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Title: Speeches, Addresses, and Occasional Sermons, Volume 1 (of 3)
Author: Parker, Theodore, 1810-1860
Language: English
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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1855, by
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court
of the District of Massachusetts.






I have collected in these volumes several Speeches, Addresses and
occasional Sermons, which I have delivered at various times during the
last seven years. Most of them were prepared for some special emergency:
only two papers, that on "The Relation of Jesus to his Age and the
Ages," and that on "Immortal Life," were written without reference to
some such emergency. All of them have been printed before, excepting the
sermon "Of General Taylor," and the address on "The American Scholar;"
some have been several times reprinted. I do not know that they are
worthy of republication in this permanent form, but the leading ideas of
these volumes are very dear to me, and are sure to live as long as the
human race shall continue. So I have published a small edition, hoping
that the truths which I know are contained in these pages will do a
service long after the writer, and the occasion of their utterance, have
passed off and been forgot. I offer them to whom they may concern.


AUGUST 24, 1851.



Sermon preached at the Thursday Lecture, in Boston,
December 26, 1844                                              PAGE 1


at the Installation of Theodore Parker as Minister of the
Twenty-Eighth Congregational Church in Boston, on Sunday,
January 4, 1846                                                    23


A SERMON OF WAR.--Preached at the Melodeon, on Sunday,
June 7, 1846                                                       63


FANUEIL HALL, February 4, 1847                                    113


Melodeon, on Sunday, June 25, 1848                                127


at the Melodeon on Sunday, August 30, 1846                        185


A SERMON OF MERCHANTS.--Preached at the Melodeon,
on Sunday, November 22, 1846                                      227


at the Melodeon, on Sunday, January 31, 1847                      279


A SERMON OF POVERTY.--Preached at the Melodeon, on
Sunday, January 14, 1849                                          333


at the Melodeon, on Sunday, February 11, 1849                     364




     "Have any of the Rulers, or of the Pharisees, believed on

In all the world there is nothing so remarkable as a great man; nothing
so rare; nothing which so well repays study. Human nature is loyal at
its heart, and is, always and everywhere, looking for this its true
earthly sovereign. We sometimes say that our institutions, here in
America, do not require great men; that we get along better without than
with such. But let a real, great man light on our quarter of the planet;
let us understand him, and straightway these democratic hearts of ours
burn with admiration and with love. We wave in his words, like corn in
the harvest wind. We should rejoice to obey him, for he would speak what
we need to hear. Men are always half expecting such a man. But when he
comes, the real, great man that God has been preparing,--men are
disappointed; they do not recognize him. He does not enter the city
through the gates which expectants had crowded. He is a fresh fact,
brand new; not exactly like any former fact. Therefore men do not
recognize nor acknowledge him. His language is strange, and his form
unusual. He looks revolutionary, and pulls down ancient walls to build
his own temple, or, at least, splits old rocks asunder, and quarries
anew fresh granite and marble.

There are two classes of great men. Now and then some arise whom all
acknowledge to be great, soon as they appear. Such men have what is true
in relation to the wants and expectations of to-day. They say, what many
men wished but had not words for; they translate into thought what, as a
dim sentiment, lay a burning in many a heart, but could not get entirely
written out into consciousness. These men find a welcome. Nobody
misunderstands them. The world follows at their chariot-wheels, and
flings up its cap and shouts its huzzas,--for the world is loyal, and
follows its king when it sees and knows him. The good part of the world
follows the highest man it comprehends; the bad, whoever serves its

But there is another class of men so great, that all cannot see their
greatness. They are in advance of men's conjectures, higher than their
dreams; too good to be actual, think some. Therefore, say many, there
must be some mistake; this man is not so great as he seems; nay, he is
no great man at all, but an impostor. These men have what is true not
merely in relation to the wants and expectations of men here and to-day;
but what is true in relation to the Universe, to Eternity, to God. They
do not speak what you and I have been trying to say, and cannot; but
what we shall one day years hence, wish to say, after we have improved
and grown up to man's estate.

Now it seems to me, the men of this latter class, when they come, can
never meet the approbation of the censors and guides of public opinion.
Such as wished for a new great man had a superstition of the last one in
their minds. They expected the new to be just like the old, but he is
altogether unlike. Nature is rich, but not rich enough to waste any
thing. So there are never two great men very strongly similar. Nay, this
new great man, perhaps, begins by destroying much that the old one built
up with tears and prayers. He shows, at first, the limitations and
defects of the former great man; calls in question his authority. He
refuses all masters; bows not to tradition; and with seeming
irreverence, laughs in the face of the popular idols. How will the
"respectable men," the men of a few good rules and those derived from
their fathers "the best of men and the wisest,"--how will they regard
this new great man? They will see nothing remarkable in him except that
he is fluent and superficial, dangerous and revolutionary. He disturbs
their notions of order; he shows that the institutions of society are
not perfect; that their imperfections are not of granite or marble, but
only of words written on soft wax, which may be erased and others
written thereon anew. He shows that such imperfect institutions are less
than one great man. The guides and censors of public opinion will not
honor such a man, they will hate him. Why not? Some others not half so
well bred, nor well furnished with precedents, welcome the new great
man; welcome his ideas; welcome his person. They say, "Behold a

       *       *       *       *       *

When Jesus, the son of Mary, a poor woman, wife of Joseph the carpenter,
in the little town of Nazareth, when he "began to be about thirty years
old," and began also to open his mouth in the synagogues and the
highways, nobody thought him a great man at all, as it seems. "Who are
you?" said the guardians of public opinion. He found men expecting a
great man. This, it seems, was the common opinion, that a great man was
to arise, and save the Church, and save the State. They looked back to
Moses, a divine man of antiquity, whose great life had passed into the
world, and to whom men had done honor, in various ways; amongst others,
by telling all sorts of wonders he wrought, and declaring that none
could be so great again; none get so near to God. They looked back also
to the prophets, a long line of divine men, so they reckoned, but less
than the awful Moses; his stature was far above the nation, who hid
themselves in his shadow. Now the well-instructed children of Abraham
thought the next great man must be only a copy of the last, repeat his
ideas, and work in the old fashion. Sick men like to be healed by the
medicine which helped them the last time; at least, by the customary
drugs which are popular.

In Judea, there were then parties of men, distinctly marked. There were
the Conservatives,--they represented the church, tradition,
ecclesiastical or theocratical authority. They adhered to the words of
the old books, the forms of the old rites, the tradition of the elders.
"Nobody but a Jew can be saved," said they; "he only by circumcision,
and the keeping of the old formal law; God likes that, He accepts
nothing else." These were the Pharisees, with their servants the
Scribes. Of this class were the Priests and the Levites in the main, the
National party, the Native-Hebrew party of that time. They had
tradition, Moses and the prophets; they believed in tradition, Moses and
the prophets, at least in public; what they believed in private God
knew, and so did they. I know nothing of that.

Then there was the indifferent party; the Sadducees, the State. They had
wealth, and they believed in it, both in public and private too. They
had a more generous and extensive cultivation than the Pharisees. They
had intercourse with foreigners, and understood the writers of Ionia and
Athens which the Pharisee held in abhorrence. These were sleek
respectable men, who, in part, disbelieved the Jewish theology. It is no
very great merit to disbelieve even in the devil, unless you have a
positive faith in God to take up your affections. The Sadducee believed
neither in angel nor resurrection--not at all in the immortality of the
soul. He believed in the state, in the laws, the constables, the prisons
and the axe. In religious matters, it seems the Pharisee had a positive
belief, only it was a positive belief in a great mistake. In religious
matters the Sadducee had no positive belief at all; not even in an
error: at least, some think so. His distinctive affirmation was but a
denial. He believed what he saw with his eyes, touched with his fingers,
tasted with his tongue. He never saw, felt, nor tasted immortal life; he
had no belief therein. There was once a heathen Sadducee who said, "My
right arm is my God!"

There was likewise a party of Come-outers. They despaired of the State
and the Church too, and turned off into the wilderness, "where the wild
asses quench their thirst," building up their organizations free, as
they hoped, from all ancient tyrannies. The Bible says nothing directly
of these men in its canonical books. It is a curious omission; but two
Jews, each acquainted with foreign writers, Josephus and Philo, give an
account of these. These were the Essenes, an ascetic sect, hostile to
marriage, at least, many of them, who lived in a sort of association by
themselves, and had all things in common.

The Pharisees and the Sadducees had no great living and ruling ideas;
none I mean which represented man, his hopes, wishes, affections, his
aspirations and power of progress. That is no very rare case, perhaps,
you will say, for a party in the Church or the State to have no such
ideas, but they had not even a plausible substitute for such ideas. They
seemed to have no faith in man, in his divine nature, his power of
improvement. The Essenes had ideas; had a positive belief; had faith in
man, but it was weakened in a great measure by their machinery. They,
like the Pharisee and the Sadducee, were imprisoned in their
organization, and probably saw no good out of their own party lines.

It is a plain thing that no one of these three parties would accept,
acknowledge, or even perceive the greatness of Jesus of Nazareth. His
ideas were not their notions. He was not the man they were looking for;
not at all the Messiah, the anointed one of God, which they wanted. The
Sadducee expected no new great man unless it was a Roman quæstor, or
procurator; the Pharisees looked for a Pharisee stricter than Gamaliel;
the Essenes for an Ascetic. It is so now. Some seem to think that if
Jesus were to come back to the earth, he would preach Unitarian
sermons, from a text out of the Bible, and prove his divine mission and
the everlasting truths, the truths of necessity that he taught, in the
Unitarian way, by telling of the miracles he wrought eighteen hundred
years ago; that he would prove the immortality of the soul by the fact
of his own corporeal resurrection. Others seem to think that he would
deliver homilies of a severer character; would rate men roundly about
total depravity, and tell of unconditional election, salvation without
works, and imputed righteousness, and talk of hell till the women and
children fainted, and the knees of men smote together for trembling.
Perhaps both would be mistaken.

So it was then. All these three classes of men, imprisoned in their
prejudices and superstitions, were hostile. The Pharisees said, "We know
that God spake unto Moses; but as for this fellow, we know not whence he
is. He blasphemeth Moses and the prophets; yea, he hath a devil, and is
mad, why hear him?" The Sadducees complained that "he stirred up the
people;" so he did. The Essenes, no doubt, would have it that he was "a
gluttonous man and a wine-bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners."
Tried by these three standards, the judgment was true; what could he do
to please these three parties? Nothing! nothing that he would do. So
they hated him; all hated him, and sought to destroy him. The cause is
plain. He was so deep they could not see his profoundness; too high for
their comprehension; too far before them for their sympathy. He was not
the great man of the day. He found all organizations against him; Church
and State. Even John the Baptist, a real prophet, but not the prophet,
doubted if Jesus was the one to be followed. If Jesus had spoken for the
Pharisees, they would have accepted his speech and the speaker too. Had
he favored the Sadducees, he had been a great man in their camp, and
Herod would gladly have poured wine for the eloquent Galilean, and have
satisfied the carpenter's son with purple and fine linen. Had he praised
the Essenes, uttering their Shibboleth, they also would have paid him
his price, have made him the head of their association perhaps, at
least, have honored him in their way. He spoke for none of these. Why
should they honor or even tolerate him? It were strange had they done
so. Was it through any fault or deficiency of Jesus, that these men
refused him? quite the reverse. The rain falls and the sun shines on the
evil and the good; the work of infinite power, wisdom and goodness is
before all men, revealing the invisible things, yet the fool hath said,
ay, said in his heart, "There is no God!"

Jesus spoke not for the prejudices of such, and therefore they rejected
him. But as he spoke truths for man, truths from God, truths adapted to
man's condition there, to man's condition everywhere and always, when
the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Essenes went away, their lips curling
with scorn; when they gnashed on one another with their teeth, there
were noble men and humble women, who had long awaited the consolation of
Israel, and they heard him, heard him gladly. Yes, they left all to
follow him. Him! no, it was not him they followed; it was God in him
they obeyed, the God of truth, the God of love.

There were men not counted in the organized sects; men weary of
absurdities; thirsting for the truth; sick, they knew not why nor of
what, yet none the less sick, and waiting for the angel who should heal
them, though by troubled waters and remedies unknown. These men had not
the prejudices of a straightly organized and narrow sect. Perhaps they
had not its knowledge, or its good manners. They were "unlearned and
ignorant men," those early followers of Christ. Nay, Jesus himself had
no extraordinary culture, as the world judges of such things. His
townsmen wondered, on a famous occasion, how he had learned to read. He
knew little of theologies, it would seem; the better for him, perhaps.
No doubt the better for us that he insisted on none. He knew they were
not religion. The men of Galilee did not need theology. The youngest
scribe in the humblest theological school at Jerusalem, if such a thing
were in those days, could have furnished theology enough to believe in
a life-time. They did need religion; they did see it as Jesus unfolded
its loveliness; they did welcome it when they saw; welcome it in their

If I were a poet as some are born, and skilled to paint with words what
shall stand out as real, to live before the eye, and then dwell in the
affectionate memory for ever, I would tell of the audience which heard
the Sermon on the mount, which listened to the parables, the rebukes,
the beautiful beatitudes. They were plain men, and humble women; many of
them foolish like you and me; some of them sinners. But they all had
hearts; had souls, all of them--hearts made to love, souls expectant of
truth. When he spoke, some said, no doubt, "That is a new thing, that
The true worshipper shall worship in spirit and in truth, as well here
as in Jerusalem, now as well as any time; that also is a hard saying,
Love your enemies; forgive them, though seventy times seven they smite
and offend you; that notion that the law and the prophets are contained,
all that is essentially religious thereof, in one precept, Love men as
yourself, and God with all your might. This differs a good deal from the
Pharisaic orthodoxy of the synagogue. That is a bold thing, presumptuous
and revolutionary to say, I am greater than the temple, wiser than
Solomon, a better symbol of God than both." But there was something
deeper than Jewish orthodoxy in their hearts; something that Jewish
orthodoxy could not satisfy, and what was yet more troublesome to
ecclesiastical guides, something that Jewish orthodoxy could not keep
down, nor even cover up. Sinners were converted at his reproof. They
felt he rebuked whom he loved. Yet his pictures of sin and sinners too,
were any thing but flattering. There was small comfort in them. Still it
was not the publicans and harlots who laid their hands on the place
where their hearts should be, saying, "You hurt our feelings," and "we
can't bear you!" Nay, they pondered his words, repenting in tears. He
showed them their sin; its cause, its consequence, its cure. To them he
came as a Saviour, and they said, "Thou art well-come," those penitent
Magdalens weeping at his feet.

It would be curious could we know the mingled emotions that swayed the
crowd which rolled up around Jesus, following him, as the tides obey the
moon, wherever he went; curious to see how faces looked doubtful at
first as he began to speak at Tabor or Gennesareth, Capernaum or
Gischala, then how the countenance of some lowered and grew black with
thunder suppressed but cherished, while the face of others shone as a
branch of stars seen through some disparted cloud in a night of fitful
storms, a moment seen and then withdrawn. It were curious to see how
gradually many discordant feelings, passion, prejudice and pride were
hushed before the tide of melodious religion he poured out around him,
baptizing anew saint and sinner, and old and young, into one brotherhood
of a common soul, into one immortal service of the universal God; to see
how this young Hebrew maid, deep-hearted, sensitive, enthusiastic,
self-renouncing, intuitive of heavenly truth, rich as a young vine, with
clustering affections just purpling into ripeness,--how she seized,
first and all at once, the fair ideal, and with generous bosom
confidingly embraced it too; how that old man, gray-bearded, with
baldness on his head, full of precepts and precedents, the lore of his
fathers, the experience of a hard life, logical, slow, calculating,
distrustful, remembering much and fearing much, but hoping little,
confiding only in the fixed, his reverence for the old deepening as he
himself became of less use,--to see how he received the glad
inspirations of the joiner's son, and wondering felt his youth steal
slowly back upon his heart, reviving aspirations, long ago forgot, and
then the crimson tide of early hope come gushing, tingling on through
every limb; to see how the young man halting between principle and
passion, not yet petrified into worldliness, but struggling, uncertain,
half reluctant, with those two serpents, Custom and Desire, that
beautifully twined about his arms and breast and neck, their wormy
folds, concealing underneath their burnished scales the dragon's awful
strength, the viper's poison fang, the poor youth caressing their snaky
crests, and toying with their tongues of flame--to see how he slowly,
reluctantly, amid great questionings of heart, drank in the words of
truth, and then, obedient to the angel in his heart, shook off, as ropes
of sand, that hideous coil and trod the serpents underneath his feet.
All this, it were curious, ay, instructive too, could we but see.

They heard him with welcome various as their life. The old men said, "It
is Moses or Elias; it is Jeremiah, one of the old prophets arisen from
the dead, for God makes none such, now-a-days, in the sterile dotage of
mankind." The young men and maidens doubtless it was that said, "This is
the Christ; the desire of the nations; the hope of the world, the great
new prophet; the Son of David; the Son of Man; yes, the Son of God. He
shall be our king." Human nature is loyal, and follows its king soon as
it knows him. Poor lost sheep! the children of men look always for their
guide, though so often they look in vain.

How he spoke, words deep and piercing; rebukes for the wicked, doubly
rebuking, because felt to have come out from a great, deep, loving
heart. His first word was, perhaps, "Repent," but with the assurance
that the kingdom of God was here and now, within reach of all. How his
doctrines, those great truths of nature, commended themselves to the
heart of each, of all simple-souled men looking for the truth! He spoke
out of his experience; of course into theirs. He spoke great doctrines,
truths vast as the soul, eternal as God, winged with beauty from the
loveliness of his own life. Had he spoken for the Jews alone, his words
had perished with that people; for that time barely, the echo of his
name had died away in his native hamlet; for the Pharisees, the
Sadducees, the Essence, you and I had heard of him but as a Rabbi; nay,
had never been blest by him at all. Words for a nation, an age, a sect,
are of use in their place, yet they soon come to nought. But as he spoke
for eternity, his truths ride on the wings of time; as he spoke for man,
they are welcome, beautiful and blessing, wherever man is found, and so
must be till man and time shall cease.

He looked not back, as the Pharisee, save for illustrations and
examples. He looked forward for his direction. He looked around for his
work. There it lay, the harvest plenteous, the laborers few. It is
always so. He looked not to men for his idea, his word to speak; as
little for their applause. He looked in to God, for guidance, wisdom,
strength, and as water in the wilderness, at the stroke of Moses, in the
Hebrew legend, so inspiration came at his call, a mighty stream of truth
for the nation, faint, feeble, afraid, and wandering for the promised
land; drink for the thirsty, and cleansing for the unclean.

But he met opposition; O, yes, enough of it. How could it be otherwise?
It must be so. The very soul of peace, he brought a sword. His word was
a consuming fire. The Pharisees wanted to be applauded, commended; to
have their sect, their plans, their traditions praised and flattered.
His word to them was, "Repent;" of them, to the people, "Such
righteousness admits no man to the kingdom of heaven; they are a
deceitful prophecy, blind guides, hypocrites; not sons of Abraham, but
children of the devil." They could not bear him; no wonder at it. He was
the aggressor; had carried the war into the very heart of their system.
They turned out of their company a man whose blindness he healed,
because he confessed that fact. They made a law that all who believed on
him, should also be cast out. Well they might hate him, those old
Pharisees. His existence was their reproach; his preaching their trial;
his life with its outward goodness, his piety within, was their
condemnation. The man was their ruin, and they knew it. The cunning can
see their own danger, but it is only men wise in mind, or men simple of
heart, that can see their real, permanent safety and defence; never the
cunning, neither then, neither now.

Jesus looked to God for his truth, his great doctrines not his own,
private, personal, depending on his idiosyncracies, and therefore only
subjectively true,--but God's, universal, everlasting, the absolute
religion. I do not know that he did not teach some errors also, along
with it. I care not if he did. It is by his truths that I know him, the
absolute religion he taught and lived; by his highest sentiments that
he is to be appreciated. He had faith in God and obeyed God; hence his
inspiration, great, in proportion to the greater endowment, moral and
religious, which God gave him, great likewise in proportion to his
perfect obedience. He had faith in man none the less. Who ever yet had
faith in God that had none in man? I know not. Surely no inspired
prophet. As Jesus had faith in man, so he spoke to men. Never yet, in
the wide world, did a prophet arise, appealing with a noble heart and a
noble life to the soul of goodness in man, but that soul answered to the
call. It was so most eminently with Jesus. The Scribes and Pharisees
could not understand by what authority he taught. Poor Pharisees! how
could they? His phylacteries were no broader than those of another man;
nay, perhaps he had no phylacteries at all, nor even a broad-bordered
garment. Men did not salute him in the market-place, sandals in hand,
with their "Rabbi! Rabbi!" Could such men understand by what authority
he taught? no more than they dared answer his questions. They that knew
him, felt he had authority quite other than that claimed by the Scribes;
the authority of true words, the authority of a noble life; yes, the
authority which God gives a great moral and religious man. God delegates
authority to men just in proportion to their power of truth, and their
power of goodness; to their being and their life. So God spoke in
Jesus, as he taught the perfect religion, anticipated, developed, but
never yet transcended.

       *       *       *       *       *

This then was the relation of Jesus to his age: the sectarians cursed
him; cursed him by their gods; rejected him, abused him, persecuted him;
sought his life. Yes, they condemned him in the name of God. All evil
says the proverb, begins in that name; much continues to claim it. The
religionists, the sects, the sectarian leaders rejected him, condemned
and slew him at the last, hanging his body on a tree. Poor priests of
the people, they hoped thereby to stifle that awful soul! they only
stilled the body; that soul spoke with a thousand tongues. So in the
times of old when the Saturnian day began to dawn, it might be fabled
that the old Titanic race, lovers of darkness and haters of the light,
essayed to bar the rising morning from the world, and so heaped Pelion
upon Ossa, and Olympus on Pelion; but first the day sent up his crimson
flush upon the cloud, and then his saffron tinge, and next the sun came
peering o'er the loftiest height, magnificently fair--and down the
mountain's slanting ridge poured the intolerable day; meanwhile those
triple hills, laboriously piled, came toppling, tumbling down, with
lumbering crush, and underneath their ruin hid the helpless giants'
grave. So was it with men who sat in Moses' seat. But this people, that
"knew not the Law," and were counted therefore accursed, they welcomed
Jesus as they never welcomed the Pharisee, the Sadducee or the Scribe.
Ay, hence were their tears. The hierarchical fire burnt not so bright
contrasted with the sun. That people had a Simon Peter, a James, and a
John, men not free from faults no doubt, the record shows it, but with
hearts in their bosoms, which could be kindled, and then could light
other hearts. Better still, there were Marthas and Marys among that
people who "knew not the law" and were cursed. They were the mothers of
many a church.

       *       *       *       *       *

The character of Jesus has not changed; his doctrines are still the
same; but what a change in his relation to the age, nay to the ages. The
stone that the builders rejected is indeed become the head of the
corner, and its foundation too. He is worshipped as a God. That is the
rank assigned him by all but a fraction of the Christian world. It is no
wonder. Good men worship the best thing they know, and call it God. What
was taught to the mass of men, in those days, better than the character
of Christ? Should they rather worship the Grecian Jove, or the Jehovah
of the Jews? To me it seems the moral attainment of Jesus was above the
hierarchical conception of God, as taught at Athens, Rome, Jerusalem.
Jesus was the prince of peace, the king of truth, praying for his
enemies--"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!" The
Jehovah of the Old Testament, was awful and stern, a man of war, hating
the wicked. The sacerdotal conception of God at Rome and Athens was
lower yet. No wonder then, that men soon learned to honor Jesus as a
God, and then as God himself. Apostolical and other legends tell of his
divine birth, his wondrous power that healed the sick, palsied and
crippled, deaf and dumb and blind; created bread; turned water into
wine, and bid obedient devils come and go, a power that raised the dead.
They tell that nature felt with him, and at his death the strongly
sympathizing sun paused at high noon, and for three hours withheld the
day; that rocks were rent, and opening graves gave up their sainted
dead, who trod once more the streets of Zion, the first fruits of them
that slept; they tell too how disappointed Death gave back his prey, and
spirit-like, Jesus restored, in flesh and shape the same, passed through
the doors shut up, and in a bodily form was taken up to heaven before
the face of men! Believe men of these things as they will. To me they
are not truth and fact, but mythic symbols and poetry; the psalm of
praise with which the world's rude heart extols and magnifies its King.
It is for his truth and his life, his wisdom, goodness, piety, that he
is honored in my heart; yes, in the world's heart. It is for this that
in his name churches are built, and prayers are prayed; for this that
the best things we know, we honor with his name.

He is the greatest person of the ages; the proudest achievement of the
human race. He taught the absolute religion, love to God and man. That
God has yet greater men in store I doubt not; to say this is not to
detract from the majestic character of Christ, but to affirm the
omnipotence of God. When they come, the old contest will be renewed, the
living prophet stoned; the dead one worshipped. Be that as it may, there
are duties he teaches us far different from those most commonly taught.
He was the greatest fact in the whole history of man. Had he conformed
to what was told him of men; had he counselled only with flesh and
blood; he had been nothing but a poor Jew--the world had lost that rich
endowment of religious genius, that richest treasure of religious life,
the glad tidings of the one religion, absolute and true. What if he had
said, as others, "None can be greater than Moses, none so great?" He had
been a dwarf; the spirit of God had faded from his soul! But he
conferred with God, not men; took counsel of his hopes, not his fears.
Working for men, with men, by men, trusting in God, and pure as truth,
he was not scared at the little din of church or state, and trembled
not, though Pilate and Herod were made friends only to crucify him that
was a born King of the world. Methinks I hear that lofty spirit say to
you or me, poor brother, fear not, nor despair. The goodness actual in
me is possible for all. God is near thee now as then to me; rich as ever
in truth, as able to create, as willing to inspire. Daily and nightly He
showers down his infinitude of light. Open thine eyes to see, thy heart
to live. Lo, God is here.



For nearly a year we have assembled within these walls from week to
week,--I think not idly; I know you have not come for any trivial end.
You have recently made a formal organization of yourselves for religious
action. To-day, at your request, I enter regularly on a ministry in the
midst of you. What are we doing; what do we design to do? We are here to
establish a Christian church; and a Christian church, as I understand
it, is a body of men and women united together in a common desire of
religious excellence and with a common regard for Jesus of Nazareth,
regarding him as the noblest example of morality and religion,--as the
model, therefore, in this respect for us. Such a church may have many
rites, as our Catholic brothers, or but few rites, as our Protestant
brothers, or no rites at all, as our brothers, the Friends. It may be,
nevertheless, a Christian church; for the essential of substance, which
makes it a religious body, is the union for the purpose of cultivating
love to God and man; and the essential of form, which makes it a
Christian body, is the common regard for Jesus, considered as the
highest representative of God that we know. It is not the form, either
of ritual or of doctrine, but the spirit which constitutes a Christian
church. A staff may sustain an old man, or a young man may bear it in
his hands as a toy, but walking is walking, though the man have no staff
for ornament or support. A Christian spirit may exist under rituals and
doctrines the most diverse. It were hard to say a man is not a
Christian, because he believes in the doctrine of the Trinity, or the
Pope, while Jesus taught no such doctrine; foolish to say one is no
Christian because he denies the existence of a Devil, though Jesus
believed it. To make a man's Christian name depend on a belief of all
that is related by the numerous writers in the Bible, is as absurd as to
make that depend on a belief in all the words of Luther, or Calvin, or
St. Augustine. It is not for me to say a man is not theoretically a
Christian because he believes that Slavery is a Divine and Christian
institution; that War is grateful to God--saying, with the Old
Testament, that God himself "is a man of war," who teaches men to fight,
and curses such as refuse;--or because he believes that all men are
born totally depraved, and the greater part of them are to be damned
everlastingly by "a jealous God," who is "angry with the wicked every
day," and that the few are to be "saved" only because God unjustly
punished an innocent man for their sake. I will not say a man is not a
Christian though he believe all the melancholy things related of God in
some parts of the Old Testament, yet I know few doctrines so hostile to
real religion as these have proved themselves. In our day it has
strangely come to pass that a little sect, themselves hooted at and
called "Infidels" by the rest of Christendom, deny the name of Christian
to such as publicly reject the miracles of the Bible. Time will
doubtless correct this error. Fire is fire, and ashes ashes, say what we
may; each will work after its kind. Now if Christianity be the absolute
religion, it must allow all beliefs that are true, and it may exist and
be developed in connection with all forms consistent with the absolute
religion, and the degree thereof represented by Jesus.

The action of a Christian church seems to be twofold: first on its own
members, and then, through their means, on others out of its pale. Let a
word be said of each in its order. If I were to ask you why you came
here to-day; why you have often come to this house hitherto?--the
serious amongst you would say: That we might become better; more manly;
upright before God and downright before men; that we might be
Christians, men good and pious after the fashion Jesus spoke of. The
first design of such a church then is to help ourselves become
Christians. Now the substance of Christianity is Piety--Love to God, and
Goodness--Love to men. It is a religion, the germs whereof are born in
your heart, appearing in your earliest childhood; which are developed
just in proportion as you become a man, and are indeed the standard
measure of your life. As the primeval rock lies at the bottom of the sea
and appears at the top of the loftiest mountains, so in a finished
character religion underlies all and crowns all. Christianity, to be
perfect and entire, demands a complete manliness; the development of the
whole man, mind, conscience, heart and soul. It aims not to destroy the
sacred peculiarities of individual character. It cherishes and develops
them in their perfection, leaving Paul to be Paul, not Peter, and John
to be John, not Jude nor James. We are born different, into a world
where unlike things are gathered together, that there may be a special
work for each. Christianity respects this diversity in men, aiming not
to undo but further God's will; not fashioning all men after one
pattern, to think alike, act alike, be alike, even look alike. It is
something far other than Christianity which demands that. A Christian
church then should put no fetters on the man; it should have unity of
purpose, but with the most entire freedom for the individual. When you
sacrifice the man to the mass in church or state, church or state
becomes an offence, a stumbling-block in the way of progress, and must
end or mend. The greater the variety of individualities in church or
state, the better is it, so long as all are really manly, humane and
accordant. A church must needs be partial, not catholic, where all men
think alike, narrow and little. Your church-organ, to have compass and
volume, must have pipes of various sound, and the skilful artist
destroys none, but tunes them all to harmony; if otherwise, he does not
understand his work. In becoming Christians let us not cease to be men;
nay, we cannot be Christians unless we are men first. It were
unchristian to love Christianity better than the truth, or Christ better
than man.

But Christianity is not only the absolute religion; it has also the
ideal-man. In Jesus of Nazareth it gives us, in a certain sense, the
model of religious excellence. It is a great thing to have the perfect
idea of religion; to have also that idea made real, satisfactory to the
wants of any age, were a yet further greatness. A Christian church
should aim to have its members Christians as Jesus was the Christ; sons
of man as he was; sons of God as much as he. To be that it is not
needful to observe all the forms he complied with, only such forms as
help you; not needful to have all the thoughts that he had, only such
thoughts as are true. If Jesus were ever mistaken, as the Evangelists
make it appear, then it is a part of Christianity to avoid his mistakes
as well as to accept his truths. It is the part of a Christian church to
teach men so; to stop at no man's limitations; to prize no word so high
as truth; no man so dear as God. Jesus came not to fetter men, but free

Jesus is a model-man in this respect: that he stands in a true relation
to men, that of forgiveness for their ill-treatment, service for their
needs, trust in their nature, and constant love towards them,--towards
even the wicked and hypocritical; in a true relation to God, that of
entire obedience to Him, of perfect trust in Him, of love towards Him
with the whole mind, heart and soul; and love of God is also love of
truth, goodness, usefulness, love of Love itself. Obedience to God and
trust in God is obedience to these things, and trust in them. If Jesus
had loved any opinion better than truth, then had he lost that relation
to God, and so far ceased to be inspired by Him; had he allowed any
partial feeling to overcome the spirit of universal love, then also he
had sundered himself from God, and been at discord, not in harmony with
the Infinite.

If Jesus be the model-man, then should a Christian church teach its
members to hold the same relation to God that Christ held; to be one
with Him; incarnations of God, as much and as far as Jesus was one with
God, and an incarnation thereof, a manifestation of God in the flesh.
It is Christian to receive all the truths of the Bible; all the truths
that are not in the Bible just as much. It is Christian also to reject
all the errors that come to us from without the Bible or from within the
Bible. The Christian man, or the Christian church, is to stop at no
man's limitation; at the limit of no book. God is not dead, nor even
asleep, but awake and alive as ever of old; He inspires men now no less
than beforetime; is ready to fill your mind, heart and soul with truth,
love, life, as to fill Moses and Jesus, and that on the same terms; for
inspiration comes by universal laws, and not by partial exceptions. Each
point of spirit, as each atom of space, is still bathed in the tides of
Deity. But all good men, all Christian men, all inspired men will be no
more alike than all wicked men. It is the same light which is blue in
the sky and golden in the sun. "All nature's difference makes all
nature's peace."

We can attain this relation to man and God only on condition that we are
free. If a church cannot allow freedom it were better not to allow
itself, but cease to be. Unity of purpose, with entire freedom for the
individual, should be the motto. It is only free men that can find the
truth, love the truth, live the truth. As much freedom as you shut out,
so much falsehood do you shut in. It is a poor thing to purchase unity
of church-action at the cost of individual freedom. The Catholic church
tried it, and you see what came thereof: science forsook it, calling it
a den of lies. Morality forsook it, as the mystery of iniquity, and
religion herself protested against it, as the mother of abominations.
The Protestant churches are trying the same thing, and see whither they
tend and what foes rise up against them,--Philosophy with its Bible of
nature, and Religion with its Bible of man, both the hand-writing of
God. The great problem of church and state is this: To produce unity of
action and yet leave individual freedom not disturbed; to balance into
harmonious proportions the mass and the man, the centripetal and
centrifugal powers, as, by God's wondrous, living mechanism, they are
balanced in the worlds above. In the state we have done this more wisely
than any nation heretofore. In the churches it remains yet to do. But
man is equal to all which God appoints for him. His desires are ever
proportionate to his duty and his destinies. The strong cry of the
nations for liberty, a craving as of hungry men for bread and water,
shows what liberty is worth, and what it is destined to do. Allow
freedom to think, and there will be truth; freedom to act, and we shall
have heroic works; freedom to live and be, and we shall have love to men
and love to God. The world's history proves that, and our own history.
Jesus, our model-man, was the freest the world ever saw!

Let it be remembered that every truth is of God, and will lead to good
and good only. Truth is the seed whereof welfare is the fruit; for every
grain thereof we plant some one shall reap a whole harvest of welfare. A
lie is "of the Devil," and must lead to want and woe and death, ending
at last in a storm where it rains tears and perhaps blood. Have freedom,
and you will sow new truth to reap its satisfaction; submit to thraldom,
and you sow lies to reap the death they bear. A Christian church should
be the home of the soul, where it enjoys the largest liberty of the sons
of God. If fettered elsewhere, here let us be free. Christ is the
liberator; he came not to drive slaves, but to set men free. The
churches of old did their greatest work, when there was most freedom in
those churches.

Here too should the spirit of devotion be encouraged; the soul of man
communing with his God in aspirations after purity and truth, in
resolutions for goodness, and piety, and a manly life. These are a
prayer. The fact that men freely hold truths in common, great truths and
universal; that unitedly they lift up their souls to God seeking
instruction of Him, this will prove the strongest bond between man and
man. It seems to me that the Protestant churches have not fully done
justice to the sentiment of worship; that in taking care of the head we
have forgotten the heart. To think truth is the worship of the head; to
do noble works of usefulness and charity the worship of the will; to
feel love and trust in man and God, is the glad worship of the heart. A
Christian church should be broad enough for all; should seek truth and
promote piety, that both together might toil in good works.

