Thanksgivings and New-Year Wishes
VOLUME I. JANUARY 15, 1844. Nos. VII. And VIII.
THANKSGIVINGS AND NEW-YEAR WISHES.
BY THE EDITOR.
The season brings grateful memories and bright promise with its accustomed rites, and it seems a sullen insensibility not to add the expression of one's sympathy to the general joy. Let editors, then, come up with the tribes of the people, to offer sacrifice and cast incense in the temple. Our state observances of Thanksgiving, our welcome of the New Year, should be truly Holy-Days. The asceticism of our popular modes of piety, chilling trust with fear, and clouding gaiety with gloom, too often substitutes prim hypocrisy for earnestness, and a natural reaction drives old and young to frivolous excess. And so the solemn gladness of men sinks into thoughtless mirth, and our festivals waste the spirits which they should refresh. But still these usages, in which, for moments at least, religion and enjoyment forget their constrained divorce and join wedded hands, when the altars of our faith are trimmed with wreaths of autumn leaves and opening buds and evergreen, do remind us that cheerfulness and love are the most befitting worship. We shall waken some time from the long dream of superstition to the glad realities of existence, and, no longer straining our eyes upon the vacant future, till we grow blind to the glories of the present, we shall learn that gratitude exhibits itself most truly in hearty reception of the gifts which God's angels bring us fresh each day. We shall feel, at length, that trust in Providence shows itself in concentrating our energies upon this world where divine wisdom stations us, and doing with our might the work each hour appoints. Our every day will then be holy, our common duties praise and prayers, our happiness a sacred offering. Meanwhile it is well that we have even these few mementoes that earthly life is worth living.
In these ages of isolated families, of general competition, and of division into castes, when the necessities of business, fevered enterprise, misfortunes, scatter so widely the members of families, it is delightful to think that there are days when affection is stronger than etiquette, when distinctions of circumstance vanish, and when the duties of love have power to attract those whom difference of condition too often repel. Beautiful are these occasions, when children and grand-children, long exiled from the homestead, gather around the venerable pair, whose life has renewed and multiplied itself in them. It is as when the blood returns from the extremities to the heart, to be purified with fresh air. Inspirations of love are breathed in these family gatherings, where hands long severed thrill in meeting, and eyes which sad experiences had dimmed grow bright or swim with tears, as youthful memories well up in the dry springs of feeling, and familiar voices, long stilled through distance, speak " welcome home." Beautiful seasons of peace, when neglects are forgotten, debts cancelled, wounds healed with the balm of forgiveness; when the silver cord is no more loosed, and the golden bowl unbroken. Private joy, too, spreads its genial warmth to melt the ice-bound streams of charity, and the currents of general humanity run free. Beautiful the overflow of kindness in these festive periods from the rich to the poor, and the tenderer and more touching kindness of the poor to one another. Trifles exchanged with smiles are glorified, as the sands sparkle in the sun. Our habit of yearly gifts, making allowance for the intermingling of selfish vanities and jealousies, is one of the most vital protests which society now makes against the universal hardness and stingy injustice of our prevalent systems of trade. The favors bestowed in such times are, to be sure, utterly inadequate symbols of the mutual services which the happy owe to the sad, and the good to the evil. But in the general desert even these wild flowers are welcome. Year by year, as the little horde of memorials multiplies, as the solemn touch of death hallows the perishing " forgetme-nots," which living hands and laughing eyes of friends now hushed and gone, once gave, we learn to feel how love forever stores up treasures in the heaven where no moth and rust corrupt. Faint foreshadowings are the prodigal generosities of our holidays, of the constant interchange of significant tokens of friendship, that shall gladden and grace each day when plenty softens the thousand hearts which want and fear now encrust ; when an atmosphere of beauty refines, to a perception of the worth of little things, the senses which suffering now makes callous;—
- "When some pure man makes of this world a home,
- All home—both on new yeare and birth-days home ;
- And all the people laugh within their hearts,
- That this is city of God,-both then and now."
