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at the same time to bear with the evils beautiful tract of country through of his particular lot; and must not, which he passes, and every fine manwhen any little grievances afflict him, sion which he sees, are his own, of feel dissatisfied with his rank, nor in- which, except by absence, he cannot dulge in heart-burnings and envyings be deprived. I hope you conceive it towards other ranks and conditions in to be your duty, in forming concep; life, which it may be impossible, or at tions on a subject of this sort, to dash least extremely difficult, for him to at- the dew from all such cobwebs of fantain.
cy. Happiness, then, I say, cannot A happy man, then, according to be enjoyed by those who have too my idea of the term, is not one that is much leisure, or too much fatigue. always pleased and satisfied with every It cannot be enjoyed by the prisoner, occurrence in his life ; this, in the who has nothing to do but reflect on present state of human nature, is al- the gloominess of his dungeon, nor by together impossible ; but he is one the rich man, who is satiated with who, in general, is content with his folly and amusement,who lolls on condition, and has no wish to change his sofa,-yawns at an assembly, or it for any other that may be within saunters in listless and pitiable vacanthe range of his procuring. Happi- cy of thought, in the walks of a faness, I conceive, is not to be acquired shionable watering-place. It cannot by precept, and man cannot be flatter- be enjoyed by the wretch who is ed into this state of mind by poetical chained to the galley oar,—who is cajolement; but I do not, therefore, buried in a Siberian mine, or who is conclude, that man is abandoned to fainting with fatigue in a West Indian hopeless misery, for the veriest wretch cane-field, or in the prairies of Kenthat ever melancholy marked for her tucky, under the terrors of the slaveown, can recount many hours spent whip. with delight and enjoyment, though The meaning of the word knowunmingled happiness cannot be found ledge embraces the whole range of huhere ; for, when we have obtained a man inquiry: but in the present case, momentary glimpse of her green a I must request your permission to rebodes, and fondly picture to ourselves strict it to a particular species of ina thousand future delights, some un- formation. I must restrict the genelucky demon is ever ready to dissolve ric term to a particular and limited the enchantment; it vanishes from
I wish to confine it not to a our gaze like a summer cloud, or a knowledge of religious truth, as derainbow in a storm, and leaves us to duced from the scriptures,—not to the contemplate the cheerless vale of mi- knowledge which all our Scottish peasery in all its deformity and dreari. sants possess, of reading and writing, ness.
and arithmetic; my observations reThe means adopted by Providence fer almost exclusively to the knowto render man in some measure con- ledge of history, geography, politics, tent with his condition, seem to be a and of works of fancy, which the workdue alternation of labour and rest, ---ofing classes of the community may &bodily and mental exertion. Unhap- quire. piness and discontentment must be the never failing accompaniments of These remarks being premised, my an undue proportion of either. This first position is, that knowledge of this maxim, I think, can scarcely be de- sort is highly beneficial to the state. nied to agree with experience. I wish All, indeed, that is praiseworthy, as you to bear this in mind; for, if my virtuous and honourable, and digniarguments are to be tried by fanciful fied in the government of a state, must systems of philosophy, and not by the arise from the superior knowledge of plain and sober dictates of experience, the people who compose it. Think and common sense, I must give up for a moment on the condition of the the discussion. I hope, Sir, you are people in the several governments too wise to follow the wild dreams of which exist, or which have existed in self-deception which Addison some- the world ;-examine their laws and times indulged on this subject, when their constitutions, and compare them he consoles himself, with all possible with the state of the people ;-weigh gravity, for the want of splendid pos- with candid impartiality their different sessions, by fancying, that every bearings and influence on social life,
-on the inhabitants of the city and ledge diffused among the people, would on the domestic and secluded circle of be no better than the most odious code the peasant's fire-side. When you that ever lurked in the cabinet of tyhave finished your survey,—when you ranny. I fear not contradiction in rehave divested yourself of every pre- peating the assertion in the most markjudice, you must be forced to pro- ed terms, in saying, that it is not a nounce, that it is the knowledge of particular code of laws which makes a the people alone which renders a na state great or free ; it is the character of tion great and noble,-which is the the people, their virtue,—their knowwatchful guardian of justice,—which ledge,-and the concomitants of these, never fails to disarm the most rooted their dignity and their patriotism. tyranny, which never fails to dif- Give to Turkey or Russia the British fuse freedom and exalted sentiment constitution and the British laws, and, through every rank. Knowledge is the people shall not be the less opin this respect the golden chain which pressed, --shall not feelone blessing the links together the hearts of a whole more. They would, indeed, curse the nation in one grand mass of spirited benediction of freedom as a wicked patriotism, and renders them firm a- innovation,-a Pandora's box of evils, gainst the oppression of their rulers and sigh for the good old laws of desand che invasion of their enemies. potism and injustice. On the other
