Gambar halaman

what B does not give, or at least for what A does not want; and if A does want it, why it is required that 'A should pay C to pay D, and so on through the alphabet, till Z pays B what A might have paid him at once. But the B’s have provided for these troublesome inquiries, and have convinced the great majority of the A's that these doubts of the perfection of the existing state of things are shockingly blasphemous and desperately wicked, so that it is odds but the A's are the first to cry out against any attempt to relieve them.

Every distribution of the public funds for purposes not immediately connected with the necessary expenses of a state, may be shown to be ineffectual,' wasteful and unjust. if as much capital is not employed in some of the departments of industry as some sage. legislator thinks ought to be employed, it is in ninety nine cases in a hundred, because the legislator is ignorant of the best disposition of the property of the capitalists. If, (as sometimes takes place, but we believe very rarely) the public man is right and the moneyed man is wrong, the evil is . precisely that which will the soonest remedy itself. And if it does not, the loss which results to the community is a trifle in comparison to the injury, the violence, and the wanton oppression, that would inevitably result from an attempt to direct or control the occupations of the citizen. An argument in all respects analagous to this, will show the folly and injustice of restraining or encouraging by law, particular intellectual propensities. Let intellect enjoy the same freedom which political economy has shown to be so favourable to the progress of industry and wealth--let no part of the public funds be forcibly appropriated to the encouragement of such arts and such sciences as the very neglect which they experience demonstrates to be useless-let no law but public opiniou (the best of all laws in an intelligent community) restrain the free developement of knowledge, the free' tendencies of taste and the free expression of opinion--and the amount of national intelligence, the sum total of all the useful knowledge in the state, will be incalculably greater than under the most judicious operation of the system of restriction.

What then will become of the fine arts, the abstrucer sciences, polite literature and profound scholarship? They will be furnished, we' reply, precisely in proportion to the demand for them which exists in the community, and every thing beyond this supply, we are heretics enough to believe, is useless, frivilous, and hurtfully expensive. When any branch of human industry is stimulated into more activity and growth than the natural demand would have created and sustained, there results a superfluous expenditure of talent, an unwise and unprofitable diversion of the intellectual energies of the nation, preeisely similar in its effects to that injurious disposition of the property of the citizen which

takes place where the freedom of occupation is disturbed and deranged by legislative bounties and restrictions.

These doctrines, we are aware, are not popular; but we venture to assert that nothing but the unnatural difference which unwise laws have made to prevail between the interests of learning and the wants of society has prevented their propagation and general adoption. While authority, prejudice, and power have blindly and pertinaciously contended, that there might be too much freedom of enquiry, too much boldness of opinion, too much liberty of intellectual enterprize, the strong necessities and genuine interests of mankind have steadily, but very slowly, urged them onward to an indefinite perception of their rights, and a corresponding acquisition of the honors and the powers to which their gradual improvement has successively given them a title and a claim.

No man who has not been long accustomed to the study of political philosophy, can form an adequate conception of the evil which results to society from the continuation of the influence of authority, after the incapacity of the multitude to think for itself has actually ceased to exist. Until this inability is removed, or rather until the means of removing it are found, we are willing to admit that authority may be eminently useful in matters of literature, science and religion. But the the great misfortune is, that this very authority loves the contemplation of its own perpetuity. It is unwilling to surrender its control, even when that control is unnecessary, even we may say, when that control is to the last degree pernicious. The shackles of dominion never drop from the subjects of authority like the coverings of the bud when the flower is maturing; but are broken forcibly asunder by the active and vigorous principle within, like the fetters of a prisoner whose limbs have grown stronger than his chains. Accordingly, among the artifices to which tyranny has resorted to secure the continu.. ance of its power, when the strength or the intelligence of the subject threatens the subversion of authority, none has been more effectually employed than the trick by which the multitude is persuaded to continue to submit to political imprisonment. The Grand Cheat of Monarchy was long maintained by binding down the reason of mankind by the imperative mandates of a vile supertion which made it deatli to entertain prohibited opinions.

When the world grew too wise to give credence to so shocking an absurdity as the existence of an obligation to believe what was pres-cribed, the next step was to delude by a controlled education the judlgment it was impossible to compel by the terrors of the scaffold or the stake. While resistance to unauthorized dominion was denonnced as the blackest of crimes, and artfully associated by the directors of instruction with every thing infamous and sacrilegious, the attributes of what is called legitimate authority, were

represented in every light that could dazzle the imagination and confound the judgment of the multitude. In Europe this system has been eminently successful. The adherents of despotic courts, by their control over the opinions of the pupils of the public schools, have succeeded in diverting the attention of the people from the prosecution of those studies which would lead to a discovery of their rights. By dignifying with the name of learning, those acquirements exclusively which have a very remote bearing upon the happiness of mankind--by holding up to ridicule and contempt all generous enthusiasm for the welfare of the worldby devoting the public funds to the extensive and elaborate cultivation of the fine arts--and by reserving the honours of their academies, and the bounties of their treasuries, for those only who are distinguished for imaginative talent, useless erudition or unserviceable knowledge, the myrmidons and minions of royalty bave convinced the objects of their artifice, that the most deserving subject of intellectual regard are those which are selfish in their purposes, limited in their uses, aud debasing in their influences; that the proper study of mankind is—any thing but man—the adjustment of an accent, the solution of a puzzle, the ad-measurement of a crystal, or the anatomy of a bug. He who has learned the skilful modulation of his voice, or the graceful movement of his limbs, who can execute a shake, or achieve an entrechat, takes precedence of the genuine philosopher, philanthropist, or sage.