These observances of appointed seasons, too, when a whole people, by spontaneous obedience to custom, or by acquiescence in the call of authorities, give up their engrossing cares for thanksgiving and kindnesses, are the nearest approaches we now make to national worship. For the time, a common love disperses the fogs of sophistical sectarianism; in the consciousness of the unity of the heart we forget the perplexed confusion of the head ; and speaking the sweet words of Eden, we unlearn the party shibboleths of our theological Babel. A people, like one man, on these occasions acknowledges that one sky of love, one sun of goodness and truth, one air of sympathy and mutual influence, one earth of joy and duty, unite their destiny. A nation is not a nation till it worships as a nation; and so feels the holy ties which bind, in a living whole, the children of the Universal Father. Will the time never come, when our religion shall fulfil itself in industry, and industry shall be hallowed by faith ; when the state shall be a church and the church a state ; and politics, in place of being the selfish tricks of gamblers, shall become a dignified effort to establish, in earthly relations, the laws of heavenly order ? Shall the world never again see eras, when he who is raised to power for his wise efficiency'shall also be recognised by the conscience of his people as consecrated by goodness to be their Minister ? He, only, is fit to lead a people's actions who has a heart to feel and express its prayers. Doubtless the long and painful struggles of the past, by which the independence has been effected, of ecclesiastical and civil powers, were made necessary by the usurpations of the few. But the moment the rights of the many are recognised it will be felt how divine justice is. Our actual separation of religion from the business of life is the source of endless hypocrisies and corruptions. A solitary clergy, isolated on their little elevations, either concentrate in themselves, or utterly lose the electric fire of life ; need is that they link hands with the busy circle, and exchange, by silent flow or sudden shocks, the mysterious sympathy which from God forever pours through and animates the race. On the other side, the cunning and wilfulness of the worldly need to be sanctified by conscience, and made to own that all power and opportunity are from God ; that Providence, not chance, gives success. We need a religion made practical, to lead us out of this cobweb labyrinth of polemics. We need a business made religious, to remind us that this life is not a scramble, as where cakes and nuts are thrown to apes in a menagerie, but an ordered home, carpeted, canopied, for a feast of brethren, by infinite love. The day will come when democracy shall have fully asserted, claimed, and learned to exercise equality of opportunities, and then shall willing majorities attire, with priestly robes, its truly "reverend" patriarchs, whose usefulness has decked their silver hairs with the civic crown, and the Father of the Nation shall be again its Mediator.
There need be no scepticism in relation to these longings and prophecies of the heart. The time shall as surely come, as there is a Supreme Good, when man shall be redeemed from his superstitions and sorrows, and amidst successful labors, abundance, magnificence, and overflowing joy, shall lead a life of thanksgiving; when families, no more divided, but bound together in communities, shall recognise the full sacredness of the ties of kindred and clan, by which the differences of one soul and mind are manifested in many individuals, and social beauty is secured by harmony in variety ; when three generations in one household completely round the lovely circle, and age and infancy, clasped hand in hand, lean on the arms of vigorous beauty ; when nations, formed of allied communities, with many members fitly joined, shall grow into a perfect man, filled with the fulness of love, with one body and one spirit, one labor, one worship ; and when the Human Race, in peace and universal union, shall work together in a glorified earth to show forth the praises of the " One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in us all." This indistinct hope, in the fulness of time, shall become a visible reality. Meanwhile let us warm our grateful recollections of the past, and freshen our strength with courage for the era now opening upon us, by thoughts of our present reasons for thankfulness.
Thanks, then, first of all, for existence. We speak of coming out of nothingness into existence. But our word nothing is unmeaning, unless we intend by it that which is not-a.-thing, but the cause and potential reason for all things. The opposite of Existence is Being. The Eternal, Infinite, One, and the temporal, finite, many, are the everlasting counterparts. Besides, this universe of time and space, in which spirits are born and cradled, is only the substantial world of God's ideas, of God's affections. From this awful reality do we come out into this transient life, from perfect unity into the partial and multiple ; from unchanging essence into these endless, countless, ever-varying phenomena of the actual world. How seldom, how slightly do we feel the unspeakable mystery of our appearing thus, from the silence of eternity, among the movements, attractions, glories, melodies, the growing, perishing forms of nature ; among the sympathies, characters, intelligences, influences of fellow creatures. The blessedness of Love and Truth in unbroken union—this is our highest conception of the Infinite. Wonderful is the conviction which attends this thought in the mind of man, that the expression of this blessedness in a creation, in spirits who respond to this creation, and learn to see in this mirror the reflected presence of the Being of Beings, is the selfimposed necessity of the Living God. Existence always has been, always will be, as the representative of Being. The divine love comprehends infinite numbers, varieties, relations of love ; the divine wisdom is the corresponding science of these harmonies ; and from everlasting to everlasting radiate the series of creatures which form and forever reform the universe, progressively manifesting the glory of the All in All. Sublimely did the ancients call the world the Kosmos, the Beauty. It is the ever unfolding appearance of the Order of Love.
