« PreviousContinue »
Definition-Political Nobility-Titles-Land-Moneyed corporationsMonopolies--Industry-Employments-Honor-Examples--Sympathies - United States-Army-Navy-Vagabonds-Fungus - DistinctionsPassions-Avarice - Pride-Oppression - Power-Kings--Möbs-Municipal law - Politics-Fashion ---Custom, &c.--Punishments--Demagogues--The rabble--Orders--Degrees--Merit--Causes of aristocracy -Women--Children-Domestic circles-Arbitrary laws of society-Municipal laws--Depravities--Rulers--Politicians--Shylocks--Fashion.
THE very general mismanagement of children ; their idleness and indulged propensities at the only period of life in which habits of industry, self-government, and integrity can be formed, are, from the ignorance, carelessness, and vanity of parents, almost universal. .
There is a foolish disposition with parents, who are called well to do in the world, to have their children schooled, dressed, and accommodated with pocket money, amusements and caprices, according to the undefined and ridiculous standards of fashion which they form, by a superficial reference to families above them, with whom they have no acquaintance, and with whose domestic arrangements they are totally ignorant.
The children of those in the humble spheres of life are permitted to range the streets day and night; are not taught to read or work, or furnished with any moral instructions.
Thus encouraged, as they grow up, they become coarse, rude, vulgar, and profane; hate labor ; abuse respectable persons; soon learn to repudiate their debts ; lie, swindle, cheat, defraud, and steal, and defy law and religion.
The natural depravity of the human heart is prone to all these vices; to prevent them from being engrafted upon the instincts of nature, requires the most careful discipline and training in youth.
Where these inherent hereditary propensities prevail, there is no moral remedy.
From these canses, and from these sources, an incredible number of persons, thus degenerated, are at maturity cast upon the world.
They practice and subsist on the credulity of society; are sheltered from its indignation by the crafty concealment of their real characters, and spared from the penalties of open perpetration by their inherent precautions and cowardice.
In the warm months, thousands of them are seen shooting in fens and hedges, bobbing upon the flats, and streams, lounging in skiffs and shades, smoking, drinking, and guzzling in brutal apathy.
In the winter weeks, they loaf in taverns, oyster-cellars, billiard and gaming rooms, at corners, and on fire-plugs; and send their mothers, wives, and children to solicit charity and beg; while they pilfer, debauch, make fights, fires, riots, mobs; fill almshouses, prisons, and penitentiaries.
It is from this class of society, and those by nature bent on mischief, that the roots of aristocracy shoot off, in all its concealed and hidden windings.
These vile propensities of the human heart are irrespective of intellect; and, therefore, this portion of the community furnishes rank and file for all the pursuits of imposition, duplicity, abuse, and oppression.
These are the pernicious and dangerous sources from whence, in all countries, and in all ages, have sprung the pests and persecutors of man.
From the pilfering beggar to the imperial cut-throat; from the petty swindler to the highway robber; from the nostrum vender to the tilted pedagogue; and from the street brawler to the audacious pirate.
And just in proportion to their impunity, are the sufferings of all portions of men increased and multiplied.
Originally, the word aristocracy was used to signify the distinction between a despotic and a supposed better form of government, placed in the hands of an order of privileged persons.
When this number was reduced to a few, the government was called an oligarchy; which implied a corrupted aristocracy.
But now the word aristocracy is used to express the name or feeling entertained for every species of imposition, and unlawful inequality; every act of wrong and injustice; everything cruel, oppressive, and brutal; whether it be inflicted by one man on a thousand, or by one thousand on one man.
All these things are denominated aristocracy; and the perpetrators are called aristocrats.
The man or the men who sneer at honest labor and true religion—who are lazy, live on others, meddle with and plague their neighbors, disturb the peace, and dabble in public affairs for gain-are as impudent and offensive aristocrats, in their sphere, and according to their opportunities, as the brawling political intriguer, the feudal lord, the titled baron, or sceptered despot.
The broad and popular definition of the word aristocracy, in the United States, now means everything that trenches upon equality and freedom.
It applies to morals, manners, politics, religion, and all the relations of life; and it is really understood to mean any unfair ascendency and domination in any of the pursuits or de partments of life; in all of which it is regarded as odious, hateful, and detestable.
There is no measure or limit to its powers of irritation, its singular faculties to annoy.
