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MARCH 1, 1811. [2 of Vol. 31.
As loaf " thofe who write arc ambitious of making converts, and of living their Oalnlooi a litiimum of Jotuecec ■--a Celebrity, the tnoft exteafively circulated MlfceJlaoj will repay wlUl the arcateft Itfeft tb« Curiofit/ of thgfe who read either for AmuienieDt or IoAruaion jOHNaON.
Tti the Editor of the Monthly Magazine.
AFTER, repeated essays by various ingenious men in different parts of Europe within thirty years, to navigate boats or vessels by the power of steamengines, all of which had failed to that degree which left little hope that the object would be attained; Mr. Robert Fulton, a native of Philadelphia, and well known in France and England, has been the fortunate philosopher who has established steam-boats with complete success in his native country. His first boat, 160 feet in length, 18 feet wide, was built in 1807 on the Hudson river, to carry passengers between the cities of New York and Albany, a distance of 160 miles; which boat, to the astonishinent of the inhabitants of those cities, performed the voyage in 30 hours. A few voyages, and the certainty of her arrival at given places within a given time, soon established public confidence in this new mode of conveyance, and drew the passengers from the stages and common sloops into the steam-boat, which proving lucrative to Mr. Fulton, he, in 1809, started a second and improved boat, called the Car of Neptune.
I made a voyage on my way from Canada to New York in this vessel, which is fitted up in a style, and conducted with a degree of order, that surpasses any mode of travelling yet invented: however violent the wind, there is no rolling or tossing, no cause of sickness from the agitation of waves; the car moves on majestically, ever on an even keel.
She was then on her seventy-third trip for the season, and she was expected to nuke eighty trips before the ice closed the river. In which case, this vessel will have run 12,800 miles in one year by the power of steam; or the two boats equal 86,600 miles. A boat of this kind has been established on lake Champlnin; one is contemplated from Montreal to Quebec; a line, consisting of two boats, i» in fall operation from New York to
MoMgtx Ma», No. 310.
Philadelphia; and they are now forming a line from Philadelphia to Baltimore: when completed, a traveller may go from Baltimore to Montreal, near eight hundred miles, in steam-boats, with only about one hundred and fifty miles of landcarriage.
Companies are forming I learn to build boats on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, for the transport of passengers and merchandize from New Orleans to Pittsburgh, a distance of two thousand miles: thus one fortunate invention gives a facility of transport and intercourse to an immense district of country, opens new resources to industry, and gives real strength to a nation. The advantages of these boats, in an agricultural and commercial point of view, are incalculable; and, in case of war, their magnitude and certainty are of great importance for transporting troops without fatigue. No country is better watered than the United States, nor is there any country that we know of so favourable to the extensive practice of this invention. As a work of art, your scientific readers will take pleasure in the success of Mr. Fulton's steam-boats: as a nation, we may fairly calculate that every improvement which promotes American industry, and multiplies their means of exchanging the products of their soil for our manufactures, is a real benefit to us. This gentleman has therefore, perhaps, done more for us than many of our countrymen who have ndded millions to our national debt, and for this species of talent have their monuments erected in marble. If useful talents were honoured, like those devoted to destructive pursuits, genius would seek for honour in the useful arts: but an Arkwright, a Boulton, or a Watt, whose genius have added millions annually to the nation's wealth, will not for ages have the honours of a Pitt, who added millions annually to our taxes, and forced France to become an armed nation, whose strength seems to crush, the world. I have on this subO lima lime subject of genius, and its useful application, been led into these reflections, because in no country are useful talents appreciated equal to their Worth, unless it be in America. •
W. R. Wilsov.
To the Editor of the Monthly Magazine.
WHEN our ancient monarchs began to great privileges to corporate bodies, they provided for their continuance by means which at once indicated their respect for popular rights, and their knowledge of a principle which they inew was essential to the well-being of such institutions.
The charters of John, and of our illustrious Edwards and Henries, were all so many charters of popular freedom; and even under the arbitrary domination of the Tudors, the people'were empowered by all the royal charters to fill up vacancies in the corporations Created by those sovereigns.
It was a refinement of the Stuarts to destroy the oW charters and grant new ones, which named a corporation for the time being, and empowered the members to fill up vacancies in their body. Patriotism had, however, little connexion with the policy of that family; the consequences therefore of their measures were regarded as matters of inferior consideration, provided, like the policy of the late Mr. Pitt, the evil of the moment was parried. • Existing circumstances are always the measure of conduct, when the ruling powers are not possessed either of sufficient magnanimity or wisdom to combine the removal of present difficulties with the permanent advantage of society.
