable difficulties in the way of any individual who shall attempt to withstand the prevailing current of sentiment, or of business habits. But if none are to escape, it is well to be aware of the danger; nor must it be assumed that a firm will cannot do much to emancipate a man from the general bondage of trade. Sooner than slave from morning to night at business, we would counsel any man conscious of inward resources, of the desire to cultivate his better nature, his social feelings, his tastes, his generous and cheerful sentiments, to give it up altogether as soon as the most moderate competency is secured; to seek the country—to occupy some of our rich western lands—to do any thing which will give him time to enjoy domestic pleasures, to rear his children, to acquaint himself with nature, to read, to meditate. The excitement, the bustle, the toil of our life render us dead to the voice of the highest truth. We cannot stop to consider the matter. How few are aware that Christianity is a call to freedom—a call to happiness. Would we but listen, it would break these very chains whose galling wounds we have been opening; it would allay these feverish anxieties; it would restore to us contentment; it would legitimate our pleasures; it would re-establish, or for the first time build, our homes; it would give our children parents, and us parents children; it would teach us that happiness resides ever in the simple and impartial bounties of God—in a domestic love—in social intercourse—in generous sympathy—in a mind pleased with little things—in the gratification of our various innocent tastes—in the love of nature—in thought—in doing good. We meanwhile barter the substance for the shadow—delve for the means instead of quietly enjoying the end—keep up appearances, deceive others with the show of happiness, and fall at length from the top of life's laborious gains into our graves, worn out with anxieties that have benefited no one, and carrying neither the recollection nor the capacity of happiness with us into a spiritual existence.

[ocr errors][graphic]

THEODORE FRELINGHUYSEN.

The skilful burin of our engraver has most happily transcribed the grave, expressive features which the faithful pencil of the sun, through the wonderful process of the Daguerreotype, had caught from the living face of this eminent statesman; and we propose to illustrate the artist's labor by a sketch of the character of its subject, copied from the no less truthful impression which Mr. Frelinghuysen's life and labors, political and philanthropic, have made upon the minds and hearts of his countrymen.

Mr. Frelinghuysen was not only born in New Jersey, but, by all ancestral associations, is connected with the most patriotic events in her history. His father, Frederick Frelinghuysen, at the early age of twenty-two a delegate from that state to the Continental Congress of 1775, in 1777 resigned this elevated station of honor in his country's councils, to take a position of danger in her battlefields, served with distinction as captain of a volunteer corps of artillery, at Monmouth and at Trenton, and afterwards was actively engaged, throughout the war, as colonel in the Somerset militia. After the restoration of peace, the warm gratitude of his fellow-citizens bestowed upon him, in quick succession, the political honors of their state, and, in 1793, elected him to a seat in the Senate of the United States. Seldom has a richer inheritance of public service and of public honor been bequeathed by a father, and never has it descended to a worthier heir.

Theodore Frelinghuysen was born at the village of Millstone, in the county of Somerset, on the 28th of March, 1787, and is now in his 58th year. He prepared for college at the school of the Rev. Dr. Finley, since distinguished as the author of the noble scheme of African colonization, of which his scholar has proved so eminent an advocate; and, in 1804, was graduated at Princeton, with the highest honors of his class. Mr. Frelinghuysen pursued his professional studies, for some years, in the office of an elder brother, and completed them under the auspices of the celebrated Richard Stockton, in 1808, when

he attained his majority, and was admitted to the bar. In a profession whose honors and emoluments, when rightly sought, are seldom sought in vain, Mr. Frelinghuysen rapidly reached eminence. The character of his reputation as a lawyer, and the substantial grounds upon which it rested, are well expressed in the language of one familiar with them:

“The eloquence by which the forensic efforts of Mr. Frelinghuysen were distinguished; his voice, clear, mellow, and full; his manly appearance, brilliant imagination, vehement declamation, and fine flow of language, together with his acute knowledge of human nature, accurate legal acquirements, strong reasoning powers, and stern adherence to right, rendered Mr. Frelinghuysen the most popular advocate at the bar of eastern New Jersey. His consistent morality in his profession, his scorn for petty artifice and chicanery, his desire to settle rather than protract disputes, and strict integrity in his conduct of legal difficulties, won for him such a reputation for honesty, that his brother lawyers soon comlained that juries would believe anything r. Frelinghuysen contended for, simply because he did so.”