Here should be had the best instruction which can be commanded; the
freest, truest, and most manly voice; the mind most conversant with
truth; the eloquence of a heart that runs over with goodness, whose
faith is unfaltering in truth, justice, purity, and love; a faith in
God, whose charity is living love to men, even the sinful and the base.
Teaching is the breathing of one man's inspiration into another, a most
real thing amongst real men. In a church there should be instruction for
the young. God appoints the father and mother the natural teachers of
children; above all is it so in their religious culture. But there are
some who cannot, many who will not fulfil this trust. Hence it has been
found necessary for wise and good men to offer their instruction to
such. In this matter it is religion we need more than theology, and of
this it is not mere traditions and mythologies we are to teach, the
anile tales of a rude people in a dark age, things our pupils will do
well to forget soon as they are men, and which they will have small
reason to thank us for obscuring their minds withal; but it is the
great, everlasting truths of religion which should be taught, enforced
by examples of noble men, which tradition tells of, or the present age
affords, all this to be suited to the tender years of the child.
Christianity should be represented as human, as man's nature in its true
greatness; religion shown to be beautiful, a real duty corresponding to
man's deepest desire, that as religion affords the deepest satisfaction
to man, so it is man's most universal want. Christ should be shown to
men as he was, the manliest of men, the most divine because the most
human. Children should be taught to respect their nature; to consider it
as the noblest of all God's works; to know that perfect truth and
goodness are demanded of them, and by that only can they be worthy men;
taught to feel that God is present in Boston and to-day, as much as ever
in Jerusalem in the time of Jesus. They should be taught to abhor the
public sins of our times, but to love and imitate its great examples of
nobleness, and practical religion, which stand out amid the mob of
worldly pretenders in this day.

Then, too, if one of our members falls into unworthy ways, is it not the
duty of some one to speak with him, not as with authority to command,
but with affection to persuade? Did any one of you ever address an
erring brother on the folly of his ways with manly tenderness, and try
to charm him back, and find a cold repulse? If a man is in error he will
be grateful to one that tells him so; will learn most from men who make
him ashamed of his littleness of life. In this matter it seems many a
good man comes short of his duty.

There is yet another way in which a church should act on its own
household, and that is by direct material help in time of need. There is
the eternal distinction of the strong and the weak, which cannot be
changed. But as things now go there is another inequality not of God's
appointment, but of man's perversity, the distinction of rich and
poor--of men bloated by superfluous wealth and men starving and freezing
from want. You know and I know how often the strong abuse their
strength, exerting it solely for themselves and to the ruin of the weak;
we all know that such are reckoned great in the world, though they may
have grown rich solely by clutching at what others earned. In
Christianity, and before the God of justice, all men are brothers; the
strong are so that they may help the weak. As a nation chooses its
wisest men to manage its affairs for the nation's good, and not barely
their own, so God endows Charles or Samuel with great gifts that they
may also bless all men thereby. If they use those powers solely for
their pleasure then are they false before men; false before God. It is
said of the church of the Friends that no one of their number has ever
received the charity of an almshouse, or for a civil offence been shut
up in a jail. If the poor forsake a church, be sure that the church
forsook God long before.

       *       *       *       *       *

But the church must have an action on others out of its pale. If a man
or a society of men have a truth, they hold it not for themselves alone,
but for all men. The solitary thinker, who in a moment of ecstatic
action in his closet at midnight discovers a truth, discovers it for all
the world and for eternity. A Christian church ought to love to see its
truths extend; so it should put them in contact with the opinions of the
world, not with excess of zeal or lack of charity.

A Christian church should be a means of reforming the world, of forming
it after the pattern of Christian ideas. It should therefore bring up
the sentiments of the times, the ideas of the times, and the actions of
the times, to judge them by the universal standard. In this way it will
learn much and be a living church, that grows with the advance of men's
sentiments, ideas and actions, and while it keeps the good of the past
will lose no brave spirit of the present day. It can teach much; now
moderating the fury of men, then quickening their sluggish steps. We
expect the sins of commerce to be winked at in the street; the sins of
the state to be applauded on election days and in a Congress, or on the
fourth of July; we are used to hear them called the righteousness of the
nation. There they are often measured by the avarice or the ambition of
greedy men. You expect them to be tried by passion, which looks only to
immediate results and partial ends. Here they are to be measured by
Conscience and Reason, which look to permanent results and universal
ends; to be looked at with reference to the Laws of God, the everlasting
ideas on which alone is based the welfare of the world. Here they are to
be examined in the light of Christianity itself. If the church be true,
many things which seem gainful in the street and expedient in the
senate-house, will here be set down as wrong, and all gain which comes
therefrom seen to be but a loss. If there be a public sin in the land,
if a lie invade the state, it is for the church to give the alarm; it is
here that it may war on lies and sins; the more widely they are believed
in and practised, the more are they deadly, the more to be opposed. Here
let no false idea or false action of the public go without exposure and
rebuke. But let no noble heroism of the times, no noble man pass by
without due honor. If it is a good thing to honor dead saints and the
heroism of our fathers; it is a better thing to honor the saints of
to-day, the live heroism of men who do the battle, when that battle is
all around us. I know a few such saints; here and there a hero of that
stamp, and I will not wait till they are dead and classic before I call
them so and honor them as such, for

    "To side with truth is noble when we share her wretched crust,
    Ere her cause bring fame and profit, and 'tis prosperous to be just;
    Then it is the brave man chooses, while the coward stands aside,
    Doubting in his abject spirit, till his Lord is crucified,
    And the multitude make virtue of the faith they once denied;
    For Humanity sweeps onward; where to-day the martyr stands,
    On the morrow crouches Judas, with the silver in his hands;
    Far in front the cross stands ready, and the crackling fagots burn,
    While the hooting mob of yesterday in silent awe return
    To glean up the scattered ashes into History's golden urn."

Do you not see that if a man have a new truth, it must be reformatory
and so create an outcry? It will seem destructive as the farmer's
plough; like that, it is so to tares and thistles, but the herald of the
harvest none the less. In this way a Christian church should be a
society for promoting true sentiments and ideas. If it would lead, it
must go before men; if it would be looked up to, it must stand high.

That is not all: it should be a society for the promotion of good works.
We are all beneath our idea, and therefore transgressors before God. Yet
He gives us the rain, the snow and the sun. It falls on me as well as on
the field of my neighbor, who is a far juster man. How can we repent,
cast our own sins behind us, outgrow and forget them better, than by
helping others to work out their salvation? We are all brothers before
God. Mutually needful we must be; mutually helpful we should be. Here
are the ignorant that ask our instruction, not with words only, but with
the prayer of their darkness, far more suppliant than speech. I never
see an ignorant man younger than myself, without a feeling of
self-reproach, for I ask: "What have I been doing to suffer him to grow
up in nakedness of mind?" Every man, born in New England, who does not
share the culture of this age, is a reproach to more than himself, and
will at last actively curse those who began by deserting him. The
Christian church should lead the movement for the public education of
the people.

Here are the needy who ask not so much your gold, your bread, or your
cloth, as they ask also your sympathy, respect and counsel; that you
assist them to help themselves, that they may have gold won by their
industry, not begged out of your benevolence. It is justice more than
charity they ask. Every beggar, every pauper, born and bred amongst us,
is a reproach to us, and condemns our civilization. For how has it come
to pass that in a land of abundance here are men, for no fault of their
own, born into want, living in want, and dying of want? and that, while
we pretend to a religion which says all men are brothers! There is a
horrid wrong somewhere.

Here too are the drunkard, the criminal, the abandoned person, sometimes
the foe of society, but far oftener the victim of society. Whence come
the tenants of our almshouses, jails, the victims of vice in all our
towns? Why, from the lowest rank of the people; from the poorest and
most ignorant! Say rather from the most neglected, and the public sin
is confessed, and the remedy hinted at. What have the strong been doing
all this while, that the weak have come to such a state? Let them answer
for themselves.

Now for all these ought a Christian church to toil. It should be a
church of good works; if it is a church of good faith it will be so.
Does not Christianity say the strong should help the weak? Does not that
mean something? It once did. Has the Christian fire faded out from those
words, once so marvellously bright? Look round you, in the streets of
your own Boston! See the ignorant, men and women with scarce more than
the stature of men and women; boys and girls growing up in ignorance and
the low civilization which comes thereof, the barbarians of Boston.
Their character will one day be a blot and a curse to the nation, and
who is to blame? Why, the ablest and best men, who might have had it
otherwise if they would. Look at the poor, men of small ability, weak by
nature, born into a weak position, therefore doubly weak; men whom the
strong use for their purpose, and then cast them off as we throw away
the rind of an orange after we have drunk its generous juice. Behold the
wicked, so we call the weak men that are publicly caught in the cobweb
of the law; ask why they became wicked; how we have aimed to reform
them; what we have done to make them respect themselves, to believe in
goodness, in man and God? and then say if there is not something for
Christian men to do, something for a Christian church to do! Every
almshouse in Massachusetts shows that the churches have not done their
duty, that the Christians lie lies when they call Jesus "master" and men
"brothers!" Every jail is a monument, on which it is writ in letters of
iron that we are still heathens, and the gallows, black and hideous, the
embodiment of death, the last argument a "Christian" State offers to the
poor wretches it trained up to be criminals, stands there, a sign of our
infamy, and while it lifts its horrid arm to crush the life out of some
miserable man, whose blood cries to God against Cain in the nineteenth
century, it lifts that same arm as an index of our shame.

Is that all? Oh, no! Did not Jesus say, resist not evil--with evil? Is
not war the worst form of that evil; and is there on earth a nation so
greedy of war; a nation more reckless of provoking it; one where the
war-horse so soon conducts his foolish rider into fame and power? The
"Heathen" Chinese might send their missionaries to America, and teach us
to love men! Is that all? Far from it. Did not Christ say, whatsoever
you would that men should do unto you, do you even so unto them; and are
there not three million brothers of yours and mine in bondage here, the
hopeless sufferers of a savage doom; debarred from the civilization of
our age, the barbarians of the nineteenth century; shut out from the
pretended religion of Christendom, the heathens of a Christian land;
chained down from the liberty unalienable in man, the slaves of a
Christian republic? Does not a cry of indignation ring out from every
legislature in the North; does not the press war with its million
throats, and a voice of indignation go up from East and West, out from
the hearts of freemen? Oh, no. There is none of that cry against the
mightiest sin of this age. The rock of Plymouth, sanctified by the feet
which led a nation's way to freedom's large estate, provokes no more
voice than the rottenest stone in all the mountains of the West. The few
that speak a manly word for truth and everlasting right, are called
fanatics; bid be still, lest they spoil the market! Great God! and has
it come to this, that men are silent over such a sin? 'Tis even so. Then
it must be that every church which dares assume the name of Christ, that
dearest name to men, thunders and lightens on this hideous wrong! That
is not so. The church is dumb, while the state is only silent; while the
servants of the people are only asleep, "God's ministers" are dead!

In the midst of all these wrongs and sins, the crimes of men, society
and the state, amid popular ignorance, pauperism, crime, and war, and
slavery too--is the church to say nothing, do nothing; nothing for the
good of such as feel the wrong, nothing to save them who do the wrong?
Men tell us so, in word and deed; that way alone is "safe!" If I thought
so, I would never enter the church but once again, and then to bow my
shoulders to their manliest work, to heave down its strong pillars, arch
and dome, and roof, and wall, steeple and tower, though like Samson I
buried myself under the ruins of that temple which profaned the worship
of God most high, of God most loved. I would do this in the name of man;
in the name of Christ I would do it; yes, in the dear and blessed name
of God.

It seems to me that a church which dares name itself Christian, the
Church of the Redeemer, which aspires to be a true church, must set
itself about all this business, and be not merely a church of theology,
but of religion; not of faith only, but of works; a just church by its
faith bringing works into life. It should not be a church termagant,
which only peevishly scolds at sin, in its anile way; but a church
militant against every form of evil, which not only censures, but writes
out on the walls of the world the brave example of a Christian life,
that all may take pattern therefrom. Thus only can it become the church
triumphant. If a church were to waste less time in building its palaces
of theological speculation, palaces mainly of straw, and based upon the
chaff, erecting air-castles and fighting battles to defend those palaces
of straw, it would surely have more time to use in the practical good
works of the day. If it thus made a city free from want and ignorance
and crime, I know I vent a heresy, I think it would be quite as
Christian an enterprise, as though it restored all the theology of the
dark ages; quite as pleasing to God. A good sermon is a good thing, no
doubt, but its end is not answered by its being preached; even by its
being listened to and applauded; only by its awakening a deeper life in
the hearers. But in the multitude of sermons there is danger lest the
bare hearing thereof be thought a religious duty, not a means, but an
end, and so our Christianity vanish in words. What if every Sunday
afternoon the most pious and manly of our number, who saw fit, resolved
themselves into a committee of the whole for practical religion, and
held not a formal meeting, but one more free, sometimes for the purpose
of devotion, the practical work of making ourselves better Christians,
nearer to one another, and sometimes that we might find means to help
such as needed help, the poor, the ignorant, the intemperate and the
wicked? Would it not be a work profitable to ourselves, and useful to
others weaker than we? For my own part I think there are no ordinances
of religion like good works; no day too sacred to help my brother in; no
Christianity like a practical love of God shown by a practical love of
men. Christ told us that if we had brought our gift to the very altar,
and there remembered our brother had cause of complaint against us, we
must leave the divine service, and pay the human service first! If my
brother be in slavery, in want, in ignorance, in sin, and I can aid him
and do not, he has much against me, and God can better wait for my
prayer than my brother for my help!

The saints of olden time perished at the stake; they hung on gibbets;
they agonized upon the rack; they died under the steel of the tormentor.
It was the heroism of our fathers' day that swam the unknown seas; froze
in the woods; starved with want and cold; fought battles with the red
right hand. It is the sainthood and heroism of our day that toils for
the ignorant, the poor, the weak, the oppressed, the wicked. Yes, it is
our saints and heroes who fight fighting; who contend for the slave, and
his master too, for the drunkard, the criminal; yes, for the wicked or
the weak in all their forms. It is they that with weapons of heavenly
proof fight the great battle for the souls of men. Though I detest war
in each particular fibre of my heart, yet I honor the heroes among our
fathers who fought with bloody hand; peace-makers in a savage way, they
were faithful to the light; the most inspired can be no more, and we,
with greater light, do, it may be, far less. I love and venerate the
saints of old; men who dared step in front of their age; accepted
Christianity when it cost something to be a Christian, because it meant
something; they applied Christianity, so far as they knew it, to the
lies and sins of their times, and won a sudden and a fiery death. But
the saints and the heroes of this day, who draw no sword, whose right
hand is never bloody, who burn in no fires of wood or sulphur, nor
languish briefly on the hasty cross; the saints and heroes who, in a
worldly world, dare to be men; in an age of conformity and selfishness,
speak for Truth and Man, living for noble aims; men who will swear to no
lies howsoever popular; who will honor no sins, though never so
profitable, respected and ancient; men who count Christ not their
master, but teacher, friend, brother, and strive like him to practise
all they pray; to incarnate and make real the Word of God, these men I
honor far more than the saints of old. I know their trials, I see their
dangers, I appreciate their sufferings, and since the day when the man
on Calvary bowed his head, bidding persecution farewell with his
"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do," I find no such
saints and heroes as live now! They win hard fare, and hard toil. They
lay up shame and obloquy. Theirs is the most painful of martyrdoms.
Racks and fagots soon waft the soul of God, stern messengers but swift.
A boy could bear that passage, the martyrdom of death. But the
temptation of a long life of neglect, and scorn, and obloquy, and shame,
and want, and desertion by false friends; to live blameless though
blamed, cut off from human sympathy, that is the martyrdom of to-day. I
shed no tears for such martyrs. I shout when I see one; I take courage
and thank God for the real saints, prophets and heroes of to-day. In
another age, men shall be proud of these puritans and pilgrims of this
day. Churches shall glory in their names and celebrate their praise in
sermon and in song. Yea, though now men would steal the rusty sword from
underneath the bones of a saint or hero long deceased, to smite off
therewith the head of a new prophet, that ancient hero's son; though
they would gladly crush the heart out of him with the tomb-stones they
piled up for great men, dead and honored now, yet in some future day,
that mob, penitent, baptized with a new spirit, like drunken men
returned to sanity once more, shall search through all this land for
marble white enough to build a monument to that prophet whom their
fathers slew; they shall seek through all the world for gold of fineness
fit to chronicle such names! I cannot wait; but I will honor such men
now, not adjourn the warning of their voice, and the glory of their
example, till another age! The church may cast out such men; burn them
with the torments of an age too refined in its cruelty to use coarse
fagots and the vulgar axe! It is no less to these men; but the ruin of
the church. I say the Christian church of the nineteenth century must
honor such men, if it would do a church's work; must take pains to make
such men as these, or it is a dead church, with no claim on us, except
that we bury it. A true church will always be the church of martyrs. The
ancients commenced every great work with a victim! We do not call it so;
but the sacrifice is demanded, got ready, and offered by unconscious
priests long ere the enterprise succeeds. Did not Christianity begin
with a martyrdom?

       *       *       *       *       *

In this way, by gaining all the truth of the age in thought or action,
by trying public opinions with its own brave ideas, by promoting good
works, applying a new truth to an old error, and with unpopular
righteousness overcoming each popular sin, the Christian church should
lead the civilization of the age. The leader looks before, goes before,
and knows where he is going; knows the way thither. It is only on this
condition that he leads at all. If the church by looking after truth,
and receiving it when it comes, be in unison with God, it will be in
unison with all science, which is only the thought of God translated
from the facts of nature into the words of men. In such a case, the
church will not fear philosophy, nor in the face of modern science aim
to reëstablish the dreams and fables of a ruder day. It will not lack
new truth, daring only to quote, nor be obliged to sneak behind the
inspired words of old saints as its only fortress, for it will have
words just as truly inspired, dropping from the golden mouths of saints
and prophets now. For leaders it will look not back, but forth; will fan
the first faint sparkles of that noble fire just newly kindled from the
skies; not smother them in the ashes of fires long spent; not quench
them with holy water from Jordan or the Nile. A church truly Christian,
professing Christ as its model-man, and aiming to stand in the relation
he stood, must lead the way in moral enterprises, in every work which
aims directly at the welfare of man. There was a time when the Christian
churches, as a whole, held that rank. Do they now? Not even the
Quakers--perhaps the last sect that abandoned it. A prophet, filled with
love of man and love of God, is not therein at home. I speak a sad
truth, and I say it in sorrow. But look at the churches of this city: do
they lead the Christian movements of this city--the temperance movement,
the peace movement, the movement for the freedom of men, for education,
the movement to make society more just, more wise and good, the great
religious movement of these times--for, hold down our eyelids as we
will, there is a religious movement at this day on foot, such as even
New England never saw before;--do they lead in these things? Oh, no, not
at all. That great Christian orator, one of the noblest men New England
has seen in this century, whose word has even now gone forth to the
nations beyond the sea, while his spirit has gone home to his Father,
when he turned his attention to the practical evils of our time and our
land, and our civilization, vigorously applying Christianity to life,
why he lost favor in his own little sect! They feared him, soon as his
spirit looked over their narrow walls, aspiring to lead men to a better
work. I know men can now make sectarian capital out of the great name of
Channing, so he is praised; perhaps praised loudest by the very men who
then cursed him by their gods. Ay, by their gods he was accursed! The
churches lead the Christian movements of these times?--why, has there
not just been driven out of this city, and out of this State, a man
conspicuous in all these movements, after five and twenty years of noble
toil; driven out because he was conspicuous in them! You know it is so,
and you know how and by whom he is thus driven out![1]

Christianity is humanity; Christ is the Son of man; the manliest of men;
humane as a woman; pious and hopeful as a prayer; but brave as man's
most daring thought. He has led the world in morals and religion for
eighteen hundred years, only because he was the manliest man in it; the
humanest and bravest man in it, and hence the divinest. He may lead it
eighteen hundred years more, for we are bid believe that God can never
make again a greater man; no, none so great. But the churches do not
lead men therein, for they have not his spirit; neither that womanliness
which wept over Jerusalem, nor that manliness which drew down fire
enough from heaven to light the world's altars for well-nigh two
thousand years.

There are many ways in which Christ may be denied:--one is that of the
bold blasphemer, who, out of a base and haughty heart mocks, scoffing at
that manly man, and spits upon the nobleness of Christ! There are few
such deniers: my heart mourns for them. But they do little harm.
Religion is so dear to men, no scoffing word can silence that, and the
brave soul of this young Nazarene has made itself so deeply felt that
scorn and mockery of him are but an icicle held up against the summer's
sun. There is another way to deny him, and that is:--to call him Lord,
and never do his bidding; to stifle free minds with his words; and with
the authority of his name to cloak, to mantle, screen and consecrate the
follies, errors, sins of men! From this we have much to fear.

The church that is to lead this century will not be a church creeping on
all fours; mewling and whining, its face turned down, its eyes turned
back. It must be full of the brave, manly spirit of the day, keeping
also the good of times past. There is a terrific energy in this age, for
man was never so much developed, so much the master of himself before.
Great truths, moral and political, have come to light. They fly quickly.
The iron prophet of types publishes his visions, of weal or woe, to the
near and far. This marvellous age has invented steam, and the magnetic
telegraph, apt symbols of itself, before which the miracles of fable are
but an idle tale. It demands, as never before, freedom for itself,
usefulness in its institutions; truth in its teachings, and beauty in
its deeds. Let a church have that freedom, that usefulness, truth, and
beauty, and the energy of this age will be on its side. But the church
which did for the fifth century, or the fifteenth, will not do for this.
What is well enough at Rome, Oxford or Berlin, is not well enough for
Boston. It must have our ideas, the smell of our ground, and have grown
out of the religion in our soul. The freedom of America must be there
before this energy will come; the wisdom of the nineteenth century
before its science will be on the churches' side, else that science will
go over to the "infidels."

Our churches are not in harmony with what is best in the present age.
Men call their temples after their old heroes and saints--John, Paul,
Peter, and the like. But we call nothing else after the old names; a
school of philosophy would be condemned if called Aristotelian,
Platonic, or even Baconian. We out-travel the past in all but this. In
the church it seems taught there is no progress unless we have all the
past on our back; so we despair of having men fit to call churches by.
We look back and not forward. We think the next saint must talk Hebrew
like the old ones, and repeat the same mythology. So when a new prophet
comes we only stone him.

A church that believes only in past inspiration will appeal to old books
as the standard of truth and source of light; will be antiquarian in its
habits; will call its children by the old names; and war on the new age,
not understanding the man-child born to rule the world. A church that
believes in inspiration now will appeal to God; try things by reason and
conscience; aim to surpass the old heroes; baptize its children with a
new spirit, and using the present age will lead public opinion, and not
follow it. Had Christ looked back for counsel, he might have founded a
church fit for Abraham or Isaac to worship in, not for the ages to come,
or the age then. He that feels he is near to God, does not fear to be
far from men; if before, he helps lead them on; if above, to lift them
up. Let us get all we can from the Hebrews and others of old time, and
that is much; but still let us be God's free men, not the Gibeonites of
the past.

Let us have a church that dares imitate the heroism of Jesus; seek
inspiration as he sought it; judge the past as he; act on the present
like him; pray as he prayed; work as he wrought; live as he lived. Let
our doctrines and our forms fit the soul, as the limbs fit the body,
growing out of it, growing with it. Let us have a church for the whole
man: truth for the mind; good works for the hands; love for the heart;
and for the soul, that aspiring after perfection, that unfaltering faith
in God which, like lightning in the clouds, shines brightest, when
elsewhere it is most dark. Let our church fit man, as the heavens fit
the earth!

       *       *       *       *       *

In our day men have made great advances in science, commerce,
manufactures, in all the arts of life. We need, therefore, a development
of religion corresponding thereto. The leading minds of the age ask
freedom to inquire; not merely to believe, but to know; to rest on
facts. A great spiritual movement goes swiftly forward. The best men see
that religion is religion; theology is theology, and not religion; that
true religion is a very simple affair, and the popular theology a very
foolish one; that the Christianity of Christ is not the Christianity of
the street, or the state, or the churches; that Christ is not their
model-man, only "imputed" as such. These men wish to apply good sense to
matters connected with religion; to apply Christianity to life, and make
the world a better place, men and women fitter to live in it. In this
way they wish to get a theology that is true; a mode of religion that
works, and works well. If a church can answer these demands, it will be
a live church; leading the civilization of the times, living with all
the mighty life of this age, and nation. Its prayers will be a lifting
up of the hearts in noble men towards God, in search of truth, goodness,
piety. Its sacraments will be great works of reform, institutions for
the comfort and the culture of men. Let us have a church in which
religion, goodness towards men, and piety towards God, shall be the main
thing; let us have a degree of that suited to the growth and demands of
this age. In the middle ages, men had erroneous conceptions of religion,
no doubt; yet the church led the world. When she wrestled with the
state, the state came undermost to the ground. See the results of that
supremacy--all over Europe there arose the cloister, halls of learning
for the chosen few, minster, dome, cathedral, miracles of art, each
costing the wealth of a province. Such was the embodiment of their ideas
of religion, the prayers of a pious age done in stone, a psalm petrified
as it rose from the world's mouth; a poor sacrifice, no doubt, but the
best they knew how to offer. Now if men were to engage in religion as in
politics, commerce, arts; if the absolute religion, the Christianity of
Christ, were applied to life with all the might of this age, as the
Christianity of the church was then applied, what a result should we not
behold! We should build up a great state with unity in the nation, and
freedom in the people; a state where there was honorable work for every
hand, bread for all mouths, clothing for all backs, culture for every
mind, and love and faith in every heart. Truth would be our sermon,
drawn from the oldest of Scriptures, God's writing there in nature, here
in man; works of daily duty would be our sacrament; prophets inspired of
God would minister the word, and piety send up her psalm of prayer,
sweet in its notes, and joyfully prolonged. The noblest monument to
Christ, the fairest trophy of religion, is a noble people, where all are
well fed and clad, industrious, free, educated, manly, pious, wise and

       *       *       *       *       *

Some of you may now remember, how ten months and more ago, I first came
to this house to speak. I shall remember it forever. In those rainy
Sundays the very skies looked dark. Some came doubtingly, uncertain,
looking around, and hoping to find courage in another's hope. Others
came with clear glad face; openly, joyfully, certain they were right;
not fearing to meet the issue; not afraid to be seen meeting it. Some
came, perhaps, not used to worship in a church, but not the less welcome
here; some mistaking me for a destroyer, a doubter, a denier of all
truth, a scoffer, an enemy to man and God! I wonder not at that.
Misguided men had told you so, in sermon and in song; in words publicly
printed and published without shame; in the covert calumny, slyly
whispered in the dark! Need I tell you my feelings; how I felt at coming
to the town made famous by great men, Mayhew, Chauncy, Buckminster,
Kirkland, Holley, Pierpont, Channing, Ware--names dear and honored in my
boyish heart! Need I tell you how I felt at sight of the work which
stretched out before me? Do you wonder that I asked: Who is sufficient
for these things? and said: Alas, not I, Thou knowest, Lord! But some of
you told me you asked not the wisdom of a wiser man, the ability of one
stronger, but only that I should do what I could. I came, not doubting
that I had some truths to say; not distrusting God, nor man, nor you;
distrustful only of myself. I feared I had not the power, amid the dust
and noises of the day, to help you see and hear the great realities of
religion as they appeared to me; to help you feel the life of real
religion, as in my better moments I have felt its truth! But let that
pass. As I came here from Sunday to Sunday, when I began to feel your
spirits prayed with mine a prayer for truth and life; as I looked down
into your faces, thoughtful and almost breathless, I forgot my
self-distrust; I saw the time was come; that, feebly as I know I speak,
my best thoughts were ever the most welcome! I saw that the harvest was
plenteous indeed: but the preacher, I feel it still, was all unworthy of
his work!

       *       *       *       *       *

Brothers and Sisters: let us be true to our sentiments and ideas. Let us
not imitate another's form unless it symbolize a truth to us. We must
not affect to be singular, but not fear to be alone. Let us not
foolishly separate from our brothers elsewhere. Truth is yet before us,
not only springing up out of the manly words of this Bible, but out of
the ground; out of the heavens; out of man and God. Whole firmaments of
truth hang ever o'er our heads, waiting the telescopic eye of the
true-hearted see-er. Let us follow truth, in form, thought or sentiment,
wherever she may call. God's daughter cannot lead us from the path. The
further on we go, the more we find. Had Columbus turned back only the
day before he saw the land, the adventure had been worse than lost.

We must practise a manly self-denial. Religion always demands that, but
never more than when our brothers separate from us, and we stand alone.
By our mutual love and mutual forbearance, we shall stand strong. With
zeal for our common work, let us have charity for such as dislike us,
such as oppose and would oppress us. Let us love our enemies, bless them
that curse us, do good to them that hate us, and pray for such as
despitefully use us. Let us overcome their evil speech with our own
goodness. If others have treated us ill, called us unholy names, and
mocked at us, let us forgive it all, here and now, and help them also to
forget and outgrow that temper which bade them treat us so. A kind
answer is fittest rebuke to an unkind word.

If we have any truth it will not be kept hid. It will run over the brim
of our urn and water our brother's field. Were any truth to come down
to us in advance from God, it were not that we might forestall the
light, but shed it forth for all His children to walk by and rejoice in.
"One candle will light a thousand" if it be itself lighted. Let our
light shine before men so that they may see our good deeds, and
themselves praise God by a manly life. This we owe to them as to
ourselves. A noble thought and a mean man make a sorry union. Let our
idea show itself in our life--that is preaching, right eloquent. Do
this, we begin to do good to men, and though they should oppose us, and
our work should fail, we shall have yet the approval of our own heart,
the approval of God, be whole within ourselves, and one with Him.

       *       *       *       *       *

Some of you are venerable men. I have wondered that a youthful ardor
should have brought you here. Your silvery heads have seemed a
benediction to my work. But most of you are young. I know it is no aping
of a fashion that has brought you here. I have no eloquence to charm or
please you with; I only speak right on. I have no reputation but a bad
name in the churches. I know you came not idly, but seeking after truth.
Give a great idea to an old man, and he carries it to his grave; give it
to a young man, and he carries it to his life. It will bear both young
and old through the grave and into eternal Heaven beyond.

Young men and women, the duties of the world fall eminently on you. God
confides to your hands the ark which holds the treasures of the age. On
young shoulders He lays the burden of life. Yours is the period of
passion; the period of enterprise and of work. It is by successive
generations that mankind goes forward. The old, stepping into honorable
graves, leave their places and the results they won to you. But
departing they seem to say, as they linger and look back: Do ye greater
than we have done! The young just coming into your homes seem to say:
Instruct us to be nobler than yourselves! Your life is the answer to
your children and your sires. The next generation will be as you make
it. It is not the schools but the people's character that educates the
child. Amid the trials, duties, dangers of your life, religion alone can
guide you. It is not the world's eye that is on you, but God's; it is
not the world's religion that will suffice you, but the religion of a
Man, which unites you with truth, justice, piety, goodness; yes, which
makes you one with God!

Young men and women--you can make this church a fountain of life to
thousands of fainting souls. Yes, you can make this city nobler than
city ever was before. A manly life is the best gift you can leave
mankind; that can be copied forever. Architects of your own weal or woe,
your destiny is mainly in your own hands. It is no great thing to
reject the popular falsehoods; little and perhaps not hard. But to
receive the great sentiments and lofty truths of real religion, the
Christianity of Christ; to love them, to live them in your business and
your home, that is the greatest work of man. Thereby you partake of the
spirit and nature of God; you achieve the true destiny for yourself; you
help your brothers do the same.

When my own life is measured by the ideal of that young Nazarene, I know
how little I deserve the name of Christian; none knows that fact so well
as I. But you have been denied the name of Christian because you came
here, asking me to come. Let men see that you have the reality, though
they withhold the name. Your words are the least part of what you say to
men. The foolish only will judge you by your talk; wise men by the
general tenor of your life. Let your religion appear in your work and
your play. Pray in your strongest hours. Practise your prayers. By
fair-dealing, justice, kindness, self-control, and the great work of
helping others while you help yourself, let your life prove a worship.
These are the real sacraments and Christian communion with God, to which
water and wine are only helps. Criticize the world not by censure only,
but by the example of a great life. Shame men out of their littleness,
not by making mouths, but by walking great and beautiful amongst them.
You love God best when you love men most. Let your prayers be an
uplifting of the soul in thought, resolution, love, and the light
thereof shall shine through the darkest hour of trouble. Have not the
Christianity of the street; but carry Christ's Christianity there. Be
noble men, then your works must needs be great and manly.

       *       *       *       *       *

This is the first Sunday of a new year. What an hour for resolutions;
what a moment for prayer! If you have sins in your bosom, cast them
behind you now. In the last year, God has blessed us; blessed us all. On
some his angels waited, robed in white, and brought new joys; here a
wife, to bind men closer yet to Providence; and there a child, a new
Messiah, sent to tell of innocence and heaven. To some his angels came
clad in dark livery, veiling a joyful countenance with unpropitious
wings, and bore away child, father, sister, wife, or friend. Still were
they angels of good Providence, all God's own; and he who looks aright
finds that they also brought a blessing, but concealed, and left it,
though they spoke no word of joy. One day our weeping brother shall find
that gift and wear it as a diamond on his breast.

The hours are passing over us, and with them the day. What shall the
future Sundays be, and what the year? What we make them both. God gives
us time. We weave it into life, such figures as we may, and wear it as
we will. Age slowly rots away the gold we are set in, but the
adamantine soul lives on, radiant every way in the light streaming down
from God. The genius of eternity, star-crowned, beautiful, and with
prophetic eyes, leads us again to the gates of time, and gives us one
more year, bidding us fill that golden cup with water as we can or will.
There stand the dirty, fetid pools of worldliness and sin; curdled, and
mantled, film-covered, streaked and striped with many a hue, they shine
there, in the slanting light of new-born day. Around them stand the sons
of earth and cry: Come hither; drink thou and be saved! Here fill thy
golden cup! There you may seek to fill your urn; to stay your thirst.
The deceitful element, roping in your hands, shall mock your lip. It is
water only to the eye. Nay, show-water only unto men half-blind. But
there, hard by, runs down the stream of life, its waters never frozen,
never dry; fed by perennial dews falling unseen from God. Fill there
thine urn, oh, brother-man, and thou shalt thirst no more for
selfishness and crime, and faint no more amid the toil and heat of day;
wash there, and the leprosy of sin, its scales of blindness, shall fall
off, and thou be clean for ever. Kneel there and pray; God shall inspire
thy heart with truth and love, and fill thy cup with never-ending


[1] Rev. John Pierpont.

[2] See note at the end of this volume.




    "The Lord is a Man of War."

1 JOHN IV. 8.

    "God is Love."

I ask your attention to a Sermon of War. I have waited some time before
treating this subject at length, till the present hostilities should
assume a definite form, and the designs of the Government become more
apparent. I wished to be able to speak coolly and with knowledge of the
facts, that we might understand the comparative merits of the present
war. Besides, I have waited for others, in the churches, of more
experience to speak, before I ventured to offer my counsel; but I have
thus far waited almost in vain! I did not wish to treat the matter last
Sunday, for that was the end of our week of Pentecost, when cloven
tongues of flame descend on the city, and some are thought to be full of
new wine, and others of the Holy Spirit. The heat of the meetings, good
and bad, of that week, could not wholly have passed away from you or me,
and we ought to come coolly and consider a subject like this. So the
last Sunday I only sketched the back-ground of the picture, to-day
intending to paint the horrors of war in front of that "Presence of
Beauty in Nature," to which with its "Meanings" and its "Lessons," I
then asked you to attend.