The late Mr. Bakewell made a great physiological discovery, when he ascertained that all animals degenerate in activity and intellect, if their breed be not crossed; and if they continue to breed in and in, for many generations, without the mixture of other families. By means of this principle he enlarged the carcase, and varied the shape, of sheep, oxen, swine, and working horses; and owing to their inactivity, his breeds fattened sooner than all otiier breeds. Doubtless, the same principle extends to the hurtmn race; and has been productive of analogous effects in the history of man, particularly in separate lines of royalty, nobility, priesthood, casts, and tribe* of people; and the historian may avail
himself of it in accounting for many phenomena in the destiny of nations^
A similar effect, but exasperated in degree, arises from the arrangement and constitution of a close corporation, or of any society which fills up its vacancies by close election. The causes differ, but the effects are the same; the stupidity of a Bakewell breed, without mixture, for eight or ten generations, is far surpassed by the want of intelligence in the members of any close corporation which has filled up its own vacancies for an equal number of generations. It would be invidious to name particular bodies, bu every man's own observation will supply him with examples of the justness of these conclusions.
The physical cause is not easily to be traced, although the effect is somewhat analogous to that which arises from continuing the same crops on the soil; and I have heard even of a recent discovery, by which it appears that successive generations of seed-wheat on the same soil increase the bulk of the grain, perhaps, ho-vever, without adding to its vital energies. The moral cause may, however, be traced with arithmetical precision, and it will appear not to be difficult to ascertain the ratio and degree in which Stupidity increases in close corporations during any given number of generations. If we suppose that twenty-four persons were named as the first members of any corporation by the charter of a venal court, it is not very probable that they Would consist of persons of superior intellect, intelligence, and independance. For the sake of argument, however, I shall grant that they possessed the average of intellect, because the inferences will hold then in regard to many selfconstituted societies, which, at the time of their origin, contained an unquestionable average of public intellect.
Let us then attend to the natural progress of such a body. In a short time one of the members dies, and his vacancy is to be filled up> by the other twenty-three. They look about for a successor—not among bold and spirited members of the community—not among those who have dared to oppose the measures of the corporation, and who therefore have evinced independant minds, and superior energies— but they look for him among a docile and tractable class of citizens, who have been in the practice of complimenting the wisdom of the corporate body, and who have acquired a habit of criugnig, flatter. Jng, and fanning, to its members. Such persons in corporate bodies are called good sort of men; and from this class accordingly the vacancy is filled. In due time other vacancies happen, and they are filled in like manner by tools nnd sycophants of the existing corporation; till, at length, by the strides of mortality, the whole have lit en renewed.
Now, I would ask any reader, what proportion of intellect he thinks has survived the first-named corporation? Before the whole were dead, the new race of tools would have acquired a nominal ascendancy, and those chosen after that ascendancy began to preponderate, would, necessarily, be the tools of the first race of tools. Hence, in tho first renewal, a double degeneration would have taken place in regard to half the corporate body; and a single degeneration in regard to the other half, even if the whole of the first corporation died before any of the new members.
Taking the lowest standard of human intelligence, say among the Hottentots, or Samoiedes, at 1; we may take the standard of good uncultivated intellect at 2; the educated intellect of polished society at 3; and the superior intellect of polished society, at 4. It is not unreasonable perhaps to say, that the intelligence of Newton, Locke, Garrick, Priestley, Johnson, Burke, Horsier, Paine, and Porteus, was four times greater than the Hotteutot intellect, and a third greater than the average of civilized man. I assume then, that the intelligence of a close corporation, in their orioin, may be taken at the average of 3; and that a generation of its members may be considered as 95 years.
It is not easy to render moral considerations the object of a nominal calculus, but it is evident, that the'successive intellect of close corporations must be measured by a diminishing series; and the principle being established, I am cot anxious to raise the ratio too high. As matter of conviction, founded on my own observation, I should consider every succeeding generation fell short full onetalf of that which wentbefore it. But conceding something to accidental causes, 1 conclude I shall be considered by no one as taking the rate of reduction as too rapid, -when I estimate it at a fourth on ■each renewal. Of course, at the lowest, they cannot well sink to the Hottentot level, the progression will cousequenty lie in a gradation between 3, the average of the first set of members, and. 1, the mea
second aet third set fourth set filth set sixth set seventh set eighth set
which, in 200 years, ascertains the intellect of any close corporation* to be only one-fourth of the difference between the Hottentot intellect and that of the first body corporate; or it appears to be only one-fourth of the Hottentot intellect above the Hottentot intellect.
