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labouring classes of Europe twice as near us as they now are? Is there no danger of a competition that is to depress the labouring classes here? Can the workman here stand his ground against the half-famished, ignorant workmen of Europe, who will toil for any wages, and who never think of redeeming an hour for personal improvement. Is there no danger, that with increasing intercourse with Europe, we shall import the striking, fearful contrasts, which there divide one people into separate nations? Sooner than that our labouring class should become a European populace, a good man would almost wish, that perpetual hurricanes, driving every ship from the ocean, should sever wholly the two hemispheres from each other. Heaven preserve us from the anticipated benefits of nearer connection with Europe, if with these must come the degradation, which we see or read of, among the squalid poor of her great cities, among the over worked operatives of her manufactories, among her ignorant and half-brutalised peasants. Anything, everything should be done to save us from the social evils which deform the old world, and to build up here an intelligent, right-minded, selfrespecting population. If this end should require us to change our present modes of life, to narrow our foreign connections, to desist from the race of commercial and manufacturing competition with Europe; if it should require, that our great cities should cease to grow, and that a large portion of our trading population should return to labour, these requisitions ought to be obeyed. One thing is plain, that our present civilization contains strong tendencies to the intellectual and moral depression of a large portion of the community; and this influence ought to be thought of, studied, watched, withstood, with a stern, solemn purpose of withholding no sacrifice by which it may be counter. acted.
Perhaps the fears now expressed may be groundless. I do not ask you to adopt them. My end will be gained, if I can lead you to study, habitually and zealously, the influence of chafges and measures on the character, and condition of the labouring class. There is no subject on which your thoughts should turn more frequently than on this. Many of you busy yourselves with other questions, such as the probable result of the next election of President, or the prospects of this or that party. But these are insignificant, compared with the great question, whether the labouring classes here are destined to the ignorance and depression of the lower ranks of Europe, or whether they can secure to themselves the means of intellectual and moral progress? You are cheated, you are false to yourselves, when you suffer politicians to absorb you in their selfish purposes, and to draw you away from this great question. Givo the first place in your thoughts to this. Carry it away with you from the present lecture ; discuss it together ; study it when alone; let your best heads work on it ; resolve that nothing shall be wanting on your part, to secure the means of intellectual and moral well-being to your. selves, and to those who may come after you.
In these lectures, I have expressed a strong interest in the labouring portion of the community ; but I have no partiality to them considered merely as labourers. My mind is attracted to them, because they constitute the majority of the human race. My great interest is in
Human Nature, and in the working classes as its most numerous representative. To those who look on this nature with contempt or utter distrust, such language may seem a mere form, or may be construed as a sign of the predominance of imagination and feeling over the judgment. No matter. The pity of these sceptics I can return. Their wonder at my credulity cannot surpass the sorrowful astonishment with which I look on their indifference to the fortunes of their race. In spite of all their doubts and scoffs, human nature is still most dear to me. When I behold it manifested in its perfect proportions in Jesus Christ, I cannot but revere it as the true Temple of the Divinity. When I see it as revealed in the great and good of all times, I bless God for these multiplied and growing proofs of its high destiny. When I see it bruised, beaten down, stifled, by ignorance and vice, by oppression, injustice, and grinding toil, I weep for it, and feel that every man should be ready to suffer for its redemption. I do, and I must hope for its progress. But in saying this, I am not blind to its immediate dangers. I am not sure, that dark clouds and desolating storms are not even now gathering over the world. When we look back on the mysterious history of the human race, we see that Providence has made use of fearful revolutions as the means of sweeping away the abuses of ages, and of bringing forward mankind to their present improvement. Whether such revolutions may not be in store for our own times, I know not. The present civilization of the Christian world presents much to awaken doubt and apprehension. It stands in direct hostilit
to the great ideas of Christianity. It is selfish, mercenary, . Such a civilization cannot, must not endure for ever. How it is to be supplanted, I know not. I hope, however, that it is not doomed, like the old Roman civilization, to be quenched in blood. I trust, that the works of ages are not to be laid low by violence, rapine, and the all-devouring sword. I trust, that the existing social state contains in its bosom something better than it has yet unfolded. I trust, that a brighter future is to come, not from the desolation, but from gradual, meliorating changes of the present. Among the changes, to which I look for the salvation of the Modern World, one of the chief is, the intellectual and moral elevation of the labouring class. The impulses which are to reform and quicken Society, are probably to come, not from its more conspicuous, but from its obscurer divisions; and among these, I see with joy new wants, principles, and aspirations, beginning to unfold themselves. Let what is already won, give us courage. Let faith in a parental Providence give us courage; and if we are to be dissappointed in the present, let us never doubt, that the great interests of }. nature are still secure under the eye and care of its Almighty
NOTE FOR THE THIRD HEAD.