In various shapes and forms, and under different names and pretexts, this assumption and abuse of power have perpetrated more perplexing outrages than were ever suffered from the curse of toil and sweat put on Adam.
There is no subject now that produces so much restless excitement and bitterness, with the people of the United States, as their ridiculous apprehensions, and misconceived notions, of aristocracy.
In one sense, perhaps, aristocracy might be said to mean the stigma inflicted by a forfeiture and corruption of blood, being the heaviest blow of power; and the titles and orders of nobility of the Old World, which secure for the few over the many most unjust and oppressive privileges.
In this country, there are no such penalties or advantages allowed; they are all expressly forbidden by constitutional inhibitions; and every man is put upon an equal footing as to all political franchises; and if he is convicted of a crime, there is no infliction but that which falls on himself; his children have the same chance for success as if he had died a saint.
And the spirit of liberality in this respect has been most wonderfully exercised in the United States.
Men and women from convicted parentage, who but for this charitable indulgence would have been infamous, have been suffered to take respectable rank in society; and when their conduct has been proper, their tainted lineage has been wholly overlooked.
They should be narrowly watched; for, if the moral virus is in their blood, their circumspection of conduct will be much more likely to be influenced by considerations of policy than integrity.
Whenever a strong temptation, combined with the chances of concealment, occurs, there will be an inevitable indulgence of the natural and inherent propensity to commit crime.
A very large proportion of all the calamities which fall on man come from the crafty, adroit, secret, and relentless perpetrations of persons with these moral obliquities.
One of these predominating propensities of man is for place and power.
His intolerant vanity will not stoop to hold talk with the common herd, as he considers them; but he will obtain power over them by fraud or force; and riot in their control and government.
The fierce and unsatisfied lust for this indulgence has in all times convulsed the world, and maintained a perpetual conflict between oppression and liberty.
The political institutions of the United States have interposed effectual barriers against these abuses also; but still there are everywhere the most insolent attempts made to pervert these constitutional safeguards against aristocracy into fraudulent excuses for unblushing acts of treason.
Happily, the periodical elections frustrate these artful schemes; and thus these pernicious and fearful aggressions have been principally confined to the odious and disgusting demonstrations of what is called a moneyed aristocracy.
Nothing can be so precarious or uncertain as riches. Nothing but slavery has ever so largely contributed to demoralize the character and enervate the energies of man; and nothing possesses so few inducements to excite envy or regret for the want of it.
If money is obtained by inheritance, marriage, accident, or fraud, or by any means but by industry, the passion for indulgence is generally too'strong for the dictates of discretion ; by fast living, the holder will soon be where he was before he got it-an object of derision and contempt to others, useless to himself and society, while it lasts; and debauched and ruined for the rest of his life.
If he has obtained it by his own labor and economy, be will not feel its worth, except for necessaries, and its useful and lawful employment.
The commendable habits of frugality, which earned and saved, will not waste it, or suffer the owner to be abused by its possession.
Few have suddenly acquired large fortunes by the ordinary course of honest industry. This is the result of desperate adventures, made without labor or capital, and at the risk of others; by which patient honesty is blunted, bad appetites are encouraged, the true use and value of money are lost sight of, extravagance is indulged, new schemes for gain are perpetrated; and the drama closes with wasted means and wreck of character.
Every sensible person may detect these gambling adventurers, however genteel or plausible, by watching their progress, and testing their developments with the plain and unerring realities of life.
Instead of wishing for such leisure and luxury, we should scorn its wickedness, and reprobate its infamous examples.
What is called respectable mercantile employment so largely partakes of everything opposed to the pure character, and certain results, of patient labor-so much of hazard, extravagance, disaster, and loss of reputation-as to rebuke down the restless aspirations for intemperate and irrational indulgences, and bring the uneasy judgment to a settled level of absolute conviction, in the solemn fact, that all security for the morals and the comforts of life is lost the instant we leave the beaten paths of constant and contented toil.
The aged and decrepit nurse of a female ward, at an infirm. ary, near Philadelphia, was, but a few years since, the brilliant bride of a proud and successful jobber in stocks and lands, who died in the Almshouse.
The heads of two of the largest mercantile houses in the United States, whose means and credit are unbounded, pay their fathers' board, in obscure villages, who once were princes upon 'Change, and are now poor and forgotten.
Twenty years will twice change every sign, and abolish every firm, in any city in the world.
In a lecture delivered at Boston in 1818, by General Dear