And into this divine outshining we have come. We have begun to live. Begun ! and where is the ending 1 Worlds upon worlds, firmaments upon firmaments, societies upon societies of spirits, ascending in heavenly grades, through eras which blend with and outgrow from each other unceasingly, and changes which never repeat, but more and more fully echo forever the music of the Creator's joy, open with welcome invitations their wonders before us. And what are we ? Are we, too, the ultimate expression of a thought, an affection of God ? Was there a note of this hymn of blessedness to be sounded by us, a ray of the celestial brightness to shine through us ? Has the All Holy a purpose to answer by us ? Then what words can utter the greatness of this fact of existence! Can we slight this ever fresh gift from the hand of our maker ? Shall we dare to think it a burden, are we mad enough to wish to destroy it, can we profane it by caprice 1 Does God breathe into our clay understanding, and make us living souls anew each hour, and shall we not give ourselves up to him wholly in that free obedience which is bliss, and in this very surrender find our energies multiplied and enlarged by sympathy. Thanks for this commencement of existence. Does it not involve the Creator's promise that our longings shall be fulfilled, that we shall be perfected ? Is not the beginning of a destiny the pledge of its completion ? What mysteries of discipline and enjoyment, of power and gladness are before us ? Away with fears, away with impatience. Concert of action with surrounding natures, in which and with which we live ; union of our lot with the universal fate, co-working, enjoying, and learning in common ; welcome of the moments laden with experience as they pass; truth, that through the whirling tempests of our immediate atmosphere, sees steadily burning the far and many suns; hopes, ever young, circling with their dance our gray-haired memories, our maturing virtues; cheerfulness, bright with dews each morning ; gratitude, that in the happiness of paying multiplies its debts ; love, that loses private good in All Good ; Renunciation, Self-sacrifice, are the befitting first-fruits to offer in thanksgiving for existence.
In the next place, thanks that we live upon this earth, good foster-mother that she is, rich with sober wisdom and homely kindness. There is such a theological whine in vogue in relation to our earthly lot, such a pious sentimentalism poured out from pulpits upon this " valley of tears," that one who could believe such teaching, might justly think himself used hardly by Providence in being banished to this Botany Bay of the Universe. Thin phantoms of men, wan and shrivelled, slap their breasts in lugubrious wailing, as if there was merit in despondency. And hearty sons of the ground, in testification of sympathizing devoutness, affect to slight the blessings which the Creator each day pronounces good. What unintentional blasphemy is the prevalent ascetic cant about "this world," as if the divine being had placed us among pitfalls, to test our power of walking blindfold. The scheme of life, described in popular theology, would be well represented by the picture of a little child cast out alone amidst rank jungles and pestilential streams, poisonous fruit and berries all around, adders lurking under flowers, fogs shutting in the prospect, willo'-wisps leading into quagmires, and fatal penalties overhanging, if he falls sick or goes astray. We talk as if demons had possessed themselves of all pleasant things, as fortified places whence to make onset against virtue, as eyries whence to pounce on the innocent. But we forget that want makes man a wild beast, and the repression of natural feeling goads him to madness. Suffering, when not removed by skill and conquered by courage, brings only degradation. When in health we give our senses up to the influences which pour over us their floods of elemental life, and feel how with the thrill of each nerve awake buried memories and hopes, how higher visions of goodness flash upon us, and purposes dim and cold start into sunny splendor, how every joy brings in its train affections, opens treasuries of knowledge, enriches us with images, hints profound thoughts; when, as experience reveals to consciousness our characters and adventure matures our energies, we observe, that with varying moods, landscape and sky, mountain, wood, and river, the flower, the snow-flake, become fluent symbols which, in language changing with our tones of feeling, echo our inmost secret;—do we begin to see how provident is our good mother of her children. There is nothing arbitrary, capricious, in the ties which bind the material and moral worlds. Only the Poet and Artist, with organizations so fine, that the beauty of all nature smiles out to them from every form, and hue, and sound, and movement, can now read aright the glorious hieroglyphics in which the invisible announces his will. But the raptures, the tenderness, awe, purity, which the music of a master can awaken even in the insensible, predict an era when every bodily faculty shall elevate instead of debasing all men. We shall one day be all alive with energy and sensibility, then shall we know how beautiful is the earth.
