More than our European ancestors, we mold, each one of us, our own destiny; we have a stronger inward sense of power to unfold and elevate ourselves; we are more ready and more capable to withstand the assaults of circumstance. Here is more thoroughly embodied the true Christian principle, that out of himself is to come every man’s redemption; that the favor and help of God are only to be obtained through resolute self-help, and honest, earnest struggle. In Christendom we stand alone as having above us neither the objectivity of politics nor that of the church. The light of the past we have, without its darkness. We carry little weight from the exacting past. Hence, our unexampled freedom and ease of movement which, wanting the old conventional ballast, to Europeans seems lawless and reckless. Even among ourselves, many tremble for our future, because they have little faith in humanity, and because they cannot grasp the new, grand historic phenomenon of a people possessing all the principles, practices, and trophies of civilization without its paralyzing incumbrances.
But think not, because we are less passive to destiny, we are rebellious against Deity; because we are boldly self-reliant, we are, therefore, irreligiously defiant. The freer a people is, the nearer it is to God. The more subjective it is, through acquired self-rule, the more will it harmonize with the high objectivity of absolute truth and justice. For having thrown off the capricious secondary rule of man, we shall not be the less, but the more, under the steadfast, primary rule of God; for having broken the force of human, fallible prescription, we shall the more feel and acknowledge the supremacy of flawless, divine law; for having rejected the tyranny of man’s willfulness, we shall submit the more fully to the beneficent power of principle.
Our birth, growth, and continued weal, depending on large, deep principles—principles deliberately elaborated and adopted by reason, and generously embracing the whole—our life must be interpenetrated by principle, and thence our literature must embrace the widest and most human wants and aspirations of man. And thus, it will be our privilege and our glory to be then the most national in our books when we are the most universal.
USEFULNESS OF ART.
ADDRESS DELIVERED AT THE INAUGURATION OF THE RHODE ISLAND ART ASSOCIATION IN PROVIDENCE, SEPTEMBER 4, 1854.
Gentlemen of the Rhode Island Art Association:—
We are met to inaugurate an Association whose aim and end shall be the encouragement and culture of Art. A most high end—among the highest that men can attempt; an end that never can be entertained except by men of the best breed. There is no art among savages, none among barbarians. Barbarism and art are adversary terms. When men capable of civilization ascend into it, art manifests itself