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and what is Africa, but a continent of almost unbroken barbarism?
Look at the islands of the sea-of the Atlantic, the Pacific, the Indian, and the Arctic Oceans-at all where those specific influences have not reached, which exert their power and bestow their blessings upon us, and how far down on the scale of physical, mental, social, political, and religious existence! How degraded and miserable their whole population!
Look at America-exclusive of our own beloved republicthrough the Canadas and the adjacent territories on the North; through the immense regions stretching along the continent on the West; and through the provinces, states, and kingdoms which spread over the great Southern Peninsula. How broad and how instructive the contrast between all these countries and our own! The only approximation, in any one essential respect, to the posi tion we occupy, is made by our provincial neighbors on the north --a circumstance which altogether illustrates and confirms what we shall presently say as to the great moral reason and means of our own preeminence.
Look, finally, at Europe, where the influences of civilization and religion have been longest in operation, and where, some doubtless imagine, is to be seen the very perfection of society and government. And indeed there is much to admire when we look at Europe. There is a country, in parts of which God has spread out a scenery romantic, beautiful, sublime, in perhaps an unequalled degree, while through the whole of it are a soil and climate fertile and kindly as the well-being of the people require. There are great cities, too, where wealth and rank concentrate vast resources and exhibit their utmost splendor; there are old battle-fields, famous in historic annals, and whose associations yet thrill upon the soul; and there are venerable universities and immense libraries, the repositories of all human knowledge; and there are royal palaces, and parks, and hoary cathedrals, and baronial castles, and many noblest works of science and proudest monuments of art. And to see all these things must greatly interest the intelligent traveller. But these are, after all, only a small part of Europe. Besides these, there is a very large amount of men, women, and children, of veritable flesh and blood; beings who have sensibilities, and mental and moral capabilities, and rights, too, in reference to government and religion; and whose aggregate number and importance entitle them, in the view we take, to be considered as Europe. And the real question is, What is their condition? Undoubtedly, the displays of royalty and of the nobility, of lords temporal and lords spiritual, are sufficiently frequent and imposing, and to those who are pleased with tinsel and pomp, profoundly impressive; but our inquiry now relates to the peoplethe masses the bone and sinew-the essential strength and sub
stance of the nations. How is it with them? What is their actual civil and religious condition? What conceded rights have they as citizens and as creatures of immortality? Alas! I had almost said-no rights, but those of implicit obedience and equally implicit faith. I know how many exceptions there are and how many more there seem to be-but it is no unconsidered declaration, that the masses of Europe are to-day in unjust and oppressive vassalage. Kingcraft and priestcraft hold them with as rigorous a grasp now as they dare to do, and are combining their resources to make that grasp lasting as it is rigorous. They have never relaxed a claim, never yielded a prerogative, never conceded a right which they were not compelled to do; and they never will. In even sunny France-polite France--where European culture boasts its most finished form; where revolution has followed revolution as the waves on the shore; and where the blood of the people has been poured out like water for the achievement of liberty, only a few are indeed free. The republic has given place to a despotism-constitutional they call it, but still a despotism. Nowhere may the people meet for political discussion, nor indeed to worship God, except under onerous restrictions and liabilities. The press has its censor; the forum its spy; the senate its master; the sacred temple its armed police and soldiery. In a like sense, in which Paris is said to be France, a comparatively few men may be said to be the people of France. The power, privileges, emoluments, and honors of office and rank, are their exclusive possession. A titled thousand usurp the rights which Nature and God declare belong equally to the untitled million.
And cross the channel into Great Britain, undoubtedly the most powerful, enlightened, and elevated nation of Europe. There is, indeed, much to commend. It becomes us especially to look upon her somewhat as children should on a venerable mother, lenient of faults and proud of excellencies. But when we have taken a fair survey of all that is good, there remain essential wrongs sanctioned and enforced on the mass of the people by the very provisions and enactments of the far-famed British constitution. Look at the law of entail, holding up its hoary head and pleading the precedents of a thousand years for the special protection and benefit of the nobility. Apart from the injustice with which it must often operate on the younger members of noble families themselves, look at the glaring wrong it upholds and perpetuates in reference to others. My Lord Buckingham, for example, in maintaining a domestic and public establishment becoming his supposed dignity, runs in debt to the amount of millions of pounds sterling. He owes this to a large number of artisans and tradespeople of all sorts, whose labors and supplies have supported him in his splendid and luxurious style of living, and who can by no means afford to lose their dues. But he can not pay them. He
has indeed an immense property; he has splendid palaces, specimens of exquisite architecture; he has spacious and beautifully ornamented gardens and pleasure-grounds; he has magnificent parks for deer, pheasants, and every variety of game, with natural and artificial ponds for fish; he has immense landed estatesenough, perhaps, to cover the enormous amount of his obligations; but he can not pay. The law will not only not compel him, but even were he disposed, it will not permit him. It may, indeed, enter the poor man's house, and peradventure seize on his last chair, or the scanty bed he rests on from his toil; but when its officer approaches the lordly mansion, he is powerless. The law itself cries out: "Hence-away! These magnificent domains are not to be invaded! They are sacred even from the touch of justice!" And why? why? The owner is a nobleman! A nobleman? Was not Adam his father? and his mother Eve? and were they not mine? There is a nobility which we ought to recognize and honor-the nobility of worth. We can not too profoundly revere it. But must not every liberal mind join me, when I say away with all such nobility as is made by mere broadcloth or by law!