It is ungrateful hypocrisy not to acknowledge how even now these unyielding facts, which in the laws of her creations earth presents to us, ' call out our intellect and heart. The language that -expresses our most delicate feelings is but our natural experience distilled. Full time it is, that we admit that spiritualism and materialism are allies, not enemies; that ideal grace flowers from the sturdy trunk of sense. In her rocks and fossils the good earth tells of her patient labors for self-perfection ;
and when, from the first crystal spar and metal veins, through successive strata of soils, successive gradations of vegetables and animals, she shows us how, through slow centuries, she has been preparing a home for man, does she not make a mute appeal that we fulfil her work ? The inarticulate wish of every creature finds conscious expression at last in man. And shall he be such an ingrate as to return contemptuous neglect for the long brooding hope of his mother ? Away with dishonor of toil, of physical employment; away with a half condescending study of natural science, with the severance of morality from the beautiful arts, with a puling preference of our fancies, baptized as religious, over the interests of the daily business and pleasures which our mere position upon the earth's surface imposes as duty and allots as reward.
Man was born as the youngest child of earth to be its sovereign, that with clear wisdom and reverent joy he might accomplish her destiny. Thus far how has his selfishness marred her beauty, disturbed her climates, polluted her soil, and breathed tho miasm of his impurities through her atmosphere. Full time it is that we repent. Stern necessity has helped to bring us back to justice and to our once spontaneous intelligence. Now let us feel that it is true piety to read our maker's wisdom in his works, true virtue to execute his manifest designs. Industry shall make us honest, beauty shall restore simplicity, and a recovered Eden, with blending melodies and perfumes, sweet forms and glorious hues, shall call out love by happiness. Better by far to be a child, exaggerating every trifle, throwing around each fragile toy the halo of imagination and confiding enthusiasm, than to ape a mock solemnity, which spurns the changing splendors of the seasons, of the day and night. Better by far, a faith that this little planet, all immature as she is, is the perfection of creative skill, and a consummate exhibition of heaven, than with mawkish austerity to call this mansion which God has decked a prison-house. It was well said once, " I should scorn to be an angel before I had been a man." Thanks that we have begun our existence here. We will bear with joy the rude buffets of the good earth, as she tries by discipline of pain to cure our perversities; we will co-labor with her generous force to fulfil her capacities of good. Let the will of the All Wise be done with us in the future. But it seems like cowardice to seek prematurely to quit this lovely globe, which bears us steadily around the sun amidst her sister orbs. Let our race discharge thankfully its mission, love of industry and art.
Thanks next, that, as members of the Human Race, we exist upon the earth. The Human Race, born to be the image of God, growing to become in one vast society, a body filled with God, a visible incarnation of the invisible Spirit, a manifestation of goodness and wisdom and power, * through creative art! And here breaks harshly in upon our enthusiasm the popular theological whine, once more, " the human race is carnal, given up to evil, alien from heaven, outcast, lost." Well! brothers! there is more truth than you yourselves believe in your anathemas. The human race is, has long been in a swoon, faint unto death from divisions, wars, competitions, tyrannies, oppressions, and all manner of cruelties. Love does not animate it through every pulse and muscle. Nature does not own, as she gladly would, the sovereignty of us puny, isolated, disunited individuals. Let us make a clean breast of it, oh ! ye saints! You and I, each man and woman of us all, Gentile or Christian, are selfish, and as selfish, wretched, weak. Grant all you assert, and a thousand fold more. Say it out frankly, you yourselves, oh critics of your race, are far too mean, too hard, cold, envious, arbitrary, in all your plannings and doings, in your motives and wishes, your hopes and fears, your secret thoughts, your social relations, to be able even faintly to conceive the actual degradation of your race and of yourselves. There have been more crimes committed on the face of this earth than it would be possible to sum up in memory or to imagine. There is an intensity of perverse cunning, now latent or active, a waste of power, a chaos of misdirected passions in all our hearts and lives, which it is astonishing that heaven can tolerate an instant. Heap up your words of objurgation, search out new vocabularies of condemnation. Let us make one thorough confession, of the inhumanity of humanity, of the unmanliness of man. And what then? Why, then, brethren ! after wasting time quite needlessly, in proving what consciousness and experience each instant demonstrate, that we are not men, but only a mongrel sort of half men, we may as well consider some plain yet important thoughts.