       *       *       *       *       *

It seems to me that an idea of God as the Infinite is given to us in our
nature itself. But men create a more definite conception of God in their
own image. Thus a rude savage man, who has learned only the presence of
power in Nature, conceives of God mainly as a force, and speaks of Him
as a God of power. Such, though not without beautiful exceptions, is the
character ascribed to Jehovah in the Old Testament. "The Lord is a man
of war." He is "the Lord of Hosts." He kills men, and their cattle. If
there is trouble in the enemies' city, it is the Lord who hath caused
it. He will "whet his glittering sword and render vengeance to his
enemies. He will make his arrows drunk with blood, and his sword shall
devour flesh!" It is with the sword that God pleads with all men. He
encourages men to fight, and says, "Cursed be he that keepeth back his
sword from blood." He sends blood into the streets; he waters the land
with blood, and in blood he dissolves the mountains. He brandishes his
sword before kings, and they tremble at every moment. He treads nations
as grapes in a wine-press, and his garments are stained with their
life's blood.[3]

A man who has grown up to read the Older Testament of God revealed in
the beauty of the universe, and to feel the goodness of God therein set
forth, sees him not as force only, or in chief, but as love. He worships
in love the God of goodness and of peace. Such is the prevalent
character ascribed to God in the New Testament, except in the book of
"Revelation." He is the "God of love and peace;" "our Father," "kind to
the unthankful and the unmerciful." In one word, God is love. He loves
us all, Jew and Gentile, bond and free. All are his children, each of
priceless value in His sight. He is no God of battles; no Lord of hosts;
no man of war. He has no sword, nor arrows; He does not water the earth
nor melt the mountains in blood, but "He maketh His sun to rise on the
evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust." He
has no garments dyed in blood; curses no man for refusing to fight. He
is spirit, to be worshipped in spirit and in truth! The commandment is:
Love one another; resist not evil with evil; forgive seventy times
seven; overcome evil with good; love your enemies; bless them that
curse you; do good to them that hate you; pray for them that
despitefully use you and persecute you.[4] There is no nation to shut
its ports against another, all are men; no caste to curl its lip at
inferiors, all are brothers, members of one body, united in the Christ,
the ideal man and head of all. The most useful is the greatest. No man
is to be master, for the Christ is our teacher. We are to fear no man,
for God is our Father.

These precepts are undeniably the precepts of Christianity. Equally
plain is it that they are the dictates of man's nature, only developed
and active; a part of God's universal revelation; His law writ on the
soul of man, established in the nature of things; true after all
experience, and true before all experience. The man of real insight into
spiritual things sees and knows them to be true.

Do not believe it the part of a coward to think so. I have known many
cowards; yes, a great many; some very cowardly, pusillanimous and
faint-hearted cowards; but never one who thought so, or pretended to
think so. It requires very little courage to fight with sword and
musket, and that of a cheap kind. Men of that stamp are plenty as grass
in June. Beat your drum, and they will follow; offer them but eight
dollars a month, and they will come--fifty thousand of them, to smite
and kill.[5] Every male animal, or reptile, will fight. It requires
little courage to kill; but it takes much to resist evil with good,
holding obstinately out, active or passive, till you overcome it. Call
that non-resistance, if you will; it is the stoutest kind of combat,
demanding all the manhood of a man.

I will not deny that war is inseparable from a low stage of
civilization; so is polygamy, slavery, cannibalism. Taking men as they
were, savage and violent, there have been times when war was
unavoidable. I will not deny that it has helped forward the civilization
of the race, for God often makes the folly and the sin of men contribute
to the progress of mankind. It is none the less a folly or a sin. In a
civilized nation like ourselves, it is far more heinous than in the
Ojibeways or the Camanches.

War is in utter violation of Christianity. If war be right, then
Christianity is wrong, false, a lie. But if Christianity be true, if
reason, conscience, the religious sense, the highest faculties of man,
are to be trusted, then war is the wrong, the falsehood, the lie. I
maintain that aggressive war is a sin; that it is national infidelity,
a denial of Christianity and of God. Every man who understands
Christianity by heart, in its relations to man, to society, the nation,
the world, knows that war is a wrong. At this day, with all the
enlightenment of our age, after the long peace of the nations, war is
easily avoided. Whenever it occurs, the very fact of its occurrence
convicts the rulers of a nation either of entire incapacity as
statesmen, or else of the worst form of treason; treason to the people,
to mankind, to God! There is no other alternative. The very fact of an
aggressive war shows that the men who cause it must be either fools or
traitors. I think lightly of what is called treason against a
government. That may be your duty to-day, or mine. Certainly it was our
fathers' duty not long ago; now it is our boast and their title to
honor. But treason against the people, against mankind, against God, is
a great sin, not lightly to be spoken of. The political authors of the
war on this continent, and at this day, are either utterly incapable of
a statesman's work, or else guilty of that sin. Fools they are, or
traitors they must be.

       *       *       *       *       *

Let me speak, and in detail, of the Evils of War. I wish this were not
necessary. But we have found ourselves in a war; the Congress has voted
our money and our men to carry it on; the Governors call for volunteers;
the volunteers come when they are called for. No voice of indignation
goes forth from the heart of the eight hundred thousand souls of
Massachusetts; of the seventeen million freemen of the land how few
complain; only a man here and there! The Press is well-nigh silent. And
the Church, so far from protesting against this infidelity in the name
of Christ, is little better than dead. The man of blood shelters himself
behind its wall, silent, dark, dead and emblematic. These facts show
that it is necessary to speak of the evils of war. I am speaking in a
city, whose fairest, firmest, most costly buildings are warehouses and
banks; a city whose most popular Idol is Mammon, the God of Gold; whose
Trinity is a Trinity of Coin! I shall speak intelligibly, therefore, if
I begin by considering war as a waste of property. It paralyzes
industry. The very fear of it is a mildew upon commerce. Though the
present war is but a skirmish, only a few random shots between a squad
of regulars and some strolling battalions, a quarrel which in Europe
would scarcely frighten even the Pope; yet see the effect of it upon
trade. Though the fighting be thousands of miles from Boston, your
stocks fall in the market; the rate of insurance is altered; your dealer
in wood piles his boards and his timber on his wharf, not finding a
market. There are few ships in the great Southern mart to take the
freight of many; exchange is disturbed. The clergyman is afraid to buy a
book, lest his children want bread. It is so with all departments of
industry and trade. In war the capitalist is uncertain and slow to
venture, so the laborer's hand will be still, and his child ill-clad and

In the late war with England, many of you remember the condition of your
fisheries, of your commerce; how the ships lay rotting at the wharf. The
dearness of cloth, of provisions, flour, sugar, tea, coffee, salt, the
comparative lowness of wages, the stagnation of business, the scarcity
of money, the universal sullenness and gloom--all this is well
remembered now. So is the ruin it brought on many a man.

Yet but few weeks ago some men talked boastingly of a war with England.
There are some men who seem to have no eyes nor ears, only a mouth;
whose chief function is talk. Of their talk I will say nothing; we look
for dust in dry places. But some men thus talked of war, and seemed
desirous to provoke it, who can scarce plead ignorance, and I fear not
folly, for their excuse. I leave such to the just resentment sure to
fall on them from sober, serious men, who dare to be so unpopular as to
think before they speak, and then say what comes of thinking. Perhaps
such a war was never likely to take place, and now, thanks to a few wise
men, all danger thereof seems at an end. But suppose it had
happened--what would become of your commerce, of your fishing smacks on
the Banks or along the shore? what of your coasting vessels, doubling
the headlands all the way from the St. John's to the Nueces? what of
your whale ships in the Pacific? what of your Indiamen, deep freighted
with oriental wealth? what of that fleet which crowds across the
Atlantic sea, trading with east and west and north and south? I know
some men care little for the rich, but when the owners keep their craft
in port, where can the "hands" find work or their mouths find bread? The
shipping of the United States amounts nearly to 2,500,000 tons. At $40 a
ton, its value is nearly $100,000,000. This is the value only of those
sea-carriages; their cargoes I cannot compute. Allowing one sailor for
every twenty tons burden, here will be 125,000 seamen. They and their
families amount to 500,000 souls. In war, what will become of them? A
capital of more than $13,000,000 is invested in the fisheries of
Massachusetts alone. More than 19,000 men find profitable employment
therein. If each man have but four others in his family, a small number
for that class, here are more than 95,000 persons in this State alone,
whose daily bread depends on this business. They cannot fish in troubled
waters, for they are fishermen, not politicians. Where could they find
bread or cloth in time of war? In Dartmoor prison? Ask that of your
demagogues who courted war!

Then, too, the positive destruction of property in war is monstrous. A
ship of the line costs from $500,000 to $1,000,000. The loss of a fleet
by capture, by fire, or by decay, is a great loss. You know at what cost
a fort is built, if you have counted the sums successively voted for
Fort Adams in Rhode Island, or those in our own harbor. The destruction
of forts is another item in the cost of war. The capture or destruction
of merchant ships with their freight, creates a most formidable loss. In
1812 the whole tonnage of the United States was scarce half what it is
now. Yet the loss of ships and their freight, in "the late war," brief
as it was, is estimated at $100,000,000. Then the loss by plunder and
military occupation is monstrous. The soldier, like the savage, cuts
down the tree to gather its fruit. I cannot calculate the loss by
burning towns and cities. But suppose Boston were bombarded and laid in
ashes. Calculate the loss if you can. You may say "This could not be,"
for it is as easy to say No, as Yes. But remember what befell us in the
last war; remember how recently the best defended capitals of Europe,
Vienna, Paris, Antwerp, have fallen into hostile hands. Consider how
often a strong place, like Coblentz, Mentz, Malta, Gibraltar, St. Juan
d'Ulloa, has been declared impregnable, and then been taken; calculate
the force which might be brought against this town, and you will see
that in eight and forty hours, or half that time, it might be left
nothing but a heap of ruins smoking in the sun! I doubt not the valor
of American soldiers, the skill of their engineers, nor the ability of
their commanders. I am ready to believe all this is greater than we are
told. Still, such are the contingencies of war. If some not very
ignorant men had their way, this would be a probability and perhaps a
fact. If we should burn every town from the Tweed to the Thames, it
would not rebuild our own city.

But on the supposition that nothing is destroyed, see the loss which
comes from the misdirection of productive industry. Your fleets, forts,
dock-yards, arsenals, cannons, muskets, swords and the like, are
provided at great cost, and yet are unprofitable. They do not pay. They
weave no cloth; they bake no bread; they produce nothing. Yet from 1791
to 1832, in forty-two years we expended in these things, $303,242,576,
namely, for the navy, etc., $112,703,933; for the army, etc.,
190,538,643. For the same time, all other expenses of the nation came to
but $37,158,047. More than eight ninths of the whole revenue of the
nation was spent for purposes of war. In four years, from 1812 to 1815,
we paid in this way, $92,350,519.37. In six years, from 1835 to 1840, we
paid annually on the average $21,328,903; in all $127,973,418. Our
Congress has just voted $17,000,000, as a special grant for the army
alone. The 175,118 muskets at Springfield, are valued at $3,000,000; we
pay annually $200,000 to support that arsenal. The navy-yard at
Charlestown, with its stores, etc., has cost $4,741,000. And, for all
profitable returns, this money might as well be sunk in the bottom of
the sea. In some countries it is yet worse. There are towns and cities
in which the fortifications have cost more than all the houses,
churches, shops, and other property therein. This happens not among the
Sacs and Foxes, but in "Christian" Europe.

Then your soldier is the most unprofitable animal you can keep. He makes
no railroads; clears no land; raises no corn. No, he can make neither
cloth nor clocks! He does not raise his own bread, mend his own shoes,
make his shoulder-knot of glory, nor hammer out his own sword. Yet he is
a costly animal, though useless. If the President gets his fifty
thousand volunteers, a thing likely to happen--for though Irish lumpers
and hod-men want a dollar or a dollar and a half a day, your free
American of Boston will enlist for twenty-seven cents, only having his
livery, his feathers, and his "glory" thrown in--then at $8 a month,
their wages amount to $400,000 a month. Suppose the present Government
shall actually make advantageous contracts, and the subsistence of the
soldier cost no more than in England, or $17 a month, this amounts to
$850,000. Here are $1,250,000 a month to begin with. Then, if each man
would be worth a dollar a day at any productive work, and there are 26
work days in the month, here are $1,300,000 more to be added, making
$2,550,000 a month for the new army of occupation. This is only for the
rank and file of the army. The officers, the surgeons, and the
chaplains, who teach the soldiers to _wad_ their muskets with the leaves
of the Bible, will perhaps cost as much more; or, in all, something more
than $5,000,000 a month. This of course does not include the cost of
their arms, tents, ammunition, baggage, horses, and hospital stores, nor
the 65,000 gallons of whiskey which the government has just advertised
for! What do they give in return? They will give us three things, valor,
glory, and--talk; which, as they are not in the price current, I must
estimate as I can, and set them all down in one figure = 0; not worth
the whiskey they cost.

New England is quite a new country. Seven generations ago it was a
wilderness; now it contains about 2,500,000 souls. If you were to pay
all the public debts of these States, and then, in fancy, divide all the
property therein by the population, young as we are, I think you would
find a larger amount of value for each man than in any other country in
the world, not excepting England. The civilization of Europe is old; the
nations old, England, France, Spain, Austria, Italy, Greece; but they
have wasted their time, their labor and their wealth in war, and so are
poorer than we upstarts of a wilderness. We have fewer fleets, forts,
cannon and soldiers for the population, than any other "Christian"
country in the world. This is one main reason why we have no national
debt; why the women need not toil in the hardest labor of the fields,
the quarries and the mines; this is the reason that we are well fed,
well clad, well housed; this is the reason that Massachusetts can afford
to spend $1,000,000 a year for her public schools! War, wasting a
nation's wealth, depresses the great mass of the people, but serves to
elevate a few to opulence and power. Every despotism is established and
sustained by war. This is the foundation of all the aristocracies of the
old world, aristocracies of blood. Our famous men are often ashamed that
their wealth was honestly got by working, or peddling, and foolishly
copy the savage and bloody emblems of ancient heraldry in their assumed
coats of arms, industrious men seeking to have a griffin on their seal!
Nothing is so hostile to a true democracy as war. It elevates a few,
often bold, bad men, at the expense of the many, who pay the money and
furnish the blood for war.

War is a most expensive folly. The revolutionary war cost the General
Government directly and in specie $135,000,000. It is safe to estimate
the direct cost to the individual States also at the same sum,
$135,000,000; making a total of $270,000,000. Considering the
interruption of business, the waste of time, property and life, it is
plain that this could not have been a fourth part of the whole. But
suppose it was a third, then the whole pecuniary cost of the war would
be $810,000,000. At the beginning of the Revolution the population was
about 3,000,000; so that war, lasting about eight years, cost $270 for
each person. To meet the expenses of the war each year there would have
been required a tax of $33.75 on each man, woman and child!

In the Florida war we spent between $30,000,000 and $40,000,000, as an
eminent statesman once said, in fighting five hundred invisible Indians!
It is estimated that the fortifications of the city of Paris, when
completely furnished, will cost more than the whole taxable property of
Massachusetts, with her 800,000 souls. Why, this year our own grant for
the army is $17,000,000. The estimate for the navy is $6,000,000 more;
in all $23,000,000. Suppose, which is most unlikely, that we should pay
no more, why, that sum alone would support public schools, as good and
as costly as those of Massachusetts, all over the United States,
offering each boy and girl, bond or free, as good a culture as they get
here in Boston, and then leave a balance of $3,000,000 in our hands! We
pay more for ignorance than we need for education! But $23,000,000 is
not all we must pay this year. A great statesman has said, in the
Senate, that our war expenses at present are nearly $500,000 a day, and
the President informs your Congress that $22,952,904 more will be wanted
for the army and navy before next June!

For several years we spent directly more than $21,000,000 for war
purposes, though in time of peace. If a railroad cost $30,000 a mile,
then we might build 700 miles a year for that sum, and in five years
could build a railroad therewith from Boston to the further side of
Oregon. For the war money we paid in forty-two years, we could have had
more than 10,000 miles of railroad, and, with dividends at seven per
cent., a yearly income of $21,210,000. For military and naval affairs,
in eight years, from 1835 to 1843, we paid $163,336,717. This alone
would have made 5,444 miles of railroad, and would produce at seven per
cent., an annual income of $11,433,569.19.

In Boston there are nineteen public grammar schools, a Latin and English
High school. The buildings for these schools twenty in number, have cost
$653,208. There are also 135 primary schools, in as many houses or
rooms. I know not their value, as I think they are not all owned by the
city. But suppose them to be worth $150,000. Then all the school-houses
of this city have cost $803,208. The cost of these 156 schools for this
year is estimated at $172,000. The number of scholars in them is 16,479.
Harvard University, the most expensive college in America, costs about
$46,000 a year. Now the ship Ohio, lying here in our harbor, has cost
$834,845, and we pay for it each year $220,000 more. That is, it has
cost $31,637 more than these 155 school-houses of this city, and costs
every year $2,000 more than Harvard University, and all the public
schools of Boston!

The military academy at West Point contains two hundred and thirty-six
cadets; the appropriation for it last year, was $138,000, a sum greater
I think, than the cost of all the colleges in Maine, New Hampshire,
Vermont and Massachusetts, with their 1,445 students.

The navy-yard at Charlestown, with its ordnance, stores, etc., cost
$4,741,000. The cost of the 78 churches in Boston is $3,246,500; the
whole property of Harvard University is $703,175; the 155 school-houses
of Boston are worth $803,208; in all $4,752,883. Thus the navy-yard at
Charlestown has cost almost as much as the 78 churches and the 155
school-houses of Boston, with Harvard College, its halls, libraries, all
its wealth thrown in. Yet what does it teach?

Our country is singularly destitute of public libraries. You must go
across the ocean to read the history of the Church or State; all the
public libraries in America cannot furnish the books referred to in
Gibbon's Rome, or Gieseler's History of the Church. I think there is no
public library in Europe which has cost three dollars a volume. There
are six: the Vatican, at Rome; the Royal, at Paris; the British Museum,
at London; the Bodleian, at Oxford; the University Libraries at
Gottingen and Berlin--which contain, it is said, about 4,500,000
volumes. The recent grant of $17,000,000 for the army is $3,500,000 more
than the cost of those magnificent collections!

There have been printed about 3,000,000 different volumes, great and
little, within the last 400 years. If the Florida war cost but
$30,000,000, it is ten times more than enough to have purchased one copy
of each book ever printed, at one dollar a volume, which is more than
the average cost.

Now all these sums are to be paid by the people, "the dear people," whom
our republican demagogues love so well, and for whom they spend their
lives, rising early, toiling late, those self-denying heroes, those
sainted martyrs of the republic, eating the bread of carefulness for
them alone! But how are they to be paid? By a direct tax levied on all
the property of the nation, so that the poor man pays according to his
little, and the rich man in proportion to his much, each knowing when he
pays and what he pays for? No such thing; nothing like it. The people
must pay and not know it; must be deceived a little, or they would not
pay after this fashion! You pay for it in every pound of sugar, copper,
coal, in every yard of cloth; and if the counsel of some lovers of the
people be followed, you will soon pay for it in each pound of coffee and
tea. In this way the rich man always pays relatively less than the poor;
often a positively smaller sum. Even here I think that three-fourths of
all the property is owned by one-fourth of the people, yet that
three-fourths by no means pays a third of the national revenue. The tax
is laid on things men cannot do without,--sugar, cloth, and the like.
The consumption of these articles is not in proportion to wealth but
persons. Now the poor man, as a general rule, has more children than the
rich, and the tax being more in proportion to persons than property, the
poor man pays more than the rich. So a tax is really laid on the poor
man's children to pay for the war which makes him poor and keeps him
poor. I think your captains and colonels, those sons of thunder and
heirs of glory, will not tell you so. They tell you so! They know it!
Poor brothers, how could they? I think your party newspapers, penny or
pound, will not tell you so; nor the demagogues, all covered with glory
and all forlorn, who tell the people when to hurrah and for what! But if
you cipher the matter out for yourself you will find it so, and not
otherwise. Tell the demagogues, whig or democrat, that. It was an old
Roman maxim, "The people wished to be deceived; let them." Now it is
only practised on; not repeated--in public.

Let us deal justly even with war, giving that its due. There is one
class of men who find their pecuniary advantage in it. I mean army
contractors, when they chance to be favorites of the party in power; men
who let steamboats to lie idle at $500 a day. This class of men rejoice
in a war. The country may become poor, they are sure to be rich. Yet
another class turn war to account, get the "glory," and become important
in song and sermon. I see it stated in a newspaper that the Duke of
Wellington has received, as gratuities for his military services,
$5,400,000, and $40,000 a year in pensions!

       *       *       *       *       *

But the waste of property is the smallest part of the evil. The waste of
life in war is yet more terrible. Human life is a sacred thing. Go out
into the lowest street of Boston; take the vilest and most squalid man
in that miserable lane, and he is dear to some one. He is called
brother; perhaps husband; it may be father; at least, son. A human
heart, sadly joyful, beat over him before he was born. He has been
pressed fondly to his mother's arms. Her tears and her smiles have been
for him; perhaps also her prayers. His blood may be counted mean and
vile by the great men of the earth who love nothing so well as the dear
people, for he has no "coat of arms," no liveried servant to attend him,
but it has run down from the same first man. His family is ancient as
that of the most long descended king. God made him; made this splendid
universe to wait on him and teach him; sent his Christ to save him. He
is an immortal soul. Needlessly to spill that man's blood is an awful
sin. It will cry against you out of the ground--Cain! where is thy
brother? Now in war you bring together 50,000 men like him on one side,
and 50,000 of a different nation on the other. They have no natural
quarrel with one another. The earth is wide enough for both; neither
hinders the sun from the other. Many come unwillingly; many not knowing
what they fight for. It is but accident that determines on which side
the man shall fight. The cannons pour their shot--round, grape,
canister; the howitzers scatter their bursting shells; the muskets rain
their leaden death; the sword, the bayonet, the horses' iron hoof, the
wheels of the artillery, grind the men down into trodden dust. There
they lie, the two masses of burning valor, extinguished, quenched, and
grimly dead, each covering with his body the spot he defended with his
arms. They had no quarrel; yet they lie there, slain by a brother's
hand. It is not old and decrepid men, but men of the productive age,
full of lusty life.

But it is only the smallest part that perish in battle. Exposure to
cold, wet, heat; unhealthy climates, unwholesome food, rum, and forced
marches, bring on diseases which mow down the poor soldiers worse than
musketry and grape. Others languish of wounds, and slowly procrastinate
a dreadful and a tenfold death. Far away, there are widows, orphans,
childless old fathers, who pore over the daily news to learn at random
the fate of a son, a father, or a husband! They crowd disconsolate into
the churches, seeking of God the comfort men took from them, praying in
the bitterness of a broken heart, while the priest gives thanks for "a
famous victory," and hangs up the bloody standard over his pulpit!

When ordinary disease cuts off a man, when he dies at his duty, there is
some comfort in that loss. "It was the ordinance of God," you say. You
minister to his wants; you smoothe down the pillow for the aching head;
your love beguiles the torment of disease, and your own bosom gathers
half the darts of death. He goes in his time and God takes him. But when
he dies in such a war, in battle, it is man who has robbed him of life.
It is a murderer that is butchered. Nothing alleviates that bitter,
burning smart!

Others not slain are maimed for life. This has no eyes; that no hands;
another no feet nor legs. This has been pierced by lances, and torn with
the shot, till scarce any thing human is left. The wreck of a body is
crazed with pains God never meant for man. The mother that bore him
would not know her child. Count the orphan asylums in Germany and
Holland; go into the hospital at Greenwich, that of the invalids in
Paris, you see the "trophies" of Napoleon and Wellington. Go to the
arsenal at Toulon, see the wooden legs piled up there for men now active
and whole, and you will think a little of the physical horrors of war.

In Boston there are perhaps about 25,000 able-bodied men between 18 and
45. Suppose them all slain in battle, or mortally hurt, or mown down by
the camp-fever, vomito, or other diseases of war, and then fancy the
distress, the heart-sickness amid wives, mothers, daughters, sons and
fathers, here! Yet 25,000 is a small number to be murdered in "a famous
victory;" a trifle for a whole "glorious campaign" in a great war. The
men of Boston are no better loved than the men of Tamaulipas. There is
scarce an old family, of the middle class, in all New England, which did
not thus smart in the Revolution; many, which have not, to this day,
recovered from the bloody blow then falling on them. Think, wives, of
the butchery of your husbands; think, mothers, of the murder of your

Here, too, the burden of battle falls mainly on the humble class. They
pay the great tribute of money; they pay also the horrid tax of blood.
It was not your rich men who fought even the Revolution; not they. Your
men of property and standing were leaguing with the British, or fitting
out privateers when that offered a good investment, or buying up the
estates of more consistent tories; making money out of the nation's dire
distress! True, there were most honorable exceptions; but such, I think,
was the general rule. Let this be distinctly remembered, that the burden
of battle is borne by the humble classes of men; they pay the vast
tribute of money; the awful tax of blood! The "glory" is got by a few;
poverty, wounds, death, are for the people!

Military glory is the poorest kind of distinction, but the most
dangerous passion. It is an honor to man to be able to mould iron; to be
skilful at working in cloth, wood, clay, leather. It is man's vocation
to raise corn, to subdue the rebellious fibre of cotton and convert it
into beautiful robes, full of comfort for the body. They are the heroes
of the race who abridge the time of human toil and multiply its results;
they who win great truths from God, and send them to a people's heart;
they who balance the many and the one into harmonious action, so that
all are united and yet each left free. But the glory which comes of
epaulets and feathers; that strutting glory which is dyed in blood--what
shall we say of it? In this day it is not heroism; it is an imitation of
barbarism long ago passed by. Yet it is marvellous how many men are
taken with a red coat! You expect it in Europe, a land of soldiers and
blood. You are disappointed to find that here the champions of force
should be held in honor, and that even the lowest should voluntarily
enroll themselves as butchers of men!

       *       *       *       *       *

Yet more: aggressive war is a sin; a corruption of the public morals. It
is a practical denial of Christianity; a violation of God's eternal law
of love. This is so plain that I shall say little upon it to-day. Your
savagest and most vulgar captain would confess he does not fight as a
Christian--but as a soldier; your magistrate calls for volunteers--not
as a man loving Christianity, and loyal to God; only as Governor, under
oath to keep the Constitution, the tradition of the elders; not under
oath to keep the commandment of God! In war the laws are suspended,
violence and cunning rule everywhere. The battle of Yorktown was gained
by a lie, though a Washington told it. As a soldier it was his duty. Men
"emulate the tiger;" the hand is bloody, and the heart hard. Robbery and
murder are the rule, the glory of men. "Good men look sad, but ruffians
dance and leap." Men are systematically trained to burn towns, to murder
fathers and sons; taught to consider it "glory" to do so. The Government
collects ruffians and cut-throats. It compels better men to serve with
these and become cut-throats. It appoints chaplains to blaspheme
Christianity; teaching the ruffians how to pray for the destruction of
the enemy, the burning of his towns; to do this in the name of Christ
and God. I do not censure all the men who serve: some of them know no
better; they have heard that a man would "perish everlastingly" if he
did not believe the Athanasian creed; that if he questioned the story of
Jonah, or the miraculous birth of Jesus, he was in danger of hell-fire,
and if he doubted damnation was sure to be damned. They never heard
that such a war was a sin; that to create a war was treason, and to
fight in it wrong. They never thought of thinking for themselves; their
thinking was to read a newspaper, or sleep through a sermon. They
counted it their duty to obey the Government without thinking if that
Government be right or wrong. I deny not the noble, manly character of
many a soldier, his heroism, self-denial and personal sacrifice.

Still, after all proper allowance is made for a few individuals, the
whole system of war is unchristian and sinful. It lives only by evil
passions. It can be defended only by what is low, selfish, and animal.
It absorbs the scum of the cities, pirates, robbers, murderers. It makes
them worse, and better men like them. To take one man's life is murder;
what is it to practise killing as an art, a trade; to do it by
thousands? Yet I think better of the hands that do the butchering than
of the ambitious heads, the cold, remorseless hearts, which plunge the
nation into war.

In war the State teaches men to lie, to steal, to kill. It calls for
privateers, who are commonly pirates with a national charter, and
pirates are privateers with only a personal charter. Every camp is a
school of profanity, violence, licentiousness, and crimes too foul to
name. It is so without sixty-five thousand gallons of whiskey. This is
unavoidable. It was so with Washington's army, with Cornwallis's, with
that of Gustavus Adolphus, perhaps the most moral army the world ever
saw. The soldier's life generally unfits a man for the citizen's! When
he returns from a camp, from a war, back to his native village, he
becomes a curse to society and a shame to the mother that bore him. Even
the soldiers of the Revolution, who survived the war, were mostly ruined
for life, debauched, intemperate, vicious and vile. What loathsome
creatures so many of them were! They bore our burden, for such were the
real martyrs of that war, not the men who fell under the shot! How many
men of the rank and file in the late war have since become respectable

To show how incompatible are War and Christianity, suppose that he who
is deemed the most Christian of Christ's disciples, the well-beloved
John, were made a navy-chaplain, and some morning, when a battle is
daily looked for, should stand on the gun-deck, amid lockers of shot,
his Bible resting on a cannon, and expound Christianity to men with
cutlasses by their side! Let him read for the morning lesson the Sermon
on the Mount, and for text take words from his own Epistle, so sweet, so
beautiful, so true: "Every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth
God, for God is love." Suppose he tells his strange audience that all
men are brothers; that God is their common father; that Christ loved us
all, showing us how to live the life of love; and then, when he had
melted all those savage hearts by words so winsome and so true, let him
conclude, "Blessed are the men-slayers! Seek first the glory which
cometh of battle. Be fierce as tigers. Mar God's image in which your
brothers are made. Be not like Christ, but Cain who slew his brother!
When you meet the enemy, fire into their bosoms; kill them in the dear
name of Christ; butcher them in the spirit of God. Give them no quarter,
for we ought not to lay down our lives for the brethren; only the
murderer hath eternal life!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Yet great as are these three-fold evils, there are times when the
soberest men and the best men have welcomed war, coolly and in their
better moments. Sometimes a people, long oppressed, has "petitioned,
remonstrated, cast itself at the feet of the throne," with only insult
for answer to its prayer. Sometimes there is a contest between a
falsehood and a great truth; a self-protecting war for freedom of mind,
heart and soul; yes, a war for a man's body, his wife's and children's
body, for what is dearer to men than life itself, for the unalienable
rights of man, for the idea that all are born free and equal. It was so
in the American Revolution; in the English, in the French Revolution. In
such cases men say, "Let it come." They take down the firelock in
sorrow; with a prayer they go forth to battle, asking that the Right
may triumph. Much as I hate war I cannot but honor such men. Were they
better, yet more heroic, even war of that character might be avoided.
Still it is a colder heart than mine which does not honor such men,
though it believes them mistaken. Especially do we honor them, when it
is the few, the scattered, the feeble, contending with the many and the
mighty; the noble fighting for a great idea, and against the base and
tyrannical. Then most men think the gain, the triumph of a great idea,
is worth the price it costs, the price of blood.

I will not stop to touch that question, If man may ever shed the blood
of man. But it is plain that an aggressive war like this is wholly
unchristian, and a reproach to the nation and the age.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now, to make the evils of war still clearer, and to bring them home to
your door, let us suppose there was war between the counties of Suffolk,
on the one side, and Middlesex on the other--this army at Boston, that
at Cambridge. Suppose the subject in dispute was the boundary line
between the two, Boston claiming a pitiful acre of flat land, which the
ocean at low tide disdained to cover. To make sure of this, Boston
seizes whole miles of flats, unquestionably not its own. The rulers on
one side are fools, and traitors on the other. The two commanders have
issued their proclamations; the money is borrowed; the whiskey
provided; the soldiers--Americans, Negroes, Irishmen, all the
able-bodied men--are enlisted. Prayers are offered in all the churches,
and sermons preached, showing that God is a man of war, and Cain his
first saint, an early Christian, a Christian before Christ. The
Bostonians wish to seize Cambridge, burn the houses, churches,
college-halls, and plunder the library. The men of Cambridge wish to
seize Boston, burn its houses and ships, plundering its wares and its
goods. Martial law is proclaimed on both sides. The men of Cambridge cut
asunder the bridges, and make a huge breach in the mill-dam, planting
cannon to enfilade all those avenues. Forts crown the hilltops, else so
green. Men, madder than lunatics, are crowded into the Asylum. The
Bostonians rebuild the old fortifications on the Neck; replace the forts
on Beacon-hill, Fort-hill, Copps-hill, levelling houses to make room for
redoubts and bastions. The batteries are planted, the mortars got ready;
the furnaces and magazines are all prepared. The three hills are grim
with war. From Copps-hill men look anxious to that memorable height the
other side of the water. Provisions are cut off in Boston; no man may
pass the lines; the aqueduct refuses its genial supply; children cry for
their expected food. The soldiers parade, looking somewhat tremulous and
pale; all the able-bodied have come, the vilest most willingly; some are
brought by force of drink, some by force of arms. Some are in brilliant
dresses, some in their working frocks. The banners are consecrated by
solemn words.[6] Your church-towers are military posts of observation.
There are Old Testament prayers to the "God of Hosts" in all the
churches of Boston; prayers that God would curse the men of Cambridge,
make their wives widows, their children fatherless, their houses a ruin,
the men corpses, meat for the beast of the field and the bird of the
air. Last night the Bostonians made a feint of attacking Charlestown,
raining bombs and red-hot cannon-balls from Copps-hill, till they have
burnt a thousand houses, where the British burnt not half so many. Women
and children fled screaming from the blazing rafters of their homes. The
men of Middlesex crowd into Charlestown.

In the mean time the Bostonians hastily repair a bridge or two; some
pass that way, some over the Neck; all stealthily by night, and while
the foe expect them at Bunker's, amid the blazing town, they have stolen
a march and rush upon Cambridge itself. The Cambridge men turn back. The
battle is fiercely joined. You hear the cannon, the sharp report of
musketry. You crowd the hills, the house-tops; you line the Common, you
cover the shore, yet you see but little in the sulphurous cloud. Now
the Bostonians yield a little, a reinforcement goes over. All the men
are gone; even the gray-headed who can shoulder a firelock. They plunge
into battle mad with rage, madder with rum. The chaplains loiter behind.

    "Pious men, whom duty brought,
    To dubious verge of battle fought,
    To shrive the dying, bless the dead!"

The battle hangs long in even scale. At length it turns. The Cambridge
men retreat, they run, they fly. The houses burn. You see the churches
and the colleges go up, a stream of fire. That library--founded amid
want and war and sad sectarian strife, slowly gathered by the saving of
two centuries, the hope of the poor scholar, the boast of the rich
one--is scattered to the winds and burnt with fire, for the solid
granite is blasted by powder, and the turrets fall. Victory is ours. Ten
thousand men of Cambridge lie dead; eight thousand of Boston. There
writhe the wounded; men who but few hours before were poured over the
battle-field a lava flood of fiery valor--fathers, brothers, husbands,
sons. There they lie, torn and mangled; black with powder; red with
blood; parched with thirst; cursing the load of life they now must bear
with bruised frames and mutilated limbs. Gather them into hasty
hospitals--let this man's daughter come to-morrow and sit by him,
fanning away the flies; he shall linger out a life of wretched anguish
unspoken and unspeakable, and when he dies his wife religiously will
keep the shot which tore his limbs. There is the battle-field! Here the
horse charged; there the howitzers scattered their shells, pregnant with
death; here the murderous canister and grape mowed down the crowded
ranks; there the huge artillery, teeming with murder, was dragged o'er
heaps of men--wounded friends who just now held its ropes, men yet
curling with anguish, like worms in the fire. Hostile and friendly, head
and trunk are crushed beneath those dreadful wheels. Here the infantry
showered their murdering shot. That ghastly face was beautiful the day
before--a sabre hewed its half away.

    "The earth is covered thick with other clay,
    Which her own clay must cover, heaped and pent,
    Rider and horse, friend, foe, in one red burial blent."