Glance at another wrong. A majority of the people of England are Dissenters. In heart and conscience they are opposed to the claims and practices of the Established Church, and to the principle of establishment. The political relations of that Church they regard as utterly indefensible, and her distinctive form and principles, as a Christian society, as at clear and pernicious variance with the form and essential principles of the primitive Church of Christ. Yet they are compelled by law-rigorously enforcedto sustain what they thus disapprove; while, at the same time, for opinion's sake, they are made subject to educational, civil, and religious disabilities that involve the grossest injustice.
But this first part of our discourse is occupying an undue portion of time. We may safely rest on this rapid and imperfect. survey, to show the eminence of our position as a prosperous and free people. Blemishes there are, indeed, on our character, evils deeply seated and alarming in our social and civil condition, and there are sins stalking through the Republic that spread doubt and gloom over the future; but in a just comparison of our present position with that of other nations, in all the respects which involve and indicate real national prosperity-the social and religious well-being of the people-it is my firm conviction, that we are in clear and signal advance of them all.
I. Our second point relates to the source of this distinction. I have asserted the intimate connection of results with causes. I have said that the latter embody in themselves the essential properties which become manifest in the results they produce. If we have
in a peculiar degree the influences and blessings of popular liberty and a pure religion, the reasons and efficient means have been of a corresponding character. What have they been? When, where, and by whom exerted?
We might resolve this inquiry, in part, by a negative process. We might say that our distinction is not the result of geographical position, giving us facilities for prosperity which others have not; nor of any peculiarly genial influences of climate; nor of any unwonted fertility of soil; nor of any variety or abundance of physical resources above those of other nations.
Look again at Asia. In physical respects God has made a great part of that continent as the very garden of the globe, full of richness and beauty.
Look again at Africa. Where does nature yield her supplies for the wants and welfare of men more spontaneously, or in greater variety and profusion?
Look again at South-America. What majestic mountains, what noble rivers, what mineral wealth, what a balmy atmosphere, what a prolific soil, incomparably superior, I had almost said, in these respects to these cold and once sterile regions of the North. Yet look at the mass of the people-poor, ignorant, superstitious, oppressed. They have heard of Liberty, and long for its blessings, and for years revolutions and counter-revolutions have followed each other in rapid succession, but with what result? It has been a game of mere mercenaries or of despots, for their own aggrandizement under the holy name of freedom. What is the matter in South-America? What crushing, stifling, paralyzing incubus presses upon that glorious land?
Look again at Europe. What a brilliant sky pours down its light and influences, for instance, on Italy! What capabilities of production and of commerce are there! How many historic associations to inspire and ennoble the population! What unrivalled masters in statuary and painting have lived among them! What philosophers and poets of immortal name! Ay, and what patriots have bled among them! Look at beautiful Italy, the land of Cincinnatus, of Brutus, of the Scipios! Have the people any right there? Have they a word to say, as to who shall govern them, or by what laws they will be governed? Have they a free press there? Can they worship God there, according to the dictates of their conscience? Have they an open Bible there? Have they freedom of thought and of speech there, so that a man can utter what he thinks, in no danger of fines, or imprisonment, or death? Alas! massive and galling are the chains on beautiful Italy!
Or, as another instance, glance at Ireland, rich yet wretched; capable of sublime elevation, yet for centuries depressed and debased to almost the lowest depth. What is the matter in Ireland?
What has been the matter for generations? Why such masses of her people, despite their natural gifts, in such melancholy ignorance and servility? Such poverty and superstition? In reply to these inquiries, it will not do to talk of geographical position, for none can be better. Nor will it do to refer to climate or soil, or natural characteristics of any kind, for God has been munificent there in all these respects. Genial suns, refreshing showers, and invigorating breezes try to bless Ireland, and within her sea-girdled shores are millions of most fertile acres. Nor will it wholly satisfy our demand to tell of governmental grievances and oppressions. It may be admitted that there have been and are such oppressions and grievances. Ireland has suffered from English mismanagement and injustice. India and China are not alone in bearing witness, if to British beneficence, so also to British wrongs. The Emerald Isle can justly join them. But when those wrongs have all been recited, and we have assigned them their full share in inducing the special misery of Ireland, we have by no means reached its radical and prolific reason. The womb of Ireland's long-continued calamities, is neither in the British parliament nor on the British throne. It is among the people themselves. It is the blighting and corrupting presence of the Harlot which has cursed Ireland. That inexorable power which, centuries ago, laid its grasp on the intellect and the conscience of the nation, and ever since has fiercely forbidden the light of human knowledge and the light of heaven to shine upon either-which has borne down masses of the people in the darkness of ignorance and under the terrors of superstition-that power is the ultimate and dread source of Ireland's debasement and wo.
But we must turn from this negative process. It is plain to the most superficial observer that the inquiry into the cause or causes of our preeminence, in all those things which constitute national prosperity, has no solution in geography, or climate, or soil, or natural advantages of any kind. From physical nature, we must go with our inquiry into the sphere of principles, and examine the character and doings of men.
First of all, indeed, it becomes us with devout gratitude to say: "God hath not dealt so with any nation." Excepting the ancient Hebrews, I believe this to be a literal truth. An historical induction of facts, showing the aspects and bearing of his holy and gracious providence towards us along our national progress, would furnish a most instructive and impressive demonstration. Ah! my brethren, when in the midst of our blessings we forget God, we are guilty of unnatural and enormous ingratitude. We forget Him who gave us an ancestry such as no other nation ever had; who in the days of our colonial dependence cherished us with all the tenderness of a father; who gave wisdom and unanimity to our councils, and courage and victory to our arms in the fearful