It is by the Manhood and Humanity, still alive within us, that we are able to see our present deformity. It is Good, even now warmly present in all our souls, that flushes cheek and brow with shame, at the consciousness of evil. Man is "totally depraved" you say. You prove that he is not so, in the obvious sense of such words, by your very capacity to feel the force of these words, and to experience the contrast of pravity and depravity in yourself. And yet in another sense we are wholly depraved ; because the least admixture of evil vitiates all remaining goodness. Through the concord of ten thousand instruments, one discord will be heard to jar. And in society and individuals is no harmony, but the clash of untuned strings. The bruise of one limb, the irritation of the finest fibre, will disturb the enjoyment of the most healthful; if allowed to become aggravated by neglect, will disease the frame. And in society and individuals, the whole head is sick, the whole heart faint. But this very consideration, that any imperfection is intolerable, this demand from our inmost souls for integrity, is a renewed proof of the intrinsic greatness of this creature, man, whom you dare to despise. Whence came, too, this power of passing judgment on the race by an individual, by such poor specimens of humanity as we are'? Who gave us this ideal by which we criticise ? Who filled the Vatican gallery of our memories with these A polios and Miner vas, these long rows of majestic and lovely forms, by contrast with which we condemn the bowed and shrunken creatures in the highways of life ? This despised race, and Goodness speaking through it; truths, slowly matured in the minds of sages, maxims in which fervid zeal under the pressure of calamity has concentrated its love, are the pearls and diamonds which make our holy amulet. The tears of bygone generations over sin and sorrow, are the beads of our rosary. Take from our characters and habits of thinking and action—though it would be like drawing out the nerves—the principles, convictions, sentiments of generosity and honor, hopes and high resolves, which our ancestors, bad as they were, have generated in us, and into what collapse would fall our engines of good. Nay! such statements are too weak to remind us of the sublime power of Goodness, which has from the first been seeking to reunite our scattered race. It is as if successive generations had been but the limbs and vessels, the outward integuments only of one grand man, whose soul was always instinct with divine life, though his intellect was uninformed, and his bodily energies untrained by exercise. The Human Race is the Earth's infant, young yet, and tottering in unsteady steps, but with the love and mental energy of a demi-god, looking out from its smiling eyes, graceful even in its undeveloped proportions. Make the most of the iniquities of the past, and yet, when these horrors are heaped together, how superficial do they seem in comparison with the aspiration after perfection, which has risen refreshed from every fall. Does it not seem as if one generation, repentant enough to act instead of groaning, would overgrow the wilderness of selfish failures with green gardens of content ? It is the Ideal of Man, shining from the Divine Mind through all nations and ages; it is the Love of Man, drawing us to the Divine Soul, which authorise us so unsparingly to condemn actual degeneracy. Our penitence for ourselves and our fellows, proves the sublime function of the Race, its heavenly lineage, its glorious destiny. Shall the hope of prophets, shall the prayer of martyrs, shall the dying benedictions of sages and heroes fail ? Oh! not in vain the noble extravagance of true hearts, who, in the midst of sorrow have still believed in a providence of justice; who, in spite of wickedness, have still loved their kind. Fulfilments are before us such as rapt poets never saw in their highest visions. Does our wish of good transcend God's purpose of good? When a few wise, a few mighty, commanding ignorant and servile hordes, have reared such splendid dynasties, given such an impulse to labor and skill, built populous cities, stately palaces, temples, pyramids, smoothed mountains, drained rivers, what will not wise multitudes in freedom accomplish ? If War and Ruin have mustered with immense and indomitable hosts, what will not Creative Work do 1 How prodigally rich have been man's energies of good, when, notwithstanding universal disunion, such miracles of art have been already wrought. He who cannot revere I he greatness of the Human Race even in the past days of its childish wilfulness—he who is not awed at the tremendous energy with which it has poured itself abroad upon the earth, paving its track over snowy plains and burning deserts with the bodies of its fallen children, whom, in consciousness of exhaustlcss resources, it could afford to waste—he who has not the heart, while weeping for its errors, to honor its misguided zeal, and, while pitying its failures, still to be profoundly grateful for