Again it is night. Oh, what a night, and after what a day! Yet the pure
tide of woman's love, which never ebbs since earth began, flows on in
spite of war and battle. Stealthily, by the pale moonlight, a mother of
Boston treads the weary miles to reach that bloody spot; a widow
she--seeking among the slain her only son. The arm of power drove him
forth reluctant to the fight. A friendly soldier guides her way. Now
she turns over this face, whose mouth is full of purple dust, bit out of
the ground in his extremest agony, the last sacrament offered him by
Earth herself; now she raises that form, cold, stiff, stony and ghastly
as a dream of hell. But, lo! another comes, she too a woman, younger and
fairer, yet not less bold, a maiden from the hostile town to seek her
lover. They meet, two women among the corpses; two angels come to
Golgotha, seeking to raise a man. There he lies before them; they look.
Yes it is he you seek; the same dress, form, features too; it is he, the
son, the lover. Maid and mother could tell that face in any light. The
grass is wet with his blood. The ground is muddy with the life of men.
The mother's innocent robe is drabbled in the blood her bosom bore.
Their kisses, groans, and tears, recall the wounded man. He knows the
mother's voice; that voice yet more beloved. His lips move only, for
they cannot speak. He dies! The waxing moon moves high in heaven,
walking in beauty amid the clouds, and murmurs soft her cradle song unto
the slumbering earth. The broken sword reflects her placid beams. A star
looks down and is imaged back in a pool of blood. The cool night wind
plays in the branches of the trees shivered with shot. Nature is
beautiful--that lovely grass underneath their feet; those pendulous
branches of the leafy elm; the stars and that romantic moon lining the
clouds with silver light! A groan of agony, hopeless and prolonged,
wails out from that bloody ground. But in yonder farm the whippoorwill
sings to her lover all night long; the rising tide ripples melodious
against the shores. So wears the night away,--Nature, all sinless, round
that field of woe.

    "The morn is up again, the dewy morn,
    With breath all incense and with cheek all bloom,
    Laughing the clouds away with playful scorn,
    And living as if earth contained no tomb,
      And glowing into day."

What a scene that morning looks upon! I will not turn again. Let the
dead bury their dead. But their blood cries out of the ground against
the rulers who shed it,--"Cain! where are thy brothers?" What shall the
fool answer; what the traitor say?

Then comes thanksgiving in all the churches of Boston. The consecrated
banners, stiff with blood and "glory," are hung over the altar. The
minister preaches and the singer sings: "The Lord hath been on our side.
He treadeth the people under me. He teacheth my hands to war, my fingers
to fight. Yea, He giveth me the necks of mine enemies; for the Lord is
his name;" and "It was a famous victory!" Boston seizes miles square of
land; but her houses are empty; her wives widows; her children
fatherless. Rachel weeps for the murder of her innocents, yet dares not
rebuke the rod.

I know there is no fighting across Charles River, as in this poor
fiction; but there was once, and instead of Charles say Rio Grande; for
Cambridge read Metamoras, and it is what your President recommended;
what your Congress enacted; what your Governor issued his proclamation
for; what your volunteers go to accomplish: yes, what they fired cannon
for on Boston Common the other day. I wish that were a fiction of mine!

       *       *       *       *       *

We are waging a most iniquitous war--so it seems to me. I know I may be
wrong, but I am no partisan, and if I err, it is not wilfully, not
rashly. I know the Mexicans are a wretched people; wretched in their
origin, history, and character. I know but two good things of them as a
people--they abolished negro slavery, not long ago; they do not covet
the lands of their neighbors. True, they have not paid all their debts,
but it is scarcely decent in a nation, with any repudiating States, to
throw the first stone at Mexico for that!

I know the Mexicans cannot stand before this terrible Anglo-Saxon race,
the most formidable and powerful the world ever saw; a race which has
never turned back; which, though it number less than forty millions, yet
holds the Indies, almost the whole of North America; which rules the
commerce of the world; clutches at New Holland, China, New Zealand,
Borneo, and seizes island after island in the furthest seas; the race
which invented steam as its awful type. The poor, wretched Mexicans can
never stand before us. How they perished in battle! They must melt away
as the Indians before the white man. Considering how we acquired
Louisiana, Florida, Oregon, I cannot forbear thinking that this people
will possess the whole of the continent before many years; perhaps
before the century ends. But this may be had fairly; with no injustice
to any one; by the steady advance of a superior race, with superior
ideas and a better civilization; by commerce, trade, arts, by being
better than Mexico, wiser, humaner, more free and manly. Is it not
better to acquire it by the schoolmaster than the cannon; by peddling
cloth, tin, any thing rather than bullets? It may not all belong to this
Government, and yet to this race. It would be a gain to mankind if we
could spread over that country the Idea of America--that all men are
born free and equal in rights, and establish there political, social,
and individual freedom. But to do that, we must first make real these
ideas at home.

In the general issue between this race and that, we are in the right.
But in this special issue, and this particular war, it seems to me that
we are wholly in the wrong; that our invasion of Mexico is as bad as the
partition of Poland in the last century and in this. If I understand the
matter, the whole movement, the settlement of Texas, the Texan
revolution, the annexation of Texas, the invasion of Mexico, has been a
movement hostile to the American idea, a movement to extend slavery. I
do not say such was the design on the part of the people, but on the
part of the politicians who pulled the strings. I think the papers of
the Government and the debates of Congress prove that. The annexation
has been declared unconstitutional in its mode, a virtual dissolution of
the Union, and that by very high and well-known authority. It was
expressly brought about for the purpose of extending slavery. An attempt
is now made to throw the shame of this on the democrats. I think the
democrats deserve the shame; but I could never see that the whigs, on
the whole, deserved it any less; only they were not quite so open.
Certainly, their leaders did not take ground against it, never as
against a modification of the tariff! When we annexed Texas we of course
took her for better or worse, debts and all, and annexed her war along
with her. I take it everybody knew that; though now some seem to pretend
a decent astonishment at the result. Now one party is ready to fight for
it as the other! The North did not oppose the annexation of Texas. Why
not? They knew they could make money by it. The eyes of the North are
full of cotton; they see nothing else, for a web is before them; their
ears are full of cotton, and they hear nothing but the buzz of their
mills; their mouth is full of cotton, and they can speak audibly but
two words--Tariff, Tariff, Dividends, Dividends. The talent of the North
is blinded, deafened, gagged with its own cotton. The North clamored
loudly when the nation's treasure was removed from the United States
Bank; it is almost silent at the annexation of a slave territory big as
the kingdom of France, encumbered with debts, loaded with the entailment
of war! Northern Governors call for soldiers; our men volunteer to fight
in a most infamous war for the extension of slavery! Tell it not in
Boston, whisper it not in Faneuil Hall, lest you weaken the slumbers of
your fathers, and they curse you as cowards and traitors unto men! Not
satisfied with annexing Texas and a war, we next invaded a territory
which did not belong to Texas, and built a fort on the Rio Grande,
where, I take it, we had no more right than the British, in 1841, had on
the Penobscot or the Saco. Now the Government and its Congress would
throw the blame on the innocent, and say war exists "by the act of
Mexico!" If a lie was ever told, I think this is one. Then the "dear
people" must be called on for money and men, for "the soil of this free
republic is invaded," and the Governor of Massachusetts, one of the men
who declared the annexation of Texas unconstitutional, recommends the
war he just now told us to pray against, and appeals to our
"patriotism," and "humanity," as arguments for butchering the Mexicans,
when they are in the right and we in the wrong! The maxim is held up,
"Our country, right or wrong;" "Our country, howsoever bounded;" and it
might as well be, "Our country, howsoever governed." It seems popularly
and politically forgotten that there is such a thing as Right. The
nation's neck invites a tyrant. I am not at all astonished that northern
representatives voted for all this work of crime. They are no better
than southern representatives; scarcely less in favor of slavery, and
not half so open. They say: Let the North make money, and you may do
what you please with the nation; and we will choose governors that dare
not oppose you, for, though we are descended from the Puritans we have
but one article in our creed we never flinch from following, and that
is--to make money; honestly, if we can; if not, as we can!

Look through the action of your Government, and your Congress. You see
that no reference has been had in this affair to Christian ideas; none
to justice and the eternal right. Nay, none at all! In the churches, and
among the people, how feeble has been the protest against this great
wrong. How tamely the people yield their necks--and say: "Take our sons
for the war--we care not, right or wrong." England butchers the Sikhs in
India--her generals are elevated to the peerage, and the head of her
church writes a form of thanksgiving for the victory, to be read in all
the churches of that Christian land.[7] To make it still more
abominable, the blasphemy is enacted on Easter Sunday, the great holiday
of men who serve the Prince of Peace. We have not had prayers in the
churches, for we have no political Archbishop. But we fired cannon in
joy that we had butchered a few wretched men--half starved, and forced
into the ranks by fear of death! Your peace societies, and your
churches, what can they do? What dare they? Verily, we are a faithless
and perverse generation. God be merciful to us, sinners as we are!

       *       *       *       *       *

But why talk for ever? What shall we do? In regard to this present war,
we can refuse to take any part in it; we can encourage others to do the
same; we can aid men, if need be, who suffer because they refuse. Men
will call us traitors: what then? That hurt nobody in '76! We are a
rebellious nation; our whole history is treason; our blood was attainted
before we were born; our creeds are infidelity to the mother-church; our
Constitution treason to our father-land. What of that? Though all the
governors in the world bid us commit treason against man, and set the
example, let us never submit. Let God only be a master to control our

We can hold public meetings in favor of peace, in which what is wrong
shall be exposed and condemned. It is proof of our cowardice that this
has not been done before now. We can show in what the infamy of a nation
consists; in what its real glory. One of your own men, the last summer,
startled the churches out of their sleep,[8] by his manly trumpet,
talking with us, and telling that the true grandeur of a nation was
justice, not glory; peace, not war.

We can work now for future times, by taking pains to spread abroad the
sentiments of peace, the ideas of peace, among the people in schools,
churches--everywhere. At length we can diminish the power of the
national Government, so that the people alone shall have the power to
declare war, by a direct vote, the Congress only to recommend it. We can
take from the Government the means of war by raising only revenue enough
for the nation's actual wants, and raising that directly, so that each
man knows what he pays, and when he pays it, and then he will take care
that it is not paid to make him poor and keep him so. We can diffuse a
real practical Christianity among the people, till the mass of men have
courage enough to overcome evil with good, and look at aggressive war as
the worst of treason and the foulest infidelity!

Now is the time to push and be active. War itself gives weight to words
of peace. There will never be a better time till we make the times
better. It is not a day for cowardice, but for heroism. Fear not that
the "honor of the nation" will suffer from Christian movements for
peace. What if your men of low degree are a vanity, and your men of high
degree are a lie? That is no new thing. Let true men do their duty, and
the lie and the vanity will pass each to its reward. Wait not for the
churches to move, or the State to become Christian. Let us bear our
testimony like men, not fearing to be called traitors, infidels; fearing
only to be such.

I would call on Americans, by their love of our country, its great
ideas, its real grandeur, its hopes, and the memory of its fathers--to
come and help save that country from infamy and ruin. I would call on
Christians, who believe that Christianity is a truth, to lift up their
voice, public and private, against the foulest violation of God's law,
this blasphemy of the Holy Spirit of Christ, this worst form of
infidelity to man and God. I would call on all men, by the one nature
that is in you, by the great human heart beating alike in all your
bosoms, to protest manfully against this desecration of the earth, this
high treason against both man and God. Teach your rulers that you are
Americans, not slaves; Christians, not heathen; men, not murderers, to
kill for hire! You may effect little in this generation, for its head
seems crazed and its heart rotten. But there will be a day after to-day.
It is for you and me to make it better; a day of peace, when nation
shall no longer lift up sword against nation; when all shall indeed be
brothers, and all blest. Do this, you shall be worthy to dwell in this
beautiful land; Christ will be near you; God work with you, and bless
you for ever!

This present trouble with Mexico may be very brief; surely it might be
even now brought to an end with no unusual manhood in your rulers. Can
we say we have not deserved it? Let it end, but let us remember that
war, horrid as it is, is not the worst calamity which ever befalls a
people. It is far worse for a people to lose all reverence for right,
for truth, all respect for man and God; to care more for the freedom of
trade than the freedom of men; more for a tariff than millions of souls.
This calamity came upon us gradually, long before the present war, and
will last long after that has died away. Like people like ruler, is a
true word. Look at your rulers, representatives, and see our own
likeness! We reverence force, and have forgot there is any right beyond
the vote of a Congress or a people; any good beside dollars; any God but
majorities and force, I think the present war, though it should cost
50,000 men and $50,000,000, the smallest part of our misfortune. Abroad
we are looked on as a nation of swindlers and men-stealers! What can we
say in our defence? Alas, the nation is a traitor to its great
idea,--that all men are born equal, each with the same unalienable
rights. We are infidels to Christianity. We have paid the price of our

There have been dark days in this nation before now. It was gloomy when
Washington with his little army fled through the Jerseys. It was a long
dark day from '83 to '89. It was not so dark as now; the nation never so
false. There was never a time when resistance to tyrants was so rare a
virtue; when the people so tamely submitted to a wrong. Now you can feel
the darkness. The sack of this city and the butchery of its people were
a far less evil than the moral deadness of the nation. Men spring up
again like the mown grass; but to raise up saints and heroes in a dead
nation corrupting beside its golden tomb, what shall do that for us? We
must look not to the many for that, but to the few who are faithful unto
God and man.

I know the hardy vigor of our men, the stalwart intellect of this
people. Would to God they could learn to love the right and true. Then
what a people should we be, spreading from the Madawaska to the
Sacramento, diffusing our great idea, and living our religion, the
Christianity of Christ! Oh, Lord! make the vision true; waken thy
prophets and stir thy people till righteousness exalt us! No wonders
will be wrought for that. But the voice of conscience speaks to you and
me, and all of us: The right shall prosper; the wicked States shall die,
and History responds her long amen.

What lessons come to us from the past! The Genius of the old
civilization, solemn and sad, sits there on the Alps, his classic beard
descending o'er his breast. Behind him arise the new nations, bustling
with romantic life. He bends down over the midland sea, and counts up
his children--Assyria, Egypt, Tyre, Carthage, Troy, Etruria, Corinth,
Athens, Rome--once so renowned, now gathered with the dead, their giant
ghosts still lingering pensive o'er the spot. He turns westward his
face, too sad to weep, and raising from his palsied knee his trembling
hand, looks on his brother genius of the new civilization. That young
giant, strong and mocking, sits there on the Alleghanies. Before him lie
the waters, covered with ships; behind him he hears the roar of the
Mississippi and the far distant Oregon--rolling their riches to the sea.
He bends down, and that far ocean murmurs pacific in his ear. On his
left, are the harbors, shops and mills of the East, and a five-fold
gleam of light goes up from Northern lakes. On his right, spread out the
broad savannahs of the South, waiting to be blessed; and far off that
Mexique bay bends round her tropic shores. A crown of stars is on that
giant's head, some glorious with flashing, many-colored light; some
bloody red; some pale and faint, of most uncertain hue. His right hand
lies folded in his robe; the left rests on the Bible's opened page, and
holds these sacred words--All men are equal, born with equal rights from
God. The old says to the young: "Brother, beware!" and Alps and Rocky
Mountains say "Beware!" That stripling giant, ill-bred and scoffing,
shouts amain: "My feet are red with the Indians' blood; my hand has
forged the negro's chain. I am strong; who dares assail me? I will drink
his blood, for I have made my covenant of lies, and leagued with hell
for my support. There is no right, no truth; Christianity is false, and
God a name." His left hand rends those sacred scrolls, casting his
Bibles underneath his feet, and in his right he brandishes the
negro-driver's whip, crying again--"Say, who is God, and what is Right."
And all his mountains echo--Right. But the old genius sadly says again:
"Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not prosper." The hollow
tomb of Egypt, Athens, Rome, of every ancient State, with all their
wandering ghosts, replies, "AMEN."


[3] Isaiah lxiii. 1-6. _Noyes's_ Version.

    _The People._

    1.   Who is this that cometh from Edom?
       In scarlet garments from Bozrah?
       This, that is glorious in his apparel,
       Proud in the greatness of his strength?


       I, that proclaim deliverance,
       And am mighty to save.

    _The People._

    2. Wherefore is thine apparel red,
       And thy garments like those of one that treadeth the wine-vat?


    3. I have trodden the wine-vat alone,
       And of the nations there was none with me.
       And I trod them in mine anger,
       And I trampled them in my fury,
       So that their life-blood was sprinkled upon my garments,
       And I have stained all my apparel.
    4. For the day of vengeance was in my heart,
       And the year of my deliverance was come.
    5. And I looked, and there was none to help,
       And I wondered, that there was none to uphold,
       Therefore my own arm wrought salvation for me,
       And my fury, it sustained me.
    6. I trod down the nations in my anger;
       I crushed them in my fury,
       And spilled their blood upon the ground.

[4] To show the differences between the Old and New Testament, and to
serve as introduction to this discourse, the following passages were
read as the morning lesson: Exodus, xv. 1-6; 2 Sam. xxii. 32, 35-43, 48;
xlv. 3-5; Isa. lxvi. 15, 16; Joel, iii. 9-17, and Matt. v. 3-11, 38-39,

[5] Such was the price offered, and such the number of soldiers then
called for.

[6] See the appropriate forms of prayer for that service by the present
Bishop of Oxford, in Jay's Address before the American Peace Society, in

[7] _Form of Prayer and Thanksgiving to Almighty God._

"O Lord God of Hosts, in whose hand is power and might irresistible, we,
thine unworthy servants, most humbly acknowledge thy goodness in the
victories lately vouchsafed to the armies of our Sovereign over a host
of barbarous invaders, who sought to spread desolation over fruitful and
populous provinces, enjoying the blessings of peace, under the
protection of the British Crown. We bless Thee, O merciful Lord, for
having brought to a speedy and prosperous issue a war to which no
occasion had been given by injustice on our part, or apprehension of
injury at our hands! To Thee, O Lord, we ascribe the glory! It was Thy
wisdom which guided the counsel! Thy power which strengthened the hands
of those whom it pleased Thee to use as Thy instruments in the
discomfiture of the lawless aggressor, and the frustration of his
ambitious designs! From Thee, alone, cometh the victory, and the spirit
of moderation and mercy in the day of success. Continue, we beseech
Thee, to go forth with our armies, whensoever they are called into
battle in a righteous cause; and dispose the hearts of their leaders to
exact nothing more from the vanquished than is necessary for the
maintenance of peace and security against violence and rapine.

"Above all, give Thy grace to those who preside in the councils of our
Sovereign, and administer the concerns of her widely extended dominions,
that they may apply all their endeavors to the purposes designed by Thy
good Providence, in committing such power to their hands, the temporal
and spiritual benefit of the nations intrusted to their care.

"And whilst Thou preservest our distant possessions from the horrors of
war, give us peace and plenty at home, that the earth may yield her
increase, and that we, Thy servants, receiving Thy blessings with
thankfulness and gladness of heart, may dwell together in unity, and
faithfully serve Thee, to Thy honor and glory, through Jesus Christ our
Lord, to whom, with Thee and the Holy Ghost, belong all dominion and
power, both in heaven and earth, now and for ever. Amen."--See a defence
of this prayer, in the London "Christian Observer" for May, p. 319, _et
seq._, and for June, p. 346, _et seq._

Would you know what he gave thanks for on Easter Sunday? Here is the
history of the battle:

"This battle had begun at six, and was over at eleven o'clock; the
hand-to-hand combat commenced at nine, and lasted scarcely two hours.
The river was full of sinking men. For two hours, volley after volley
was poured in upon the human mass--the stream being literally red with
blood, and covered with the bodies of the slain. At last, the musket
ammunition becoming exhausted, the infantry fell to the rear, the horse
artillery plying grape till not a man was visible within range. No
compassion was felt or mercy shown." But "'twas a famous victory!"

[8] Mr. Charles Sumner.



Mr. Chairman,--We have come here to consult for the honor of our
country. The honor and dignity of the United States are in danger. I
love my country; I love her honor. It is dear to me almost as my own. I
have seen stormy meetings in Faneuil Hall before now, and am not easily
disturbed by a popular tumult. But never before did I see a body of
armed soldiers attempting to overawe the majesty of the people, when met
to deliberate on the people's affairs. Yet the meetings of the people of
Boston have been disturbed by soldiers before now, by British bayonets;
but never since the Boston massacre on the 5th of March, 1770! Our
fathers hated a standing army. This is a new one, but behold the effect!
Here are soldiers with bayonets to overawe the majesty of the people!
They went to our meeting last Monday night, the hireling soldiers of
President Polk, to overawe and disturb the meetings of honest men. Here
they are now, and in arms!

We are in a war; the signs of war are seen here in Boston. Men, needed
to hew wood and honestly serve society, are marching about your streets;
they are learning to kill men, men who never harmed us, nor them;
learning to kill their brothers. It is a mean and infamous war we are
fighting. It is a great boy fighting a little one, and that little one
feeble and sick. What makes it worse is, the little boy is in the right,
and the big boy is in the wrong, and tells solemn lies to make his side
seem right. He wants, besides, to make the small boy pay the expenses of
the quarrel.

The friends of the war say "Mexico has invaded our territory!" When it
is shown that it is we who have invaded hers, then it is said, "Ay, but
she owes us money." Better say outright, "Mexico has land, and we want
to steal it!"

This war is waged for a mean and infamous purpose, for the extension of
slavery. It is not enough that there are fifteen Slave States, and
3,000,000 men here who have no legal rights--not so much as the horse
and the ox have in Boston: it is not enough that the slaveholders
annexed Texas, and made slavery perpetual therein, extending even north
of Mason and Dixon's line, covering a territory forty-five times as
large as the State of Massachusetts. Oh, no; we must have yet more land
to whip negroes in!

The war had a mean and infamous beginning. It began illegally,
unconstitutionally. The Whigs say, "the President made the war." Mr.
Webster says so! It went on meanly and infamously. Your Congress lied
about it. Do not lay the blame on the democrats; the whigs lied just as
badly. Your Congress has seldom been so single-mouthed before. Why, only
sixteen voted against the war, or the lie. I say this war is mean and
infamous all the more, because waged by a people calling itself
democratic and Christian. I know but one war so bad in modern times,
between civilized nations, and that was the war for the partition of
Poland. Even for that there was more excuse.

We have come to Faneuil Hall to talk about the war; to work against the
war. It is rather late, but "better late than never." We have let two
opportunities for work pass unemployed. One came while the annexation of
Texas was pending. Then was the time to push and be active. Then was the
time for Massachusetts and all the North, to protest as one man against
the extension of slavery. Everybody knew all about the matter, the
democrats and the whigs. But how few worked against that gross mischief!
One noble man lifted up his warning voice;[9] a man noble in his
father,--and there he stands in marble; noble in himself--and there he
stands yet higher up--and I hope time will show him yet nobler in his
son, and there he stands, not in marble, but in man! He talked against
it, worked against it, fought against it. But Massachusetts did little.
Her tonguey men said little; her handymen did little. Too little could
not be done or said. True, we came here to Faneuil Hall and passed
resolutions; good resolutions they were, too. Daniel Webster wrote them,
it is said. They did the same in the State House; but nothing came of
them. They say "Hell is paved with resolutions;" these were of that sort
of resolutions; which resolve nothing because they are of words, not

Well, we passed the resolutions; you know who opposed them; who hung
back and did nothing, nothing good I mean; quite enough not good. Then
we thought all the danger was over; that the resolutions settled the
matter. But then was the time to confound at once the enemies of your
country; to show an even front hostile to slavery.

But the chosen time passed over, and nothing was done. Do not lay the
blame on the democrats; a whig Senate annexed Texas, and so annexed a
war. We ought to have told our delegation in Congress, if Texas were
annexed, to come home, and we would breathe upon it and sleep upon it,
and then see what to do next. Had our resolutions, taken so warmly here
in Faneuil Hall in 1845, been but as warmly worked out, we had now been
as terrible to the slave power as the slave power, since extended, now
is to us!

Why was it that we did nothing? That is a public secret. Perhaps I ought
not to tell it to the people. (Cries of "Tell it.")

The annexation of Texas, a slave territory big as the kingdom of France,
would not furl a sail on the ocean; would not stop a mill-wheel at
Lowell! Men thought so.

That time passed by, and there came another. The Government had made
war; the Congress voted the dollars, voted the men, voted a lie. Your
representative, men of Boston, voted for all three; the lie, the
dollars, and the men; all three, in obedience to the slave power! Let
him excuse that to the conscience of his party; it is an easy matter. I
do not believe he can excuse it to his own conscience. To the conscience
of the world it admits of no excuse. Your President called for
volunteers, 50,000 of them. Then came an opportunity such as offers not
once in one hundred years, an opportunity to speak for freedom and the
rights of mankind! Then was the time for Massachusetts to stand up in
the spirit of '76, and say, "We won't send a man, from Cape Ann to
Williamstown--not one Yankee man, for this wicked war." Then was the
time for your Governor to say, "Not a volunteer for this wicked war."
Then was the time for your merchants to say, "Not a ship, not a dollar
for this wicked war;" for your manufacturers to say, "We will not make
you a cannon, nor a sword, nor a kernel of powder, nor a soldier's
shirt, for this wicked war." Then was the time for all good men to say,
"This is a war for slavery, a mean and infamous war; an aristocratic
war, a war against the best interests of mankind. If God please, we will
die a thousand times, but never draw blade in this wicked war." (Cries
of "Throw him over," etc.) Throw him over, what good would that do? What
would you do next, after you have thrown him over? ("Drag you out of the
hall!") What good would that do? It would not wipe off the infamy of
this war! would not make it less wicked!

That is what a democratic nation, a Christian people ought to have said,
ought to have done. But we did not say so; the Bay State did not say so,
nor your Governor, nor your merchants, nor your manufacturers, nor your
good men; the Governor accepted the President's decree, issued his
proclamation calling for soldiers, recommended men to enlist, appealing
to their "patriotism" and "humanity."

Governor Briggs is a good man, and so far I honor him. He is a
temperance man, strong and consistent; I honor him for that. He is a
friend of education; a friend of the people. I wish there were more
such. Like many other New England men, he started from humble
beginnings; but unlike many such successful men of New England, he is
not ashamed of the lowest round he ever trod on. I honor him for all
this. But that was a time which tried men's souls, and his soul could
not stand the rack. I am sorry for him. He did as the President told

What was the reason for all this? Massachusetts did not like the war,
even then; yet she gave her consent to it. Why so? There are two words
which can drive the blood out of the cheeks of cowardly men in
Massachusetts any time. They are "Federalism" and "Hartford Convention!"
The fear of those words palsied the conscience of Massachusetts, and so
her Governor did as he was told. I feel no fear of either. The
Federalists did not see all things; who ever did? They had not the ideas
which were destined to rule this nation; they looked back when the age
looked forward. But to their own ideas they were true; and if ever a
nobler body of men held state in any nation, I have yet to learn when or
where. If we had had the shadow of Caleb Strong in the Governor's chair,
not a volunteer for this war had gone out of Massachusetts.

I have not told quite all the reasons why Massachusetts did nothing. Men
knew the war would cost money; that the dollars would in the end be
raised, not by a direct tax, of which the poor man paid according to his
little, and the rich man in proportion to his much, but by a tariff
which presses light on property, and hard on the person; by a tax on the
backs and mouths of the people. Some of the Whigs were glad last Spring,
when the war came, for they hoped thereby to save the child of their old
age, the tariff of '42. There are always some rich men, who say "No
matter what sort of a Government we have, so long as we get our
dividends;" always some poor men, who say "No matter how much the nation
suffers, if we fill our hungry purses thereby." Well, they lost their
virtue, lost their tariff, and gained just nothing; what they deserved
to gain.

Now a third opportunity has come; no, it has not come; we have brought
it. The President wants a war tax on tea and coffee. Is that democratic,
to tax every man's breakfast and supper, for the sake of getting more
territory to whip negroes in? (Numerous cries of "Yes.") Then what do
you think despotism would be? He asks a loan of $28,000,000 for this
war. He wants $3,000,000 to spend privately for this war. In eight
months past, he has asked I am told for $74,000,000. Seventy-four
millions of dollars to conquer slave territory! Is that democratic too?
He wants to increase the standing army, to have ten regiments more! A
pretty business that. Ten regiments to gag the people in Faneuil Hall.
Do you think that is democratic? Some men have just asked Massachusetts
for $20,000 for the volunteers! It is time for the people to rebuke all
this wickedness.

       *       *       *       *       *

I think there is a good deal to excuse the volunteers. I blame them, for
some of them know what they are about. Yet I pity them more, for most of
them, I am told, are low, ignorant men; some of them drunken and brutal.
From the uproar they make here to-night, arms in their hands, I think
what was told me is true! I say I pity them! They are my brothers; not
the less brothers because low and misguided. If they are so needy that
they are forced to enlist by poverty, surely I pity them. If they are of
good families, and know better, I pity them still more! I blame most the
men that have duped the rank and file! I blame the captains and
colonels, who will have least of the hardships, most of the pay, and all
of the "glory." I blame the men that made the war; the men that make
money out of it. I blame the great party men of the land. Did not Mr.
Clay say he hoped he could slay a Mexican? (Cries, "No, he didn't.")
Yes, he did; said it on Forefather's day! Did not Mr. Webster, in the
streets of Philadelphia, bid the volunteers, misguided young men, go and
uphold the stars of their country? (Voices, "He did right!") No, he
should have said the stripes of his country, for every volunteer to this
wicked war is a stripe on the nation's back! Did not he declare this
war unconstitutional, and threaten to impeach the President who made it,
and then go and invest a son in it? Has it not been said here, "Our
country, howsoever bounded," bounded by robbery or bounded by right
lines! Has it not been said, all round, "Our country, right or wrong!"

I say I blame not so much the volunteers as the famous men who deceive
the nation! (Cries of "Throw him over, kill him, kill him," and a
flourish of bayonets.) Throw him over! you will not throw him over. Kill
him! I shall walk home unarmed and unattended, and not a man of you will
hurt one hair of my head.

I say again it is time for the people to take up this matter. Your
Congress will do nothing till you tell them what and how! Your 29th
Congress can do little good. Its sands are nearly run, God be thanked!
It is the most infamous Congress we ever had. We began with the Congress
that declared Independence, and swore by the Eternal Justice of God. We
have come down to the 29th Congress, which declared war existed by the
act of Mexico, declared a lie; the Congress that swore by the Baltimore
Convention! We began with George Washington, and have got down to James
K. Polk.

It is time for the people of Massachusetts to instruct their servants in
Congress to oppose this war; to refuse all supplies for it; to ask for
the recall of the army into our own land. It is time for us to tell
them that not an inch of slave territory shall ever be added to the
realm. Let us remonstrate; let us petition; let us command. If any class
of men have hitherto been remiss, let them come forward now and give us
their names--the merchants, the manufacturers, the whigs and the
democrats. If men love their country better than their party or their
purse, now let them show it.

Let us ask the General Court of Massachusetts to cancel every commission
which the Governor has given to the officers of the volunteers. Let us
ask them to disband the companies not yet mustered into actual service;
and then, if you like that, ask them to call a convention of the people
of Massachusetts, to see what we shall do in reference to the war; in
reference to the annexation of more territory; in reference to the
violation of the Constitution! (Loud groans from crowds of rude fellows
in several parts of the hall.) That was a tory groan; they never dared
groan so in Faneuil Hall before; not even the British tories, when they
had no bayonets to back them up! I say, let us ask for these things!

Your President tells us it is treason to talk so! Treason is it? treason
to discuss a war which the government made, and which the people are
made to pay for? If it be treason to speak against the war, what was it
to make the war, to ask for 50,000 men and $74,000,000 for the war? Why,
if the people cannot discuss the war they have got to fight and to pay
for, who under heaven can? Whose business is it, if it is not yours and
mine? If my country is in the wrong, and I know it, and hold my peace,
then I am guilty of treason, moral treason. Why, a wrong,--it is only
the threshold of ruin. I would not have my country take the next step.
Treason is it, to show that this war is wrong and wicked! Why, what if
George III., any time from '75 to '83, had gone down to Parliament and
told them it was treason to discuss the war then waging against these
colonies! What do you think the Commons would have said? What would the
Lords say? Why, that King, foolish as he was, would have been lucky, if
he had not learned there was a joint in his neck, and, stiff as he bore
him, that the people knew how to find it.

I do not believe in killing kings, or any other men; but I do say, in a
time when the nation was not in danger, that no British king, for two
hundred years past, would have dared call it treason to discuss the
war--its cause, its progress, or its termination!

Now is the time to act! Twice we have let the occasion slip; beware of
the third time! Let it be infamous for a New England man to enlist; for
a New-England merchant to loan his dollars, or to let his ships in aid
of this wicked war; let it be infamous for a manufacturer to make a
cannon, a sword, or a kernel of powder, to kill our brothers with,
while we all know that they are in the right, and we in the wrong.

I know my voice is a feeble one in Massachusetts. I have no mountainous
position from whence to look down and overawe the multitude; I have no
back-ground of political reputation to echo my words; I am but a plain
humble man; but I have a back-ground of Truth to sustain me, and the
Justice of Heaven arches over my head! For your sakes, I wish I had that
oceanic eloquence whose tidal flow should bear on its bosom the
drift-weed which politicians have piled together, and sap and sweep away
the sand hillocks of soldiery blown together by the idle wind; that
oceanic eloquence which sweeps all before it, and leaves the shore hard,
smooth and clean! But feeble as I am, let me beg of you, fellow-citizens
of Boston, men and brothers, to come forward and protest against this
wicked war, and the end for which it is waged. I call on the whigs, who
love their country better than they love the tariff of '42; I call on
the democrats, who think Justice is greater than the Baltimore
Convention,--I call on the whigs and democrats to come forward and join
with me in opposing this wicked war! I call on the men of Boston, on the
men of the old Bay State, to act worthy of their fathers, worthy of
their country, worthy of themselves! Men and brothers, I call on you all
to protest against this most infamous war, in the name of the State, in
the name of the country, in the name of man, yes, in the name of God:
Leave not your children saddled with a war debt, to cripple the nation's
commerce for years to come. Leave not your land cursed with slavery,
extended and extending, palsying the nation's arm and corrupting the
nation's heart. Leave not your memory infamous among the nations,
because you feared men, feared the Government; because you loved money
got by crime, land plundered in war, loved land unjustly bounded;
because you debased your country by defending the wrong she dared to do;
because you loved slavery; loved war, but loved not the Eternal Justice
of all-judging God. If my counsel is weak and poor, follow one stronger
and more manly. I am speaking to men; think of these things, and then
act like men.


[9] John Quincy Adams.


25, 1848.

Soon after the commencement of the war against Mexico, I said something
respecting it in this place. But while I was printing the sermon, I was
advised to hasten the compositors in their work, or the war would be
over before the sermon was out. The advice was like a good deal of the
counsel that is given to a man who thinks for himself, and honestly
speaks what he unavoidably thinks. It is now more than two years since
the war began; I have hoped to live long enough to see it ended, and
hoped to say a word about it when over. A month ago, this day, the 25th
of May, the treaty of peace, so much talked of, was ratified by the
Mexican Congress. A few days ago, it was officially announced by
telegraph to your collector in Boston, that the war with Mexico was at
an end.

There are two things about this war quite remarkable. The first is, the
manner of its commencement. It was begun illegally, without the action
of the constitutional authorities; begun by the command of the President
of the United States, who ordered the American army into a territory
which the Mexicans claimed as their own. The President says "It is
ours," but the Mexicans also claimed it, and were in possession thereof
until forcibly expelled. This is a plain case, and as I have elsewhere
treated at length of this matter,[10] I will not dwell upon it again,
except to mention a single fact but recently divulged. It is well known
that Mr. Polk claimed the territory west of the Nueces and east of the
Rio Grande, as forming a part of Texas, and therefore as forming part of
the United States after the annexation of Texas. He contends that Mexico
began the war by attacking the American army while in that territory and
near the Rio Grande. But, from the correspondence laid before the
American Senate, in its secret session for considering the treaty, it
now appears that on the 10th of November, 1845, Mr. Polk instructed Mr.
Slidell to offer a relinquishment of American claims against Mexico,
amounting to $5,000,000 or $6,000,000, for the sake of having the Rio
Grande as the western boundary of Texas; yes, for that very territory
which he says was ours without paying a cent. When it was conquered, a
military government was established there, as in other places in Mexico.