UNDER the third head of the Lectures, in which some of the encouraging circumstances of the times are stated, I might have spoken of the singular advantages and means of progress enjoyed by the labourer in this metropolis. It is believed that there cannot be found another city in the world, in which the labouring classes are as much improved, possess as many helps, enjoy as much consideration, exert as much influence, as in this place. Had I pursued this subject, I should have done what I have often wished to do; I should have spoken of the obligations of our city to my excellent friend, JAMEs Savage, Esq. to whose unwearied efforts we are chiefly indebted for two inestimable institutions, the Provident Institution for Savings, and the Primary Schools; the former giving to the labourer the means of sustaining himself in times of pressure, and the latter placing almost at his door the means of instruction for his children from the earliest age. The union of the Primary Schools with the Grammar Schools, and the High Schools, in this place, constitutes a system of public education unparalleled, it is believed, in any country. It would not be easy to name an individual to whom our city is under greater obligations than to Mr. Savage. In the enterprizes which I have named, he was joined and greatly assisted by the late Elisha Ticknor, Esq. whose name ought also to be associated with the Provident Institution and the Primary Schools. The subject of these Lectures brings to my mind the plan of an institution, which was laid before me by Mr. Ticknor, for teaching at once, Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts. He believed, that a boy might be made a thorough farmer, both in theory and practice, and might at the same time learn a trade, and that by being skilled in both vocations, he would be more useful, and would multiply his chances of comfortable subsistence. I was interested by the plan, and Mr. Ticknor's practical wisdom led me to believe that it might be accomplished.
T H E S L A V E R Y QUESTION.
To JONATHAN PHILLIPS, Esq.
MY DEAR SIR, On reading Mr. Clay's speech on Slavery, many thoughts were suggested to me which I wished to communicate; and our conversation of last evening confirmed me in the purpose of laying them before the ublic. I have resolved to give my views in the form of a letter, because can do my work more easily and rapidly in this way than in any other. A general, methodical discussion of the subject would be more agreeable to me; but we must do what we can. I must write in haste, or not at all. If others would take the subject in hand, I should gladly be silent. Something ought to be spoken on the occasion; but who will speak? My range of topics will be somewhat large, nor, if good can be done, shall I hesitate to stray beyond the document which first suggested this communication. I shall often be obliged to introduce the name of Mr. Clay; but, as you will see, I regard him in this discussion, simply as the representative of a body of men, simply as having given wide circulation to a set of opinions. I have nothing to do with his motives. It is common to ascribe the efforts of politicians to selfish aims. But why mix up the man with the cause? In general, we do well to let an opponent's motives alone. We are seldom just to them. Our own motives on such occasions, are often worse than those we assail. Besides, our business is with the arguments, not the character, of an adversary. A speech is not refuted by imputations, true or false, on the speaker. here is, indeed, a general presumption against a politician's purity of purpose; but public men differ in character as much as private; and when a statesman holds an honourable place in his class, and brings high gifts to a discussion, he ought to be listened to with impartiality and respect. For one, I desire that slavery should be defended by the ablest men among its upholders. In the long run, truth is aided by nothing so much as by opposition, and by the opposition of those who can give the full strength of the argument on the side of error. In an age of authority and spiritual bondage, the opinions of an individual are often important, sometimes decisive. One voice may determine the judgment of a country. But in an age of free discussion, little is to be feared from great names, on whatever side arrayed. When I hear a man complaining, that some cause, which he has at heart, will be put back for years by a speech or a book, I suspect that his attachment to it is a prejudice, that he has no consciousness of standing on a rock. The more discussion the better, if passion and personality be eschewed; and discussion, even if stormy, often winnows truth from error, a good never to be expected in an uninguiring age. I have said, that my concern is wholly with Mr. Clay's speech, not with the author; and I would add, that in the greater part of the discussion which is to follow, my concern will be with slavery and not with the slaveholder. Principles, not men, are what I wish to examine and judge. For the sake of truth and good temper, personalities are to be shunned as far as they may. I shall speak strongly of slavery, for we serve neither truth nor virtue by pruning discourse into tameness; but a criminal institution does not necessarily imply any singular criminality in those who uphold it. An institution, the growth of barbarous times, transmitted from distant ages, and “sanctified” by the laws, is a very different thing, as far as the character of its friends is concerned, from what it would be, were it deliberately adopted at the present day. I must indeed ascribe much culpableness to the body of slaveholders, just as I see much to blame in political parties; but do I therefore set down all the members of these classes as unprincipled men? The injustice, criminality, inhumanity of a practice we can judge. The guilt of our neighbour we can never weigh with exactness; and in most cases must refer him to a higher tribunal. This I say, that I may separate the subject from personalities. To me, the slaveholder is very much an abstraction. 4. word, as here used, expresses a general relation. The individual seldom or never enters my thoughts. The principal part of Mr. Clay's speech is an attack on the Abolitionists. These I have no thought of defending. They must fight their own battle. I am not of them, and nothing would induce me to become responsible for their movements. And this I say from no desire to shift from myself an unpopular name. It will be seen in the course of these remarks, that I am not studying to soothe prejudice or to make a compromise with error. I separate myself from the Abolitionists, from no sensitiveness to reproach. A man, who has studied Christianity and history as long as you and myself, will not be very anxious to shelter himself from what has been the common lot of the friends of truth. However the Abolitionists may have erred, I honour them as advocates of the principles of freedom, justice, and humanity, and for having clung to these amidst threats, perils, and violence. In declining all connexion with them, I am influenced by no desire to make over to others all the censures and invectives of the community; but I simply wish to take my true position, to appear what I am. Mr. Clay's speech, however intended for the abolitionists, contains passages at which every man interested in the removal of slavery must take offence; and to these my remarks will be confined. The most important part of it, indeed, has no special bearing on the Abolitionists, but concerns equally all the free States. . I refer to that in which we are told that slavery is to be perpetual, that we have nothing to . in this respect from the South. Every other part of the speech sinks into insignificance in comparison with this. Coming from any other man, this document would be less important. But Mr. Clay is no rash talker. His legislative course has been distinguished by nothing so