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canism), by which we call a man worth as much money as he owns, — by which Fulton is said to have been worth nothing, and that comical old fool, Timothy Dexter, to have been worth half a million.
Meanwhile, a new principle of greatness has been cherished in the bosom of wealth, and has now, we trust, superseded it, so as to characterize the present age. We refer to intellectual greatness. This, indeed, has been wanting in no age, and in none unhonored ; but it has not, until our own day, been generally regarded as the supreme good. In former times, the most liberal culture of mind and the loftiest genius were neglected and despised, when not allied to rank or wealth. Milton selling the first edition of Paradise Lost for five pounds; Otway choked by the godsend of a penny roll, after protracted fasting ; Goldsmith mining, with unsurpassed felicity, every vein of intellectual wealth, and yet dying of desertion and want, are but too faithful memorials of what literary destiny has been. Parasitic plants used to be the only ones from the garden of the Muses, that would flourish under a European sky. Mere literature or science would not keep a man's soul and body together, much less raise him to honor in his lifetime, though it might build him a splendid sepulchre. In order to live, he had to be a laureat, a sycophant, a caterer for aristocratic fancies, a pensioned flatterer of royalty, or, if none of these, his publisher's submissive drudge and man-of-all-work; and even at his best estate, he had to be looked down upon with lordly patronage by men unutterably his inferiors.
The modern revival of industry found the civilized nations of Europe barren of domestic elegance and comfort ; and many generations of growing wealth were occupied in perfecting the physical enjoyment of the prosperous classes of society. How great a work this was, and how essential in many of its departments, our readers may judge, by remembering, that, within the period referred to, it has been deemed gross prodigality for one of the peers of the British realın to have his dining-room strewed with fresh straw and litter every morning, as is the practice now in good stables. But since the wants of the body had been thoroughly cared for, and the last refinement of luxury reached, men, rich men all the world over, have bethought themselves that they had minds also, higher tastes that craved gratification, powers that demanded culture, susceptibilities which a whole universe of beauty and grandeur could only stimulate, not fill. Knowledge, art, literature, science, have now become universal, absorbing, paramount needs of civilized man; and those who supply the most urgent needs of an age are always its great men. The homes, the burial-places of artists, poets, scholars, are now everywhere shrines for pilgrimage. When asked for the list of great men in any country, we hardly let our minds rest on the commanders, the titled heads, or the millionaires, but fill the catalogue with those who, by pencil or chisel, pen or tongue, have given new impulses to the minds of their race, and left memorials of themselves, that can perish only when taste dies out, and sensibility expires, and mind sheds its powers as the autumnal forests their leaves. The aristocracy of the world is now an aristocracy of intellect. The gifts of mind are deemed the best gifts. Every one, possessed of any ambition, wishes to be known as a person of large, or sound, or well-furnished intellect; and the reproach of ignorance, weakness, or folly, is dreaded as the deepest possible stigma.
But these strong intellectual tendencies, while they are to be rejoiced in so far as they go, still leave us much to desire. It is to be feared, that, in the general reverence now paid to intellect, the affections are undervalued, the moral life held in low esteem, the greatness of a pure, true, loving heart depressed far beneath its true place in the regard of society at large. We may trace alarming moral deficiencies in the spirit of our times. Ours is not an age of reverence. Its great men, its strong men, are too often mere Titans, children of the earth, who renew their vigor from their parent soil, and not by converse with a higher sphere of being. There is too much of self-reliance, too litile of faith and trust. Even philanthropy, instead of laying one hand on the eternal throne, and with the other scattering gifts for men, with suicidal madness divorces herself from the altar, and welcomes to her service those that blaspheme as cordially as those that pray. This is an age of skepticism, — not, indeed, of avowed and scoffing infidelity, but of feeble faith in whatever transcends the scope of the individual's own senses and intuitions. Men are too prone, in the pride of intellect, to imagine that they have in their own minds the metes and bounds of eternal truth, and need no teaching
from without. There is a prevalent reluctance to receive truth on authority, no matter how venerable, or how distinctly marked by the attestation of Heaven.
