Page images

raising the oppressed ‘million.' Do they who are graced by the aristocratic title of “upper-ten' suppose they only are entitled to the smiles of this fascinating creature of the brain? they may soon learn that the coterie which despises the poor, will soon go begging for sympathy, if not for food.

Turn now to historic truth, and glance at an instance of wealth and honor arising from labor. Take the case of John Scott, the collier's son, and see how, by hard work, he arose through the laborious profession of the Law to be Lord High Chancellor of England. Time fails to enumerate here, his early struggles, his severe trials, his abortive speeches, his biting poverty, and his still more bitter enemies, false friends and lurking back-biters. But he wasted no time either in trifling or in quarreling with the host of his assailants. His spirit was tempered with that mettle which would not be

*Checked by the scoff of pride and envy's frown,

And poverty's unconquerable bar.' By the singular dexterity of a 'soul sublime he leaped every barrier, and slipped the noose of every alluring net that was set to entangle him, and impede his progress up

"The steep ascent where Fame's proud Temple shines asar.' Yet after he had merited and gained the title of Earl of Eldon and the name &c. of Viscount Encombe of Encombe, and when his grandson (his own son having died) thus obtained a right, by the courtesy of the realm to take and use the second title of his grandfather, mark the strong sense which distinguished this judicious and plain speaking nobleman while, with an anxious heart, on the 4th of Oct. 1821, he was writing to his grandson informing him of the title, thus confered :

‘Let me imprint in your mind some important truths (and never, my dear John, forget my anxiety there to imprint them, as forming weighty mementoes ever and always to influence your actions, if it pleases God, that, after my removal from this world, you succeed to these dignities),-viz., that if a peer does not do credit to his titles, his titles will confer no credit upon him; — that honors are received by him on whom they are at first bestowed, and transmitted through him to those who afterwards succeed to them, upon a most sacred trust, that he and they will alike faithfully discharge the great duties which, from their rank and station in society, they owe and must ever continue to owe to their country; that if it is a blessing to receive distinctions which furnish the opportunities and means of doing public good, he is altogether inexcusable, who possessing those distinctions, disgraces them and himself by neglecting to promote the interest of the public, by availing himself of


such means and such opportunities. Believe me, high rank is a great evil to him who possesses it, and to others connected with him, if it is not rendered available to him and them, by conduct throughout his life distinguished by that virtue which you know has been said to be “the true and only nobility;' — of which certainly it may most justly be said, that without it there may be nominal nobility, but honorable nobility without it there cannot be.

If your excellent and most dear father had been in life when I was created Earl of Eldon and Viscount Encombe, he during my life, would unquestionably have used not as of right, but the courtesy of the realm, his father's second title, instead of the name of Mr. Scott. It was, however, matter of much doubt, as he was then no more, whether you, my grandson and not my son, would, by the like courtesy, be commonly called by the name used in the second title; and the general opinion was, that you ought not to be so called. I felt it to be my duty to the crown not to allow you to be so called, if the courtesy of the realm did not authorize it : I thought it also my duty to the crown to take care that you should be commonly so called, if that courtesy did authorize it. It therefore became my duty to have the question fully considered by those who best understand the subject. I, therefore, required the opinion of the College of Heralds, who, after very long consideration of the subject, have at length certified to me their unanimous opinion, that you, according to the courtesy of the realm, may use the name, and be commonly called by the name, of Encombe.'

No apology is necessary for inserting the above paragraphs herein, though in this Republican land, where it is declared by our glorious constitution that: “No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States, and where the principle is acknowledged in its full extent that:

"Worth makes the man, and want of it the fellow,' for the case presents the exact point, the very hinge on which this argument turns, viz: a nominal honor conferred by an accident, not won by the person on whom it is confered in the genuine way of merit arising from personal labor. Keeping this point in view, hear how this self-made nobleman treats the case, let his words be an encouragement to sons of poor and humble origin; and let the sons of the rich and honorable lay them to their heart, and attach them with guard chains around their neck :

Lord Eldon continues :

