Famous Americans of Recent Times eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 624 pages of information about Famous Americans of Recent Times.
great corporation?  What of the club-houses that spring up at every corner, for the accommodation of husbands and fathers who find more attractions in wine, supper, and equivocal stories than in the society of their wives and children?  What are we to think of the fact, that among the people who can afford to advertise at the rate of a dollar and a half a line are those who provide women with the means of killing their unborn children,—­a double crime, murder and suicide?  What are we to think of the moral impotence of almost all women to resist the tyranny of fashion, and the necessity that appears to rest upon them to copy every disfiguration invented by the harlots of Paris?  What are we to think of the want both of masculine and moral force in men, which makes them helpless against the extravagance of their households, to support which they do fifty years’ work in twenty, and then die?  What are we to think of the fact, that all the creatures living in the United States enjoy good health, except the human beings, who are nearly all ill?

When we consider such things as these, we cannot help calling in question a kind of public teaching which leaves the people in ignorance of so much that they most need to know.  Henry Ward Beecher is the only clergyman we ever heard who habitually promulgates the truth, that to be ill is generally a sin, and always a shame.  We never heard him utter the demoralizing falsehood, that this present life is short and of small account, and that nothing is worthy of much consideration except the life to come.  He dwells much on the enormous length of this life, and the prodigious revenue of happiness it may yield to those who comply with the conditions of happiness.  It is his habit, also, to preach the duty which devolves upon every person, to labor for the increase of his knowledge and the general improvement of his mind.  We have heard him say on the platform of his church, that it was disgraceful to any mechanic or clerk to let such a picture as the Heart of the Andes be exhibited for twenty-five cents, and not go and see it.  Probably there is not one honest clergyman in the country who does not fairly earn his livelihood by the good he does, or by the evil he prevents.  But not enough good is done, and riot enough evil prevented.  The sudden wealth that has come upon the world since the improvement of the steam-engine adds a new difficulty to the life of millions.  So far, the world does not appear to have made the best use of its too rapidly increased surplus.  “We cannot sell a twelve-dollar book in this country,” said a bookseller to us the other day.  But how easy to sell two-hundred-dollar garments!  There seems great need of something that shall have power to spiritualize mankind, and make head against the reinforced influence of material things.  It may be that the true method of dealing with the souls of modern men has been, in part, discovered by Mr. Beecher, and that it would be well for persons aspiring to the same vocation to begin their preparation by making a pilgrimage to Brooklyn Heights.

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Famous Americans of Recent Times from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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