The other remarkable thing about the war is, the manner of its
conclusion. The treaty of peace which has just been ratified by the
Mexican authorities, and which puts an end to the war, was negotiated by
a man who had no more legal authority than any one of us has to do it.
Mr. Polk made the war, without consulting Congress, and that body
adopted the war by a vote almost unanimous. Mr. Nicholas P. Trist made
the treaty, without consulting the President; yes, even after the
President had ordered him to return home. As the Congress adopted Mr.
Polk's war, so Mr. Polk adopted Mr. Trist's treaty, and the war
illegally begun is brought informally to a close. Mr. Polk is now in the
President's chair, seated on the throne of the Union, although he made
the war; and Mr. Trist, it is said, is under arrest for making the
treaty, meddling with what was none of his business.

       *       *       *       *       *

When the war began, there was a good deal of talk about it here; talk
against it. But, as things often go in Boston, it ended in talk. The
news-boys made money out of the war. Political parties were true to
their wonted principles, or their wonted prejudices. The friends of the
party in power could see no informality in the beginning of hostilities;
no injustice in the war itself; not even an impolicy. They were
offended if an obscure man preached against it of a Sunday. The
political opponents of the party in power talked against the war, as a
matter of course; but, when the elections came, supported the men that
made it with unusual alacrity--their deeds serving as commentary upon
their words, and making further remark thereon, in this place, quite
superfluous. Many men,--who, whatever other parts of Scripture they may
forget, never cease to remember that "Money answereth all
things,"--diligently set themselves to make money out of the war and the
new turn it gave to national affairs. Others thought that "glory" was a
good thing, and so engaged in the war itself, hoping to return, in due
time, all glittering with its honors.

So what with the one political party that really praised the war, and
the other who affected to oppose it, and with the commercial party, who
looked only for a market--this for merchandise and that for
"patriotism"--the friends of peace, who seriously and heartily opposed
the war, were very few in number. True, the "sober second thought" of
the people has somewhat increased their number; but they are still few,
mostly obscure men.

Now peace has come, nobody talks much about it; the news-boys have
scarce made a cent by the news. They fired cannons, a hundred guns on
the Common, for joy at the victory of Monterey; at Philadelphia,
Baltimore, Washington, New York, men illuminated their houses in honor
of the battle of Buena Vista, I think it was; the custom-house was
officially illuminated at Boston for that occasion. But we hear of no
cannons to welcome the peace. Thus far, it does not seem that a single
candle has been burnt in rejoicing for that. The newspapers are full of
talk, as usual; flags are flying in the streets; the air is a little
noisy with hurrahs, but it is all talk about the conventions at
Baltimore and Philadelphia; hurrahs for Taylor and Cass. Nobody talks of
the peace. Flags enough flap in the wind, with the names of rival
candidates; but nowhere do the stripes and stars bear Peace as their
motto. The peace now secured is purchased with such conditions imposed
on Mexico, that while every one will be glad of it, no man, that loves
justice, can be proud of it. Very little is said about the treaty. The
distinguished senator from Massachusetts did himself honor, it seems to
me, in voting against it on the ground that it enabled us to plunder
Mexico of her land. But the treaty contains some things highly honorable
to the character of the nation, of which we may well enough be proud, if
ever of any thing. I refer to the twenty-second and twenty-third
articles, which provide for arbitration between the nations, if future
difficulties should occur; and to the pains taken, in case of actual
hostilities, for the security of all unarmed persons, for the protection
of private property, and for the humane treatment of all prisoners
taken in war. These ideas, and the language of these articles, are
copied from the celebrated treaty between the United States and Prussia,
the treaty of 1785. It is scarcely needful to add, that they were then
introduced by that great and good man, Benjamin Franklin, one of the
negotiators of the treaty. They made a new epoch in diplomacy, and
introduced a principle previously unknown in the law of nations. The
insertion of these articles in the new treaty is, perhaps, the only
thing connected with the war, which an American can look upon with
satisfaction. Yet this fact excites no attention.[11]

Still, while so little notice is taken of this matter, in public and
private, it may be worth while for a minister, on Sunday, to say a word
about the peace; and, now the war is over, to look back upon it, to see
what it has cost, in money and in men, and what we have got by it; what
its consequences have been, thus far, and are likely to be for the
future; what new dangers and duties come from this cause interpolated
into our nation. We have been long promised "indemnity for the past, and
security for the future:" let us see what we are to be indemnified for,
and what secured against. The natural justice of the war I will not look
at now.

       *       *       *       *       *

First, then, of the cost of the war. Money is the first thing with a
good many men; the only thing with some; and an important thing with
all. So, first of all, let me speak of the cost of the war in dollars.
It is a little difficult to determine the actual cost of the war, thus
far--even its direct cost; for the bills are not all in the hands of
Government; and then, as a matter of political party-craft, the
Government, of course, is unwilling to let the full cost become known
before the next election is over. So it is to be expected that the
Government will keep the facts from the people as long as possible. Most
Governments would do the same. But Truth has a right of way everywhere,
and will recover it at last, spite of the adverse possession of a
political party. The indirect cost of the war must be still more
difficult to come at, and will long remain a matter of calculation, in
which it is impossible to reach certainty. We do not know yet the entire
cost of the Florida war, or the late war with England; the complete cost
of the Revolutionary war must forever be unknown.

It is natural for most men to exaggerate what favors their argument; but
when I cannot obtain the exact figures, I will come a good deal within
the probable amount. The military and naval appropriations for the year
ending in June, 1847, were $40,865,155.96; for the next year,
$31,377,679.92; the sum asked for the present year, till next June,
$42,224,000; making a whole of $114,466,835.88. It is true that all this
appropriation is not for the Mexican war, but it is also true that this
sum does not include all the appropriations for the war. Estimating the
sums already paid by the Government, the private claims presented and to
be presented, the $15,000,000 to be paid Mexico as purchase-money for
the territory we take from her, the $5,000,000 or $6,000,000 to be paid
our own citizens for their claims against her,--I think I am a good deal
within the mark when I say the war will have cost $150,000,000 before
the soldiers are at home, discharged, and out of the pay of the state.
In this sum I do not include the bounty-lands to be given to the
soldiers and officers, nor the pensions to be paid them, their widows
and orphans, for years to come. I will estimate that at $50,000,000
more, making a whole of $200,000,000 which has been paid or must be.
This is the direct cost to the Federal Government, and of course does
not include the sums paid by individual States, or bestowed by private
generosity, to feed and clothe the volunteers before they were mustered
into service. This may seem extravagant; but, fifty years hence, when
party spirit no longer blinds men's eyes, and when the whole is a
matter of history, I think it will be thought moderate, and be found a
good deal within the actual and direct cost. Some of this cost will
appear as a public debt. Statements recently made respecting it can
hardly be trusted, notwithstanding the authority on which they rest.
Part of this war debt is funded already, part not yet funded. When the
outstanding demands are all settled, and the treasury notes redeemed,
there will probably be a war debt of not less than $125,000,000. At
least, such is the estimate of an impartial and thoroughly competent
judge. But, not to exaggerate, let us call it only $100,000,000.

It will, perhaps, be said: Part of this money, all that is paid in
pensions, is a charity, and therefore no loss. But it is a charity paid
to men who, except for the war, would have needed no such aid; and,
therefore, a waste. Of the actual cost of the war, some three or four
millions have been spent in extravagant prices for hiring or purchasing
ships, in buying provisions and various things needed by the army, and
supplied by political favorites at exorbitant rates. This is the only
portion of the cost which is not a sheer waste; here the money has only
changed hands; nothing has been destroyed, except the honesty of the
parties concerned in such transactions. If a farmer hires men to help
him till the soil, the men earn their subsistence and their wages, and
leave, besides, a profit to their employer; when the season is over, he
has his crops and his improvements as the return for their pay and
subsistence. But for all that the soldier has consumed, for his wages,
his clothes, his food and drink, the fighting tools he has worn out, and
the ammunition he has expended, there is no available return to show;
all that is a clear waste. The beef is eaten up, the cloth worn away,
the powder is burnt, and what is there to show for it all? Nothing but
the "glory." You sent out sound men, and they come back, many of them,
sick and maimed; some of them are slain.

The indirect pecuniary cost of the war is caused, first, by diverting
some 150,000 men, engaged in the war directly or remotely, from the
works of productive industry, to the labors of war, which produce
nothing; and, secondly, by disturbing the regular business of the
country, first by the withdrawal of men from their natural work; then,
by withdrawing large quantities of money from the active capital of the
nation; and, finally, by the general uncertainty which it causes all
over the land, thus hindering men from undertaking or prosecuting
successfully their various productive enterprises. If 150,000 men earn
on the average but $200 apiece, that alone amounts to $30,000,000. The
withdrawal of such an amount of labor from the common industry of the
country must be seriously felt. At any rate, the nation has earned
$30,000,000 less than it would have done, if these men had kept about
their common work.

But the diversion of capital from its natural and pacific direction is a
greater evil in this case. America is rich, but her wealth consists
mainly in land, in houses, cattle, ships, and various things needed for
human comfort and industry. In money, we are poor. The amount of money
is small in proportion to the actual wealth of the nation, and also in
proportion to its activity which is indicated by the business of the
nation. In actual wealth, the free States of America are probably the
richest people in the world; but in money we are poorer than many other
nations. This is plain enough, though perhaps not very well known, and
is shown by the fact that interest, in European States, is from two to
four per cent. a year, and in America from six to nine. The active
capital of America is small. Now in this war, a national debt has
accumulated, which probably is or will soon be $100,000,000 or
$125,000,000. All this great sum of money has, of course, been taken
from the active capital of the country, and there has been so much less
for the use of the farmer, the manufacturer, and the merchant. But for
this war, these 150,000 men and these $100,000,000 would have been
devoted to productive industry; and the result would have been shown by
the increase of our annual earnings, in increased wealth and comfort.

Then war produced uncertainty, and that distrust amongst men. Therefore
many were hindered from undertaking new works, and others found their
old enterprises ruined at once. In this way there has been a great loss,
which cannot be accurately estimated. I think no man, familiar with
American industry, would rate this indirect loss lower than
$100,000,000; some, perhaps, at twice as much; but to avoid all
possibility of exaggeration, let us call it half the smallest of these
sums, or $50,000,000, as the complete pecuniary cost of the Mexican war,
direct and indirect.

What have we got to show for all this money? We have a large tract of
territory, containing, in all, both east and west of the Rio Grande, I
am told, between 700,000 and 800,000 square miles. Accounts differ as to
its value. But it appears, from the recent correspondence of Mr.
Slidell, that in 1845 the President offered Mexico, in money,
$25,000,000 for that territory which we now acquire under this new
treaty. Suppose it is worth more, suppose it is worth twice as much, or
all the indirect cost of the war ($50,000,000), then the $200,000,000
are thrown away.

Now, for this last sum, we could have built a sufficient railroad across
the Isthmus of Panama, and another across the continent, from the
Mississippi to the Pacific. If such a road, with its suitable equipment,
cost $100,000 a mile, and the distance should amount to 2,000 miles,
then the $200,000,000 would just pay the bills. That would have been the
greatest national work of productive industry in the world. In
comparison with it, the Lake Moeris and the Pyramids of Egypt, and the
Wall of China seem but the works of a child. It might be a work to be
proud of till the world ends; one, too, which would advance the
industry, the welfare, and general civilization of mankind to a great
degree, diminishing, by half, the distance round the globe; saving
millions of property and many lives each year; besides furnishing, it is
thought, a handsome income from the original outlay. But, perhaps, that
would not be the best use which might be made of the money; perhaps it
would not have been wise to undertake that work. I do not pretend to
judge of such matters, only to show what might be done with that sum of
money, if we were disposed to construct works of such a character. At
any rate, two Pacific railroads would be better than one Mexican war. We
are seldom aware of the cost of war. If a single regiment of dragoons
cost only $700,000 a year, which is a good deal less than the actual
cost, that is considerably more than the cost of twelve colleges like
Harvard University, with its schools for theology, law, and medicine;
its scientific school, observatory, and all. We are, taken as a whole, a
very ignorant people; and while we waste our school-money and
school-time, must continue so.

A great man, who towers far above the common heads, full of creative
thought, of the ideas which move the world, able to organize that
thought into institutions, laws, practical works; a man of a million, a
million-minded man, at the head of a nation, putting his thought into
them; ruling not barely by virtue of his position, but by the
intellectual and moral power to fill it; ruling not over men's heads,
but in their minds and hearts, and leading them to new fields of toil,
increasing their numbers, wealth, intelligence, comfort, morals,
piety--such a man is a noble sight; a Charlemagne, or a Genghis Khan, a
Moses leading his nation up from Egyptian bondage to freedom and the
promised land. How have the eyes of the world been fixed on Washington!
In darker days than ours, when all was violence, it is easy to excuse
such men if they were warriors also, and made, for the time, their
nation but a camp. There have been ages when the most lasting ink was
human blood. In our day, when war is the exception, and that commonly
needless, such a man, so getting the start of the majestic world, were a
far grander sight. And with such a man at the head of this nation, a
great man at the head of a free nation, able and energetic, and
enterprising as we are, what were too much to hope? As it is, we have
wasted our money, and got, the honor of fighting such a war.

       *       *       *       *       *

Let me next speak of the direct cost of the war in men. In April, 1846,
the entire army of the United States, consisted of 7,244 men; the naval
force of about 7,500. We presented the gratifying spectacle of a nation
20,000,000 strong, with a sea-coast of 3,000 or 4,000 miles, and only
7,000 or 8,000 soldiers, and as many armed men on the sea, or less than
15,000 in all! Few things were more grateful to an American than this
thought, that his country was so nearly free from the terrible curse of
a standing army. At that time, the standing army of France was about
480,000 men; that of Russia nearly 800,000 it is said. Most of the
officers in the American army and navy, and most of the rank and file,
had probably entered the service with no expectation of ever shedding
the blood of men. The navy and army were looked on as instruments of
peace; as much so as the police of a city.

The first of last January, there was, in Mexico, an American army of
23,695 regular soldiers, and a little more than 50,000 volunteers, the
number cannot now be exactly determined, making an army of invasion of
about 75,000 men. The naval forces, also, had been increased to 10,000.
Estimating all the men engaged in the service of the army and navy; in
making weapons of war and ammunition; in preparing food and clothing; in
transporting those things and the soldiers from place to place, by land
or sea, and in performing the various other works incident to military
operations, it is within bounds to say that there were 80,000 or 90,000
men engaged indirectly in the works of war. But not to exaggerate, it is
safe to say that 150,000 men were directly or indirectly engaged in the
Mexican war. This estimate will seem moderate, when you remember that
there were about 5,000 teamsters connected with the army in Mexico.

Here, then, were 150,000 men whose attention and toil were diverted from
the great business of productive industry to merely military operations,
or preparations for them. Of course, all the labor of these men was of
no direct value to the human race. The food and clothing and labor of a
man who earns nothing by productive work of hand or head, is food,
clothing, and labor thrown away; labor in vain. There is nothing to show
for the things he has consumed. So all the work spent in preparing
ammunition and weapons of war is labor thrown away, an absolute loss, as
much as if it had been spent in making earthen pitchers and then in
dashing them to pieces. A country is the richer for every serviceable
plough and spade made in it, and the world the richer; they are to be
used in productive work, and when worn out, there is the improved soil
and the crops that have been gathered, to show for the wear and tear of
the tools. So a country is the richer for every industrious shoemaker
and blacksmith it contains; for his time and toil go to increase the sum
of human comfort, creating actual wealth. The world also is better off,
and becomes better through their influence. But a country is the poorer
for every soldier it maintains, and the world poorer, as he adds nothing
to the actual wealth of mankind; so is it the poorer for each sword and
cannon made within its borders, and the world poorer, for these
instruments cannot be used in any productive work, only for works of

So much for the labor of these 150,000 men; labor wasted in vain. Let us
now look at the cost of life. It is not possible to ascertain the exact
loss suffered up to this time, in killed, deceased by ordinary diseases,
and in wounded; for some die before they are mustered into the service
of the United States, and parts of the army are so far distant from the
seat of Government that their recent losses are still unknown. I rely
for information on the last report of the Secretary of War, read before
the Senate, April 10, 1848, and recently printed. That gives the losses
of parts of the army up to December last; other accounts are made up
only till October, or till August. Recent losses will of course swell
the amount of destruction. According to that report, on the American
side there had been killed in battle, or died of wounds received
therein, 1,689 persons; there had died of diseases and accidents, 6,173;
3,743 have been wounded in battle, who were not known to be dead at the
date of the report.

This does not include the deaths in the navy, nor the destruction of
men connected with the army in various ways, as furnishing supplies and
the like. Considering the sickness and accidents that have happened in
the present year, and others which may be expected before the troops
reach home, I may set down the total number of deaths on the American
side, caused by the war, at 15,000, and the number of wounded men at
4,000. Suppose the army on the average to have consisted of 50,000 men
for two years, this gives a mortality of fifteen per cent. each year,
which is an enormous loss even for times of war, and one seldom equalled
in modern warfare.

Now, most of the men who have thus died or been maimed were in the prime
of life, able-bodied and hearty men. Had they remained at home in the
works of peace, it is not likely that more than 500 of the number would
have died. So then 14,500 lives may be set down at once to the account
of the war. The wounded men are of course to thank the war, and that
alone, for their smart and the life-long agony which they are called on
to endure.

Such is the American loss. The loss of the Mexicans we cannot now
determine. But they have been many times more numerous than the
Americans; have been badly armed, badly commanded, badly trained, and
besides have been beaten in every battle; their number seemed often the
cause of their ruin, making them confident before battle and hindering
their retreat after they were beaten. Still more, they have been ill
provided with surgeons and nurses to care for the wounded, and were
destitute of medicines. They must have lost in battle five or six times
more than we have done, and have had a proportionate number of wounded.
To "lie like a military bulletin" is a European proverb; and it is not
necessary to trust reports which tell of 600 or 900 Mexicans left dead
on the ground, while the Americans lost but five or six. But when we
remember that only twelve Americans were killed during the bombardment
of Vera Cruz, which lasted five days; that the citadel contained more
than 5,000 soldiers and over 400 pieces of cannon, we may easily believe
the Mexican losses on the whole have been 10,000 men killed and perished
of their wounds. Their loss by sickness would probably be smaller than
our own, for the Mexicans were in their native climate, though often ill
furnished with clothes, with shelter and provisions: so I will put down
their loss by ordinary diseases at only 5,000, making a total of 15,000
deaths. Suppose their number of wounded was four times as great as our
own, or 20,000. I should not be surprised if this were only half the

Put all together and we have in total, Americans and Mexicans, 24,000
men wounded, more or less, and the greater part maimed for life; and we
have 30,000 men killed on the field of battle, or perished by the slow
torture of their wounds, or deceased of diseases caused by
extraordinary exposures; 24,000 men maimed; 30,000 dead!

       *       *       *       *       *

You all remember the bill which so hastily passed Congress in May, 1846,
and authorized the war previously begun. You perhaps have not forgot the
preamble, "Whereas war exists by the act of Mexico." Well, that bill
authorized the waste of $200,000,000 of American treasure, money enough
to have built a railroad across the Isthmus of Panama, and another to
connect the Mississippi and the Pacific ocean; it demanded the
disturbance of industry and commerce all over the land, caused by
withdrawing $100,000,000 from peaceful investments, and diverting
150,000 Americans from their productive and peaceful works; it demanded
a loss yet greater of the treasure of Mexicans; it commanded the maiming
of 24,000 men for life, and the death of 30,000 men in the prime and
vigor of manhood. Yet such was the state of feeling, I will not say of
thought, in the Congress, that out of both houses only sixteen men voted
against it. If a prophet had stood there he might have said to the
representative of Boston, "You have just voted for the wasting of
200,000,000 of the very dollars you were sent there to represent; for
the maiming of 24,000 men and the killing of 30,000 more--part by
disease, part by the sword, part by the slow and awful lingerings of a
wounded frame! Sir, that is the English of your vote." Suppose the
prophet, before the vote was taken, could have gone round and told each
member of Congress, "If there comes a war, you will perish in it;"
perhaps the vote would have been a little different. It is easy to vote
away blood, if it is not your own!

       *       *       *       *       *

Such is the cost of the war in money and in men. Yet it has not been a
very cruel war. It has been conducted with as much gentleness as a war
of invasion can be. There is no agreeable way of butchering men. You
cannot make it a pastime. The Americans have always been a brave people;
they were never cruel. They always treated their prisoners kindly--in
the Revolutionary war, in the late war with England. True, they have
seized the Mexican ports, taken military possession of the
custom-houses, and collected such duties as they saw fit; true, they
sometimes made the army of invasion self-subsisting, and to that end
have levied contributions on the towns they have taken; true, they have
seized provisions which were private property, snatching them out of the
hands of men who needed them; true, they have robbed the rich and the
poor; true, they have burned and bombarded towns, have murdered men and
violated women. All this must of course take place in any war. There
will be the general murder and robbery committed on account of the
nation, and the particular murder and robbery on account of the special
individual. This also is to be expected. You cannot set a town on fire
and burn down just half of it, making the flames stop exactly where you
will. You cannot take the most idle, ignorant, drunken, and vicious men
out of the low population in our cities and large towns, get them drunk
enough or foolish enough to enlist, train them to violence, theft,
robbery, murder, and then stop the man from exercising his rage or lust
on his own private account. If it is hard to make a dog understand that
he must kill a hare for his master, but never for himself, it is not
much easier to teach a volunteer that it is a duty, a distinction, and a
glory to rob and murder the Mexican people for the nation's sake, but a
wrong, a shame, and a crime to rob or murder a single Mexican for his
own sake. There have been instances of wanton cruelty, occasioned by
private licentiousness and individual barbarity. Of these I shall take
no further notice, but come to such as have been commanded by the
American authorities, and which were the official acts of the nation.

One was the capture of Tabasco. Tabasco is a small town several hundred
miles from the theatre of war, situated on a river about eighty miles
from the sea, in the midst of a fertile province. The army did not need
it, nor the navy. It did not lie in the way of the American operations;
its possession would be wholly useless. But one Sunday afternoon, while
the streets were full of men, women, and children, engaged in their
Sunday business, a part of the naval force of America swept by; the
streets running at right angles with the river, were enfiladed by the
hostile cannon, and men, women, and children, unarmed and unresisting,
were mowed down by the merciless shot. The city was taken, but soon
abandoned, for its possession was of no use. The killing of those men,
women, and children was as much a piece of murder, as it would be to
come and shoot us to-day, and in this house. No valid excuse has been
given for this cold-blooded massacre; none can be given. It was not
battle, but wanton butchery. None but a Pequod Indian could excuse it.
The theological newspapers in New England thought it a wicked thing in
Dr. Palfrey to write a letter on Sunday, though he hoped thereby to help
end the war. How many of them had any fault to find with this national
butchery on the Lord's day? Fighting is bad enough any day; fighting for
mere pay, or glory, or the love of fighting, is a wicked thing; but to
fight on that day when the whole Christian world kneels to pray in the
name of the Peacemaker; to butcher men and women and children, when they
are coming home from church, with prayer-books in their hands, seems an
aggravation even of murder; a cowardly murder, which a Hessian would
have been ashamed of. "But 'twas a famous victory."

One other instance, of at least apparent wantonness, took place at the
bombardment of Vera Cruz. After the siege had gone on for a while, the
foreign consuls in the town, "moved," as they say, "by the feeling of
humanity excited in their hearts by the frightful results of the
bombardment of the city," requested that the women and children might be
allowed to leave the city, and not stay to be shot. The American General
refused; they must stay and be shot.

Perhaps you have not an adequate conception of the effect produced by
bombarding a town. Let me interest you a little in the details thereof.
Vera Cruz is about as large as Boston was in 1810; it contains about
30,000 inhabitants. In addition it is protected by a castle, the
celebrated fortress of St. Juan d' Ulloa, furnished with more than 5,000
soldiers and over 400 cannons. Imagine to yourself Boston as it was
forty years ago, invested with a fleet on one side, and an army of
15,000 men on the land, both raining cannon-balls and bomb-shells upon
your houses; shattering them to fragments, exploding in your streets,
churches, houses, cellars, mingling men, women, and children in one
promiscuous murder. Suppose this to continue five days and nights;
imagine the condition of the city; the ruins, the flames; the dead, the
wounded, the widows, the orphans; think of the fears of the men
anticipating the city would be sacked by a merciless soldiery; think of
the women! Thus you will have a faint notion of the picture of Vera
Cruz at the end of March, 1847. Do you know the meaning of the name of
the city? Vera Cruz is the True Cross. "See how these Christians love
one another." The Americans are followers of the Prince of Peace; they
have more missionaries amongst the "heathen" than any other nation, and
the President, in his last message, says, "No country has been so much
favored, or should acknowledge with deeper reverence the manifestations
of the Divine protection." The Americans were fighting Mexico to
dismember her territory, to plunder her soil, and plant thereon the
institution of slavery, "the necessary back-ground of freedom."

Few of us have ever seen a battle, and without that none can have a
complete notion of the ferocious passions which it excites. Let me help
your fancy a little by relating an anecdote which seems to be very well
authenticated, and requires but little external testimony to render it
credible. At any rate, it was abundantly believed a year ago; but times
change, and what was then believed all round may now be "the most
improbable thing in the world." At the battle of Buena Vista, a Kentucky
regiment began to stagger under the heavy charge of the Mexicans. The
American commander-in-chief turned to one who stood near him, and
exclaimed, "By God, this will not do. This is not the way for
Kentuckians to behave when called on to make good a battle. It will not
answer, sir." So the General clenched his fist, knit his brows, and set
his teeth hard together. However, the Kentuckians presently formed in
good order and gave a deadly fire, which altered the battle. Then the
old General broke out with a loud hurrah. "Hurrah for old Kentuck," he
exclaimed, rising in his stirrups; "that's the way to do it. Give 'em
hell, damn 'em," and tears of exultation rolled down his cheeks as he
said it. You find the name of this General at the head of most of the
whig newspapers in the United States. He is one of the most popular
candidates for the Presidency. Cannons were fired for him, a hundred
guns on Boston Common, not long ago, in honor of his nomination for the
highest office in the gift of a free and Christian people. Soon we shall
probably have clerical certificates, setting forth, to the people of the
North, that he is an exemplary Christian. You know how Faneuil Hall, the
old "Cradle of Liberty," rang with "Hurrah for Taylor," but a few days
ago. The seven wise men of Greece were famous in their day; but now
nothing is known of them except a single pungent aphorism from each,
"Know thyself," and the like. The time may come when our great men shall
have suffered this same reduction descending, all their robes of glory
having vanished save a single thread. Then shall Franklin be known only
as having said, "Don't give too much for the Whistle;" Patrick Henry for
his "Give me Liberty or give me Death;" Washington for his "In Peace
prepare for War;" Jefferson for his "All men are created equal;" and
General Taylor shall be known only by his attributes rough and ready,
and for his aphorism, "Give 'em hell, damn 'em." Yet he does not seem to
be a ferocious man, but generous and kindly, it is said, and strongly
opposed to this particular war, whose "natural justice" it seems he
looked at, and which he thought was wicked at the beginning, though, on
that account, he was none the less ready to fight it.

One thing more I must mention in speaking of the cost of men. According
to the Report quoted just now, 4,966 American soldiers had deserted in
Mexico. Some of them had joined the Mexican army. When the American
commissioners, who were sent to secure the ratification of the treaty,
went to Queretaro, they found there a body of 200 American soldiers, and
800 more were at no great distance, mustered into the Mexican service.
These men, it seems, had served out their time in the American camp, and
notwithstanding they had, as the President says in his message, "covered
themselves with imperishable honors," by fighting men who never injured
them, they were willing to go and seek a yet thicker mantle of this
imperishable honor, by fighting against their own country! Why should
they not? If it were right to kill Mexicans for a few dollars a month,
why was it not also right to kill Americans, especially when it pays the
most? Perhaps it is not an American habit to inquire into the justice
of a war, only into the profit which it may bring. If the Mexicans pay
best, in money, these 1,000 soldiers made a good speculation. No doubt
in Mexico military glory is at a premium, though it could hardly command
a greater price just now than in America, where, however, the supply
seems equal to the demand.

The numerous desertions and the readiness with which the soldiers joined
the "foe," show plainly the moral character of the men, and the degree
of "patriotism" and "humanity" which animated them in going to war. You
know the severity of military discipline; the terrible beatings men are
subjected to before they can become perfect in the soldier's art; the
horrible and revolting punishments imposed on them for drunkenness,
though little pains were taken to keep the temptation from their eyes,
and for disobedience of general orders. You have read enough of this in
the newspapers. The officers of the volunteers, I am told, have
generally been men of little education, men of strong passions and bad
habits; many of them abandoned men, who belonged to the refuse of
society. Such men run into an army as the wash of the street runs into
the sewers. When such a man gets clothed with a little authority, in
time of peace, you know what use he makes of it; but when he covers
himself with the "imperishable honors" of his official coat, gets an
epaulette on his shoulder, a sword by his side, a commission in his
pocket, and visions of "glory" in his head, you may easily judge how he
will use his authority, or may read in the newspapers how he has used
it. When there are brutal soldiers, commanded by brutal captains, it is
to be supposed that much brutality is to be suffered.

Now desertion is a great offence in a soldier; in this army it is one of
the most common; for nearly ten per cent of the American army has
deserted in Mexico, not to mention the desertions before the army
reached that country. It is related that forty-eight men were hanged at
once for desertion; not hanged as you judicially murder men in time of
peace, privately, as if ashamed of the deed, in the corner of a jail,
and by a contrivance which shortens the agony, and makes death humane as
possible. These forty-eight men were hanged slowly; put to death with
painful procrastinations, their agony wilfully prolonged, and death
embittered by needless ferocity. But that is not all: it is related,
that these men were doomed to be thus murdered on the day when the
battle of Churubusco took place. These men, awaiting their death, were
told they should not suffer till the American flag should wave its
stripes over the hostile walls. So they were kept in suspense an hour,
and then slowly hanged one by one. You know the name of the officer on
whom this barbarity rests: it was Colonel Harney, a man whose
reputation was black enough and base enough before. His previous deeds,
however, require no mention here. But this man is now a General, and so
on the high road to the Presidency, whenever it shall please our
Southern masters to say the word. Some accounts say there were more than
forty-eight who thus were hanged. I only give the number of those whose
names lie printed before me as I write. Perhaps the number was less; it
is impossible to obtain exact information in respect to the matter, for
the Government has not yet published an account of the punishments
inflicted in this war. The information can only be obtained by a
"Resolution" of either house of Congress, and so is not likely to be had
before the election. But at the same time with the execution, other
deserters were scourged with fifty lashes each, branded with a letter D,
a perpetual mark of infamy on their cheek, compelled to wear an iron
yoke, weighing eight pounds, about their neck. Six men were made to dig
the grave of their companions, and were then flogged with two hundred
lashes each.

I wish this hanging of forty-eight men could have taken place in State
street, and the respectable citizens of Boston, who like this war, had
been made to look on and see it all; that they had seen those poor
culprits bid farewell to father, mother, wife, or child, looking
wistfully for the hour which was to end their torment, and then, one by
one, have seen them slowly hanged to death; that your representative,
ye men of Boston, had put on all the halters! He did help put them on;
that infamous vote, I speak not of the motive, it may have been as
honorable as the vote itself was infamous, doomed these eight and forty
men to be thus murdered.

Yes, I wish all this killing of the 2,000 Americans on the field of
battle, and the 10,000 Mexicans; all this slashing of the bodies of
24,000 wounded men; all the agony of the other 18,000 that have died of
disease, could have taken place in some spot where the President of the
United States and his Cabinet, where all the Congress who voted for the
war, with the Baltimore conventions of '44 and '48, and the Whig
convention of Philadelphia, and the controlling men of both political
parties, who care nothing for this bloodshed and misery they have idly
caused, could have stood and seen it all; and then that the voice of the
whole nation had come up to them and said, "This is your work, not ours.
Certainly we will not shed our blood, nor our brothers' blood, to get
never so much slave territory. It was bad enough to fight in the cause
of freedom. In the cause of slavery--God forgive us for that! We have
trusted you thus far, but please God we never will trust you again."

       *       *       *       *       *

Let us now look at the effect of this war on the morals of the nation.
The Revolutionary war was the contest for a great idea. If there were
ever a just war it was that, a contest for national existence. Yet it
brought out many of the worst qualities of human nature on both sides,
as well as some of the best. It helped make a Washington, it is true,
but a Benedict Arnold likewise. A war with a powerful nation, terrible
as it must be, yet develops the energy of the people, promotes
self-denial, and helps the growth of some qualities of a high order. It
had this effect in England from 1798 to 1815. True, England for that
time became a despotism, but the self-consciousness of the nation, its
self-denial and energy were amazingly stimulated; the moral effect of
that series of wars was doubtless far better than of the infamous
contest which she has kept up against Ireland for many years. Let us
give even war its due: when a great boy fights with an equal, it may
develop his animal courage and strength--for he gets as bad as he gives,
but when he only beats a little boy that cannot pay back his blows, it
is cowardly as well as cruel, and doubly debasing to the conqueror.
Mexico was no match for America. We all knew that very well before the
war begun. When a nation numbering 8,000,000 or 9,000,000 of people can
be successfully invaded by an army of 75,000 men, two thirds of them
volunteers, raw, and undisciplined; when the invaders with less than
15,000 can march two hundred miles into the very heart of the hostile
country, and with less than 6,000 can take and hold the capital of the
nation, a city of 100,000 or 200,000 inhabitants, and dictate a peace,
taking as much territory as they will--it is hardly fair to dignify such
operations with the name of war. The little good which a long contest
with an equal might produce in the conqueror, is wholly lost. Had Mexico
been a strong nation we should never have had this conflict. A few years
ago, when General Cass wanted a war with England, "an old-fashioned
war," and declared it "unavoidable," all the men of property trembled.
The northern men thought of their mills and their ships; they thought
how Boston and New York would look after a war with our sturdy old
father over the sea; they thought we should lose many millions of
dollars and gain nothing. The men of the South, who have no mills and no
ships and no large cities to be destroyed, thought of their "peculiar
institution;" they thought of a servile war; they thought what might
become of their slaves, if a nation which gave $100,000,000 to
emancipate her bondmen should send a large army with a few black
soldiers from Jamaica; should offer money, arms, and freedom to all who
would leave their masters and claim their unalienable rights. They knew
the southern towns would be burnt to ashes, and the whole South, from
Virginia to the Gulf, would be swept with fire, and they said, "Don't."
The North said so, and the South; they feared such a war, with such a
foe. Everybody knows the effect which this fear had on southern
politicians, in the beginning of this century, and how gladly they made
peace with England soon as she was at liberty to turn her fleet and her
army against the most vulnerable part of the nation. I am not blind to
the wickedness of England more than ignorant of the good things she has
done and is doing; a Paradise for the rich and strong, she is still a
Purgatory for the wise and the good, and the Hell of the poor and the
weak. I have no fondness for war anywhere, and believe it needless and
wanton in this age of the world, surely needless and wicked between
Father England and Daughter America; but I do solemnly believe that the
moral effect of such an old-fashioned war as Mr. Cass in 1845 thought
unavoidable, would have been better than that of this Mexican war. It
would have ended slavery; ended it in blood no doubt, the worst thing to
blot out an evil with, but ended it and for ever. God grant it may yet
have a more peaceful termination. We should have lost millions of
property and thousands of men, and then, when peace came, we should know
what it was worth; and as the burnt child dreads the fire, no future
President, or Congress, or Convention, or Party would talk much in favor
of war for some years to come.