As I am decidedly of opinion, that hand, give to Britain a Persian Sophi knowledge is in a considerable degree or an Emperor of Morocco for a ruler, hostile to the happiness of the lower with all his countless train of royal ranks, you might be ready to imagine executioners and butchers, with free that I should stand forth as the advo- will to rob and plunder, torture and cate of ignorance; that I should revive, kill, whoever it might please his subin all its original forbiddingness and lime omnipotence to ordain and comdeformity, the Popish maxim, that ig- mand, he would, before many hours, norance is the mother of devotion ; find, to his cost, that knowledge is that I should revive the wild and fané still more sublimely omnipotent than ciful paradox of Rousseau, that the sa- himself, and that we, who have no rage state is better and more natural hereditary relish for legitiinate ty for inan than the civilized state. No, rants, would arrest his career of blood Sir ; I shall rest my arguments on at the very threshold of the palace. none of these. You could not think No, Sir, I cannot blot from my mefor a moment I should be so very re- mory, if I would, the maxim that gardless of experience and common meets the eye in every page of politisense, as to foolishly shut my eyes cal history,—the maxim that is conto the grand spectacle which is at firmed by glancing on any or every this moment exhibiting in almost corner of the world's map,--the maxevery nation of the world; that I im first embodlied in language by Bacould forget the glorious triumph of con, that knowledge is power,—that the Reformation from Popery ; that I political knowledge is the power of should forget the patriotic struggle of shackling tyranny, of curbing oppresour American colonies against the tyran- sion, and
of unnerving the arm of inny of British legislation ; that I should justice. Let our rulers issue an order forget the independent spirit which is such as Herod issued, for massacring rising and spreading with slow but vi- all the infants of a certain age in Longorous increase over the extensive and don, or even in a country hamlet, and beautiful paradise of South America ; you would immediately see the effect that I should forget the manly throbs which British knowledge would proof patriotisin which have begun to duce. Let an English prince take the beat, like the heart of a captive about notion of bowstringing his father, or to leap his prison wall, in the bosoms of putting out the eyes of his younger of the oppressed Spaniards; and the brothers,-circumstances not of rare whispered and increasing murmurings occurrerice in the Royal families of against legitimate oppression which Eastern courts,-and you would insadden the gaiety and liveliness of the stantly see that the British people light-hearted inhabitants of France; would not passively submit to the that I should forget our own blessed outrage, as the Persians or Tartars country, and her boasted constitution would do most stoically without and laws, which, but for the knownurmur, and without a remark.
But knowledge would not be an crowded and corrupted lanes of a city, earthly endowment, were it to possess in the damp and airless workshop, no disadvantages along with all those where the atmosphere of heaven is blessed bestowings and accompani loaded with contagion, and empoisons ments. My second position, there every breath which he inhales; perhaps fore, is, that knowledge, according to on the bleak moor, exposed in shelterthe above limitation of the term, does less solitude to every storm that beats, not contribute to the happiness of the and every frost that benumbs him, he working classes of the community, builds the rude sheep-fence, or turns a position which I hope I shall be able up the wet and unfertile soil; perto make out to your satisfaction. I haps deformed with every thing that found my argument wholly upon my is filthy, and gasping for thirst, he own observation ; and I should be ex- drags out an existence to all appeartremely glad to have any mistaken ance infernal—at the mouth of a meviews I shall take of the subject cor- tal furnace, or in the bowels of a coal rected, as I think it of some import- mine. To see such a man becoming, ance that your readers should enter- day after day, more eager to acquire tain right notions on the point, and knowledge, -eager to rise in the ranks many of them have had much better of the superior society which he sees opportunities of observation than I can around him,-eager to strain every pretend to.
