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virtue, than vice; God, than the evil man. In contending earnestly against intemperance, we have the help and friendship of him who is Almighty. We have allies in all that is pure, rational, divine, in the human soul, in the progressive intelligence of the age, in whatever elevates public sentiment, in religion, in legislation, in philosophy, in the earnings of the parent, in the prayers of the Christian, in the teachings of God's house, in the influences of God's Spirit. With these allies, friends, helpers, let good men not despair, but be strong in the faith, that in due time, they shall reap, if they faint not.
I have spoken of the causes of intemperance which are found in our state of society. I should wrong, however, the community to which I belong, were I to leave the impression, that our social condition offers nothing but incitements to this vice. It presents obstacles as well as affords facilities to it. And this ought to be understood as an encouragement to the efforts, which, according to the preceding remarks, we are bound to make for its suppression. The growth of intelligence among us, is a powerful antagonist to intemperance. In proportion as we awaken and invigorate men's faculties, we help them to rise above a brutal life; we take them out of the power of the present moment, enlarge their foresight, give them the means of success in life, open to them sources of innocent pleasure, and prepare them to bear a part in respectable society. It is true, that intelligence or knowledge is not virtue. It may not overcome selfishness; but it makes our self-love, wiser and more reflecting, gives us a better understanding of our own interests, teaches prudence if not generosity, and in this way, is a powerful guardian against ruinous excess. We have another defence against intemperance, in our freedom. Freedom nourishes self-respect, and by removing all obstructions to exertion, by opening to men the means of bettering their lot, favours an animated, hopeful industry, thus rescuing a people from depression, despondence and languor, which are among the chief temptations to brutalising excess. It is indeed said, that freedom generates all forms of licentiousness, and, consequently intemperance. But it is, I believe, a well-established fact, that this vice has decreased since our struggle for independence. The habits and manners of the last generation, were more perilous to temperance than our own. Social intercourse was more deformed by excess. Men in mature life visited taverns, and the young could not meet, without the danger of drowning reason in wine. It is a false notion, that we are wholly indebted for our present reform in this particular, to temperance societies. These have done great good, and deserve great praise; but the influence which is now carrying us on, preceded them. They are its effects, not causes. An important change of habits had commenced before their institution, and this seems to me an important view, and one of the chief encouragements to joint and Individual exertion for the suppression of this vice. Did I believe, that our present social condition offered nothing but materials to intemperance, that it excluded all contrary influences, and that our whole hope for stemming this evil rested on the temperance societies, I should be tempted to despond. Such societies can avail little, except when they act in concurrence with causes in the condition of society. Such causes exist, and one great use of temperance societies, is to bring them into more energetic and extensive action.
I have not insisted on one of the means of temperance on which great stress has been laid, that is, the influence of Public Opinion. To bring this to bear against intemperance, has been regarded, by not a few, as the chief method of subduing the evil. Too much, I think, is hoped from it. One obvious remark is, that the classes most exposed to intemperance are removed very much from the power of public opinion. But passing over this, I think we generally look to this influence for more than it can accomplish. We lay upon it a greater weight than it can bear. Public opinion may even work against the cause which it is meant to support, when made a substitute for individual exertion. A man, temperate because public opinion exacts it, has not the virtue of temperance, nor a stable ground of temperate habits. The remark is especially applicable to these times. Opinion, in former days, was more permanent than at present. There were few or no causes in operation to unsettle general convictions. Society was cast into fixed forms. Ages passed away, and slight changes were seen in manners and in modes of thinking. But the present is a revolutionary age. Society, breaking from its old moorings, is tossed on a restless and ever-stormy ocean. Opinion no longer affords that steady guidance, which in former times supplied the place of private judgment and individual principle. There is no truth, which sophistry does not now assail, no falsehood which may not become a party bond. The great work to which religion and benevolence are now called, is not to sweep away multitudes by storm, not to lay on men the temporary, brittle chains of opinion, but to fix deep, rational conviction in individuals, to awaken the reason to eternal ruth and the conscience to immutable duty. We are apt to labour to secure to
virtue the power of fashion. We must secure to it the power of conviction. It is the essence of fashion to change. Nothing is sure but truth. No other foundation can sustain a permanent reform. The temperance, which rests on other men's opinions and practice, is not a man's own virtue, but a reflection of what exists around him. It lies on the surface. It has not penetrated the soul.