The moral effect of this war is thoroughly bad. It was unjust in the
beginning. Mexico did not pay her debts; but though the United States,
in 1783, acknowledged the British claims against ourselves, they were
not paid till 1803. Our claims against England, for her depredations in
1793, were not paid till 1804; our claims against France, for her
depredations in 1806-13, were not paid us till 1834. The fact that
Mexico refused to receive the resident Minister which the United States
sent to settle the disputes, when a commissioner was expected--this was
no ground of war. We have lately seen a British ambassador ordered to
leave Spain within eight and forty hours, and yet the English Minister
of foreign affairs, Lord Palmerston, no new hand at diplomacy, declares
that this does not interrupt the concord of the two nations! We treated
Mexico contemptuously before hostilities began; and when she sent troops
into a territory which she had always possessed, though Texas had
claimed it, we declared that that was an act of war, and ourselves sent
an army to invade her soil, to capture her cities, and seize her
territory. It has been a war of plunder, undertaken for the purpose of
seizing Mexican territory, and extending over it that dismal curse which
blackens, impoverishes, and barbarizes half the Union now, and swiftly
corrupts the other half. It was not enough to have Louisiana a slave
territory; not enough to make that institution perpetual in Florida; not
enough to extend this blight over Texas--we must have yet more slave
soil, one day to be carved into Slave States, to bind the Southern yoke
yet more securely on the Northern neck; to corrupt yet more the
politics, literature, and morals of the North. The war was unjust at its
beginning; mean in its motives, a war without honorable cause; a war for
plunder; a quarrel between a great boy and a little puny weakling who
could not walk alone, and could hardly stand. We have treated Mexico as
the three Northern powers treated Poland in the last century--stooped to
conquer. Nay, our contest has been like the English seizure of Ireland.
All the justice was on one side, the force, skill, and wealth on the

I know men say the war has shown us that Americans could fight. Could
fight!--almost every male beast will fight, the more brutal the better.
The long war of the Revolution, when Connecticut, for seven years, kept
5,000 men in the field, showed that Americans could fight; Bunker Hill
and Lexington showed that they could fight, even without previous
discipline. If such valor be a merit, I am ready to believe that the
Americans, in a great cause like that of Mexico, to resist wicked
invasion, would fight as men never fought before. A republic like our
own, where every free man feels an interest in the welfare of the
nation, is full of the elements that make soldiers. Is that a praise?
Most men think so, but it is the smallest honor of a nation. Of all
glories, military glory, at its best estate, seems the poorest.

Men tell us it shows the strength of the nation and some writers quote
the opinions of European kings who, when hearing of the battles of
Monterey, Buena Vista, and Vera Cruz, became convinced that we were "a
great people." Remembering the character of these kings, one can easily
believe that such was their judgment, and will not sigh many times at
their fate, but will hope to see the day when the last king who can
estimate a nation's strength only by its battles, has passed on to
impotence and oblivion. The power of America--do we need proof of that?
I see it in the streets of Boston and New York; in Lowell and in
Lawrence; I see it in our mills and our ships; I read it in those
letters of iron written all over the North, where he may read that runs;
I see it in the unconquered energy which tames the forest, the rivers,
and the ocean; in the school-houses which lift their modest roof in
every village of the North; in the churches that rise all over the
freeman's land: would God that they rose higher, pointing down to man
and to human duties, and up to God and immortal life! I see the strength
of America in that tide of population which spreads over the prairies of
the West, and, beating on the Rocky Mountains, dashes its peaceful spray
to the very shores of the Pacific sea. Had we taken 150,000 men and
$200,000,000, and built two railroads across the continent, that would
have been a worthy sign of the nation's strength. Perhaps those kings
could not see it; but sensible men could see it and be glad. This waste
of treasure and this waste of blood is only a proof of weakness. War is
a transient weakness of the nation, but slavery a permanent imbecility.

What falsehood has this war produced in the executive and legislative
power; in both parties, whigs and democrats! I always thought that here
in Massachusetts the whigs were the most to blame; they tried to put the
disgrace of the war on the others, while the democratic party coolly
faced the wickedness. Did far-sighted men know that there would be a war
on Mexico, or else on the tariff or the currency, and prefer the first
as the least evil?

See to what the war has driven two of the most famous men of the nation:
one wished to "capture or slay a Mexican;"[12] the other could encourage
the volunteers to fight a war which he had denounced as needless, "a war
of pretexts," and place the men of Monterey before the men of Bunker
Hill;[13] each could invest a son in that unholy cause. You know the
rest: the fathers ate sour grapes, and the children's teeth were set on
edge. When a man goes on board an emigrant ship, reeking with filth and
fever, not for gain, not for "glory," but in brotherly love, catches the
contagion, and dies a martyr to his heroic benevolence, men speak of it
in corners, and it is soon forgot; there is no parade in the streets;
society takes little pains to do honor to the man. How rarely is a
pension given to his widow or his child; only once in the whole land,
and then but a small sum.[14] But when a volunteer officer--for of the
humbler and more excusable men that fall we take no heed, war may mow
that crop of "vulgar deaths" with what scythe he will--falls or dies in
the quarrel which he had no concern in, falls in a broil between the two
nations, your newspapers extol the man, and with martial pomp, "sonorous
metal blowing martial sounds," with all the honors of the most honored
dead, you lay away his body in the tomb. Thus is it that the nation
teaches these little ones, that it is better to kill than to make alive.

I know there are men in the army, honorable and high-minded men,
Christian men, who dislike war in general, and this war in special, but
such is their view of official duty, that they obeyed the summons of
battle, though with pain and reluctance. They knew not how to avoid
obedience. I am willing to believe there are many such. But with
volunteers, who, of their own accord, came forth to enlist, men not
blinded by ignorance, not driven by poverty to the field, but only by
hope of reward--what shall be said of them! Much may be said to excuse
the rank and file, ignorant men, many of them in want--but for the
leaders, what can be said? Had I a brother who, in the day of the
nation's extremity, came forward with a good conscience, and perilled
his life on the battle field, and lost it "in the sacred cause of God
and his country," I would honor the man, and when his dust came home, I
would lay it away with his fathers'; with sorrow indeed, but with
thankfulness of heart, that for conscience' sake he was ready even to
die. But had I a brother who, merely for his pay, or hope of fame, had
voluntarily gone down to fight innocent men, to plunder their territory,
and lost his life in that felonious essay--in sorrow and in silence, and
in secrecy would I lay down his body in the grave; I would not court
display, nor mark it with a single stone.

See how this war has affected public opinion. How many of your
newspapers have shown its true atrocity; how many of the pulpits? Yet,
if any one is appointed to tell of public wrongs, it is the minister of
religion. The Governor of Massachusetts[15] is an officer of a Christian
church; a man distinguished for many excellences, some of them by no
means common: it is said, he is opposed to the war in private, and
thinks it wicked; but no man has lent himself as a readier tool to
promote it. The Christian and the man seem lost in the office, in the
Governor! What a lesson of falseness does all this teach to that large
class of persons who look no higher than the example of eminent men for
their instruction. You know what complaints have been made, by the
highest authority in the nation, because a few men dared to speak
against the war. It was "affording aid and comfort to the enemy." If the
war-party had been stronger, and feared no public opinion, we should
have had men hanged for treason, because they spoke of this national
iniquity! Nothing would have been easier. A "gag law" is not wholly
unknown in America.

If you will take all the theft, all the assaults, all the cases of
arson, ever committed in time of peace in the United States since the
settlement of Jamestown in 1608, and add to them all the cases of
violence offered to woman, with all the murders, they will not amount to
half the wrongs committed in this war for the plunder of Mexico. Yet the
cry has been and still is, "You must not say a word against it; if you
do, you 'afford aid and comfort to the enemy.'" Not tell the nation that
she is doing wrong? What a miserable saying is that; let it come from
what high authority it may, it is a miserable saying. Make the case your
own. Suppose the United States were invaded by a nation ten times abler
for war than we are, with a cause no more just, intentions equally bad;
invaded for the purpose of dismembering our territory and making our
own New England the soil of slaves; would you be still? would you stand
and look on tamely while the hostile hosts, strangers in language,
manners, and religion, crossed your rivers, seized your ports, burnt
your towns? No, surely not. Though the men of New England would not be
able to resist with most celestial love, they would contend with most
manly vigor; and I should rather see every house swept clean off the
land, and the ground sheeted with our own dead; rather see every man,
woman, and child in the land slain, than see them tamely submit to such
a wrong: and so would you. No, sacred as life is and dear as it is,
better let it be trodden out by the hoof of war, rather than yield
tamely to a wrong. But while you were doing your utmost to repel such
formidable injustice, if in the midst of your invaders men rose up and
said, "America is in the right, and brothers, you are wrong, you should
not thus kill men to steal their land; shame on you!" how should you
feel towards such? Nay, in the struggle with England, when our fathers
perilled every thing but honor, and fought for the unalienable rights of
man, you all remember, how in England herself there stood up noble men,
and with a voice that was heard above the roar of the populace, and an
authority higher than the majesty of the throne they said, "You do a
wrong; you may ravage, but you cannot conquer. If I were an American,
while a foreign troop remained in my land, I would never lay down my
arms; no, never, never, never!"

But I wander a little from my theme, the effect of the war on the morals
of the nation. Here are 50,000 or 75,000 men trained to kill. Hereafter
they will be of little service in any good work. Many of them were the
off-scouring of the people at first. Now these men have tasted the
idleness, the intemperance, the debauchery of a camp; tasted of its
riot, tasted of its blood! They will come home before long, hirelings of
murder. What will their influence be as fathers, husbands? The nation
taught them to fight and plunder the Mexicans for the nation's sake; the
Governor of Massachusetts called on them in the name of "patriotism" and
"humanity" to enlist for that work: but if, with no justice on our side,
it is humane and patriotic to fight and plunder the Mexicans on the
nation's account, why not for the soldier to fight and plunder an
American on his own account? Ay, why not?--that is a distinction too
nice for common minds; by far too nice for mine.

See the effect on the nation. We have just plundered Mexico; taken a
piece of her territory larger than the thirteen states which fought the
Revolution, a hundred times as large as Massachusetts; we have burnt her
cities, have butchered her men, have been victorious in every contest.
The Mexicans were as unprotected women, we, armed men. See how the lust
of conquest will increase. Soon it will be the ambition of the next
President to extend the "area of freedom" a little further south; the
lust of conquest will increase. Soon we must have Yucatan, Central
America, all of Mexico, Cuba, Porto Rico, Hayti, Jamaica,--all the
islands of the Gulf. Many men would gladly, I doubt not, extend the
"area of freedom" so as to include the free blacks of those islands. We
have long looked with jealous eyes on West Indian emancipation--hoping
the scheme would not succeed. How pleasant it would be to reëstablish
slavery in Hayti and Jamaica, in all the islands whence the gold of
England or the ideas of France have driven it out. If the South wants
this, would the North object? The possession of the West Indies would
bring much money to New England, and what is the value of freedom
compared to coffee and sugar and cotton?

I must say one word of the effect this war has had on political parties.
By the parties I mean the leaders thereof, the men that control the
parties. The effect on the democratic party, on the majority of
Congress, on the most prominent men of the nation, has been mentioned
before. It has shut their eyes to truth and justice; it has filled their
mouths with injustice and falsehood. It has made one man "available" for
the Presidency who was only known before as a sagacious general, that
fought against the Indians in Florida, and acquired a certain
reputation by the use of bloodhounds, a reputation which was rather
unenviable even in America. The battles in northern Mexico made him
conspicuous, and now he is seized on as an engine to thrust one corrupt
party out of power, and to lift in another party, I will not say less
corrupt, I wish I could; it were difficult to think it more so. This
latter party has been conspicuous for its opposition to a military man
as ruler of a free people; recently it has been smitten with sudden
admiration for military men, and military success, and tells the people,
without a blush, that a military man fresh from a fight which he
disapproved of, is most likely to restore peace, "because most familiar
with the evils of war!" In Massachusetts the prevalent political party,
as such, for some years seems to have had no moral principle; however,
it had a prejudice in favor of decency: now it has thrown that
overboard, and has not even its respectability left. Where are its
"Resolutions?" Some men knew what they were worth long ago; now all men
can see what they are worth.

The cost of the war in money and men I have tried to calculate, but the
effect on the morals of the people, on the press, the pulpit, and the
parties, and through them on the rising generation, it is impossible to
tell. I have only faintly sketched the outline of that. The effect of
the war on Mexico herself, we can dimly see in the distance. The
Government of the United States has wilfully, wantonly broken the peace
of the continent. The Revolutionary war was unavoidable; but for this
invasion there is no excuse. That God, whose providence watches over the
falling nation as the falling sparrow, and whose comprehensive plans are
now advanced by the righteousness and now by the wrath of man, He who
stilleth the waves of the sea and the tumult of the people, will turn
all this wickedness to account in the history of man,--of that I have no
doubt. But that is no excuse for American crime. A greater good lay
within our grasp, and we spurned it away.

Well, before long the soldiers will come back, such as shall ever
come--the regulars and volunteers, the husbands of the women whom your
charity fed last winter, housed and clad and warmed. They will come
back. Come, New England, with your posterity of States, go forth to meet
your sons returning all "covered with imperishable honors." Come, men,
to meet your fathers, brothers. Come, women, to your husbands and your
lovers; come. But what! is that the body of men who a year or two ago
went forth, so full of valor and of rum? Are these rags the imperishable
honors that cover them? Here is not half the whole. Where is the wealth
they hoped from the spoil of churches? But the men--"Where is my
husband?" says one; "And my son?" says another. "They fell at Jalapa,
one, and one at Cerro Gordo; but they fell covered with imperishable
honor, for 'twas a famous victory." "Where is my lover?" screams a
woman whom anguish makes respectable spite of her filth and
ignorance;--"And our father, where is he?" scream a troop of
half-starved children, staring through their dirt and rags. "One died of
the vomit at Vera Cruz. Your father, little ones, we scourged the naked
man to death at Mixcoac."

But that troop which is left, who are in the arms of wife and child,
they are the best sermon against war; this has lost an arm and that a
leg; half are maimed in battle, or sickened with the fever; all polluted
with the drunkenness, idleness, debauchery, lust, and murder of a camp.
Strip off this man's coat, and count the stripes welted into his flesh,
stripes laid on by demagogues that love the people, "the dear people!"
See how affectionately the war-makers branded the "dear soldiers" with a
letter D, with a red-hot iron, in the cheek. The flesh will quiver as
the irons burn; no matter: it is only for love of the people that all
this is done, and we are all of us covered with imperishable honors! D
stands for deserter,--aye, and for demagogue--yes, and for demon too.
Many a man shall come home with but half of himself, half his body, less
than half his soul.

    "Alas, the mother that him bare,
    If she could stand in presence there,
    In that wan cheek and wasted air,
        She would not know her child."

"Better," you say, "for us better, and for themselves better by far, if
they had left that remnant of a body in the common ditch where the
soldier finds his 'bed of honor;' better have fed therewith the vultures
of a foreign soil, than thus come back." No, better come back, and live
here, mutilated, scourged, branded, a cripple, a pauper, a drunkard, and
a felon; better darken the windows of the jail and blot the gallows with
unusual shame, to teach us all that such is war, and such the results of
every "famous victory," such the imperishable honors that it brings, and
how the war-makers love the men they rule!

O Christian America! O New England, child of the Puritans! Cradled in
the wilderness, thy swaddling garments stained with martyrs' blood,
hearing in thy youth the warwhoop of the savage and thy mother's sweet
and soul-composing hymn:

    "Hush, my child, lie still and slumber,
      Holy angels guard thy bed;
    Heavenly blessings, without number,
      Rest upon thine infant head:"

Come, New England, take the old banners of thy conquering host, the
standards borne at Monterey, Palo Alto, Buena Vista, Vera Cruz, the
"glorious stripes and stars" that waved over the walls of Churubusco,
Contreras, Puebla, Mexico herself, flags blackened with battle and
stiffened with blood, pierced by the lances and torn with the shot;
bring them into thy churches, hang them up over altar and pulpit, and
let little children, clad in white raiment and crowned with flowers,
come and chant their lessons for the day:

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

"Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called the children of

Then let the priest say, "Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a
reproach unto any people. Blessed is the Lord my strength, which
teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight. Happy is that people
that is in such a case. Yea, happy is that people whose God is the Lord,
and Jesus Christ their Saviour."

Then let the soldiers who lost their limbs and the women who lost their
husbands and their lovers in the strife, and the men--wiser than the
children of light--who made money out of the war; let all the people,
like people and like priest, say "Amen."

       *       *       *       *       *

But suppose these men were to come back to Boston on a day when, in
civil style, as having never sinned yourself, and never left a man in
ignorance and want to be goaded into crime, you were about to hang three
men--one for murder, one for robbery with the armed hand, and one for
burning down a house. Suppose, after the fashion of "the good old
times," you were to hang those men in public, and lead them in long
procession through your streets, and while you were welcoming these
returned soldiers and taking their officers to feast in "the Cradle of
Liberty," they should meet the sheriff's procession escorting those
culprits to the gallows. Suppose the warriors should ask, "Why, what is
that?" What would you say? Why, this: "These men, they broke the law of
God, by violence, by fire and blood, and we shall hang them for the
public good, and especially for the example, to teach the ignorant, the
low, and the weak." Suppose those three felons, the halters round their
neck, should ask also, "Why, what is that?" You would say, "They are the
soldiers just come back from war. For two long years they have been hard
at work, burning cities, plundering a nation, and butchering whole
armies of men. Sometimes they killed a thousand in a day. By their help,
the nation has stolen seven hundred thousand square miles of land!"
Suppose the culprits ask, "Where will you hang so many?" "Hang them!" is
the answer, "we shall only hang you. It is written in our Bible that one
murder makes a villain, millions a hero. We shall feast these men full
of bread and wine; shall take their leader, a rough man and a ready, one
who by perpetual robbery holds a hundred slaves and more, and make him a
king over all the land. But as you only burnt, robbed, and murdered on
so small a scale, and without the command of the President or the
Congress, we shall hang you by the neck. Our Governor ordered these men
to go and burn and rob and kill; now he orders you to be hanged, and you
must not ask any more questions, for the hour is already come."

To make the whole more perfect--suppose a native of Loo-Choo, converted
to Christianity by your missionaries in his native land, had come hither
to have "the way of God" "expounded unto him more perfectly," that he
might see how these Christians love one another. Suppose he should be
witness to a scene like this!

       *       *       *       *       *

To men who know the facts of war, the wickedness of this particular
invasion and its wide-extending consequences, I fear that my words will
seem poor and cold and tame. I have purposely mastered my emotion,
telling only my thought. I have uttered no denunciation against the men
who caused this destruction of treasure, this massacre of men, this
awful degradation of the moral sense. The respectable men of
Boston--"the men of property and standing" all over the State, the men
that commonly control the politics of New England, tell you that they
dislike the war. But they reëlect the men who made it. Has a single man
in all New England lost his seat in any office because he favored the
war? Not a man. Have you ever known a northern merchant who would not
let his ship for the war, because the war was wicked and he a Christian?
Have you ever known a northern manufacturer who would not sell a kernel
of powder, nor a cannon-ball, nor a coat, nor a shirt for the war? Have
you ever known a capitalist, a man who lives by letting money, refuse to
lend money for the war because the war was wicked? Not a merchant, not a
manufacturer, not a capitalist. A little money--it can buy up whole
hosts of men. Virginia sells her negroes; what does New England sell?
There was once a man in Boston, a rich man too, not a very great man,
only a good one who loved his country, and there was another poor man
here, in the times that tried men's souls,--but there was not money
enough in all England, not enough promise of honors, to make Hancock and
Adams false to their sense of right. Is our soil degenerate, and have we
lost the breed of noble men?

No, I have not denounced the men who directly made the war, or
indirectly edged the people on. Pardon me, thou prostrate Mexico, robbed
of more than half thy soil, that America may have more slaves; thy
cities burned, thy children slain, the streets of thy capital trodden by
the alien foot, but still smoking with thy children's blood: pardon me
if I seem to have forgotten thee! And you, ye butchered Americans, slain
by the vomito, the gallows, and the sword; you, ye maimed and mutilated
men, who shall never again join hands in prayer, never kneel to God once
more upon the limbs he made you; you, ye widows, orphans of these
butchered men, far off in that more sunny South, here in our own fair
land, pardon me that I seem to forget your wrongs! And thou, my Country,
my own, my loved, my native land, thou child of great ideas and mother
of many a noble son, dishonored now, thy treasure wasted, thy children
killed or else made murderers, thy peaceful glory gone, thy Government
made to pimp and pander for lust of crime, forgive me that I seem
over-gentle to the men who did and do the damning deed which wastes thy
treasure, spills thy blood, and stains thine honor's sacred fold! And
you, ye sons of men everywhere, thou child of God, Mankind, whose
latest, fairest hope is planted here in this new world,--forgive me if I
seem gentle to thy enemies, and to forget the crime that so dishonors
man, and makes this ground a slaughter-yard of men--slain, too, in
furtherance of the basest wish! I have no words to tell the pity that I
feel for them that did the deed. I only say, "Father, forgive them, for
they know full well the sin they do!"

A sectarian church could censure a General for holding his candle in a
Catholic cathedral; it was "a candle to the Pope"; yet never dared to
blame the war. While we loaded a ship of war with corn and sent off the
Macedonian to Cork, freighted by private bounty to feed the starving
Irishman, the State sent her ships to Vera Cruz, in a cause most unholy,
to bombard, to smite, and to kill. Father! forgive the State; forgive
the church. It was an ignorant State. It was a silent church--a poor,
dumb dog, that dared not bark at the wolf who prowls about the fold, but
only at the lamb.

Yet ye leaders of the land, know this,--that the blood of thirty
thousand men cries out of the ground against you. Be it your folly or
your crime, still cries the voice, "Where is thy brother?" That thirty
thousand--in the name of humanity I ask, "Where are they?" In the name
of justice I answer, "You slew them!"

It was not the people who made this war. They have often enough done a
foolish thing. But it was not they who did this wrong. It was they who
led the people; it was demagogues that did it. Whig demagogues and
demagogues of the democrats; men that flatter the ignorance, the folly,
or the sin of the people, that they might satisfy their own base
purposes. In May, 1846, if the facts of the case could have been stated
to the voters, and the question put to the whole mass of the people,
"Shall we go down and fight Mexico, spending two hundred million of
dollars, maiming four and twenty thousand men, and butchering thirty
thousand; shall we rob her of half her territory?"--the lowest and most
miserable part of the nation would have said as they did say, "Yes;"
the demagogues of the nation would have said as they did say, "Yes;"
perhaps a majority of the men of the South would have said so, for the
humanity of the nation lies not there; but if it had been brought to the
great mass of the people at the North,--whose industry and skill so
increase the national wealth, whose intelligence and morals have given
the nation its character abroad,--then they, the great majority of the
land, would have said "No. We will have no war! If we want more land, we
will buy it in the open market, and pay for it honestly. But we are not
thieves, nor murderers, thank God, and will not butcher a nation to make
a slave-field out of her soil." The people would not have made this war.

       *       *       *       *       *

Well, we have got a new territory, enough to make one hundred States of
the size of Massachusetts. That is not all. We have beaten the armies of
Mexico, destroyed the little strength she had left, the little
self-respect, else she would not so have yielded and given up half her
soil for a few miserable dollars. Soon we shall take the rest of her
possessions. How can Mexico hold them now--weakened, humiliated, divided
worse than ever within herself. Before many years, all of this northern
continent will doubtless be in the hands of the Anglo Saxon race. That
of itself is not a thing to mourn at. Could we have extended our empire
there by trade, by the Christian arts of peace, it would be a blessing
to us and to Mexico; a blessing to the world. But we have done it in the
worst way, by fraud and blood; for the worst purpose, to steal soil and
convert the cities of men into the shambles for human flesh; have done
it at the bidding of men whose counsels long have been a scourge and a
curse--at the bidding of slaveholders. They it is that rule the land,
fill the offices, buy up the North with the crumbs that fall from their
political table, make the laws, declare hostilities, and leave the North
to pay the bill. Shall we ever waken out of our sleep; shall we ever
remember the duties we owe to the world and to God, who put us here on
this new continent? Let us not despair.

Soon we shall have all the southern part of the continent, perhaps half
the islands of the Gulf. One thing remains to do--that is, with the new
soil we have taken, to extend order, peace, education, religion; to keep
it from the blight, the crime, and the sin of slavery. That is for the
nation to do; for the North to do. God knows the South will never do it.
Is there manliness enough left in the North to do that? Has the soil
forgot its wonted faith, and borne a different race of men from those
who struggled eight long years for freedom? Do we forget our sires,
forget our God? In the day when the monarchs of Europe are shaken from
their thrones; when the Russian and the Turk abolish slavery; when
cowardly Naples awakes from her centuries of sleep, and will have
freedom; when France prays to become a Republic, and in her agony sweats
great drops of blood; while the Tories of the world look on and mock and
wag their heads; and while the Angel of Hope descends with trusting
words to comfort her,--shall America extend slavery? butcher a nation to
get soil to make a field for slaves? I know how easily the South can buy
office-hunters; whig or democrat, the price is still the same. The same
golden eagle blinds the eyes of each. But can she buy the people of the
North? Is honesty gone, and honor gone, your love of country gone,
religion gone, and nothing manly left; not even shame? Then let us
perish; let the Union perish! No, let that stand firm, and let the
Northern men themselves be slaves; and let us go to our masters and say,
"You are very few, we are very many; we have the wealth, the numbers,
the intelligence, the religion of the land; but you have the power, do
not be hard upon us; pray give us a little something, some humble
offices, or if not these at least a tariff, and we will be content."

Slavery has already been the blight of this nation, the curse of the
North and the curse of the South. It has hindered commerce,
manufactures, agriculture. It confounds your politics. It has silenced
your ablest men. It has muzzled the pulpit, and stifled the better life
out of the press. It has robbed three million men of what is dearer
than life; it has kept back the welfare of seventeen millions more. You
ask, O Americans, where is the harmony of the Union? It was broken by
slavery. Where is the treasure we have wasted? It was squandered by
slavery. Where are the men we sent to Mexico? They were murdered by
slavery; and now the slave power comes forward to put her new minions,
her thirteenth President, upon the nation's neck! Will the North say

But there is a Providence which rules the world,--a plan in His affairs.
Shall all this war, this aggression of the slave power be for nothing?
Surely not. Let it teach us two things: Everlasting hostility to
slavery; everlasting love of Justice and of its Eternal Right. Then,
dear as we may pay for it, it may be worth what it has cost--the money
and the men. I call on you, ye men--fathers, brothers, husbands, sons,
to learn this lesson, and, when duty calls, to show that you know
it--know it by heart and at your fingers' ends! And you, ye
women--mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, I call on you to teach this
lesson to your children, and let them know that such a war is sin, and
slavery sin, and, while you teach them to hate both, teach them to be
men, and do the duties of noble, Christian, and manly men! Behind
injustice there is ruin, and above man there is the everlasting God.


[10] In the Massachusetts Quarterly Review, Vol. I. Article I. See also
the paper on the administration of Mr. Polk, in Vol. III. Art. VIII.

[11] Mr. Trist introduced these articles into the treaty, without having
instructions from the American Government to do so; the honor,
therefore, is wholly due to him. There were some in the Senate who
opposed these articles.

[12] See Mr. Clay's speech at the dinner in New Orleans on Forefathers'

[13] See Mr. Webster's speech to the volunteers at Philadelphia.

[14] A case of this sort had just occurred in Boston.

[15] Mr. George N. Briggs.




    It is not the will of our Father which is in heaven, that one
    of these little ones should perish.

There are two classes of men who are weak and little: one is little by
nature, consisting of such as are born with feeble powers, not strongly
capable of self-help; the other is little by position, comprising men
that are permanently poor and ignorant. When Jesus said, It is not God's
will that one of these little ones should perish, I take it he included
both these classes--men little by nature, and men little by position.
Furthermore, I take it he said what is true, that it is not God's will
one of these little ones should perish. Now, a man may be said to perish
when he is ruined, or even when he fails to attain the degree of manhood
he might attain under the average circumstances of this present age, and
these present men. In a society like ours, and that of all nations at
this time, as hitherto, with such a history, a history of blood and
violence, cunning and fraud; resting on such a basis--a basis of
selfishness; a society wherein there is a preference of the mighty, and
a postponement of the righteous, where power is worshipped and justice
little honored, though much talked of, it comes to pass that a great
many little ones from both these classes actually perish. If Jesus spoke
the truth, then they perish contrary to the will of God, and, of course,
by some other will adverse to the will of God. In a society where the
natural laws of the body are constantly violated, where many men are
obliged by circumstances to violate them, it follows unavoidably that
many are born little by nature, and they transmit their feebleness to
their issue. The other class, men little by position, are often so
hedged about with difficulties, so neglected, that they cannot change
their condition; they bequeath also their littleness to their children.
Thus the number of little ones enlarges with the increase of society.
This class becomes perpetual; a class of men mainly abandoned by the

In all forms of social life hitherto devised these classes have
appeared, and it has been a serious question, What shall be done with
them? Seldom has it been the question, What shall be done for them? In
olden time the Spartans took children born with a weak or imperfect
body, children who would probably be a hinderance to the nation, and
threw them into a desert place to be devoured by the wild beasts, and so
settled that question. At this day, the Chinese, I am told, expose such
children in the streets and beside the rivers, to the humanity of
passers by; and not only such, but sound, healthy children, none the
less, who, though strong by nature, are born into a weak position. Many
of them are left to die, especially the boys. But some are saved, those
mainly girls. I will not say they are saved by the humanity of wealthier
men. They become slaves, devoted by their masters to a most base and
infamous purpose. With the exception of criminals, these abandoned
daughters of the poor, form, it is said, the only class of slaves in
that great country.

Neither the Chinese nor the Spartan method is manly or human. It does
with the little ones, not for them. It does away with them, and that is
all. I will not decide which is the worst of the two modes, the Chinese
or the Spartan. We are accustomed to call both these nations heathen,
and take it for granted they do not know it is God's will that not one
of these little ones should perish. Be that as it may, we do not call
ourselves heathen; we pretend to know the will of God in this
particular. Let us look, therefore, and see how we have disposed of the
little ones in Boston, what we are doing for them or with them.

Let me begin with neglected and abandoned children. We all know how
large and beautiful a provision is made for the public education of the
people. About a fourth part of the city taxes are for the public
schools. Yet one not familiar with this place is astonished at the
number of idle, vagrant boys and girls in the streets. It appears from
the late census of Boston, that there are 4,948 children between four
and fifteen who attend no school. I am not speaking of truants,
occasional absentees, but of children whose names are not registered at
school, permanent absentees. If we allow that 1,948 of these are kept in
some sort of restraint by their parents, and have, or have had, some
little pains taken with their culture at home; that they are feeble and
do not begin to attend school so early as most, or that they are
precocious, and complete their studies before fifteen, or for some other
good reason are taken from school, and put to some useful business,
there still remain 3,000 children who never attend any school, turned
loose into your streets! Suppose there is some error in the counting,
that the number is overstated one third, still there are left 2,000
young vagrants in the streets of Boston!

What will be the fate of these 2,000 children? Some men are superior to
circumstances; so well born they defy ill breeding. There may be
children so excellent and strong they cannot be spoiled. Surely there
are some who will learn with no school; boys of vast genius, whom you
cannot keep from learning. Others there are of wonderful moral gifts,
whom no circumstances can make vulgar; they will live in the midst of
corruption and keep clean through the innate refinement of a wondrous
soul. Out of these 2,000 children there may be two of this sort; it were
foolish to look for more than one in a thousand. The 1,997 depend mainly
on circumstances to help them; yes, to make their character. Send them
to school and they will learn. Give them good precepts, good examples,
they will also become good. Give them bad precepts, bad examples, and
they become wicked. Send them half clad and uncared for into your
streets, and they grow up hungry savages greedy for crime.

What have these abandoned children to help them? Nothing, literally
nothing! They are idle, though their bodies crave activity. They are
poor, ill-clad, and ill-fed. There is nothing about them to foster
self-respect; nothing to call forth their conscience, to awaken and
cultivate their sense of religion. They find themselves beggars in the
wealth of a city; idlers in the midst of its work. Yes, savages in the
midst of civilization. Their consciousness is that of an outcast, one
abandoned and forsaken of men. In cities, life is intense amongst all
classes. So the passions and appetites of such children are strong and
violent. Their taste is low; their wants clamorous. Are religion and
conscience there to abate the fever of passion and regulate desire? The
moral class and the cultivated shun these poor wretches, or look on with
stupid wonder. Our rule is that the whole need the physician, not the
sick. They are left almost entirely to herd and consort with the basest
of men; they are exposed early and late to the worst influences, and
their only comrades are men whom the children of the rich are taught to
shun as the pestilence. To be poor is hard enough in the country, where
artificial wants are few, and those easily met, where all classes are
humbly clad, and none fare sumptuously every day. But to be poor in the
city, where a hundred artificial desires daily claim satisfaction, and
where, too, it is difficult for the poor to satisfy the natural and
unavoidable wants of food and raiment; to be hungry, ragged, dirty, amid
luxury, wantonness and refinement; to be miserable in the midst of
abundance, that is hard beyond all power of speech. Look, I will not say
at the squalid dress of these children, as you see them prowling about
the markets and wharves, or contending in the dirty lanes and by-places
into which the pride of Boston has elbowed so much of her misery; look
at their faces! Haggard as they are, meagre and pale and wan, want is
not the worst thing written there, but cunning, fraud, violence and
obscenity, and worst of all, fear!

Amid all the science and refined culture of the nineteenth century,
these children learn little; little that is good, much that is bad. In
the intense life around them, they unavoidably become vicious, obscene,
deceitful and violent. They will lie, steal, be drunk. How can it be

If you could know the life of one of those poor lepers of Boston, you
would wonder, and weep. Let me take one of them at random out of the
mass. He was born, unwelcome, amid wretchedness and want. His coming
increased both. Miserably he struggles through his infancy, less tended
than the lion's whelp. He becomes a boy. He is covered only with rags,
and those squalid with long accumulated filth. He wanders about your
streets, too low even to seek employment, now snatching from a gutter
half rotten fruit which the owner flings away. He is ignorant; he has
never entered a school-house; to him even the alphabet is a mystery. He
is young in years, yet old in misery. There is no hope in his face. He
herds with others like himself, low, ragged, hungry and idle. If misery
loves company, he finds that satisfaction. Follow him to his home at
night; he herds in a cellar; in the same sty with father, mother,
brothers, sisters, and perhaps yet other families of like degree. What
served him for dress by day, is his only bed by night.

Well, this boy steals some trifle, a biscuit, a bit of rope, or a knife
from a shop-window; he is seized and carried to jail. The day comes for
trial. He is marched through the streets in handcuffs, the companion of
drunkards and thieves, thus deadening the little self-respect which
Nature left even in an outcast's bosom. He sits there chained like a
beast; a boy in irons! the sport and mockery of men vulgar as the common
sewer. His trial comes. Of course he is convicted. The show of his
countenance is witness against him. His rags and dirt, his ignorance,
his vagrant habits, his idleness, all testify against him. That face so
young, and yet so impudent, so sly, so writ all over with embryo
villany, is evidence enough. The jury are soon convinced, for they see
his temptations in his look, and surely know that in such a condition
men will steal: yes, they themselves would steal. The judge represents
the law, and that practically regards it a crime even for a boy to be
weak and poor. Much of our common law, it seems to me, is based on
might, not right. So he is hurried off to jail at a tender age, and made
legally the companion of felons. Now the State has him wholly in her
power; by that rough adoption, has made him her own child, and sealed
the indenture with the jailer's key. His handcuffs are the symbol of his
sonship to the State. She shuts him in her college for the Little. What
does that teach him; science, letters; even morals and religion? Little
enough of this, even in Boston, and in most counties of Massachusetts, I
think, nothing at all, not even a trade which he can practise when his
term expires! I have been told a story, and I wish it might be falsely
told, of a boy, in this city, of sixteen, sent to the house of
correction for five years because he stole a bunch of keys, and coming
out of that jail at twenty-one, unable to write, or read, or calculate,
and with no trade but that of picking oakum. Yet he had been five years
the child of the State, and in that college for the poor! Who would
employ such a youth; with such a reputation; with the smell of the jail
in his very breath? Not your shrewd men of business, they know the risk;
not your respectable men, members of churches and all that; not they!
Why it would hurt a man's reputation for piety to do good in that way.
Besides, the risk is great, and it argues a great deal more Christianity
than it is popular to have, for a respectable man to employ such a
youth. He is forced back into crime again. I say, forced, for honest men
will not employ him when the State shoves him out of the jail. Soon you
will have him in the court again, to be punished more severely. Then he
goes to the State Prison, and then again, and again, till death
mercifully ends his career!