its well-meant love, does not deserve to be called a man. Surely he is no man at all who is not stirred, by the successes of past ages, to a trust in Humanity's fulfilled destiny hereafter ; who, by the devotedness of the lovers of their species, by their unwearied efforts, does not hear himself called to an entire self consecration to the triumphs of mankind. By these dinted shields and battered helmets, by these broken blades and tattered standards, which our sires have borne through faithful war with evil, will we conquer. By the religions and legislations, by the trophies of labor and art, by the transmitted faith and knowledge of all ages, will we regain our heritage, redeem the earth. Painful has been the process of man's discipline, stupid and slow has he been to learn the right; but he shall yet be wise, and just. The earth yearns for him to stand erect in his true sovereignty. Spirits in the unseen world long to stretch to him the aiding hand, to whisper in his heart the word of perfect order, perfect joy. Glorious loom up from the future the possibilities of his success. Shall they not be more glorious in deeds. The Creator, by the inspirations of all people and times, affirms, that as he liveth, shall bless
edness and holiness and beauty, make this little earth-ball a home fit for the angels. The fulfilment of the earthly destiny of our race, it is au end worth living for. Thanks, that we can give our hearts and minds, our energies, our lives, if need be, for its accomplishment.
Thanks nexr, that as Members of the Human Race, our birth has been allotted in this era; this era of prophecies nigh to fulfilment, of hopes already blooming into freedom and love. Thanks, that we are the inheritors of the inspiration of the past; that the prophecies of Judcea, quickened and enlarged by the faith of the farther east, gave birth to the spiritual longing of the whole people, in which the Son of Mary was born ; that he received into his pure heart, his grand genius, his consummate energy, this dammed up river of love and faith; that in perfect self consecration he gave himself up to the All Good and to his Race ; that the waiting world took into its bosom his words and deeds, as germs of the Tree of Life; that the Church and Society, modified and sanctioned by the Church, have given birth to this era of Christian Democracy. We Americans, use freely these grand words; are they mere words to us 1 Guizot, in his brilliant analysis of the history of civilized Europe, describes as its fundamental constitutive elements—the Church—Monarchy—Aristocracy—and Democracy. But would not a briefer, more comprehensive, and equally just analysis give us simply Christian Love and German Freedom, as the two essential and co-operative moral forces of the states of Christendom ? The Union of Freemen is our Ideal. It is by an instinctive conviction of this great destiny, that our hearts thrill at the words, Christian Democracy. But how deep is the mortification and shame of every true-hearted man of Europe or America, who regards Society, as it is, by the light of this great hope that animates it.
Christian Democracy! Christ's word was, "Be not ye called Rabbi;" and from the Pope with his tiara, to the class-leader in some log house in the woods, through all sects, is apparent priestly ambition throwing itself on the consciences of men, and supporting itself by a system of preferments as rigorous in practice as that by which a corporal of an army climbs to generalship. This same system, which is so repulsive and shocking, as apparent in the ministry, who should be the leaders of the people by example, shows itself more grossly in society at large. We reverse exactly the apostle's precept, and " in honor prefer" not " one another," but ourselves. " Sell that ye have and give alms," said the poor prophet of Nazareth ; and bishops and nobles, from out their regal palaces, roll in carriages, with rich liveries, to the Houses of God! where the miserable in this world's goods cannot hire or buy a seat, to hear of the well-being of future life here or hereafter. But why make such weak statements 1 Sum up the usages of civilized life—from the baker adulterating the 'flour he makes into bread for the needy, to the father who barters his pure daughter to some rich voluptuary—through all systems of labor and profit, of grasping possession and selfish expenditure—in cities, where, behind rows of luxurious dwellings, are crowded, in dirty by-lanes and gloomy courts, and even subterranean dens, the hordes of the outcast laborers—and in the country, where speculators cover, with their broad titles, held in lazy hands, the wild acres, which strong-limbed poor men long to till—over the seas, where, in pestilential ports, white men die in attempting to cheat savages of their pepper or gold dust—and into mines, where children, sunk below the brute, crawl naked as they drag the heavy cars; and what is our whole Christian life, so called, but the devilish counterpart and reversed image of our professed law of love.