That opinion may exert a great and useful influence, is not denied; but it must be enlightened opinion, appealing to the reason and the conscience of the individual; not to passion, interest, or fear, nor proscribing all who differ. We want public opinion to bear on temperance, but to act rationally, generously, not passionately, tyrannically, and with the spirit of persecution, Men cannot be driven into temperance. Let the temperate become a party, and breathe the violence of party, and they will raise up a party as violent as their own. The friends of truth must not call passion to their aid, for the erroneous and vicious have a greater stock of passion than they, and can wield this weapon to more effect. It is not by numbers or a louder cry, that good men are to triumph over the bad. Their goodness, their consciousness of truth, and universal love, must be manifested in clear, strong, benevolent appeals to the reason and heart. They must speak in the tone of the friend of their race. This will do infinitely more than the clamour of hosts.
It seems to me an important remark, that public opinion cannot do for virtue what it does for vice. It is the essence of virtue to look above opinion. Vice is consistent with, and very often strengthened by, entire subserviency to it. It is a motive to be cautiously used, because the mind, which passively yields to it, will find it a debilitating, rather than an invigorating influence. The moral independence which can withstand public sentiment, is men's only safety. Whenever public sentiment shall be enlightened enough to promote this superiority to itself, it will be a noble spring. In proportion as it wars against this self-subsistence, it subverts the only foundation of substantial, enduring reform.
It is sometimes very hazardous to attempt to extirpate a common vice by making it disgraceful, and passing on it a sentence of outlawry. If, indeed, the vice be confined to the poor and obscure, the brand of infamy may easily be fixed on it; but when it spreads higher and is taken under the protection of fashion, it can not only parry the weapon of disgrace in the hand of its adversaries, but turn this against them. Fashion is singularly expert in the use of ridicule. What it wants in reason, it can supply in sneers and laughter. Sometimes it puts on indifference as a coat of mail. It has especially the art of attaching the idea of vulgarity to a good cause; and what virtue, has courage to encounter this most dreaded form of opition?
ADDRESS ON SELF-CULTURE,
INTRODUCTORY TO THE FRANKL IN LECTURES,
DELIVERED AT BOSTON, SEPTEMBER, 1838.
This Address was intended to make two lectures; but the Author was led to abridge it and deliver it as one; partly by the apprehension, that some passages were too abstract for a popular address, partly to secure the advantages of presenting the whole subject at once and in close connection, and for other reasons which need not be named. Most of the passages which were omitted, are now published. The author respectfully submits the discourse to those for whom it was particularly intended, and to the public, in the hope, that it will at least bring a great subject before the minds of some, who may not as yet have given it the attention it deserves.
My RESPECTED FRIENDS,
By the invitation of the committee of arrangements for the Franklin Lectures, I now appear before you to offer some remarks introductory to this course. My principal inducement for so doing is my deep interest in those of my follow-citizens, for whom these lectures are principally designed. I understood that they were to be attended chiefly by those who are occupied by manual labour; and, hearing this, I did not feel myself at liberty to decline the service to which I had been invited. I wished by compliance to express my sympathy with this large portion of my race. I wished to express my sense of obligation to those, from whose industry and skill I derive almost all the comforts of life. I wished still more to express my # in the efforts they are making for their own improvement, and my firm faith in their success. These motives will give a particular character and bearing to some of my remarks. I shall speak occasionally as among those who live by the labour of their hands. But I shall not speak as one separated from them. I belong rightfully to the great fraternity of working men. Happily in this community we all are bred and born to work; and this honourable mark, set on us all, should bind together the various portions of the community.
I have expressed my strong interest in the mass of the people; and this is founded, not on their usefulness to the community, so much as on what they are in themselves. Their condition is indeed obscure; but their importance is not on this account a whit the less. The multitude of men cannot from the nature of the case be distinguished; for the very idea of distinction is, that a man stands out from the multitude. They make little noise and draw little notice in their narrow spheres of action; but still they have their full proportion of personal worth and even of greatness. ń. every man, in every condition, is great. It is only our own diseased sight which makes him little. A man is great as a man, be he where or what he may. The grandeur of his nature turns to insignificance all outward distinctions. His powers of intellect, of conscience, of love, of knowing God, of perceiving the beautiful, of acting on his own mind, on outward nature, and on his fellow-creatures, these are glorious prerogatives. Through the vulgar error of undervaluing what is common, we are apt indeed to pass these by, as of little worth. But as in the outward creation, so in the soul, the common is the most precious. Science and art may invent splendid modes of illuminating the apartments of the opulent; but these are all poor and worthless, compared with the common light which the sun sends into all our windows, which he pours freely, impartially, over hill and valley; which kindles daily the eastern and western sky; and so the common lights of reason, and conscience, and love, are of more worth and dignity, than the rare endowments which give celebrity to a few. Let us not disparage that