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cuits, though obviously connected with his welfare, daily presented more and more perplexing intricacies, depths which filled him with awe as they quaked and heaved beneath him, and inflamed his cupidity, as they disclosed their glittering treasures for his use and ornament. On his soul was written the divine mandate, — " Subdue the world, and use it.” He had the consciousness of lordship, even while he trembled in ignorance before his meanest subject. And in establishing his supremacy over the material creation, he has been conducting three distinct, yet concurrent, mental processes, from the creation until now.
The first and lowest, yet in some aspects the most essential of these processes, has been that of mechanical invention, which commenced with the rude needlework of our first parents in Eden, grew into distinct arts and trades among the unspiritual posterity of Cain, has given increased power, wealth, and luxury to every successive generation, and now culminates in the mighty Babels that weave raiment for the world, - in the steam-ship that stems the Atlantic storms, — in the harnessed lightning that rides post from city to city.
The second process has been that of philosophy, which, while practical skill has wrought on things known, has toiled in the realm of the unknown, sought out occult causes and harmonies, and laid bare the springs of nature's mechanism. For the first five thousand years of human history, philosophy foundered in palpable darkness, made a hundred blunders to one discovery, and was completely outstripped by practical skill, which seized on the obvious uses of many portions of creation, the nature of which was utterly unknown. The Jews, who, till the Christian era, alone believed in one God, were but little addicted to philosophical speculation. The nations that loved to investigate the causes of things believed in many jarring and malignant deities, holding joint or conflicting sway over the various departments of nature ; and they had not, therefore, even the idea of unity, harmony, design, or adaptation, to guide them in their researches, and to lead them to look upon every part of the system in its relation to other parts or to the great whole. Indeed, it took a full thousand or fifteen hundred years after the Christian era for the human mind to become so imbued with the belief of one God, as to make this fundamental truth of theology an axiom of science, - a stage of progress marked by the gradual development, and at length by the full enunciation, of the inductive philosophy.
soon as man awoke to the distinct consciousness of the beneficent harmony that pervades the universe, science stood firm upon the earth, and measured the heavens. The track of sun and star has been marked by human compasses ; unwieldy Jupiter has been tumbled into the scales, while the vibrations of the harp-string have been counted, and the shape of the dew-drop and the falling tear expressed in algebraic formulas. The recent discovery of Le Verrier's planet has affixed the irrefragable seal of verity both to the established theory of the universe and the modern apparatus of mathematical analysis, while the resolution of many of the nebulæ by means of the Earl of Rosse's telescope has driven back the chaotic wave that threatened to sweep over the whole domain of physical astronomy, and to carry us back to a cosmogony as wild and vague as that of Lucretius. As we now look through the universe, we can find no fact which cannot be traced to its class and its law; and though there are unquestionably higher generalizations to be reached, we still have attained a point at which ignorance no longer stimulates inquiry.
The third process referred to is that of the imagination in poetry and fiction. It has been in the region of the unknown that fancy has built her chambers of imagery. In the earlier times, when all the ordinary phenomena of nature were wrapped in mystery, fancy could find vacant room enough for her creations about the daily path and among the familiar incidents of common life. The great poems of antiquity derived their interest from marvels which have now ceased to find a place in prose. The management of the expedition of the Argonauts, achieved by the joint and most potent aid of celestial and infernal deities, would not now transcend the scope of a passed midshipman, and of the heroes of the Trojan war few would rise above the rank and file of a modern army. The Odyssey is founded on the mysteries and perils of a coasting voyage, which one of our New England skippers would make alone in a sail-boat, and deem it no matter of wonder or boasting. Meeting the other day with a shipmaster, who had recently passed through the Strait of Messina, to get a load of 'sali at a Sicilian port, we made eager inquiries after Scylla and Charybdis. He assured us that he had never heard of either, said that he found ample sea-room and safe navigation through the strait, and could not tell what the old poets meant by filling so comfortable a ship’s track with supernatural terrors.
After science had begun to clear away the mystery and awe that rested on outward nature, superstition still had a strong hold, not only on the ignorant, but among the lettered and refined ; and even those who had themselves outgrown ideas of this class have sympathized sufficiently with the popular mind to enjoy imagery founded upon them. Accordingly, since the classic mythology yielded place, demons, fairies, supernatural appearances and interpositions, have furnished, almost up to our own day, ample materials for romance and poetry; and there has been full enough of nature left unappropriated by art and unexplored by philosophy for the free range of fancy. But this is the case no longer. Art and science have driven the imagination from her last earthly covert, — have let in broad daylight upon ber lurking-places, — have supplanted her world of chimeras and fantastic forms by a world of stiff, stubborn, angular facts, which she can neither bend nor mould.