sinew of industry to accomplish his So far, then, as my observation goes, aim, and to spend the hours of sleep I hold myself warranted to say, that, in ruminating on his plans, and in when a man, who earns his subsistence stirring up his resolves in their exeby manual labour, begins to read books cution : To see all this, I think, is one of general history, of geography, of of the most interesting spectacles poetry, of fancy and romance, but which human nature can display. most of all, when he reads newspapers How often have I thought with adand political pamphlets, he begins to miration on the story of Hillel, the acquire notions considerably different Babylonish Jew, one of the authors from those which he shall have pre- of the Talmud, who, at the age of 40, viously held ; he begins to grow dissa went to Jerusalem, with his family, tisfied with his condition in life and to study law, but being unable, on achis rank in society, and, in proportion count of his poverty, to gain regular as his avidity and keenness for such admission to the lectures of the Rabkind of knowledge increases, he be- bis, he spent a considerable portion of comes more dissatisfiel. This dissa- his small earnings to bribe the doortisfaction may lead to two conse- keepers to allow him a place at the quences, depending, in some measure, door of the public hall, and when his on his age and disposition. It will ei- means were too scanty, even for this, ther render him careless of his accus. placed himself near one of the wintomed toil, or it will rouse him to ten- dows, at the top of the buildings, and fold industry, that he may improve by such means rendered himself so his condition,--that he may reach eminent, that he was accounted only some sun-gilt eminence which hope inferior to Solomon himself in wisa has painted to his fancy.
dom. (BRUCKER, Hist. Phil. II.) The former of these cases—my scan- No less surprising is the history of ty observation teaches me-is by far Cleanthes, the stoic philosopher, who, the most common. I speak under from poverty, was obliged, in order to correction of those of your readers who have leisure to attend the schools, to are more extensively acquainted among draw water in the public gardens at literary mechanics ; but I conclude, Athens, and to grind at the mills durfrom what I have seen, that know- ing the night; and, for want of paledge renders twenty persons idle and per, which he was too poor to buy, he careless, perhaps dissipated, for one wrote on shells and bones that he which it stimulates to increased indus picked up from the dunghills. (Diog. try. Nothing, however, to my think LAERTES, VII. .4. and VAL. Max. ing, can present a more interesting vill. 7.) The onnals of our spectacle of the powers of man than country, and those of our neighbours the latter of the cases. Here is a man on the Continent, exhibit many siwho earns his scanty pittance by the milar instances of extraordinary pera toil of many hours, perhaps in the severance. But will any body main
tain that these men were happy in corruption, while they implicitly bemaking such persevering exertions ? lieve the most barefaced lies and decepWas it not the very circumstance tions of the anti-ministerialists. I apof dissatisfaction which goaded them peal to you, Sir, and to all your readers on ? To me it seems plain, that every individually, for the truth of the refresh effort must have been prompted mark. People of this description glut by the sting of uneasiness and dissa- their discontented appetites with all tisfaction. After this desire of ris- the corrupted offals of the Parliamening seizes a peasant or a mechanic, tary demagogues, and the newspapers, his whole life is spent in the fever: whose sale is promoted entirely by ed anxiety of discontent and un- their keeping up a perpetual grumble happiness. A sort of diseased rest even at what is most deserving of lessness, of which he becomes the pas- praise and rejoicing, and by begetting sive victim, infects his mind, and and cherishing discontent in the botinges his pursuits
, and even when his soms of those whose knowledge has friends are looking up to his labour as made manual labour irksome. superhuman, while they are admiring It is not rarely the case that this or envying his advancement in know- fostered spirit of discontent leads its ledge, his nights are often spent in unhappy victims to dissipation, and sleepless musings, and his days con- they forget for a while their imaginary sumed in the labour, at which his grievances in the noisy brawls of the whole soul revolts, but which he finds tavern and the tap-room, or rather indispensable to his schemes of ad- the disease is, by the drunken declavancement. He feels his condition as mations of boon companions, more miserable as that of the slave chained and more aggravated. Every body is to the galley-oar ; because he knows acquainted with the life of our unfrom his books situations of a differ- rivalled Scottish poet. Every body ent kind; because, in reading, he knows that his superior attainments has become familiar with nobles and rendered the plough to him an intoprinces, and feels reluctant to rank lerable burden ;-that he neglected with those who do not enjoy such fa- every laudable pursuit for the society miliarity : and this acquaintance he of bottle cronies ;---and at last, by contracts in the quiet of his domestic thus ruining his health, perhaps, circle, where there is no haughtiness brought on premature dissolution. I nor overbearing pride to overawe and am sorry, Sir, extremely sorry, to abash him.