nature which is common to all men; for no thought can measure its grandeur. It is the image of God, the image even of his infinity, for no limits can be set to its unfolding. He who possesses the divine powers of the soul is a great being, be his place what it may. You may clothe him with rags, may immure him in a dungeon, may chain him to slavish tasks. But he is still great. You may shut him out of your houses; but God opens to him heavenly mansions. He makes no show indeed in the streets of a splendid city; but a clear thought, a pure affection, a resolute act of a virtuous will, have a dignity of quite another kind and far higher than accumulations of brick and granite, and plaster and stucco, however cunningly put together, or though stretching far beyond our sight. Nor is this all. If we pass over this grandeur of our common nature, and turn our thoughts to that comparative greatness, which draws chief attention, and which consists in the decided superiority of the individual to the general standard of power and character, we shall find this as free and frequent a growth among the obscure and unnoticed as in more conspicuous walks of life. The truly great are to be found everywhere, nor is it easy to say, in what condition they spring up most plentifully. Real greatness has nothing to do with a man's sphere. It does not lie in the magnitude of his outward agency, in the extent of the effects which he produces. The greatest men may do comparatively little abroad. Perhaps the greatest in our city at this moment are buried in obscurity. Grandeur of character lies wholly in force of soul, that is, in the force of thought, moral principle, and love, and this may be found in the humblest condition of life. A man brought up to an obscure trade, and hemmed in by the wants of a growing family, may, in his narrow sphere, perceive more clearly, discriminate more keenly, weigh evidence more wisely, seize on the right means more decisively, and have more presence of mind in difficulty, than another who has accumulated vast stores of knowledge by laborious study; and he has more of intellectual greatness. Many a man, who has gone but a few miles from home, understands human nature better, detects motives and weighs character more sagaciously, than another, who has travelled over the known world, and made a name by his reports of different countries. It is force of thought which measures intellectual, and so it is force of principle which measures moral greatness, that highest of human endowments, that brightest manifestation of the Divinity. The greatest man is he who
chooses the Right with invincible resolution, who resists the sorest temptations from within and without, who bears the heaviest burdens cheerfully, who is calmest in storms, and most fearless under menace and frowns, whose reliance on truth, on virtue, on God, is most unfaltering; and is this a greatness, which is apt to make a show, or which is most likely to abound in conspicuous station? The solemn conflicts' of reason with passion; the victories of moral and religious principle over urgent and almost irresistible solicitations to self-indulgence; the hardest sacrifices of duty, those of deep-seated affection and of the heart's fondest hopes; the consolations, hopes, joys, and peace, of disappointed, persecuted, scorned, deserted virtue; these are of course unseen; so that the true greatness of human life is almost wholly out of sight. Perhaps in our presence, the most heroic deed on earth is done in some silent spirit, the loftiest purpose cherished, the most generous sacrifice made, and we do not suspect it. I believe this greatness to be most common among the multitude, whose names are never heard. Among common people will be found more of hardship borne manfully, more of unvarnished truth, more of religious trust, more of that generosity which, gives what the giver needs himself, and more of a wise estimate of life and death, than among the more prosperous.-And even in regard to influence over other beings, which is thought the peculiar prerogative of distinguished station, I believe that the difference between the conspicuous and the obscure does not amount to much. Influence is to be measured, not by the extent of surface it covers, but by its kind. A man may spread his mind, his feelings and opinions, through a great extent; but if his mind be a low one, he manifests no greatness. A wretched artist may fill a city with daubs, and by a false showy style achieve a reputation; but the man of genius, who leaves behind him one grand picture, in which immortal beauty is embodied, and which is silently to spread a true taste in his art, exerts an incomparably higher influence. Now the noblest influence on earth is that exerted on character; and he who puts forth this, does a great work, no matter how narrow or obscure his sphere. The father and mother of an unnoticed family, who, in their seclusion, awaken the mind of one child to the idea and love of perfect goodness, who awaken in him a strength of will to repel all temptation, and who send him out prepared to profit by the conflicts of life, surpass in influence a Napoleon breaking the world to his sway. And not only is their work higher in kind; who knows, but that they are doing a greater work even as to extent or surface than the conqueror? o knows, but that the being, whom they inspire with holy and disinterested principles, may communicate himself to others; and that by a spreading agency, of which they were the silent origin, improvements may spread through a nation, through the world? In these remarks you will see why I feel, and express a deep interest in the obscure, in the mass of men. The distinctions of society vanish before the light of these truths. I attach myself to the multitude, not because they are voters and have political power; but because they are men, and have within their reach the most glorious prizes of humanity. In this country the mass of the people are distinguished by possessing means of improvement, of self-culture, possessed nowhere else. To incite them to the use of these, is to render them the best service they can receive. Accordingly I have chosen for the subject of this lecture, A