Here, then, we have the true position of our age. have subdued and mastered the material universe. We have availed ourselves of its uses, registered its laws, and shaken out its mysteries. We stand where we were made to stand, — at the summit of this lower creation. We are at an era of high attainment, which the ages that are gone bad hopelessly longed to reach. No wonder, then, that boastfulness presents itself among the prominent characteristics of our times. There are, indeed, other worlds to be conquered, and sublimer elevations to be scaled ; but, though it be ungraceful, is it unnatural that we should pause for a while, and look down ? Ours is indeed a boastful age. How ready we are to scorn the treasured wisdom of vanished generations, and to look back on the men of former times as if they had been mere barbarians, forgetting that the slavery and the wars of our day will come to be regarded with unmingled detestation and horror, as no less marks of the lowest grade of civilization than cannibalism seems to us now! But self-gratulation, self-praise, now tinges every expression of the general mind. The giant strides, which the
last few years have taken in all the arts of life and in the sciences on which they rest, make the age a golden one, in the eyes of all who regard material prosperity as the supreme good; and those who think that they occupy a higher point
; of view are prone to look on the newly invented moral machinery of the day as perfect in its workings, and on the point of exterminating all inequality, wrong, and evil, unmindful that crime is growing beneath the reformer's fingers, and the rankest barvest of iniquity springing up in the wake of the radicalist's plough. We think proudly of the
age, because we measure it for the most part by a material standard, and not by its spiritual attainments and promise. But the next generation will be as humble as we are boastful ; for it will have become accustomed to the elevation that makes us giddy, and will begin to look with earnest aspiration upon the loftier and more arduous heights at the foot of which we stand, even as the dwellers in the vales of Switzerland make slight account of the bundreds of feet that lift them above the sea, while they feed their flocks at the base of inaccessible, cloud-encircled cliffs.
Our age is also eminently utilitarian, in the lowest sense of the word. The powers of outward nature are so fully developed, and in such vigorous exercise, as to claim a disproportionate share of men's time and energies. Such great mechanical inventions are yet recent, such marvellous applications of science to art are among the wonders, or rather, have ceased to be the wonders, of the day, that most persons talk, reason, and feel, as if the rapid creation of value were the test of genius, the supreme end of being, and the crowning purpose of life. Man is looked upon as a mechanical power, and men educate themselves for the same uses to which they consecrate spinning-jennies and steam-boilers. Certain intellectual traits and endowments a man must have, in order to be a successful producer, for mere bone and muscle can no longer work out valuable results ; in modern mills, a wise child can outgrind an unreasoning Samson. But with regard to the elements of a more spiritual culture, the question is virtually asked, “What is their market value? Will they help me make better, or sell more, goods ? Will they tell on 'change, or have weight at the stockboard ? 'Will they make me sharper at a bargain, or wiser as to my investments ? ” Money-scales are made to answer all uses, and the balance of the sanctuary seldom has the dust shaken from its beam.
A day or two after Washington Allston's death, we occupied a seat in a railroad car behind a spruce jobber from Kilby street, who was expounding to his wife (who with a woman's truer instinct seemed aware that a great man had fallen), that Allston's decease would not be half so much felt as that of any common business man about the city; for, said he, “ I do not suppose that he circulated in all his life so much money as we sometimes take in a single week.” This piece of stupidity, which the man might have been too shrewd to utter for any other ear, tells the whole story of the too frequent indifference and contempt with which the fine arts are treated in this country, and of the dearth throughout the civilized world, in this age of traffic, of artists whose works are likely to live. We often find the artist regarded simply as the complement of the carpenter and upholsterer. Pictures and statues are done to order, to fill up architectural vacancies, or to supply the absence of columns or curtains, instead of demanding room and a welcome, because they sprang from the artist's own inspiration. On no other ground could the rotunda of our national Capitol have been defaced by the sacrilegious caricature of the baptism of Pocahontas, — the work of that Chapman, who has since executed the Harpers’ brilliant travesty of the Holy Scriptures. A similar stubborn determination to have a group of statuary where something seemed lacking on the front of the Capitol could alone have licensed the figure of that respectable old gentleman, with an orange in his hand, standing in no very delicate juxtaposition with a pretty young lady dressed as was Eve in Eden, which, by " making believe a great deal,” and practising with closed eyes, the frequenters of the premises have at length learned to regard as representing Columbus, as he startles a sleeping aboriginal beauty by his rapture on discovering the roundness of the world. On the other hand, that noble master-work of Greenough — false to the ideal of Washington only because it suggests a more than human majesty of soul, and might well represent the highest achievement of Christian art, with Jupiter Tonans for its seedling conception — is left by the collected wisdom of the nation in a leaky shanty outside the Capitol walls, not because there is no room for it within, but