bring under your notice the failings But the more numerous class of our of a man who was so superiorly gifted literary mechanics are appalled at the . with uncommon talents. But the difficulties which oppose their ad case is so markedly in point, that it vancement to place and distinction. would have been doing injustice to They become listless and thoughtful. the argument to have withheld it. They feel reluctant to perform their Now, although this is a known and a accustomed labour, and they want prominent case, it grieves me to think stimulus to drive them forward to that it is by no means rare. Almost any thing different. Their next step every village Scotland can boast its is to become discontented with the Buriis,-almost every village can boast government under which they live. of soine native who shall have become They become keen politicians, and knowing by means of books, and deread with avidity every pamphlet and jected and dissipated because he was paper which will feed their heart compelled to bear the ignoble lot of burnings, and inflame their discontent. earning his bread with the sweat of In our own country, this is flagrantly his brow. notorious, from the increasing sale of There is still another bad conseanti-ministerial papers ; and every quence which results from the disconsort of foul garbage is greedily swal- tent caused by the diffusion of knowlowed, from the illiterate scurrility of ledge, namely, the unbinging of reWooller's Black Dwarf, to the more ligious principles. Men, when they refined papers of the Examiner. To become fond of reading, are very inpersons of this character, a paper quisitive on all subjects, and as reliwhich would dare to assert the excel- gion forms a great part of the knowlence of the existing administration, ledge of the lower orders, such men would be spurned as the base vehicle of soon turn their inquiries into that
channel. It unfortunately happens, altogether unnecessary."
That is, also, that infidel books are not diffi- the worship of God, in the United cult to be procured. Now, such au- States, is quite unnecessary and even thors as Voltaire, and Volney, and despised. Paine, are extremely dangerous to Before concluding, I must again beg the happiness of all half-educated per- that my views may not be mistaken; sons, writing, as they do, in a plain that the former part of my essay may simple style, when they sneer and be weighed with the latter." I wish it to play off their wit; and, in a gaudy be understood that I am clearly andunand turgid manner, when they wish equivocally in favour of the diffusion to conceal their poisonous dogmas of knowledge,--that I would resist and mysteries. Their sarcasms they the attempt to check it with every take care to point with determined energy of my soul; but I am equally keenness, and Satanic malignity, clear, that it is productive of much while they wrap up their own opinions unhappiness among the lower orders. in mysterious darkness, or surround Opinions, however, do prevail against them with a meretricious and dazzling diffusing knowledge. 'I was lately glitter. The previous education of a astonished—indignantly astonished,labourer, or a mechanic, in a great to hear a clergyman of our establishmeasure unfits him for detecting the ed church, whose naine shall be transfalsity of their conclusions, and the mitted to you if you require it, sesophistry of their reasonings. Be- riously and coolly declare, in a public sides, books of infidelity usually con- church court, that village book-clubs sist more of sneers and dark insinua- and reading societies were become a tions, than of fair and open argument, nuisance which could not be toleratand the most expert reasoner cannot ed. Now," said he, “ times are retute a sneer. Such books, I say, much changed from what they were produce great unhappiness in their of old ; now every paltry fellow + prereaders ; for they unsettle all their tends to be a philosopher, and thinks hopes of future bliss, and thus unfix he knows theology as well as his miall the safeguards of virtuous princi- nister.” I heard him, Sir, with inple. A friend of mine, whose mind dignation, and I was still more indig, had been in this manner poisoned with nant that he was not checked with infidelity and scepticism, declared to merited severity. Why, Sir, those me with tears, that he would give PALTRY FELLOWS are the boast of worlds to be able to resume his belief their country, and it is to their knowin Christianity; but the pointed mis- ledge that we owe the expulsion of representations of Paine, and the false popery, and the plain good sense and and Aimsy brilliancy of Volney, had ta- useful learning which so markedly ken too deep a hold of his thoughts to characterize the ministers of our be dislodged ; he disbelieved, and was church. If it were not for fear of these unhappy. I fear this case is but too paltry fellows exposing them, I have common among our reading mecha- no doubt, that our clergy would, like nics ; for, while the Deist banishes their brethren of the dark ages, soon Christianity from his helief, he sub- wrap themselves closely in the mantle stitutes nothing in its place; the of ignorance and mysticism, and fatmind is left vacant and dissatisfied, ten in the torpid slumbers of stupidiit seeks in vain for a resting-place of ty and dulness. If it were not for hope, as the system of Deism, (if want these paltry fellows, who know their of all principle can be called a system,) rights, and will maintain them, our is baseless and rotten. I hope and blessed rulers would soon have us trust that such a spirit may die where groaning in the chairs of tyranny, a it was begotten, and not find its way prey to every miscreant who knew among the uncontaminated, for it is to how to flatter and cajole the reigning. be feared that it is travelling and prince ;-our boasted constitution spreading fast among the increasing would become a code of despotism, population of America. “What in and our present system of taxation, some places,” says the infidel Birk- heavy and grievous as it undoubtedly beck, “ is esteemed a decent conformity with practices which we de Letters from the Illinois, by Morris spise," [he means the worship of God, ] Birkbeck, p. 28. ** is here (in the Illinois' territory) + Sie verbatim et literatim dixit illc.