But there is a higher life reserve for our race. There is a higher style of greatness, which men will soon learn to recognize and revere. It is moral greatness, — the life of the affections, — the life of reverence, faith, and love, the life of God in the soul of man. This alone can finally satisfy human desire ; for man's aim has always been after the absolute and the perfect, and in the life of the affections only is this to be reached. How wide a contrast, as to man's power of attainment, is there between mental and moral greatness! Our growth in knowledge is growth in conscious ignorance. The dimensions of truth enlarge before us faster than our conceptions of it. Perfect knowledge, perfect wisdom, are unknown terms this side of heaven. But in moral goodness we are bidden and encouraged to be perfect, - to be the followers of God, — to leave no possible virtue or grace of character out of the scope of our effort or our hope. How strikingly is the contrast between the absolute and permanent worth of mental and moral greatness respectively brought out by the history of those periods when both of them have been undervalued ! The wisest men have always been outgrown in a few generations, and the ignorance of men who filled the world with their renown becomes the laughing-stock of school-boys. . We look down ancient wisdom as men used to look up to it, and future children will learn in their infant schools what is known only to the greatest minds of the present day. But a good man the world never outgrows, never looks down upon. Socrates and Antoninus Pius, Elijah and Daniel, St. Stephen and St. Paul, fill as large and high a place in the world's eye as if they had just died. Fénelon, Howard, Oberlin, will seem to the end of time to have reached as lofty a moral elevation as that on which they stand to our view. The stars in the galaxy of moral excellence never grow dim, nor can they be outshone.
This last stage of progress, this final era of humanity, yet remains, — the era when there shall be recognized no form of greatness apart from moral goodness, -- when art, science, genius, poetry, shall draw their inspiration from heaven, and shall be but ministering spirits to faith, hope, and
love. And though we discern only the faint dawn of this
we are not without its authentic record. Far back in the world's rude infancy, when strength of limb was enough to make a man great, there were written predictions of a golden age to come, when the love of God should be the all-pervading principle, when men should learn war no more, when the waste places of humanity should rejoice, and the wilderness blossom. It is for these days, foreshown in visions from heaven to those ancient seers, that our earnest expectation now waits. It is to roll them on that every true man should gird himself with inward strength, that he may do his part in writing out in the annals of soon coming generations the brightest pages of prophecy.
We have, as we proposed, enumerated several forms of greatness, as having successively occupied the brightest place in the general esteem. We do not, of course, mean to intimate that these forms of greatness have not all existed in every age. Of both mental and moral greatness we find in the remotest antiquity specimens on which we look with the most profound reverence. The true question, however, is not how we look upon those great men, but how they were regarded by their contemporaries. The present age has, perhaps, no greater minds than those of Socrates and Seneca ; but would Socrates, in our day, in the intellectual capital of the world, be made to drink the hemlock, or Seneca be left the choice of dying by another's steel or his own, simply because they made a free and noble use of the powers that God had given them? The moral stature of the prophets and the apostles may never be surpassed ; but has not the day for ever gone by, when, for their very goodness, in civilized communities, men can be sawn asunder, beheaded, and crucified ? The progress which we have sought to trace consists, not in individual instances of character, but in the general sentiment of civilized man; and we have endeavoured to take each successive age, and not our own, for our point of view.
The view now presented suggests an answer to the question, whether civilization will be permanent in its present seats. In the ages that have gone, it has often changed its seats, — indeed, from the earliest times, has moved perpetually in a westward path. What assurance can Europe have that the same mysterious law may not transfer her glory to the New World ? What assurance have we, that, if we reach the summit of civilization and refinement, we may not afterwards sink as low as Egypt, Persia, and Greece have fallen, while new empires on our Pacific shores kindle their altars from our waning fires ? We reply, that, with every stage of progress, civilization embraces more and more individuals, extends to a larger and larger portion of the community, and of course is less and less liable to be exterminated or transferred. When strength of limb was the standard of greatness, there were few great men, and no civilization. Military eminence was within the reach of many more, yet of but a limited number; for the common soldiers must always bear an overwhelmingly large proportion to the leaders. But military talent depends on successful exercise both for its culture and its glory. Conquest annihilates it, and with it the forms of civilization for which it serves as a nucleus. Now this simple statement tells the story of all ancient and buried civilization. It was military in its source, its style, its nutriment, and its aims. It clustered around the place of arms. It shed its fullest light on laurelled heads; and when they were laid low in hopeless defeat, the civilization, of which they had been the centre, perished with them. In the history of the earlier nations, we find that in every instance the conquest of the nation preceded its marked decline in civilization, and preceded it by so brief a space of time, as to establish an undoubted relation of cause and effect. Hereditary rank, the next order of greatness, admits a still larger number within its pale ; yet family distinction has necessary and rather narrow limits, beyond which it would be too cheap to be either prized or honored. When wealth comes in as the ruling object of desire, there is room for more numerous and more miscellaneous competitors, though the harvest is small compared with the multitude of the reapers,
and the poor will probably always outnumber the rich. The aristocracy of mind admits a still broader and more generous competition. And in the substitution of these two open and easily attainable forms of aristocracy for the more exclusive standards of greatness that preceded them, we see the reason, why, since the Middle Ages, civilization has remained and grown in the same seats, though its seats have often been swept by conquering armies, ground by oppression, harassed by chronic misrule. GerVOL. LXIII. - No. 133.