Who is to blame for all that? I will ask the best man among the best of
you, what he would have become, if thus abandoned, turned out in
childhood, and with no culture, into the streets, to herd with the
wickedest of men! Somebody says, there are "organic sins" in society
which nobody is to blame for. But by this sin organized in society,
these vagrant children are training up to become thieves, pirates and
murderers. I cannot blame them. But there is a terrible blame somewhere,
for it is not the will of God that one of these little ones should
perish. Who is it that organizes the sin of society?

       *       *       *       *       *

Let us next look at the parents of these vagrants, at the adult poor. It
is not easy or needed for this purpose, to define very nicely the limits
of a class, and tell where the rich end, and the poor begin. However,
men may, in reference to this matter, be divided into three classes. The
first acts on society mainly by their capital; the second mainly by
their skill, mental and manual, by educated labor; and the third by
their muscles, by brute force with little or no skill, uneducated labor.
The poor, I take it, come mainly from this latter class. Education of
head or hand, a profession or a trade, is wealth in possibility; yes,
wealth in prospect, wealth in its process of accumulation, for wealth
itself is only accumulated labor, as learning is accumulated thought.
Most of our rich men have come out of this class which acts by its
skill, and their children in a few years will return to it. I am not now
to speak of men transiently poor, who mend their condition as the hours
go by, who may gain enough, and perhaps become rich; but of men
permanently poor, whom one year finds wanting, and the next leaves no
better off; men that live, as we say, from hand to mouth, but whose
hand and mouth are often empty. Even here in Boston, there is little of
the justice that removes causes of poverty, though so much of the
charity which alleviates its effects. Those men live, if you can call it
life, crowded together more densely, I am told, than in Naples or Paris,
in London or Liverpool. Boston has its ghetto, not for the Jews as at
Prague and at Rome, but for brother Christians. In the quarters
inhabited mainly by the poor, you find a filthiness and squalor which
would astonish a stranger. The want of comfort, of air, of water, is
terrible. Cold is a stern foe in our winters, but in these places, I am
told that men suffer more from want of water in summer, than want of
fire in winter.[16] If your bills of mortality were made out so as to
show the deaths in each ward of the city, I think all would be
astonished at the results. Disease and death are the result of causes,
causes too that may for a long time be avoided, and in the more favored
classes are avoided. It is not God's will that the rich be spared and
the poor die. Yet the greatest mortality is always among the poor. Out
of each hundred Catholics who died in Boston, from 1833 to 1838, more
than sixty-one were less than five years of age. The result for the last
six years is no better. Of one hundred children born amongst them, only
thirty-eight live five years; only eleven become fifty! Gray-haired
Irishmen we seldom see. Yet they are not worse off than others equally
poor, only we can more distinctly get at the facts. In the war with
disease which mankind is waging, the poor stand in front of the fire,
and are mowed down without pity!

Of late years, in Boston, there has been a gradual increase in the
mortality of children.[17] I think we shall find the increase only among
the children of the poor. Of course it depends on causes which may be
removed, at least modified, for the average life of mankind is on the
increase. I am told, I know not if the authority be good, that mortality
among the poor is greater in Boston than in any city of Europe.

Of old times the rich man rode into battle, shirted with mail, covered
and shielded with iron from head to foot. Arrows glanced from him as
from a stone. He came home unhurt and covered with "glory." But the
poor, in his leathern jerkin or his linen frock, confronted the war,
where every weapon tore his unprotected flesh. In the modern, perennial
battle with disease, the same thing takes place; the poor fall and die.

The destruction of the poor is their poverty. They are ignorant, not
from choice but necessity. They cannot, therefore, look round and see
the best way of doing things, of saving their strength, and sparing
their means. They can have little of what we call thrift, the brain in
the hand for which our people are so remarkable. Some of them are also
little by nature, ill-born; others well born enough, were abandoned in
childhood, and have not since been able to make up the arrears of a
neglected youth. They are to fight the great battle of life, for battle
it is to them, with feeble arms. Look at the houses they live in,
without comfort or convenience, without sun, or air, or water; damp,
cold, filthy and crowded to excess. In one section of the city there are
thirty-seven persons on an average in each house.

Consider the rents paid by this class of our brothers. It is they who
pay the highest rate for their dwellings. The worth of the house is
often little more than nothing, the ground it covers making the only
value. I am told that twelve or fifteen per cent a year on a large
valuation is quite commonly paid, and over thirty per cent on the actual
value, is not a strange thing. I wish this might not prove true.

But the misery of the poor does not end with their wretched houses and
exorbitant rent. Having neither capital nor store-room, they must
purchase articles of daily need in the smallest quantities. They buy,
therefore, at the greatest disadvantage, and yet at the dearest rates. I
am told it is not a rare thing for them to buy inferior qualities of
flour at six cents a pound, or $11.88 a barrel, while another man buys
a month's supply at a time for $4 or $5 a barrel. This may be an extreme
case, but I know that in some places in this city, an inferior article
is now retailed to them at $7.92 the barrel. So it is with all kinds of
food; they are bought in the smallest quantities, and at a rate which a
rich man would think ruinous. Is not the poor man, too, most often
cheated in the weight and the measure? So it is whispered. "He has no
friends," says the sharper; "others have broken him to fragments, I will
grind him to powder!" And the grinding comes.

Such being the case, the poor man finds it difficult to get a cent
beforehand. I know rich men tell us that capital is at the mercy of
labor. That may be prophecy; it is not history; not fact. Uneducated
labor, brute force without skill, is wholly at the mercy of capital. The
capitalist can control the market for labor, which is all the poor man
has to part with. The poor cannot combine as the rich. True, a mistake
is sometimes made, and the demand for labor is greater than the supply,
and the poor man's wages are increased. This result was doubtless God's
design, but was it man's intention? The condition of the poor has
hitherto been bettered, not so much by the design of the strong, as by
God making their wrath and cupidity serve the weak.

Under such circumstances, what marvel that the poor man becomes
unthrifty, reckless and desperate? I know how common it is to complain
of the extravagance of the poor. Often there is reason for the
complaint. It is a wrong thing, and immoral, for a man with a dependent
family to spend all his earnings, if it be possible to live with less. I
think many young men are much to be blamed, for squandering all their
wages to please a dainty palate, or to dress as fine as a richer man,
making only the heart of their tailor foolishly glad. Such men may not
be poor now, but destine themselves to be the fathers of poor children.
After making due allowance, it must be confessed that much of the
recklessness of the poor comes unavoidably from their circumstances;
from their despair of ever being comfortable, except for a moment at a
time. Every one knows that unmerited wealth tempts a man to squander,
while few men know, what is just as true, that hopeless poverty does the
same thing. As the tortured Indian will sleep, if his tormentor pause
but a moment, so the poor man, grown reckless and desperate, forgets the
future storms, and wastes in revel the solitary gleam of sunlight which
falls on him. It is nature speaking through his soul.

Now consider the moral temptations before such men. Here is wealth,
food, clothing, comfort, luxury, gold, the great enchanter of this age,
and but a plank betwixt it and them. Nay, they are shut from it only by
a pane of glass thin as popular justice, and scarcely less brittle! They
feel the natural wants of man; the artificial wants of men in cities.
They are indignant at their social position, thrust into the mews and
the kennels of the land. They think some one is to blame for it. A man
in New England does not believe it God's will he should toil for ever,
stinting and sparing only to starve the more slowly to death, overloaded
with work, with no breathing time but the blessed Sunday. They see
others doing nothing, idle as Solomon's lilies, yet wasting the unearned
bread God made to feed the children of the poor. They see crowds of idle
women elegantly clad, a show of loveliness, a rainbow in the streets,
and think of the rag which does not hide their daughter's shame. They
hear of thousands of baskets of costly wine imported in a single ship,
not brought to recruit the feeble, but to poison the palate of the
strong. They begin to ask if wealthy men and wise men have not forgotten
their brothers, in thinking of their own pleasure! It is not the poor
alone who ask that. In the midst of all this, what wonder is it if they
feel desirous of revenge; what wonder that stores and houses are broken
into, and stables set afire! Such is the natural effect of misery like
that; it is but the voice of our brother's blood crying to God against
us all. I wonder not that it cries in robbery and fire. The jail and the
gallows will not still that voice, nor silence the answer. I wonder at
the fewness of crimes, not their multitude. I must say that, if goodness
and piety did not bear a greater proportion to the whole development of
the poor than the rich, their crimes would be tenfold. The nation sets
the poor an example of fraud, by making them pay highest on all local
taxes; of theft, by levying the national revenue on persons, not
property. Our navy and army set them the lesson of violence; and, to
complete their schooling, at this very moment we are robbing another
people of cities and lands, stealing, burning, and murdering, for lust
of power and gold. Everybody knows that the political action of a nation
is the mightiest educational influence in that nation. But such is the
doctrine the State preaches to them, a constant lesson of fraud, theft,
violence and crime. The literature of the nation mocks at the poor,
laughing in the popular journals at the poor man's inevitable crime. Our
trade deals with the poor as tools, not men. What wonder they feel
wronged! Some city missionary may dawdle the matter as he will; tell
them it is God's will they should be dirty and ignorant, hungry, cold
and naked. Now and then a poor woman starving with cold and hunger may
think it true. But the poor know better; ignorant as they are, they know
better. Great Nature speaks when you and I are still. They feel
neglected, wronged, and oppressed. What hinders them from following the
example set by the nation, by society, by the strong? Their inertness,
their cowardice, and, what does not always restrain abler men, their
fear of God! With cultivated men, the intellect is often developed at
the expense of conscience and religion. With the poor this is more
seldom the case.

The misfortunes of the poor do not end here. To make their degradation
total, their name infamous, we have shut them out of our churches. Once
in our Puritan meeting-houses, there were "body seats" for the poor; for
a long time free galleries, where men sat and were not ashamed. Now it
is not so. A Christian society about to build a church, and having
$50,000, does not spend $40,000 for that, making it a church for all,
and keep $10,000 as a fund for the poor. No, it borrows $30,000 more,
and then shuts the poor out of its bankrupt aisles. A high tower, or a
fine-toned bell, yes, marble and mahogany, are thought better than the
presence of these little ones whom God wills not to perish. I have heard
ministers boast of the great men, and famous, who sat under their
preaching; never one who boasted that the poor came into his church, and
were fed, body and soul! You go to our churches--the poor are not in
them. They are idling and lounging away their day of rest, like the
horse and the ox. Alas me, that the apostles, that the Christ himself
could not worship in our churches, till he sold his garment and bought a
pew! Many of our houses of public worship would be well named, "Churches
for the affluent." Yet religion is more to the poor man than to the
rich. What wonder then, if the poor lose self-respect, when driven from
the only churches where it is thought respectable to pray!

This class of men are perishing; yes, perishing in the nineteenth
century; perishing in Boston, wealthy, charitable Boston; perishing soul
and body, contrary to God's will; and perishing all the worse because
they die slow, and corrupt by inches. As things now are, their mortality
is hardly a curse. The Methodists are right in telling them this world
is a valley of tears; it is almost wholly so to them; and Heaven a long
June day, full of rest and plenty. To die is their only gain; their only
hope. Think of that, you who murmur because money is "tight," because
your investment gives only twenty per cent. a year, or because you are
taxed for half your property, meaning to move off next season; think of
that, you who complain because the democrats are in power to-day, and
you who tremble lest the whigs shall be in '49; think of that, you who
were never hungry, nor athirst; who are sick, because you have nothing
else to do, and grumble against God, from mere emptiness of soul, and
for amusement's sake; think of men, who, if wise, do not dare to raise
the human prayer for life, but for death, as the only gain, the only
hope, and you will give over your complaint, your hands stopping your

What shall become of the children of such men? They stand in the
fore-front of the battle, all unprotected as they are; a people
scattered and peeled, only a miserable remnant reaches the age of ten!
Look about your streets, and see what does become of such as live,
vagrant and idle boys. Ask the police, the constables, the jails; they
shall tell you what becomes of the sons. Will a white lily grow in a
common sewer; can you bleach linen in a tan-pit? Yes, as soon as you can
rear a virtuous population, under such circumstances. Go to any State
Prison in the land, and you shall find that seven-eighths of the
convicts came from this class, brought there by crimes over which they
had no control; crimes which would have made you and me thieves and
pirates. The characters of such men are made for them, far more than by
them. There is no more vice, perhaps, born into that class; they have no
more "inherited sin" than any other class in the land; all the
difference, then, between the morals and manners of rich and poor, is
the result of education and circumstances.

The fate of the daughters of the poor is yet worse. Many of them are
doomed to destruction by the lust of men, their natural guardians and
protectors. Think of an able, "respectable" man, comfortable, educated
and "Christian," helping debase a woman, degrade her in his eyes, her
eyes, the eyes of the world! Why it is bad enough to enslave a man, but
thus to enslave a woman--I have no words to speak of that. The crime
and sin, foul, polluting and debasing all it touches, has come here to
curse man and woman, the married and the single, and the babe unborn! It
seems to me as if I saw the Genius of this city stand before God,
lifting his hands in agony to heaven, crying for mercy on woman,
insulted and trodden down, for vengeance on man, who treads her thus
infamously into the dust. The vengeance comes, not the mercy. Misery in
woman is the strongest inducement to crime. Where self-respect is not
fostered; where severe toil hardly holds her soul and body together amid
the temptations of a city, and its heated life, it is no marvel to me
that this sin should slay its victims, finding woman an easy prey.

Let me follow the children of the poor a step further--I mean to the
jail. Few men seem aware of the frightful extent of crime amongst us,
and the extent of the remedy, more awful yet. In less than one year,
namely, from the 9th of June, 1845, to the 2d of June, 1846, there were
committed to your House of Correction, in this city, 1,228 persons, a
little more than one out of every fifty-six in the whole population that
is more than ten years old. Of these 377 were women; 851 men. Five were
sentenced for an indefinite period, and forty-seven for an additional
period of solitary imprisonment. In what follows, I make no account of
that. But the whole remaining period of their sentences amounts to more
than 544 years, or 198,568 days. In addition to this, in the year ending
with June 9, 1846, we sent from Boston to the State Prison, thirty-five
more, and for a period of 18,595 days, of which 205 were solitary. Thus
it appears that the illegal and convicted crime of Boston, in one year,
was punished by imprisonment for 217,163 days. Now as Boston contains
but 114,366 persons of all ages, and only 69,112 that are over ten years
of age, it follows that the imprisonment of citizens of Boston for crime
in one year, amounts to more than one day and twenty-one hours, for each
man, woman, and child, or to more than three days and three hours, for
each one over ten years of age. This seems beyond belief, yet in making
the estimate, I have not included the time spent in jail before
sentence; I have left out the solitary imprisonment in the House of
Correction; I have said nothing of the 169 children, sentenced for crime
to the House of Reformation in the same period.

What is the effect of this punishment on society at large? I will not
now attempt to answer that question. What is it on the criminals
themselves? Let the jail-books answer. Of the whole number, 202 were
sentenced for the second time; 131 for the third; 101 for the fourth;
thirty-eight for the fifth; forty for the sixth; twenty-nine for the
seventh; twenty-three for the eighth; twelve for the ninth; fifty for
the tenth time, or more; and of the criminals punished for the tenth
time, thirty-one were women! Of the thirty-five sent to the State
Prison, fourteen had been there before; of the 1,228 sent to the House
of Correction, only 626 were sent for the first time.

There are two classes, the victims of society, and the foes of society,
the men that organize its sins, and then tell us nobody is to blame. May
God deal mercifully with the foes; I had rather take my part with the
victims. Yet is there one who wishes to be a foe to mankind?

Here are the sons of the poor, vagrant in your streets, shut out by
their misery from the culture of the age; growing up to fill your jails,
to be fathers of a race like themselves, and to be huddled into an
infamous grave. Here are the daughters of the poor, cast out and
abandoned, the pariahs of our civilization, training up for a life of
shame and pollution, and coming early to a miserable end. Here are the
poor, daughters and sons, excluded from the refining influences of
modern life, shut out of the very churches by that bar of gold,
ignorant, squalid, hungry and hopeless, wallowing in their death! Are
these the results of modern civilization; this in the midst of the
nineteenth century, in a Christian city full of churches and gold; this
in Boston, which adds $13,000,000 a year to her actual wealth? Is that
the will of God? Tell it not in China; whisper it not in New Holland,
lest the heathen turn pale with horror, and send back your
missionaries, fearing they shall pollute the land!

       *       *       *       *       *

There is yet another class of little ones. I mean the intemperate.
Within the last few years it seems that drunkenness has increased. I
know this is sometimes doubted. But if this fact is not shown by the
increased number of legal convictions for the crime, it is by the sight
of drunken men in public and not arrested. I think I have not visited
the city five times in the last ten months without seeing more or less
men drunk in the streets. The cause of this increase it seems to me is
not difficult to discover. All great movements go forward by
undulations, as the waves of the rising tide come up the beach. Now
comes a great wave reaching far up the shore, and then recedes. The
next, and the next, and the next falls short of the highest mark; yet
the tide is coming in all the while. You see this same undulation in
other popular movements; for example, in politics. Once the great wave
of democracy broke over the central power, washing it clean. Now the
water lies submissive beneath that rock, and humbly licks its feet. In
some other day the popular wave shall break with purifying roar clean
over that haughty stone and wash off the lazy barnacles, heaps of
corrupting drift-weed, and deadly monsters of the deep. By such
seemingly unsteady movements do popular affairs get forward. The
reformed drunkards, it is said, were violent, ill-bred, theatrical, and
only touched the surface. Many respectable men withdrew from the work
soon as the Washingtonians came to it. It was a pity they did so; but
they did. I think the conscience of New England did not trust the
reformed men; that also is a pity. They seem now to have relaxed their
efforts in a great measure, perhaps discouraged at the coldness with
which they have in some quarters been treated. I know not why it is, but
they do not continue so ably the work they once begun. Besides, the
State, it was thought, favored intemperance. It was for a long time
doubted if the license-laws were constitutional; so they were openly set
at nought, for wicked men seize on doubtful opportunities. Then, too,
temperance had gone, a few years ago, as far as it could be expected to
go until certain great obstacles were removed. Many leading men in the
land were practically hostile to temperance, and, with some remarkable
exceptions, still are. The sons of the pilgrims, last Forefathers' day,
could not honor the self-denial of the Puritans without wine! The Alumni
of Harvard University could never, till this season, keep their holidays
without strong drink.[18] If rich men continue to drink without need,
the poor will long continue to be drunk. Vices, like decayed furniture,
go down. They keep their shape, but become more frightful. In this way
the refined man who often drinks, but is never drunk, corrupts hundreds
of men whom he never saw, and without intending it becomes a foe to

Then, too, some of our influential temperance men aid us no longer.
Beecher is not here; Channing and Ware have gone to their reward. That
other man,[19] benevolent and indefatigable, where is he? He trod the
worm of the still under his feet, but the worm of the pulpit stung him,
and he too is gone; that champion of temperance, that old man eloquent,
driven out of Boston. Why should I not tell an open secret?--driven out
by rum and the Unitarian clergy of Boston.

Whatsoever the causes may be, I think you see proofs enough of the fact,
that drunkenness has increased within the last few years. You see it in
the men drunken in the streets, in the numerous shops built to gratify
the intemperate man. Some of these are elegant and costly, only for the
rich; others so mean and dirty, that one must be low indeed to wallow
therein. But the same thing is there in both, rum, poison-drink. Many of
these latter are kept by poor men, and the spider's web of the law now
and then catches one of them, though latterly but seldom here.
Sometimes they are kept, and, perhaps, generally owned, by rich men who
drive through the net. I know how hard it is to see through a dollar,
though misery stand behind it, if the dollar be your own, and the misery
belong to your brother. I feel pity for the man who helps ruin his race,
who scatters firebrands and death throughout society, scathing the heads
of rich and poor, and old and young. I would speak charitably of such an
one as of a fellow-sinner. How he can excuse it to his own conscience is
his affair, not mine. I speak only of the fact. For a poor man there may
be some excuse; he has no other calling whereby to gain his bread; he
would not see his own children beg, nor starve, nor steal! To see his
neighbor go to ruin and drag thither his children and wife, was not so
hard. But it is not the shops of the poor men that do most harm! Had
there been none but these, they had long ago been shut, and intemperance
done with. It is not poor men that manufacture this poison; nor they who
import it, or sell by the wholesale. If there were no rich men in this
trade there would soon be no poor ones! But how does the rich man
reconcile it to his conscience? I cannot answer that.

It is difficult to find out the number of drink-shops in the city. The
assessors say there are eight hundred and fifty; another authority makes
the number twelve hundred. Let us suppose there are but one thousand. I
think that much below the real number, for the assistant assessors
found three hundred in a single ward! These shops are open morning and
night. More is sold on Sunday, it is said, than any other day in the
week! While you are here to worship your Father, some of your brothers
are making themselves as beasts; yes, lower. You shall probably see them
at the doors of these shops as you go home; drunk in the streets this
day! To my mind, the retailers are committing a great offence. I am no
man's judge, and cannot condemn even them. There is one that judgeth. I
cannot stand in the place of any man's conscience. I know well enough
what is sin; God, only, who is a sinner. Yet I cannot think the poor man
that retails, half so bad as the rich man who distils, imports, or sells
by wholesale the infamous drug. He knew better, and cannot plead poverty
as the excuse of his crime.

Let me mention some of the statistics of this trade before I speak of
its effects. If there are one thousand drink-shops, and each sells
liquor to the amount of only six dollars a day, which is the price of
only one hundred drams, or two hundred at the lowest shops, then we have
the sum of $2,190,000 paid for liquor to be drunk on the spot every
year. This sum is considerably more than double the amount paid for the
whole public education of the people in the entire State of
Massachusetts! In Boston alone, last year, there were distilled,
2,873,623 gallons of spirit. In five years, from 1840 to 1845, Boston
exported 2,156,990, and imported 2,887,993 gallons. They burnt up a man
the other day, at the distillery in Merrimack street. You read the story
in the daily papers, and remember how the by-standers looked on with
horror to see the wounded man attempting with his hands to fend off the
flames from his naked head! Great Heaven! It was not the first man that
distillery has burned up! No, not by thousands. You see men about your
streets, all afire; some half-burnt down; some with all the soul burned
out, only the cinders left of the man, the shell and wall, and that
tumbling and tottering, ready to fall. Who of you has not lost a
relative, at least a friend, in that withering flame, that terrible
_Auto da fe_, that hell-fire on earth?

Let us look away from that. I wish we could look on something to efface
that ghastly sight. But see the results of this trade. Do you wonder at
the poverty just now spoken of; at the vagrant children? In the Poor
House at Albany, at one time, there were 633 persons, and of them 615
were intemperate! Ask your city authorities how many of the poor are
brought to their Almshouse directly or remotely by intemperance! Do you
wonder at the crime which fills your jails, and swells the tax of county
and city? Three fourths of the petty crime in the State comes from this
source directly or remotely. Your jails were never so full before! When
the parents are there, what is left for the children? In Prussia, the
Government which imprisons the father takes care of the children, and
sends them to school. Here they are forced into crime.

As I gave some statistics of the cause, let me also give some of the
effects. Two years ago your Grand Jury reports that one of the city
police, on Sunday morning, between the hours of twelve and two, in
walking from Cornhill square to Cambridge street, passed more than one
hundred persons more or less drunk! In 1844 there were committed to your
House of Correction, for drunkenness, 453 persons; in 1845, 595; in
1846, up to the 24th of August, that is, in seven months and twenty-four
days, 446. Besides there have been already in this year, 396 complained
of at the Police Court and fined, but not sent to the House of
Correction. Thus, in seven months and twenty-four days, 842 persons have
been legally punished for public drunkenness. In the last two months and
a half 445 persons were thus punished. In the first twenty-four days of
this month, ninety-four! In the last year there were 4,643 persons
committed to your watch-houses, more than the twenty-fifth of the whole
population. The thousand drink-shops levy a direct tax of more than
$2,000,000. That is only the first outlay. The whole ultimate cost in
idleness, sickness, crime, death and broken hearts--I leave you to
calculate that! The men who live in the lower courts, familiar with the
sinks of iniquity, speak of this crime as "most awful!" Yet in this
month and the last, there were but nine persons indicted for the illegal
sale of the poison which so wastes the people's life! The head of your
Police and the foreman of your last Grand Jury are prominent in that

Does the Government know of these things; know of their cause? One would
hope not. The last Grand Jury in their public report, after speaking
manfully of some actual evils, instead of pointing at drunkenness and
bar-rooms, direct your attention "to the increased number of omnibuses
and other large carriages in the streets."

       *       *       *       *       *

These are sad things to think of in a Christian church. What shall we do
for all these little ones that are perishing? "Do nothing," say some.
"Am I my brother's keeper?" asked the first Cain, after killing that
brother. He thought the answer would be, "No! you are not." But he was
his brother's keeper, and Abel's blood cried from the ground for
justice, and God heard it. Some say we can do nothing. I will never
believe that a city which in twelve years can build near a thousand
miles of railroad, hedge up the Merrimack and the lakes of New
Hampshire; I will never believe that a city, so full of the hardiest
enterprise and the noblest charity, cannot keep these little ones from
perishing. Why the nation can annex new States and raise armies at
uncounted cost. Can it not extirpate pauperism, prevent intemperance,
pluck up the causes of the present crime? All that is lacking is the
prudent will!

It seems as if something could easily be done to send the vagrant
children to school; at least to give them employment, and so teach them
some useful art. If some are Catholics, and will not attend the
Protestant schools, perhaps it would be as possible to have a special
and separate school for the Irish as for the Africans. It was recently
proposed in a Protestant assembly to found Sunday Schools, with Catholic
teachers for Catholic children. The plan is large and noble, and
indicates a liberality which astonishes one even here, where some men
are ceasing to be sectarian and becoming human. Much may be done to
bring many of the children to our Sunday and week-day schools, as they
now are, and so brands be snatched from the burning. The State Farm
School for juvenile offenders, which a good man last winter suggested to
your Legislature, will doubtless do much for these idle boys, and may be
the beginning of a greater and better work. Could the State also take
care of the children when it locks the parents in a jail, there would be
a nearer approach to justice and greater likelihood of obtaining its
end. Still the laws act cumbrously and slow. The great work must be done
by good men, acting separately or in concert, in their private way. You
are your brother's keeper; God made you so. If you are rich,
intelligent, refined and religious, why you are all the more a keeper to
the poor, the weak, the vulgar and the wicked. In the pauses of your
work there will be time to do something. In the unoccupied hours of the
Sunday there is yet leisure to help a brother's need. If there are times
when you are disposed to murmur at your own hard lot, though it is not
hard; or hours when grief presses heavy on your heart, go and look after
these children, find them employment, and help them to start in life;
you will find your murmurings are ended, and your sorrow forgot.

It does not seem difficult to do something for the poor. It would be
easy to provide comfortable and convenient houses and at a reasonable
rate. The experiment has been tried by one noble-hearted man, and thus
far works well. I trust the same plan, or one better, if possible, will
soon be tried on a larger scale, and so repeated, till we are free from
that crowding together of miserable persons, which now disgraces our
city. It seems to me that a store might be established where articles of
good quality should be furnished to the poor at cost. Something has
already been done in this way, by the "Trade's Union," who need it much
less. A practical man could easily manage the details of such a scheme.
All reform and elevation of this class of men must begin by mending
their circumstances, though of course it must not end there. Expect no
improvement of men that are hungry, naked, and cold. Few men respect
themselves in that condition. Hope not of others what would be
impossible for you!

You may give better pay when that is possible. I can hardly think it the
boast of a man, that he has paid less for his labor than any other in
his calling. But it is a common boast, though to me it seems the glory
of a pirate! I cannot believe there is that sharp distinction between
week-day religion and Sunday religion, or between justice and charity,
that is sometimes pretended. A man both just and charitable would find
his charity run over into his justice, and the mixture improve its
quality. When I remember that all value is the result of work, and see
likewise that no man gets rich by his own work, I cannot help thinking
that labor is often wickedly underpaid, and capital sometimes as grossly
over-fed. I shall believe that capital is at the mercy of labor, when
the two extremes of society change places. Is it Christian or manly to
reduce wages in hard times, and not raise them in fair times? and not
raise them again in extraordinary times? Is it God's will that large
dividends and small wages should be paid at the same time? The duty of
the employer is not over, when he has paid "the hands" their wages.
Abraham is a special providence for Eliezer, as God, the universal
providence, for both. The usages of society make a sharp distinction
between the rich and poor; but I cannot believe the churches have done
wisely, by making that distinction appear through separating the two, in
their worship. The poor are, undesignedly, driven out of the respectable
churches. They lose self-respect; lose religion. Those that remain, what
have they gained by this expulsion of their brothers? A beautiful and
costly house, but a church without the poor. The Catholics were wiser
and more humane than that. I cannot believe the mightiest abilities and
most exquisite culture were ever too great to preach and apply
Christianity among the poor; and that "the best sermons would be wasted
on them." Yet such has not been the practical decision here! I trust we
shall yet be able to say of all our churches, however costly, "There the
rich and poor meet together." They are now equally losers by the
separation. The seventy ministers of Boston--how much they can do for
this class of little ones, if they will!

It has been suggested by some kindly and wise men, that there should be
a Prisoners' Home established, where the criminal, on being released
from jail, could go and find a home and work. As the case now is, there
is almost no hope for the poor offender. "Legal justice" proves often
legal vengeance, and total ruin to the poor wretch on whom it falls; it
grinds him to powder! All reform of criminals, without such a place,
seems to me worse than hopeless. If possible, such an institution seems
more needed for the women, than even for the men: but I have not now
time to dwell on this theme. You know the efforts of two good men
amongst us, who, with slender means, and no great encouragement from the
public, are indeed the friends of the prisoner.[20] God bless them in
their labors.

We can do something in all these schemes for helping the poor. Each of
us can do something in his own sphere, and now and then step out of that
sphere to do something more. I know there are many amongst you, who only
require a word before they engage in this work, and some who do not
require even that, but are more competent than I to speak that word.
Your Committee of Benevolent Action have not been idle. Their works
speak for them.

       *       *       *       *       *

For the suppression of intemperance, redoubled efforts must be made. Men
of wealth, education and influence must use their strength of nature, or
position, to protect their brothers, not drive them down to ruin.
Temperance cannot advance much further among the people, until this
class of men lend their aid; at least, until they withdraw the obstacles
they have hitherto and so often opposed to its progress. They must
forbear the use, as well as the traffic. I cannot but think the time is
coming, when he who makes or sells this poison as a drink, will be
legally ranked with other poisoners, with thieves, robbers, and
house-burners; when a fortune acquired by such means will be thought
infamous, as one now would be if acquired by piracy! I know good men
have formerly engaged in this trade; they did it ignorantly. Now, we
know the unavoidable effects thereof. I trust the excellent example
lately set by the Government of the University, will be followed at all
public festivals.

We must still have a watchful eye on the sale of this poison. It is not
the low shops which do the most harm, but the costly tippling-houses
which keep the low ones in countenance, and thus shield them from the
law and public feeling. It seems as if a law were needed, making the
owner of a tippling-house responsible for the illegal sale of liquors
there. Then the real offender might be reached, who now escapes the
meshes of the law.

It has long ago been suggested that a Temperance Home was needed for the
reformation of the unfortunate drunkard. It is plain that the jail does
not reform him. Those sent to jail for drunkenness are, on the average,
sentenced no less than five times; some of them, fifteen or twenty
times! Of what use to shut a man in a jail, and release him with the
certainty that he will come out no better, and soon return for the same
offence? When as much zeal and ability are directed to cure this
terrible public malady, as now go to increase it, we shall not thus
foolishly waste our strength. You all know how much has been done by one
man in this matter;[21] that in four years he saved three hundred
drunkards from the prison, two hundred of whom have since done well! If
it be the duty of the State to prevent crime, not avenge it, is it not
plain what is the way?

However, a reform in this matter will be permanent only through a deeper
and wider reform elsewhere. Drunkenness and theft in its various illegal
forms, are confined almost wholly to the poorest class. So long as there
is unavoidable misery, like the present, pauperism and popular
ignorance; so long as thirty-seven are crowded into one house, and that
not large; so long as men are wretched and without hope, there will be
drunkenness. I know much has been done already; I think drunkenness will
never be respectable again, or common amongst refined and cultivated
men; it will be common among the ignorant, the outcast and the
miserable, so long as the present causes of poverty, ignorance and
misery continue. For that continuance, and the want, the crime, the
unimaginable wretchedness and death of heart which comes thereof, it is
not these perishing little ones, but the strong that are responsible
before God! It will not do for your grand juries to try and hide the
matter by indicting "omnibuses and other large carriages;" the voice of
God cries, Where is thy brother?--and that brother's blood answers from
the ground.

What I have suggested only palliates effects; it removes no cause;--of
that another time. These little ones are perishing here in the midst of
us. Society has never seriously sought to prevent it, perhaps has not
been conscious of the fact. It has not so much legislated for them as
against them. Its spirit is hostile to them. If the mass of able-headed
men were in earnest about this, think you they would allow such
unthrifty ways, such a waste of man's productive energies? Never! no,
never. They would repel the causes of this evil as now an invading army.
The removal of these troubles must be brought about by a great change in
the spirit of society. Society is not Christian in form or spirit. So
there are many who do not love to hear Christianity preached and
applied, but to have some halting theology set upon its crutches. They
like, on Sundays, to hear of the sacrifice, not to have mercy and
goodness demanded of them. A Christian State after the pattern of that
divine man, Jesus--how different it would be from this in spirit and in

Taking all this whole State into account, things, on the whole, are
better here, than in any similar population, after all these evils. I
think there can be no doubt of that; better now, on the whole, than
ever before. A day's work will produce a greater quantity of needful
things than hitherto. So the number of little ones that perish is
smaller than heretofore, in proportion to the whole mass. I do not
believe the world can show such examples of public charity as this city
has afforded in the last fifty years. Alas! we want the justice which
prevents causes no less than the charity which palliates effects. See
yet the unnatural disparity in man's condition: bloated opulence and
starving penury in the same street! See the pauperism, want,
licentiousness, intemperance and crime in the midst of us; see the havoc
made of woman; see the poor deserted by their elder brother, while it is
their sweat which enriches your ground, builds your railroads, and piles
up your costly houses. The tall gallows stands in the back-ground of
society, overlooking it all; where it should be the blessed gospel of
the living God.

What we want to remove the cause of all this is the application of
Christianity to social life. Nothing less will do the work. Each of us
can help forward that by doing the part which falls in his way.
Christianity, like the eagle's flight, begins at home. We can go
further, and do something for each of these classes of little ones. Then
we shall help others do the same. Some we may encourage to practical
Christianity by our example; some we may perhaps shame. Still more, we
can ourselves be pure, manly, Christian; each of us that, in heart and
life. We can build up a company of such, men of perpetual growth. Then
we shall be ready not only for this special work now before us, to
palliate effects, but for every Christian and manly duty when it comes.
Then, if ever some scheme is offered which is nobler and yet more
Christian than what we now behold, it will find us booted, and girded,
and road-ready.

I look to you to do something in this matter. You are many; most of you
are young. I look to you to set an example of a noble life, human, clean
and Christian, not debasing these little ones, but lifting them up. Will
you cause them to perish; you? I know you will not. Will you let them
perish? I cannot believe it. Will you not prevent their perishing?
Nothing less is your duty.

Some men say they will do nothing to help liberate the slave, because he
is afar off, and "our mission is silence!" Well--here are sufferers in a
nearer need. Do you say, I can do but little to Christianize society!
Very well, do that little, and see if it does not amount to much, and
bring its own blessing--the thought that you have given a cup of cold
water to one of the little ones. Did not Jesus say, "Inasmuch as ye have
done it unto one of the least of these ye have done it unto me?"

