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of Lycurgus we must, like the Spartans, sup black broth, send our boys to the revels of our slaves, or expose our virgins in promiscuous dances, better give over self-government than to buy it so dearly. We protest still, as in America we always have protested, against the conversion of circumstances into consequences—against metamorphosing the incidents of the social relation into the results of a political system. We insist that ignorance, however ingeniously it may assume facts in order to have the pleasure of censuring faults," shall be brought to answer, and stand exposed in all the plenitude and magnitude of its misrepresentations—that disappointed avarice, though it may redeem its unthrift at our cost, shall not belie the wisdom and the honour which it cannot comprehend, without being brought out, shorn and bound, to pay the penalty; and that the smooth and polished man of mark, who slides into our families to sell us to his bookseller, shall not be sheltered by a sneer, because forsooth“ he did but jest--poison in jest.” Sensitive we certainly are; the lion may be roused by a gadfly or a gnat, whose torture, while it stings him into madness detracts not from the nobleness of his nature, nor reduces him to a level with the insect that molests him. Heaven forbid that we should ever become so passively lethargic as not to be roused by a sense of violated confidence and unjust aspersion! The judgment in that cause shall never go against us by default.
If we are not mistaken, however, the day for small tourists has gone by. Their topics were so limited, that repetition has made them nauseous. They afforded but a paltry variety of slander; and of late they have been eked out by some political lucubrations so puerile and absurd, that the medicine cannot be swallowed even with the aid of the confection. There are many intelligent
persons in Europe, whose tendency is to examine for themselves a little more deeply than a flippant satirist can enable them to do, the spring and principle of institutions under which numerous communities live in harmony and prosperity, self-governed and self-balanced, notwithstanding the existence of modes of thought and theories of association unknown to older states. The progress of enquiry has reached a point from which it cannot retrograde. The science of politics is no longer a monopoly. The divinity that “doth hedge a king” has forsaken his tripod. Ordinances have ceased to be oracles. The fundamental law that Louis XVIII gave, Louis Philippe has accepted. What was once begged is now claimed. Parchment and prescription are no longer broad enough to cover abuse and anomaly. The Cornish freeholder comes to the polls without a charter from “ Richard king of the Romans," or his lord paramount. The source of his right is higher up than Norman, or Saxon, or Dane; he derives it from the first Briton who struck his plough into the soil. Intelligent minds are fully awake to the knowledge that the spirit of government is changing, and even where old forms are retained, that much of its ancient character is passing away. They are accordingly marking out and measuring the base of the pyramid, heretofore hidden in the sands or encumbered with rubbish. They will no longer believe those careless or prejudiced travellers who would convince them that it is shapeless and monstrous, since they have seen some of its proportions for themselves. They want its length and breadth, its figure, its material, and its construction; its relation to the superstructure, its capacity to withstand the convulsions of nature, the corrosion of time, and the efforts of an enemy.
We shall owe much to the day which witnesses the
satisfactory solution of this problem, or a closer approximation to it. It will change the minority into a majority, and we shall get the benefit of a division in which the strong side votes with us. Its arrival may be deferred, but the light which it throws forward is already reaching us. Nay it has reached, in times long past, every great spirit whom the truth has made free, and who, in daring to assert the prerogative of human thought, has done his part in the enfranchisement of his species. Our own country is an incident in the history of improvement, the sequel of which, if unfortunate, may influence, but cannot finally obstruct, the progress of knowledge. The heretic (as he was called) who fled into the desert to escape the fagot of his orthodox brethren, in the early days of the church, had the same cause with the pilgrims whom the Stuarts drove across the Atlantic. The one left a name, the other founded an empire, consecrated to human rights. Name and empire may both perish, still thought will not be enslaved; the veteris vestigia flammæ, the traces of that ancient fire, cannot be obliterated. We will no more stake the hopes of liberty upon the fate of one republic, than we would have done those of conscience upon the life of Wickliffe, or the progress of science
the freedom of Galileo. We see them rather in the history of mankind, and in the exertions which every age renews with redoubled energy and effect. We see them in the increased and manifold strength with which, like Antæus, man rises from his successive prostrations upon the earth, in the calmer and more confident bearing of her advocates, and in the buoyant and persevering spirit of her cause. It is we who are dependent upon freedom, not freedom upon us.
EPISTLE TO GIFFORD.
BY WILLIAM CLIFTON.
In these cold shades, beneath these shifting skies, Where fancy sickens, and where genius dies; Where few and feeble are the Muse's strains, And no fine frenzy riots in the veins, There still are found a few to whom belong The fire of virtue and the soul of song; Whose kindling ardour still can wake the strings When learning triumphs, and when Gifford sings. To thee the lowliest bard his tribute pays, His little wild-flower to thy wreath conveys; Pleased, if permitted round thy name to bloom, To boast one effort rescued from the tomb.
While this delirious age enchanted seems
every trace Of Grecian vigour, and of Roman grace, With fond delight, we yet one bard behold, As Horace polish'd, and as Persius bold, Reclaim the art, assert the Muse divine, And drive obtrusive dulness from the shrine. Since that great day which saw the tablet rise, A thinking block, and whisper to the eyes, No time has been that touch'd the Muse so near, No age when learning had so much to fear, As now, when love-lorn ladies light verse frame, And every rebus-weaver talks of fame.
When Truth in classic majesty appeared, And Greece, on high, the dome of science reared, Patience and perseverance, care and pain Alone the steep, the rough ascent could gain: None but the great the sun-clad summit found; The weak were baffled, and the strong were crowned. The tardy Transcript's high wrought page confined To one pursuit the undivided mind. No venal critic fattened on the trade; Books for delight, and not for sale were made. "Then shone, superior, in the realms of thought, The chief who governed, and the sage who taught; The Drama then with deathless bays was wreathed, The statue quickened, and the canvass breathed. The poet then, with unresisted art, Swayed every impulse of the captive heart. Touched with a beam of Heaven's creative mind, His spirit kindled, and his taste refined; Incessant toil inform'd his rising youth; Thought grew to thought, and truth attracted truth, Till, all complete, his perfect soul displayed Some bloom of genius which could never fade. So the sage oak, to Nature's mandate true, Advanced but slow, and strengthened as it grew! But when at length, (full many a season o'er,) Its virile head, in pride, aloft it bore; When stedfast were its roots, and sound its heart, It bade defiance to the insect's art, And, storm and time resisting, still remains The never dying glory of the plains,
Then, if some thoughtless Bavius dared appear,