With reference to the mass of society, this ratio will be correct only with regard to bodies in which no intellectual test it required before admission; but in such, in relation to the first set, the ratio will be universal. The most learned body, after two hundred years, will possess but one-fourth of the intellectual energy of its* first set of members, and he only of onefourth of the consequence and utility to society that it would have possessed, had its vacancies been filled up by external, instead of internal, election.
This then is a mathematical, though at the same time a very melancholy, truth. It demonstrates and reduces to the unerring evidence of figures, the measure of an evil felt and deplored by every one. It is not the creature of chimeras like the calculations of Messrs. Malthus nnd Colquhoun, but is founded on ft self-evident proposition, and it comes borne to every man's business and bosom. It teaches a great practical truth, that close corporations and societies, kept up by close election or restrictive ballot, are constituted on a principle incompatible with their own glory, with the wise objects of every institution, and with the welfare of those who are subject tp> their influence.
It teaches us, that the true principle of regeneration is from without; that, like the blood itself, nil bodies politic require to be regenerated by new supplies and near energies; and that without renovation they lose their vigour and elasticity. The principle applies equally to all-self, constituted societies, clubs, commercial companies and committees, as it does to. corporations created by charter. Those who are truly wise, will enact new constitutions for societies which they desire to see flourish and perpetuated; and the people of England should petition the juvemaaeot government to throw open all close political corporations as useless to the state, generally disgraceful to those who belong to them, and pernicious to those whom they govern. Common Sense.
To the Editor of the Monthly Magazine.
THE utility of good roads and navigable canals ha; long been demonstrated by experience. Their encouragement will always appear the proper object of legislative sanction and of public support. The advantages resulting from an extended and connected system of inland navigation are incalculable. By affording an easier and cheaper conveyance to produce of every kind, to merchandize of every description, than can possibly be afforded by any other means, canals promote the interests of agriculture and commerce with the greatest advantage: by facilitating the intercourse between the various and remote parts of a country, they advance the arts of civilization, they promote national unanimity, multiply the means of human existence, and, whilst thus dispensing benefit on every hand to every class of the commuuity in every district tvith which they are connected, they contribute by these means, in the most essential manner, to national security. The importance of inland navigation seems to have been understood by the rnost flourishing nations of antiquity; and, in modern times, canal- were formed in various parts of the continent of Europe before their appearance in this country. Though England has, during many centuries past, maintained an elevated rank in the scale of nations, and lias long been celebrated as a great maritime and commercial state, yet the practice of inland navigation in this country was not reduced to a system until about the middle of the last century; a circumstance which naturally excites some degree of reflection or surprise.
Rude and uncultivated nations always fear innovation; and, in nations governed by despotism and oppression, or laws by which foreign intercourse is prohibited, and commercial enterprise discouraged, mercantile speculation will ■want its proper object. In such a state, the public mind, instead of being an active productive principle, fertile in expedients and resources, rriust, as far as rppects the amelioration of human life,
be without energy or motive; and, as a necessary consequence of such a state of things, will contract, in that respect, the inertness of indifference, obstructing every change which may happen to disturb existing habits or confirmed prejudices. For,
"There Misery sits and eats her lazy root,
The progress of civilization is slow even under the best governments; fur, unfortunately for the interests of humanity, there have appeared in all ages certain individuals who are ready to oppose with the most ridiculous and unjustifiable pretexts, every scheme for promoting the general good. These are persons whose narrow and illiberal vipws of self-interest will allow them to encourage no project which does not hold out to them some obvious and exclusive advantage. History exhibits a perpetual contest between arbitrary, ignorant, and ambitious, men, and the advocates of the public. To the preponderance of the one of these over the other may often be justly ascribed the progress and decline of nations.
Property being a relative term denoting the quantum of individual in. fliience or power, selfish and arbitrary men regard with inveterate jealousy every attempt to improve the property of others. Confounding possession with right, a man of this description who happens to possess some advantage (no matter by what means he obtained possession), and who delights in domineering over others, will oppose with all his means every thing which tends to lessen his influence, by promoting the advantage or improving the circumstances of others. The truth of this remark is confirmed by daily observation and daily experience, even in this country. In soliciting the patronage of such an individual to some plan for benefiting the public, it would be quite useless to approach him with any arguments tp prove its merit or to demonstrate its expediency, unless he were at the same time convinced that it would not benefit his neighbour more than himself. To argue that such plan, if adopted, would be highly beneficial to his neighbour, and that it could not fail ol being advantageous to himself in a certain, but in a less, degree; to argue in this way to such a man, would be high treason to his