Mr. Frelinghuysen's devotion to his profession was not such, however, as to preclude him from the adoption and maintenance of decided political opinions, and, with the practical energy of which his father had set him so noble an example, in the progress of the last war he raised and commanded a company of volunteers. In 1817, by the free choice of a legislative body, of which a majority held political sentinents at variance with his own, he was appointed attorneygeneral, a post of honorand trust which he held until 1826, when he obeyed the high behest of his state, to represent it in the United States Senate. Before this time, and in 1826, he had declined a seat N. the bench of the supreme court of New Jersey, to which the legislature had elected him.

With his election to the United States Senate, the career of Mr. Frelinghuysen upon the broad field of national politics commences, and a rapid survey of that career will display, in the clearest light, the eminent qualities for the service of the state which he possessed; his thorough devotion to the best interests of the entire country, his ready sacrifice of selfish and sectional feelings to the general welfare, and his fearless maintenance of the high demands of virtue and religion, amid the strife and tumult of party warfare, and all the engrossing anxieties of secular concerns. As the earnest, scrupulous, and uncompromising preserver of national faith, Mr. Frelinghuysen, amid obloquy and derision, sustained the cause of the Indians, and strove to stay the tide of events which was sweeping away “the ancient landmarks” of this feeble and decaying people; as the firm and conscientious conservator of national morality, he sought to restore somewhat of the strictness of primitive observance which our ancestors accorded to the Christian Sabbath, to encourage its honor among the citizens, by its respectful recognition by the state, and, at least, to protect its solemn rest from governmental desecration; and as the Christian statesman, who recognises the finger of God amid the affairs of men, and would avert national calamity by national humiliation, he seconded and eloquently supported Mr. Clay's resolution for a national fast, in the season of the cholera, which passed the Senate by a vote of thirty to thirteen. In all the great questions which regarded as well the substantial and important commercial and industrial interests of the country, as the first duties of national faith and national gratitude, Mr. Frelinghuysen, while a member of the Senate, took a position equally prominent and decided. In the debate which took place upon the extension of the pension system, and which resulted in its establishment on its present patriotic basis—a measure in opposition to which Mr. Polk occupied a bad eminence, Mr. Frelinghuysen expressed himself in a strain which, for the union of practical sense, warm sympathy, and broad national views, has been rarely surpassed in the records of deliberative eloquence. In exposing the blemishes existing in the pension system, even as improved by the law of 1828, and urging the removal of these stains upon our national gratitude, in reply to Mr. Hayne of South Carolina, Mr. Frelinghuysen remarked : “But there were two defects in the systom, even as thus liberalized. In the first

place, it exacted the humiliating confession of absolute poverty. It required of the aged veteran that he should publicly, and in the presence of the sons by the side of whose fathers he had fought and suffered, expose the wretchedness of his condition; that he should produce the proof of his pauperism, and swear to it himself. I have seen these worthies, in our public courts of justice, exhibit the inventory of their poverty, down to the items of cups and saucers, and I have felt humbled for my country. Sir, a noble spirit would sometimes exclaim : ‘I will die in want first . If my country exacts such ignoble conditions, let her withhold the miserable pittance.” And who, sir, of this Senate, does not honor the sentiment It has been honored and vindicated by the manly feeling of this great community. Public opinion would not longer brook such terms of national honor and gratitude; and, by the concurring indications of legislatures and people, we are invoked to relax these hard conditions. And should a few partake of a favor that do not need it, better so, than that even one deserving relic of times so dearly cherished should go down to the dust neglected and forgotten.

“But, sir, there was another and equally substantial objection to the present system. It discriminates most invidiously between the troops of the regular line and the militia. The latter could not perceive the reasons for such difference, when they remembered that they had fought as bravely, and bled as freely, as any soldiers of the American army. The honorable senator (Mr. Hayne) has said that the camp was the place of safety. If that were so, it must have been the camp of the regular forces, and not the uncertain, ever-changing quarters of a partisan corps, whose tents were raised to-day, only to be struck tomorrow, to repel the sudden incursions of a prowling and mercenary horde. Sir, the gentleman also urged that the men at home and on their farms suffered most severely by dangers and depredations; and such, Mr. President, were precisely the exigences of the militia—they were the yeomanry of the country, who were often summoned from their ploughs at a moment's warning, to fly to the defence of their neighborhoods, and reclaim the plunder that in an unexpected hour the enemy had rifled from their dwellings and their farms. These were the men who felt the distresses of a cruel and relentless warfare, that brought terror, alarm, and confusion to the fireside; and who, amid all that long, harassing, and doubtful conflict, stood firm to the cause, and never flinched from their purposes. In personal privations they suffered quite as severely, and, in the sacrifice of

« 上一頁繼續 »