“You are, therefore, my dear John, now in some sense, in my life time, a partaker of one of the dignities lately conferred upon me, not, indeed, as of right having any claim to it, but as being allowed by what is called the courtesy of the realm, to be commonly designated by the name in which that dignity has been granted to me. Your present state, therefore, in a degree, calls for your serious attention to the important truths which I have pointed out as those which must be the ruling principles of your conduct when I am removed from this scene. Even now you must never forget that, if you do not do credit to the name of Encombe, it will be a dishonor to you; every time that you are, even now, addressed by that name, that address should operate as a stimulus to increase of exertion and to good conduct. Your time, my dear John, must be well spent and carefully husbanded. Dissipation of every kind must be anxiously avoided. If the change in my situation, thus operating a change in yours, should produce any evil effects — if additional rank, instead of producing and inciting to additional merit in conduct, should ever be considered by you as dispensing with the necessity for continual virtuous exertion in your youth, then, indeed, my dear John, my sovereign may have lavished his honors upon me, but my happiness his good intentions will have utterly destroyed. But I will not entertain, I dont allow myself to entertain, such apprehensions. In the past good conduct of Scott I find the firmest grounds for confidence, that good and exemplary will be the future conduct of him who is to be commonly called Encombe. In his good principles, in his affection for those to whom he must perceive he is an object of the warmest affection and the most anxious concern, I will look for, and I am confident I shall find, his security and my own against all evil. Upon his recollection that increased rank calls for increase of diligence to acquire those mental attainments which are absolutely necessary to make rank respectable-upon his recollection that those whom rank distinguishes should be more and more distinguished by their virtues -I can and do confidently rely for good. My dear John, acquire knowledge, and practise virtue. These are the leading points to be attended to. There are others of minor importance, but yet of considerable importance. Among others, if rank engenders pride, if it produces haughtiness in conduct to those with whom we have associated and do associate, if it considers well regulated condescension and kindness of manners as what needs not anxiously to be attended to, it becomes inexpressibly odious. That happy temper, that even-mindedness, which is the ornament of rank, will, of course, I know, lead you to prefer, greatly to prefer, in your youth, being addressed only by the name of Encombe simply, to being addressed as of favor and not as of right as a lord, by the folly and flattering of those who, being foolish, can do you no good, and if flatterers, will not intend to do you any good.'

This authority ably supports the position that honor comes from labor; for though knowledge and virtue are the ingredients mainly

insisted on by the Noble Lord as being the elements which go to compose substantial honor, and though virtue is the more essential element of the two; knowledge, it will be readily confessed, can be gained only by labor, incessant labor, hard study—not only on the ten-hour system, like a common laborer, but on a day- and-nightsystem, and 'much study is a weariness of the flesh!'

And though it may not be so readily acknowledged that virtue is a legitimate result of labor, yet ponder for a moment on this point, and see how essential labor is in the acquisition of virtue. Think how hard it is to find virtue, that you must search for it as for hid treasures. Think how hard it is to resist the ten thousand temptations by which you are daily assailed; of the legions of evil spirits within and without, of the wicked thoughts and emotions that come unbidden from the secret abode of the Fallen Angel to allure the soul to ruin. 'They are fond of listening, keenly alive to mischief; they obey with pleasure, as they delight in deluding; they feign to be sent from Heaven, and they lisp like Angels when they lie !' Think of the mental and moral labor of dissecting and analysing the spirits that incite to action in life. Think of the pains and tact required to distinguish the evil from the good, to enlist and rally the good in your own cause, and prosecute a war of extermination against the evil host; think that in order to preserve the precious treasures of virtue in the citadel of the soul it is necessary to keep watch there against new recruits of adversaries, and to carry on this internal warfare all your life long. Think that leagued with these internal adversaries of your virtue, an innumerable body is surrounding you without on every side, one band inviting you to drink of the Circean cup, another alluring with siren smiles to taste of forbidden fruit, another enticing you into the bewildering labyrinths of general dissipation, another trying to delude you with the air of friendship to embrace schemes and measures transiently popular, speedily infamous; and a countless number of others actuated by the concealed motives of envy, hatred and the long train of vicious passions, devising ways and means, to deceive and mislead you ; to say nothing of the equal attempts of all these parties to place you continually in false positions by villifying and misrepresenting the virtuous motives which actuate you. Think of all these difficulties liable to be encountered in the career of virtue, and does it not require the head and the heart of a hero to brave and to master them? And what was the opinion of

the ancient Greeks on this point? They were impressed with so strong a sense of the arduous labor required to accumulate and maintain virtue, that they have immortalized the task by giving it to Hercules, their strongest demi-god!

Virtue, therefore, springs from labor, Knowledge springs from labor, Honor and Wealth both spring from labor.

But take another glance at this subject before you relinquish its contemplation, and see if you do not more than love and admire, if

you do not even revere labor.

The heavens and the earth, and all the hosts of them, sprang from labor. They were the result of the six days work of the Almighty. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.'

To the first man He declared His law of labor as essential to physical existence. And this law still remains in full force and virtue, applying to all the human family.

After many ages, in accordance with a higher law, yet in perfect harmony with the first,-in accordance with the law of the soul, yet in perfect harmony with the law of the body, He declared further to man, touching the soul: “Work out your own salvation,' giving him at the same time not only an example, but material information on which to rely, and assuring him of His help.

From that time a new field of labor has been opened for mana field in the midst of which, as in a new Eden, the tree of life is planted. And as the character of the tree, cultivated in the material world, is known by its fruit, so the fruit of the Christian life, will prove the character of that life. The improvement of the fruit of the trees in this field is now engrossing the attention and labors of the civilized world. And though a few despise the labor, yet the hardest and best workmen are respected in our halls of Legislation, as also in the hearts of the people, and would be still more highly and universally honored and revered, could we become conscious of the blessings which the nations of the earth are deriving by the fruits of civil and religious liberties.

And here it may be well to throw some light on this general expression: Fruits of Civil and Religious Liberty, because the meaning and spirit of general terms do not work on and in the minds and the hearts of the people like single illustrations.

Yet too much space would be required to illustrate the term as

« PreviousContinue »