« PreviousContinue »
killed. The loss of life, in these crusades, is variously estimated by different historians, but by none, less than thirty millions—a sad commentary upon human nature, a solemn warning against blind zeal and infatuating fanaticism.
Fanatics are inexorable to all entreaties for mercy ; all who are not with them, they treat as enemies; considering all heterodox, who do not embrace their dogmas. Fanaticism arrays father against son, mother against daughter; disregards all the ties of consanguinity, all the bonds of former friendship, and all whom it cannot control, endeavors to destroy.
Each set of fanatics are right in their own conceit, and detest all who think differently. The intelligence of the present day has stopped the effusion of blood among Christian nations by fanatics, and dispelled much of the darkness of fanaticism-but among the nations who still sit in gross darkness, it has lost none of its original features. The Turk would consider the sacred cities of Mecca and Medina polluted, was a Christian to step his foot in either. The Tartar believes the lama to be immortal, and to eat certain parts of him, heaven is secured. The inhabitants of Mount Bata believe, the eating of a roasted cuckoo makes a saint; and all these would sacrifice those who believe differently, if in their power.
The Mormons and Millerites of our time and country, have drunk largely at the fountain of fanaticism, and most of our religious sects have a slight tincture of it-enough to sometimes ridicule what they conceive to be error in others, instead of preaching nothing but Christ, and him crucified. As pure and undefiled religion increases, when charity shall become the crown
ing glory of every Christian-when the gospel of peace, in its native loveliness, primitive purity, and Bible simplicity ; shall shed its glorious rays over the nations of the earth; fanaticism will recede, until it shall be finally lost in the flood of light, that shall radiate from the sun of righteousness. Let Christians banish all prejudices against sects, and warm their hearts in the melting sunbeams of charity—this will sooner make them of one heart and mind.
But is, when unadorn’d, adorn’d the most.—Thompson. We profess to be a Christian people, and are contributing, very sparingly to be sure, to the laudable enterprise of sending the gospel to those nations that are enveloped in the darkness of idolatry; and yet we have an idol in our midst, worshipped with a zeal worthy of a Hindoo priest. No heathen god or goddess, has ever had more zealous devotees than FASHION, or a more absurd and humiliating ritual, or more mortifying and cruel penances. Her laws, like those of the Medes and Persians, must be implicitly obeyed, but unlike them, change, as certainly as the moon. They are rarely founded in reason, usually violate common sense, sometimes common decency, and uniformly common comfort.
FASHION, unlike Custom, never looks at the past, as a precedent for the present or future. She imposes unanticipated burdens, without regard to the strength or means of her hood-winked followers, cheating them
out of time, fortune, and happiness ; repaying them with the consolation of being ridiculed by the wise, endangering health, and wasting means; a kind of remuneration rather paradoxical, but most graciously received. Semblance and shade are among her attributes. It is of more importance for her worshippers to appear happy, than to be so. She makes Folly originator and conductor of ceremonies, all based on the rickety foundation of vain show ; each routine of which must be passively adhered to, until the fickle goddess shakes her kaleidoscope again, and then, O Jupiter ! what a bustle--not the Simon Pure variety bustle—but such a scampering to obey the mandate of the tyrant :-It could not be eclipsed by ten score of rats, should ferret, weasel, and puss, all pounce upon them at once. The least murmuring or halting on the part of a recusant, is punished with instant excommunication, and the ridicule of the fashionable community. If she requires oblations from the four quarters of the globe, they must be had, if wealth, health, and happiness are the price. If she fancies comparative nakedness for winter, or five thicknesses of woollen for dog days—she speaks, and it is done. If she orders the purple current of life, and the organs of respiration to be retarded by steel, whalebone, buckram, drill, and cords,—it is done. Disease laughs, and death grins at the folly of the goddess, and the zeal of the worshippers. If she orders a bag full of notions on the hips, a Chinese shoe on the foot, a short cut, a trail, a hoop, or balloon sleeve, or no sleeve, for a dress; and a grain fan bonnet, or fool's cap for the hea i, she is obsequiously obeyed by the exquisitely fashionable ladies, and lauded by their 'eaux. If she orders her male subjects to produce a crop of corns on their feet with tight boots, contract their muscles with straps at both ends, and their chests with steel springs, and hemp cords suitable for a hangman, and to play all the monkey shines of a coxcomb, with chains dangling, rattan flourishing, and soaplocks streaming in the breeze, they are quite as tractable and docile as the feminine exquisites.
Fashion taxes without reason, and collects without mercy. She first infatuates the court and aristocracy, and then ridicules the poor if they do not follow in the wake, although they die in the ditch. This was exemplified in the reign of Richard III., who was humpbacked. Monkey-like, his court, at the dictum of fashion, all mounted a bustle on their backs, and as this was not an expensive adjunct, the whole nation became hump backed-emphatically a crooked generationfrom the peasant to the king, all were humped.
When looking at the frivolity of fashion, I often think of the boy, who traced the fashions from the country to Philadelphia ; from thence to New York; thence to Boston; thence to Paris, and from thence to the devil; when he exclaimed, “I thought they came from him, for they make folks look just like a picture of him in
my books." If this tyrannical huzzy would be content with seducing the rich from the path of common sense, only for a short time, and would leave them something for old age, when she can no longer receive their adulation, she might have some claims to generosity ; but no, she not only often strips them as clear from feathers as a turkey on a spit, but searches the cellar and the garret -the cottage and the hovel, for victims. She takes fools by storm, the wise by deception and bribery, and makes the Mordecais and Daniels tremble at the gong-sound of trumpet-tongued ridicule. Not only the vain and giddy, the thoughtless and rattlebrained, dance attendance upon her, but many a statesman and philosopher, moralist and Christian, more or less from all classes, pay tythes, at least, into the treasury of this transatlantic, Americanized, aristocratic, brazen-faced goddess; who is constantly importing the trappings and extravagances of European courts, to smother republican simplicity. Fashion is the foster mother of vanity, the offal of pride, and has nursed her pet, until it is as fat as a sea turtle, is quite as wicked to bite, and harder to kill; but, unlike that inhabitant of the herring pond, instead of keeping in a shell, it is mounted on a shell, adorned with every flummery that the old fickle minded, ever changing, never tiring, ignis fatuus nurse can invent, intruding into all the avenues of life, scattering misery far and wide-faithless, fearless, uncompromising, and tyrannical. Reader, if you love freedom more than slavery, liberty more than thraldom, happiness more than misery, competence more than poverty; never bow your knee to the goddess FASHION.
By referring to history, we find the GREAT FIRES of our country scarcely deserve the name, either on land or water, in the amount of property destroyed, or in the destruction of human life.
In the years 982, 1087, 1132, and 1136, nearly the whole of the city of London was destroyed by fire. On the 10th of July, 1212, the London bridge was burnt,