Christian Democracy ! What is a poor man free to do but to die ? " Surely free to labor," says the good-natured Optimist. Come friend. It is a winter's day, snowy and chill. Do you know those men, stamping their feet upon the wet pavement, thrashing their stiffened hands, with watering eyes, and shivering forms, in clothes patched of many colors. "Lazy wretches, doubtless !" They have walked since day-break weary miles, around your prosperous streets, seeking for the privilege of honest wages for honest work. Honest wages indeed! In the very next street to where you live are women, who would sew from early dawn till the candle burned dim in the socket at midnight, to gain the sum, which the children of the rich expend in luncheon, on cakes and candy. And that is not the worst of the story. They sell their bodies in prostitution, that they and their needy relatives need not starve. Nay ! Do not start; these facts are so common as to excite only a yawn in the worldling, as we relate them. " All equal" with a vengeance. Equal in what one opportunity in life, from breathing the morning air and seeing the setting sun, to laying in green cemeteries or the pauper's huddled grave ? The rich man, even, is not free. He lives amid padlocks, as much as the penitentiary inmate. He sleeps in fear, lest the torch of the incendiary, or the knife of the assassin, may wring from him in theft, what he will not, cannot, under our isolated modes of life, justly share. But there is no end to that long tale of hideous contrasts of condition among these men, who, by our theory, stand all equal before the law; no words to picture the heart-breaking, not less so because insidious and plausible, servitude of these so-called free institutions.
Yet thanks, that amidst these hypocrisies the Race have advanced at length so far as to see and acknowledge the hideous contrasts between our practice and our faith. We are unhappy, discontented amidst these daily atrocities; can no longer believe in the necessity of suffering, and of suffering's natural offspring, sin; can no longer think of war and pestilence, as blessed instrumentalities of Providence to drain off the stagnant marshes of overflowing human life ; can no longer lull conscience to sleep with the opiate, that the duty of the rich to the poor is to put money in the charity-box, and to give broken meat and scraps of bread and worn out garments to beggars ; can no longer crowd poor wretches into prison, and let wealthy rogues go scot free, without some twinges of remorse, some consciousness of injustice; can no longer think society does its duty of guardian to its children by punishing them when they are bad, and giving only the encouragement of permission to live as they can or die, to the deserving. Thanks to God, thanks to true men of all ages, we are at length learning to know a Man as a Man, to feel the sublime wealth of his affections and genius. We can pay, for picture galleries, thousands of dollars, to purchase the new work of some master. We shall soon learn, that a living statue, fresh from the hands of God, is rather more valuable than a canvass, however highly glorified with the imagination of any human artist. It is no delusive hope, but the plain fact, that throughout Christendom is awakening the conviction that every new comer upon this planet, every new inheritor of the labors of the past, has a right, signed and sealed by God and Humanity, in the mere fact of birth, to welcome to culture, to a fair share of property, to opportunity of exercising and developing his powers, to honor, to love.
Blessed are the promises now breaking on this Nation. Our whole history has prepared us for the Union of Freemen. Our professed theories of life, repeated in words of power, till they have thrilled the very marrow, convince us of the impossibility of submitting to the establishment here of the almost effete castes of Europe. Plainly, we must open all opportunities of refinement and improvement to all; we must invent some modes of juster recompense for toil, and of more ample leisure to the working classes; some more universal system of education, even to the highest possible degree of attainment; some more general level of true courtesy and taste; some pure manners of intercourse. And quite as plainly this great revolution, the greatest the earth has ever seen, is to be peaceful. The Genius of the whole age is at once Conservative and Reforming. No more destruction, no more collisions. We can injure no one man without injuring all men. No more confiscations and public spoliations. No more Monopoly, no more Agrarianism. It is increase of universal wealth, not discrimination of existing wealth, we need. Concert of energies to produce ; wisdom and economy to expend; the helping of all by each, of each by all; the redeeming of the bad to goodness, the reclaiming of the brutal to wisdom ; just recognition of each one's powers of usefulness ; combined capital for public works of comfort and beauty ; the generous protection of all the young, with due regard to each one's heaven-given faculties; the replacing of Woman, last and chief, in her high place of honor; these are the gleams of the Day Spring. Thanks for the privilege of devoting one's all to the fulfilment of such an era of such a nation. May the year now opening upon us cradle this Infant Hope, and cherish it upon a maternal breast.