It is the lot of the many to be imposed upon by words. By confining the name of learning to the minute knowledge of something very vaguely or very indirectly useful, the obligations of a state to promote the dissemination of valuable knowledge, have been converted into a pretext for encouraging the growth of such showy and ostentatious products of the mind, as gratify the pride feed the vanity, and stimulate the indolence, of those who thus contrive to persuade the contributors of the tax, that the interests of science are prodigiously promoted, by throwing away millions in the purchase of the superfluities and luxuries of learning. Another error, not less prevalent than this, is that which estimates the intelligence of a people, by their published literature alone — which considers no information valuable which is not written, no truth available which is not printed, no learning applicable which is not presented in all the tangible and intelligible attributes of a book. It is time to understand better the true claims of a nation to the respect and admiration of mankind.

If the matter in controversy be whether America has published as many volumes, carved as many statues, painted as many pictures, and built as many palaces, as she might have done, if governed by less republican institutions, we answer, no, and feel no shame in making the reply. These things are but the monuments of individual folly and political injustice unless it can be

proved that the industry, the talent, and the time, consumed in their production could uot have been expended in a manner better calculated to increase the sum of human happiness. And what can solve this question, but the free and enlightened determination of the people who are immediately interested in the best distribution of their industry, the best application of their talent, and the best disposition of their their tinie? It would be madness in this age of the world, to entrust to the wisdom or the virtue of monarchs, a problem so vast in its extent, and so momentous in its consequences. When mankind were too ignorant to understand their true interests, perhaps it was best that they were guided by the craft, and governed by the power of their princes. An infant is safest in leading strings, and may best (even for its own sake) be controlled by the wheedling of a nurse and the sternness of a guardian; but their authority ceases to be salutary when the child has grown up to man's estate. Unfortunately for the world the nurses and guardians of mankind are strongly interested in the maintenance of their authority, and have never scrupled to resort to the vilest of arts, to extend the term of their dominion. They have ever basely conspired to mutilate the limbs and enfeeble the understanding of their ward; and for many ages they. succeeded; for the victim of their practices attained the size of manhood an idiot and a cripple.

There is an æra, a glorious æra, in the history of nations, when the attributes of power may be safely transferred from the few to the many-from the rulers to the ruled. That era may for ages be retarded by the treachery of monarchs, but has long since arrived in what is called the enlightened and civilized divisions of the globe. Another æra still more glorious yet remainsthat which gives them the power which they now have grown old enough and wise enough to manage, but which they still have not the strength nor the courage to endeavor to obtain. In America alone, the ward of sovereignty has shaken of the trammels of his pupilage, and has forced the guardian to execute the less elevated but more honourable functions of the agent. That agent may often disappoint, and may sometimes defraud his employer. He may even basely betray the trust which is reposed in him; but the worst mischief he can do, is nothing when compared to the misery which an arbitrary tyrant may inflict.

We hope it will be clearly understood that our arguments have been directed against the forcible or fraudulent control, and not against the natural and voluntary exercise of industry or talent; that we regard all compulsory enactments by which polite letters or the fine arts are discouraged, as no less barbarous and absurd than those which support and protect them against the consent of the subject. We would not, on the one hand, like Pericles, swindle from a cheated populace the means of building theatres, and temples, which the dupes would not otherwise have built ;

[ocr errors]

or like the Roman pontiffs wring from oppressed Christendom the wealth which has been buried in the Vatican Bacilica. Nor on the other hand, would we take from architecture, like Lycur. gus, all tools but the ax and the saw; banish like Plato, the poet from our republic, or anathematize, with the Edwards and the Henries of England, piked shoes, short doublets and long coats. In short, we consider the inference of all force whatever, in determining the channels through which physical or intellectual industry shall flow, as impertinent and oppressive. All admiration of elaborate manufactures, whether of the hand or of the head, we hold as silly and unmeaning, unless we first have ascertained how much mental or material merchandize they have superseded and displaced. For this reason we confess we see nothing to applaud in the splendours of European art, or the minutæ of European science. For this reason, we turn with satisfaction, with confidence, and with pride, to the contemplation of the effects of our free institutions. We feel assured, and the assurance is a joyful one indeed, that the hands and the heads and the hearts of our countrymen are employed without restraint, in mutually supplying the natural wants of the community, in rapidly promoting its most valuable interests, and in greatly augmenting its aggregate enjoyments. It is here that we contemplate, with unmixed and unsuspicious gratification, the healthful progress of the arts, and the rapidly increasing love of literature and science; because here they are proportioned to the wants of those who cherish and support them; because here, they interfere with no interest, violate no obligation, and necessitate no sacrifice. It is here that the patriot and philanthropist, in tracing the developement of taste and progress of imagination, can indulge without reserve, in the delight which the prospect affords them. It is here that literature and learning will be cherished and sustained, not by the extorted contributions of careless friends and jealous enemies, but by the natural, spontaneous, honest, and durable support of public patronage, approbation and applause. No doubt those branches of education and human knowledge, which contribute very little, or nothing, to advance the interests, supply the wants, and administer to the enjoyments of mankind, --no longer supported by authority or violence, --will gradually meet with the oblivion they deserve. - But all learning that tends to stimulate and feed the voluntary curiosity of unrestricted intellect--all literature furnishes the means of enjoyment to the natural demands of a cultivated taste---all a: t that promotes the substantial gratifications and innocent enjoyments of life-all science that unfolds to an active community servicable principles and practical discoveries—all knowledge, in a word, that is adapted to the real and self-regulated wants of an enlightened society, will continue to secure the most legitimate and most efficient of all patronages

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »