Imágenes de páginas

is opened there will be a tide of immigrants pouring into Northern Iowa, a country that will then possess all the advantages which Wisconsin and Northern Illinois have enjoyed, in being in the vicinity of the great lakes; besides having the attractions of richness of soil, salubrity of climate, and an abundance of streams.

If we turn now, and look at the republics of South America, where there are no railroads, and no steamboats, except a line which within a few years has been established along the coast of Chili and Peru, we shall find an almost utter destitution of enterprise, progress, and the elements of national prosperity.

Our knowledge, too, of those countries, is far more limited than of those which are even more distant, but with which we have communication by steam. We are much better acquainted with what is transpiring in England, France, Italy and Germany, than with what is taking place in New Grenada, Venezuela and Guiana, the most Northern States of South America.

No one, indeed, can examine a splendid steamer, with its beautiful accommodations, its colossal machinery, and its noble build, without regarding it as the representative of a high state of civilization. Contrast it with the rude canoes which once floated upon the same rivers, now crowded with these majestic structures; and how forcibly are we reminded of the changes so recently wrought upon this continent. In looking, too, at the extensive and complicated machinery of a large factory, and observing one man, with the aid of steam, doing the work which it formerly required fifty or a hundred persons to accomplish, we are astonished at the revolution this element is effecting in society, and can assign no limits to its power. If while yet in its infancy, it is accomplishing such wonders, what may we not expect when it reaches maturity, and has the aid of a longer experience in its application to the arts?

Let our towns and villages be supplied with factories, and our states intersected at every point with railroads, and our rivers crowded with thousands of steamers, and what activity, energy, and prodigious power will be imparted to the nation! And that

William Wheelwright, Esq., a native of Newburyport, Mass., is entitled to the highest praise for his indefatigable efforts in establishing this line of steamers. Independent of the pecuniary advantage to those countries, this movement is vitally connected with the future prosperity, and intellectual and moral condition, of that people.


this is our destiny, whether for weal or for woe, no one can fail to discern. The steam-engine is destined to amass for us immense stores of wealth, and develop with unparalleled rapidity our resources, and clothe the nation with a strength and influence second to no other upon the globe. While other nations, by resisting the improvements of the age, and clinging to antiquated usages, are remaining stationary, we shall be shooting forward, and rapidly increasing in all the elements of national prosperity. In the second place, the agency of the steam-engine, is no less conspicuous in promoting general intelligence. Never, since the invention of printing in the fifteenth century, has the press possessed such power as now. The introduction of steam into our large printing establishments, has enabled publishers to multiply books and periodicals to an indefinite extent; and the influence of the periodical press has become almost unbounded. These publications, multiplied almost as the leaves of the forest, and entering every family, and counting-room, and work-shop; read at the fireside, in the club-room, the steamboat, and the railroad car; and pouring in, day after day, and week after week, cannot but be exerting an immense influence. In regard to all the great questions, and projects, and enterprises, of the day, we are insensibly, though powerfully, influenced by the tone and language of the daily and weekly press. Is a political revolution to be effected? The newspaper and periodical press must chiefly do the work. Are our sympathies to be excited in behalf of the famishing of another nation? The press must furnish us with the sad tidings, and make the appeal to our hearts. Are any great public, or anniversary, meetings held? The press enables the speaker to have the whole country as his audience. Do our rulers, or legislators desire to know the feelings and sentiments of the people in relation to any measures of national interest? They must look to the press for information. We have more than once been struck with the fact, that, while the mass of the people throughout our union, were anxiously looking to those in power to learn what they would do; our rulers have as anxiously been looking to the people for their sentiments and opinions, as expressed through the newspapers and periodicals flowing in upon them from every part of the land.

As a striking illustration of the power of the steam-engine in its application to printing, we might refer to the present opera

tions of the American Bible Society. That society, according to the report of one of its agents, has eight steam-power presses two of them of an enlarged size, capable of printing at one impression forty pages of the duodecimo Bible, or ninety-six pages of the pocket Testament; and giving thirteen impressions in a minute, or seven hundred and eighty in an hour. In the month of August, there were three hundred persons employed daily, in the manufacture of Bibles and Testaments. They were consuming in printing, seven or eight tons of paper per week, and issuing more than two thousand copies a day. Since the formation of this Society, they have issued more than five million copies at home, besides doing much to send the Bible abroad; and in connection with the British and Foreign Bible Society, and other kindred institutions, there have been issued, at least thirty millions of copies in one hundred and seventy different languages or dialects. Now let these steam-presses be established in China, in India, and among those who speak the Turkish language, where, forty years ago, there was not a single Bible to be found, and let them be multiplied in this country, and in Europe, and how speedily might the world be furnished with the word of life! If the steam-engine could be employed for no other purpose than to print the word of God, how inestimable a blessing it would be to mankind!

The unparalleled cheapness with which the Bible can be furnished in this way, places it within the means of the poorest to obtain a copy of the Scriptures. Before the invention of printing, it required from a laboring man, in England, the earnings of thirteen years of constant labor to purchase a copy of the Bible. But now, since the application of the steam-engine to the press, the entire volume may be obtained for twenty-five cents, an amount easily earned in a few hours at the farthest.

In the year 1299, the Bishop of Winchester on borrowing a Bible from the Cathedral Convent of St. Swithen's gave a bond for the return of it, drawn up with great solemnity. For the bequest of this Bible, with one hundred marks, the monks were so grateful, that they appointed a daily mass to be said for the soul of the giver. Indeed any book presented to a religious institution, was deemed so valuable a donation, as to entitle the individual to eternal salvation; and it was usually offered upon the altar with great pomp and ceremony.

So rare were books at this time, that it was only the most wealthy and powerful who could obtain them, and the other orders in society, "were only rescued from the darkness of total ignorance by the reflected light of their superiors, and raised above the rudeness of barbarism, by that partial improvement which men of cultivation and refinement necessarily impart, to all within the sphere of their influence."

Who can estimate the effects upon society of such a change as that now before us? Instead of having as formerly, a single Bible in a whole kingdom, or one deposited in a national library as a rare curiosity, or hid away in a cloister, the Scriptures may be multiplied to an indefinite extent; and scattered every where, as the leaves of the tree of life, for the healing of the nations. Within a very short period, every family in a nation of the size of our own, might be illumined with the sacred light of God's holy word.

In the multiplication, too, of works of science, poetry, philosophy, religion, and general literature, the facilities afforded by the application of steam-power to the press, are unbounded. The poor, as well as the wealthy, the obscure, as well as the most distinguished, may now enrich their minds, from the choicest stores of knowledge. The writings of men eminent for learning and piety, such as Doddridge, Baxter and Edwards, may be multiplied indefinitely; and already, if we are correctly informed, the aggregate issues of all our benevolent societies, amount to about ten thousand volumes per day.

In the third place, the steam-engine is destined to be a powerful instrument in extending Christianity over the world. It is a remarkable fact, that Christianity creates its own agents for the extension of its principles and influence. Nearly all the inventions and discoveries of modern times, are the fruits of the invigorating effect of Christianity upon the human mind. And it is no less remarkable, that these agents are produced just at the time when they are most needed. The art of printing was invented about the year 1438, between the time of Wicliffe, in 1324, who was called the "morning star of the Reformation," and the birth of Luther, which took place in 1484. This was the very period when the press was needed for rapidly disseminating the new doctrines, and enlightening the mass of the people, in regard to the necessity, and the principles of, the Reformation.

At the present time, too, steam-navigation is introduced, and becoming general, at a period when the nations of the world are throwing open their ports for the reception of the gospel. Fifty years ago, when the element of steam had not been applied to purposes of navigation, five hundred millions of the human family closed their gates against the missionaries of the cross; and now they have been opening them, almost at the very moment when it is proved that the ocean can be safely and profitably navigated by steamers.

Let, therefore, through the medium of travel and frequent intercourse, the light of Christian nations be brought in contact with the darkness of heathenism, let the refinement, cultivation, intelligence and useful arts, which are the fruits of the Gospel, be compared with the rudeness, ignorance, and degradation produced by Paganism, and the happiest results must follow.

One of the greatest obstacles to the introduction and progress. of Christianity in heathen lands, is the aversion of the mass of the people, to any changes, or any innovations upon long established usages. Secluded as most of these nations are, from the rest of the world, and tenaciously adhering to customs, modes of life, and forms of religious worship, which have been followed by their fathers, from time immemorial, they have felt, as for instance the Chinese have long felt, that it was impossible that their condition could be improved. Let, however, this veneration for the past be once broken, and the idea impressed upon their minds, that it is possible to improve their social condition; and it will be comparatively easy, with this charm once dissipated, to convince them, that there may be a better faith than that to which they cling, and better hopes of future happiness than those which the dogmas and superstitions of Paganism afford. By the indirect and incidental effects of free intercourse with the less enlightened portions of the earth, much may be accomplished towards the destruction of this obstacle.

Indeed its influence already, is strikingly illustrated, in its effects upon the countries bordering upon the Mediterranean, and particularly upon Turkey. The intercourse opened between this country and other portions of Europe, by steam-navigation, is disturbing the veneration for antiquity, and affecting the habits and manners of the people. New ideas imperceptibly obtain a lodgement in the mind. The views are expanded, and a thirst

« AnteriorContinuar »