Since last we met, one of our number[22] has taken that step in life
commonly called death. He was deeply interested and active in the
movement for the perishing classes of men. After his spirit had passed
on, a woman whom he had rescued, and her children with her, from
intemperance and ruin, came and laid her hand on that cold forehead
whence the kindly soul had fled, and mourning that her failures had
often grieved his heart before, vowed solemnly to keep steadfast
forever, and go back to evil ways no more! Who would not wish his
forehead the altar for such a vow? what nobler monument to a good man's
memory! The blessing of those ready to perish fell on him. If his hand
cannot help us, his example may.


[16] This evil is now happily removed, and all men rejoice in a cheap
and abundant supply of pure water.

[17] See the valuable tables and remarks, by Mr. Shattuck, in his Census
of Boston, pp. 136-177.

[18] For this much needed reform at the academical table, we are
indebted to the Hon. Edward Everett, the President of Harvard College.
For this he deserves the hearty thanks of the whole community.

[19] Rev. John Pierpont.

[20] The editors of the "Prisoners' Friend."

[21] Mr. John Augustus.

[22] Nathaniel F. Thayer, aged 29.


22, 1846.


    As a nail sticketh fast between the joinings of the stones;
    so doth sin stick close between buying and selling.

I ask your attention to a Sermon of Merchants, their Position,
Temptations, Opportunities, Influence and Duty. For the present purpose,
men may be distributed into four classes.

I. Men who create new material for human use, either by digging it out
of mines and quarries, fishing it out of the sea, or raising it out of
the land. These are direct producers.

II. Men who apply their head and hands to this material and transform it
into other shapes, fitting it for human use; men that make grain into
flour and bread, cotton into cloth, iron into needles or knives, and the
like. These are indirect producers; they create not the material, but
its fitness, use, or beauty. They are manufacturers.

III. Men who simply use these things, when thus produced and
manufactured. They are consumers.

IV. Men who buy and sell: who buy to sell, and sell to buy the more.
They fetch and carry between the other classes. These are distributors;
they are the Merchants. Under this name I include the whole class who
live by buying and selling, and not merely those conventionally called
merchants, to distinguish them from small dealers. This term comprises
traders behind counters and traders behind desks; traders neither behind
counters nor desks.

There are various grades of merchants. They might be classed and
symbolized according as they use a basket, a wheelbarrow, a cart, a
stall, a booth, a shop, a warehouse, counting-room, or bank. Still all
are the same thing--men who live by buying and selling. A ship is only a
large basket, a warehouse, a costly stall. Your peddler is a small
merchant going round from house to house with his basket to mediate
between persons; your merchant only a great peddler sending round from
land to land with his ships to mediate between nations. The Israelitish
woman who sits behind a bench in her stall on the Rialto at Venice,
changing gold into silver and copper, or loaning money to him who leaves
hat, coat, and other collaterals in pledge, is a small banker. The
Israelitish man who sits at Frankfort on the Maine, changes drafts into
specie, and lends millions to men who leave in pledge a mortgage on the
States of the Church, Austria or Russia--is a pawnbroker and
money-changer on a large scale. By this arithmetic, for present
convenience, all grades of merchants are reduced to one
denomination--men who live by buying and selling.

All these four classes run into one another. The same man may belong to
all at the same time. All are needed. At home a merchant is a mediator
to go between the producer and the manufacturer; between both and the
consumer. On a large scale he is the mediator who goes between
continents, between producing and manufacturing States, between both and
consuming countries. The calling is founded in the state of society, as
that in a compromise between man's permanent nature and transient
condition. So long as there are producers and consumers, there must be
distributors. The value of the calling depends on its importance; its
usefulness is the measure of its respectability. The most useful calling
must be the noblest. If it is difficult, demanding great ability and
self-sacrifice, it is yet more noble. A useless calling is disgraceful;
one that injures mankind--infamous. Tried by this standard, the
producers seem nobler than the distributors; they than the mere
consumers. This may not be the popular judgment now, but must one day
become so, for mankind is slowly learning to judge by the natural law
published by Jesus--that he who would be greatest of all, must be most
effectively the servant of all.

There are some who do not seem to belong to any of the active classes,
who are yet producers, manufacturers, and distributors by their head,
more than their hand; men who have fertile heads, producers,
manufacturers, and distributors of thought, active in the most creative
way. Here, however, the common rule is inverted: the producers are
few--men of genius; the manufacturers many--men of talent; the
distributors--men of tact, men who remember, and talk with tongue or
pen, their name is legion. I will not stop to distribute them into their
classes, but return to the merchant.

The calling of the merchant acquires a new importance in modern times.
Once nations were cooped up, each in its own country and language. Then
war was the only mediator between them. They met but on the
battle-field, or in solemn embassies to treat for peace. Now trade is
the mediator. They meet on the exchange. To the merchant, no man who can
trade is a foreigner. His wares prove him a citizen. Gold and silver are
cosmopolitan. Once, in some of the old governments, the magistrates
swore, "I will be evil-minded towards the people, and will devise
against them the worst thing I can." Now they swear to keep the laws
which the people have made. Once the great question was, How large is
the standing army? Now, What is the amount of the national earnings?
Statesmen ask less about the ships of the line, than about the ships of
trade. They fear an over-importation oftener than a war, and settle
their difficulties in gold and silver, not as before with iron. All
ancient states were military; the modern mercantile. War is getting out
of favor as property increases and men get their eyes open. Once every
man feared death, captivity, or at least robbery in war; now the worst
fear is of bankruptcy and pauperism.

This is a wonderful change. Look at some of the signs thereof. Once
castles and forts were the finest buildings; now exchanges, shops,
custom-houses, and banks. Once men built a Chinese wall to keep out the
strangers--for stranger and foe were the same; now men build railroads
and steamships to bring them in. England was once a strong-hold of
robbers, her four seas but so many castle-moats; now she is a great
harbor with four ship-channels. Once her chief must be a bold, cunning
fighter; now a good steward and financier. Not to strike a hard blow,
but to make a good bargain is the thing. Formerly the most enterprising
and hopeful young men sought fame and fortune in deeds of arms; now an
army is only a common sewer, and most of those who go to the war, if
they never return, "have left their country for their country's good."
In days gone by, constructive art could build nothing better than
hanging gardens, and the pyramids--foolishly sublime; now it makes
docks, canals, iron roads and magnetic telegraphs. Saint Louis, in his
old age, got up a crusade, and saw his soldiers die of the fever at
Tunis; now the King of the French sets up a factory, and will clothe his
people in his own cottons and woollens. The old Douglas and Percy were
clad in iron, and harried the land on both sides of the Tweed; their
descendants now are civil-suited men who keep the peace. No girl
trembles, though "All the blue bonnets are over the border." The warrior
has become a shopkeeper.

    "Lord Stafford mines for coal and salt;
    The Duke of Norfolk deals in malt,
      The Douglas in red herrings;
    And noble name and cultured land,
    Palace and park, and vassal band,
    Are powerless to the notes of hand
      Of Rothschild or the Barings."

Of merchants there are three classes.

I. Merchant-producers, who deal in labor applied to the direct creation
of new material. They buy labor and land, to sell them in corn, cotton,
coal, timber, salt, and iron.

II. Merchant-manufacturers, who deal in labor applied to transforming
that material. They buy labor, wool, cotton, silk, water-privileges and
steam-power, to sell them all in finished cloth.

III. Merchant-traders, who simply distribute the article raised or
manufactured. These three divisions I shall speak of as one body.
Property is accumulated labor; wealth or riches a great deal of
accumulated labor. As a general rule, merchants are the only men who
become what we call rich. There are exceptions, but they are rare, and
do not affect the remarks which are to follow. It is seldom that a man
becomes rich by his own labor employed in producing or manufacturing. It
is only by using other men's labor that any one becomes rich. A man's
hands will give him sustenance, not affluence. In the present condition
of society this is unavoidable; I do not say in a normal condition, but
in the present condition.

       *       *       *       *       *

Here in America the position of this class is the most powerful and
commanding in society. They own most of the property of the nation. The
wealthy men are of this class; in practical skill, administrative
talent, in power to make use of the labor of other men, they surpass all
others. Now, wealth is power, and skill is power--both to a degree
unknown before. This skill and wealth are more powerful with us than any
other people, for there is no privileged caste, priest, king, or noble,
to balance against them. The strong hand has given way to the able and
accomplished head. Once head armor was worn on the outside, and of
brass, now it is internal and of brains.

To this class belongs the power both of skill and of wealth, and all the
advantages which they bring. It was never so before in the whole history
of man. It is more so in the United States than in any other place. I
know the high position of the merchants in Venice, Pisa, Florence,
Nuremberg and Basel, in the middle ages and since. Those cities were
gardens in a wilderness, but a fringe of soldiers hung round their
turreted walls; the trader was dependent on the fighter, and though
their merchants became princes, they were yet indebted to the sword, and
not entirely to their calling, for defence. Their palaces were half
castles, and their ships full of armed men. Besides those were little
States. Here the merchant's power is wholly in his gold and skill. Rome
is the city of priests; Vienna for nobles; Berlin for scholars; the
American cities for merchants. In Italy the roads are poor, the
banking-houses humble; the cots of the laborer mean and bare, but
churches and palaces are beautiful and rich. God is painted as a pope.
Generally in Europe, the clergy, the soldiers, and the nobles are the
controlling class. The finest works of art belong to them, represent
them, and have come from the corporation of priests, or the corporation
of fighters. Here a new era is getting symbolized in our works of art.
They are banks, exchanges, custom-houses, factories, railroads. These
come of the corporation of merchants; trade is the great thing. Nobody
tries to secure the favor of the army or navy--but of the merchants.

Once there was a permanent class of fighters. Their influence was
supreme. They had the power of strong arms, of disciplined valor, and
carried all before them. They made the law and broke it. Men complained,
grumbling in their beard, but got no redress. They it was that possessed
the wealth of the land. The producer, the manufacturer, the distributor
could not get rich: only the soldier, the armed thief, the robber. With
wealth they got its power; by practice gained knowledge, and so the
power thereof; or, when that failed, bought it of the clergy, the only
class possessing literary and scientific skill. They made their calling
"noble," and founded the aristocracy of soldiers. Young men of talent
took to arms. Trade was despised and labor was menial. Their science is
at this day the science of kings. When graziers travel they look at
cattle; weavers at factories; philanthropists at hospitals; dandies at
their equals and coadjutors; and kings at armies. Those fighters made
the world think that soldiers were our first men, and murder of their
brothers the noblest craft in the world; the only honorable and manly
calling. The butcher of swine and oxen was counted vulgar--the butcher
of men and women great and honorable. Foolish men of the past think so
now; hence their terror at orations against war; hence their admiration
for a red coat; their zeal for some symbol of blood in their family
arms; hence their ambition for military titles when abroad. Most foolish
men are more proud of their ambiguous Norman ancestor who fought at the
battle of Hastings--or fought not--than of all the honest mechanics and
farmers who have since ripened on the family tree. The day of the
soldiers is well-nigh over. The calling brings low wages and no honor.
It opens with us no field for ambition. A passage of arms is a passage
that leads to nothing. That class did their duty at that time. They
founded the aristocracy of soldiers--their symbol the sword. Mankind
would not stop there. Then came a milder age and established the
aristocracy of birth--its symbol the cradle, for the only merit of that
sort of nobility, and so its only distinction, is to have been born. But
mankind who stopped not at the sword, delays but little longer at the
cradle; leaping forward it founds a third order of nobility, the
aristocracy of gold, its symbol the purse. We have got no further on.
Shall we stop there? There comes a to-morrow after every to-day, and no
child of time is just like the last. The aristocracy of gold has faults
enough, no doubt, this feudalism of the nineteenth century. But it is
the best thing of its kind we have had yet; the wisest, the most human.
We are going forward and not back. God only knows when we shall stop,
and where. Surely not now, nor here.

Now the merchants in America occupy the place which was once held by the
fighters and next by the nobles. In our country we have balanced into
harmony the centripetal power of the government, and the centrifugal
power of the people: so have national unity of action, and individual
variety of action--personal freedom. Therefore a vast amount of talent
is active here which lies latent in other countries, because that
harmony is not established there. Here the army and navy offer few
inducements to able and aspiring young men. They are fled to as the last
resort of the desperate, or else sought for their traditional glory, not
their present value. In Europe, the army, the navy, the parliament or
the court, the church and the learned professions offer brilliant prizes
to ambitious men. Thither flock the able and the daring. Here such men
go into trade. It is better for a man to have set up a mill than to have
won a battle. I deny not the exceptions. I speak only of the general
rule. Commerce and manufactures offer the most brilliant
rewards--wealth, and all it brings. Accordingly the ablest men go into
the class of merchants. The strongest men in Boston, taken as a body,
are not lawyers, doctors, clergymen, book-wrights, but merchants. I deny
not the presence of distinguished ability in each of those professions;
I am now again only speaking of the general rule. I deny not the
presence of very weak men, exceedingly weak in this class; their money
their only source of power.

The merchants then are the prominent class; the most respectable, the
most powerful. They know their power, but are not yet fully aware of
their formidable and noble position at the head of the nation. Hence
they are often ashamed of their calling; while their calling is the
source of their wealth, their knowledge, and their power, and should be
their boast and their glory. You see signs of this ignorance and this
shame: there must not be shops under your Athenæum, it would not be in
good taste; you may store tobacco, cider, rum, under the churches, out
of sight, you must have no shop there; it would be vulgar. It is not
thought needful, perhaps not proper, for the merchant's wife and
daughter to understand business, it would not be becoming. Many are
ashamed of their calling, and, becoming rich, paint on the doors of
their coach, and engrave on their seal, some lion, griffin, or unicorn,
with partisans and maces to suit; arms they have no right to, perhaps
have stolen out of some book of heraldry. No man paints thereon a box of
sugar, or figs, or candles couchant; a bale of cotton rampant; an axe, a
lapstone, or a shoe hammer saltant. Yet these would be noble, and
Christian withal. The fighters gloried in their horrid craft, and so
made it pass for noble, but with us a great many men would be thought
"the tenth transmitter of a foolish face," rather than honest artists of
their own fortune; prouder of being born than of having lived never so

In virtue of its strength and position, this class is the controlling
one in politics. It mainly enacts the laws of this State and the nation;
makes them serve its turn. Acting consciously or without consciousness,
it buys up legislators when they are in the market; breeds them when the
market is bare. It can manufacture governors, senators, judges, to suit
its purposes, as easily as it can make cotton cloth. It pays them money
and honors; pays them for doing its work, not another's. It is fairly
and faithfully represented by them. Our popular legislators are made in
its image; represent its wisdom, foresight, patriotism and conscience.
Your Congress is its mirror.

This class is the controlling one in the churches, none the less, for
with us fortunately the churches have no existence independent of the
wealth and knowledge of the people. In the same way it buys up the
clergymen, hunting them out all over the land; the clergymen who will do
its work, putting them in comfortable places. It drives off such as
interfere with its work, saying, "Go starve, you and your children!" It
raises or manufactures others to suit its taste.

The merchants build mainly the churches, endow theological schools; they
furnish the material sinews of the church. Hence the metropolitan
churches are in general as much commercial as the shops.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now from this position, there come certain peculiar temptations. One is
to an extravagant desire of wealth. They see that money is power, the
most condensed and flexible form thereof. It is always ready; it will
turn any way. They see that it gives advantages to their children which
nothing else will give. The poor man's son, however well born,
struggling for a superior education, obtains his culture at a monstrous
cost; with the sacrifice of pleasure, comfort, the joys of youth, often
of eyesight and health. He must do two men's work at once--learn and
teach at the same time. He learns all by his soul, nothing from his
circumstances. If he have not an iron body as well as an iron head, he
dies in that experiment of the cross. The land is full of poor men who
have attained a superior culture, but carry a crippled body through all
their life. The rich man's son needs not that terrible trial. He learns
from his circumstances, not his soul. The air about him contains a
diffused element of thought. He learns without knowing it. Colleges open
their doors; accomplished teachers stand ready; science and art, music
and literature, come at the rich man's call. All the outward means of
educating, refining, elevating a child, are to be had for money, and for
money alone.

Then, too, wealth gives men a social position, which nothing else save
the rarest genius can obtain, and which that, in the majority of cases
lacking the commercial conscience, is sure not to get. Many men prize
this social rank above every thing else, even above justice and a life

Since it thus gives power, culture for one's children, and a
distinguished social position, rank amongst men, for the man and his
child after him, there is a temptation to regard money as the great
object of life, not a means but an end; the thing a man is to get even
at the risk of getting nothing else. It "answereth all things." Here and
there you find a man who has got nothing else. Men say of such an one,
"He is worth a million!" There is a terrible sarcasm in common speech,
which all do not see. He is "worth a million," and that is all; not
worth truth, goodness, piety; not worth a man. I must say, I cannot but
think there are many such amongst us. Most rich men, I am told, have
mainly gained wealth by skill, foresight, industry, economy, by
honorable painstaking, not by trick. It may be so. I hope it is. Still
there is a temptation to count wealth the object of life--the thing to
be had if they have nothing else.

The next temptation is to think any means justifiable which lead to that
end,--the temptation to fraud, deceit, to lying in its various forms,
active and passive; the temptation to abuse the power of this natural
strength, or acquired position, to tyrannize over the weak, to get and
not give an equivalent for what they get. If a man get from the world
more than he gives an equivalent for, to that extent he is a beggar and
gets charity, or a thief and steals; at any rate, the rest of the world
is so much the poorer for him. The temptation to fraud of this sort, in
some of its many forms, is very great. I do not believe that all trade
must be gambling or trickery, the merchant a knave or a gambler. I know
some men say so. But I do not believe it. I know it is not so now; all
actual trade, and profitable too, is not knavery. I know some become
rich by deceit. I cannot but think these are the exceptions; that the
most successful have had the average honesty and benevolence, with more
than the average industry, foresight, prudence and skill. A man foresees
future wants of his fellows, and provides for them; sees new resources
hitherto undeveloped, anticipates new habits and wants; turns wood,
stone, iron, coal, rivers and mountains to human use, and honestly earns
what he takes. I am told, by some of their number, that the merchants of
this place rank high as men of integrity and honor, above mean cunning,
but enterprising, industrious and far-sighted. In comparison with some
other places, I suppose it is true. Still I must admit the temptation to
fraud is a great one; that it is often yielded to. Few go to a great
extreme of deceit--they are known and exposed: but many to a
considerable degree. He that makes haste to be rich is seldom innocent.
Young men say it is hard to be honest; to do by others as you would wish
them to do by you. I know it need not be so. Would not a reputation for
uprightness and truth be a good capital for any man, old or young?

This class owns the machinery of society, in great measure,--the ships,
factories, shops, water privileges, houses and the like. This brings
into their employment large masses of working men, with no capital but
muscles or skill. The law leaves the employed at the employer's mercy.
Perhaps this is unavoidable. One wishes to sell his work dear, the other
to get it cheap as he can. It seems to me no law can regulate this
matter, only conscience, reason, the Christianity of the two parties.
One class is strong, the other weak. In all encounters of these two, on
the field of battle, or in the market-place, we know the result: the
weaker is driven to the wall. When the earthen and iron vessel strike
together, we know beforehand which will go to pieces. The weaker class
can seldom tell their tale, so their story gets often suppressed in the
world's literature, and told only in outbreaks and revolutions. Still
the bold men who wrote the Bible, Old Testament and New, have told
truths on this theme which others dared not tell--terrible words which
it will take ages of Christianity to expunge from the world's memory.

There is a strong temptation to use one's power of nature or position to
the disadvantage of the weak. This may be done consciously or
unconsciously. There are examples enough of both. Here the merchant
deals in the labor of men. This is a legitimate article of traffic, and
dealing in it is quite indispensable in the present condition of
affairs. In the Southern States, the merchant, whether producer,
manufacturer or trader, owns men and deals in their labor, or their
bodies. He uses their labor, giving them just enough of the result of
that labor to keep their bodies in the most profitable working state;
the rest of that result he steals for his own use, and by that residue
becomes rich and famous. He owns their persons and gets their labor by
direct violence, though sanctioned by law. That is slavery. He steals
the man and his labor. Here it is possible to do a similar thing: I mean
it is possible to employ men and give them just enough of the result of
their labor to keep up a miserable life, and yourself take all the rest
of the result of that labor. This may be done consciously or otherwise,
but legally, without direct violence, and without owning the person.
This is not slavery, though only one remove from it. This is the tyranny
of the strong over the weak; the feudalism of money; stealing a man's
work, and not his person. The merchants as a class are exposed to this
very temptation. Sometimes it is yielded to. Some large fortunes have
been made in this way. Let me mention some extreme cases; one from
abroad, one near at home. In Belgium the average wages of men in
manufactories is less than twenty-seven cents a day. The most skilful
women in that calling can earn only twenty cents a day, and many very
much less.[23] In that country almost every seventh man receives charity
from the public: the mortality of operatives, in some of the cities, is
ten per cent. a year! Perhaps that is the worst case which you can find
on a large scale even in Europe. How much better off are many women in
Boston who gain their bread by the needle? yes a large class of women in
all our great cities? The ministers of the poor can answer that; your
police can tell of the direful crime to which necessity sometimes drives
women whom honest labor cannot feed!

I know it will be said, "Buy in the cheapest market and sell in the
dearest; get work at the lowest wages." Still there is another view of
the case, and I am speaking to men whose professed religion declares
that all are brothers, and demands that the strong help the weak.
Oppression of this sort is one fertile source of pauperism and crime.
How much there is of it I know not, but I think men seldom cry unless
they are hurt. When men are gathered together in large masses, as in the
manufacturing towns, if there is any oppression of this sort, it is sure
to get told of, especially in New England. But when a small number are
employed, and they isolated from one another, the case is much harder.
Perhaps no class of laborers in New England is worse treated than the
hired help of small proprietors.

Then, too, there is a temptation to abuse their political power to the
injury of the nation, to make laws which seem good for themselves, but
are baneful to the people; to control the churches, so that they shall
not dare rebuke the actual sins of the nation, or the sins of trade, and
so the churches be made apologizers for lowness, practising infidelity
as their sacrament, but in the name of Christ and God. The ruling power
in England once published a volume of sermons, as well as a book of
prayers, which the clergy were commanded to preach. What sort of a
gospel got recommended therein, you may easily guess; and what is
recommended by the class of merchants in New England, you may as easily

       *       *       *       *       *

But if their temptations are great, the opportunities of this class for
doing good are greater still. Their power is more readily useful for
good than ill, as all power is. In their calling they direct and
control the machinery, the capital, and thereby the productive labor of
the whole community. They can as easily direct that well as ill; for the
benefit of all, easier than to the injury of any one. They can discover
new sources of wealth for themselves, and so for the nation; they can
set on foot new enterprises, which shall increase the comfort and
welfare of man to a vast degree, and not only that, but enlarge also the
number of men, for that always greatens in a nation, as the means of
living are made easy. They can bind the rivers, teaching them to weave
and spin. The introduction of manufactures into England, and the
application of machinery to that purpose, I doubt not has added some
millions of new lives to her population in the present century--millions
that otherwise would never have lived at all. The introduction of
manufactures into the United States, the application of water-power and
steam-power to human work, the construction of canals and railroads, has
vastly increased the comforts of the living. It helps civilize, educate
and refine men; yes, leads to an increase of the number of lives. There
are men to whom the public owes a debt which no money could pay, for it
is a debt of life. What adequate sum of gold, or what honors could
mankind give to Columbus, to Faustus, to Fulton, for their works? He
that did the greatest service ever done to mankind got from his age a
bad name and a cross for his reward. There are men whom mankind are to
thank for thousands of lives; yet men who hold no lofty niche in the
temple of fame.

By their control of the Legislature the merchants can fashion more
wisely the institutions of the land, promote the freedom of all, break
off traditionary yokes, help forward the public education of the people
by the establishment of public schools, public academies, and public
colleges. They can frame particular statutes which help and encourage
the humble and the weak, laws which prevent the causes of poverty and
crime, which facilitate for the poor man the acquisition of property,
enabling him to invest his earnings in the most profitable stocks,--laws
which bless the living, and so increase the number of lives. They can
thus help organize society after the Christian idea, and promote the
kingdom of heaven. They can make our jails institutions which really
render their inmates better, and send them out whole men, safe and
sound. We have seen them do this with lunatics, why not with those poor
wretches whom now we murder? They too can found houses of cure for
drunkards, and men yet more unfortunate when released from our prisons.

By their control of the churches, and all our seminaries, public and
private, they can encourage freedom of thought; can promote the public
morals by urging the clergy to point out and rebuke the sins of the
nation, of society, the actual sins of men now living; can encourage
them to separate theology from mythology, religion from theology, and
then apply that religion to the State, to society and the individual;
can urge them to preach both parts of religion--morality, the love of
man, and piety, the love of God, setting off both by an appeal to that
great soul who was Christianity in one person. In this way they have an
opportunity of enlarging tenfold the practical value of the churches,
and helping weed licentiousness, intemperance, want, and ignorance and
sin, clean out of man's garden here. With their encouragement, the
clergy would form a noble army contending for the welfare of men--the
church militant, but preparing to be soon triumphant. Thus laboring,
they can put an end to slavery, abolish war, and turn all the nation's
creative energies to production--their legitimate work.

Then they can promote the advance of science, of literature, of the
arts--the useful and the beautiful. We see what their famed progenitors
did in this way at Venice, Florence, Genoa. I know men say that art
cannot thrive in a republic. An opportunity is offered now to prove the
falsehood of that speech, to adorn our strength with beauty. A great
amount of creative, artistic talent is rising here and seeks employment.

They can endow hospitals, colleges, normal schools, found libraries and
establish lectures for the welfare of all. He that has the wealth of a
king may spend it like a king, not for ostentation, but for use. They
can set before men examples of industry, economy, truth, justice,
honesty, charity, of religion at her daily work, of manliness in
life--all this as no other men. Their charities need not stare you in
the face; like violets their fragrance may reach you before you see
them. The bare mention of these things recalls the long list of
benefactors, names familiar to you all--for there is one thing which
this city was once more famous for than her enterprise, and that is her
Charity--the charity which flows in public;--the noiseless stream that
shows itself only in the greener growth which marks its path.

       *       *       *       *       *

Such are the position, temptations, opportunities of this class. What is
their practical influence on Church and State--on the economy of
mankind? what are they doing in the nation? I must judge them by the
highest standard that I know, the standard of justice, of absolute
religion, not out of my own caprice. Bear with me while I attempt to
tell the truth, which I have seen. If I see it not, pity me and seek
better instruction where you can find it. But if I see a needed truth,
and for my own sake refuse to speak, bear with me no more. Bid me then
repent. I am speaking of men, strong men too, and shall not spare the

There is always a conservative element in society; yes, an element
which resists the further application of Christianity to public affairs.
Once the fighters and their children were uppermost, and represented
that element. Then the merchants were reformatory, radical, in collision
with the nobles. They were "Whigs"--the nobles were "Tories." The
merchants formed themselves into companies, and got power from the crown
to protect themselves against the nobles, whom the crown also feared. It
is so in England now. The great revolution in the laws of trade lately
effected there, was brought about by the merchants, though opposed by
the lords. The anti-corn law league was a trades-union of merchants
contending against the owners of the soil. There the lord of land, and
by birth, is slowly giving way to the lord of money, who is powerful by
his knowledge or his wealth. There will always be such an element in
society. Here I think it is represented by the merchants. They are
backward in all reforms, excepting such as their own interest demands.
Thus they are blind to the evils of slavery, at least silent about them.
How few commercial or political newspapers in the land ever seriously
oppose this great national wickedness! Nay, how many of them favor its
extension and preservation! A few years ago, in this very city, a mob of
men, mainly from this class, it is said, insulted honest women peaceably
met to consult for the welfare of Christian slaves in a Christian
land--met to pray for them! A merchant of this city says publicly, that
a large majority of his brethren would kidnap a fugitive slave in
Boston; says it with no blush and without contradiction.[24] It was men
of this class who opposed the abolition of the slave-trade, and had it
guaranteed them for twenty years after the formation of the
Constitution; through their instigation that this foul blot was left to
defile the Republic and gather blackness from age to age; through their
means that the nation stands before the world pledged to maintain it.
They could end slavery at once, at least could end the national
connection with it, but it is through their support that it continues;
that it acquires new strength, new boldness, new territory, darkens the
nation's fame and hope, delays all other reformations in Church and
State and the mass of the people. Yes, it is through their influence
that the chivalry, the wisdom, patriotism, eloquence, yea, religion of
the free States, are all silent when the word slavery is pronounced.

The Senate of Massachusetts represents this more than any other class.
But all last winter it could not say one word against the wickedness of
this sin, allowed to live and grow greater in the land.[25] Just before
the last election something could be said! Do speech and silence mean
the same thing?

This class opposed abolishing imprisonment for debt, thinking it
endangered trade. They now oppose the progress of temperance and the
abolition of the gallows. They see the evils of war; they cannot see its
sin; will sustain men who help plunge the nation into its present
disgraceful and cowardly conflict; will encourage foolish young men to
go and fight in this wicked war. A great man said, or is reported to
have said, that perhaps it is not an American habit to consider the
natural justice of a war, but to count its cost! A terrible saying that!
There is a Power which considers its Justice, and will demand of us the
blood we have wickedly poured out; blood of Americans, blood of the
Mexicans! They favor indirect taxation, which is taxing the poor for
the benefit of the rich; they continue to support the causes of poverty;
as a class they are blind to this great evil of popular ignorance--the
more terrible evils of licentiousness, drunkenness and crime! They can
enrich themselves by demoralizing their brothers. I wish it was an
American habit to count the cost of that. Some "fanatic" will consider
its justice. If they see these evils they look not for their cause; at
least, strive not to remove that cause. They have long known that every
year more money is paid in Boston for poison drink to be swallowed on
the spot, a drink which does no man any good, which fills your asylums
with paupers, your jails with criminals, and houses with unutterable
misery in father, mother, wife and child,--more money every year than it
would take to build your new aqueduct and bring abundance of water fresh
to every house![26] If they have not known it, why it was their fault,
for the fact was there crying to Heaven against us all. As they are the
most powerful class, the elder brothers, American nobles if you will, it
was their duty to look out for their weaker brother. No man has strength
for himself alone. To use it for one's self alone, that is a sin. I do
not think they are conscious of the evil they do, or the evils they
allow. I speak not of motives, only of facts.

This class controls the State. The effects of that control appear in our
legislation. I know there are some noble men in political life, who have
gone there with the loftiest motives, men that ask only after what is
right. I honor such men--honor them all the more because they seem
exceptions to a general rule; men far above the spirit of any class. I
must speak of what commonly takes place. Our politics are chiefly
mercantile, politics in which money is preferred, and man postponed.
When the two come into collision, the man goes to the wall and the
street is left clear for the dollars. A few years ago in monarchical
France a report was made of the condition of the working population in
the large manufacturing towns--a truthful report, but painful to read,
for it told of strong men oppressing the weak.[27] I do not believe that
such an undisguised statement of the good and ill could be tolerated in
democratic America; no, not of the condition of men in New England; and
what would be thought of a book setting forth the condition of the
laboring men and women of the South? I know very well what is thought of
the few men who attempt to tell the truth on this subject. I think there
is no nation in Europe, except Russia and Turkey, which cares so little
for the class which reaps down its harvests and does the hard work.
When you protect the rights of all, you protect also the property of
each and by that very act. To begin the other way is quite contrary to
nature. But our politicians cannot say too little for men, nor too much
for money. Take the politicians most famous and honored at this day, and
what have they done? They have labored for a tariff, or for free trade;
but what have they done for man? nay, what have they attempted?--to
restore natural rights to men notoriously deprived of them;
progressively to elevate their material, moral, social condition? I
think no one pretends it. Even in proclamations for Thanksgiving and
days of prayer, it is not the most needy we are bid remember. Public
sins are not pointed out to be repented of. Slaveholding States shut up
in their jails our colored seamen soon as they arrive in a southern
port. A few years ago, at a time of considerable excitement here on the
slavery question, a petition was sent from this place by some merchants
and others, to one of our Senators, praying Congress to abate that evil.
For a long time that Senator could find no opportunity to present the
petition. You know how much was said and what was done! Had the South
demanded every tenth or twentieth bale of "domestics" coming from the
North; had a petition relative to that grievance been sent to Congress,
and a Senator unreasonably delayed to present it--how much more would
have been said and done; when he came back he would have been hustled
out of Boston! When South Carolina and Louisiana sent home our
messengers--driving them off with reproach, insult, and danger of their
lives--little is said and nothing done. But if the barbarous natives of
Sumatra interfere with our commerce, why, we send a ship and lay their
towns in ruins and murder the men and women! We all know that for some
years Congress refused to receive petitions relative to slavery; and we
know how tamely that was borne by the class who commonly control
political affairs! What if Congress had refused to receive petitions
relative to a tariff, or free trade, to the shipping interest, or the
manufacturing interest? When the rights of men were concerned, three
million men, only the "fanatics" complained. The political newspapers
said "Hush!"

The merchant-manufacturers want a protective tariff; the
merchant-importers, free trade; and so the national politics hinge upon
that question. When Massachusetts was a carrying State, she wanted free
trade; now a manufacturing State, she desires protection. That is all
natural enough; men wish to protect their interests, whatsoever they may
be. But no talk is made about protecting the labor of the rude man, who
has no capital, nor skill, nothing but his natural force of muscles. The
foreigner underbids him, monopolizing most of the brute labor of our
large towns and internal improvements. There is no protection, no talk
of protection for the carpenter, or the bricklayer. I do not complain of
that. I rejoice to see the poor wretches of the old world finding a home
where our fathers found one before. Yet if we cared for men more than
for money, and were consistent with our principles of protection, why,
we should exclude all foreign workmen, as well as their work, and so
raise the wages of the native hands. That would doubtless be very
foolish legislation--but perhaps not, on that account, very strange. I
know we are told that without protection, our hand-worker, whose capital
is his skill, cannot compete with the operative of Manchester and
Brussels, because that operative is paid but little. I know not if it be
true, or a mistake. But who ever told us such men could not compete with
the slave of South Carolina who is paid nothing? We have legislation to
protect our own capital against foreign capital; perhaps our own labor
against the "pauper of Europe;" why not against the slave labor of the
Southern States? Because the controlling class prefers money and
postpones man. Yet the slave-breeder is protected. He has, I think, the
only real monopoly in the land. No importer can legally spoil his
market, for the foreign slave is contraband. If I understand the matter,
the importation of slaves was allowed, until such men as pleased could
accumulate their stock. The reason why it was afterwards forbidden I
think was chiefly a mercantile reason: the slave-breeder wanted a
monopoly, for God knows and you know that it is no worse to steal grown
men in Africa than to steal new born babies in Maryland, to have them
born for the sake of stealing them. Free labor may be imported, for it
helps the merchant-producer and the merchant-manufacturer. Slave labor
is declared contraband, for the merchant-slave-breeders want a monopoly.

This same preference of money over men appears in many special statutes.
In most of our manufacturing companies the capital is divided into
shares so large that a poor man cannot invest therein! This could easily
be avoided. A man steals a candlestick out of a church, and goes to the
State Prison for a year and a day. Another quarrels with a man, maims
him for life, and is sent to the common jail for six months. A bounty is
paid, or was until lately, on every gallon of intoxicating drink
manufactured here and sent out of the country. If we begin with taking
care of the rights of man, it seems easy to take care of the rights of
labor and of capital. To begin the other way is quite another thing. A
nation making laws for the nation is a noble sight. The Government of
all, by all, and for all, is a democracy. When that Government follows
the eternal laws of God, it is founding what Christ called the kingdom
of heaven. But the predominating class making laws not for the nation's
good, but only for its own, is a sad spectacle; no reasoning can make
it other than a sorry sight. To see able men prostituting their talents
to such a work, that is one of the saddest sights! I know all other
nations have set us the example, yet it is painful to see it followed,
and here.

Our politics, being mainly controlled by this class, are chiefly
mercantile, the politics of peddlers. So political management often
becomes a trick. Hence we have many politicians, and raise a harvest of
them every year, that crop never failing, party-men who can legislate
for a class; but we have scarce one great statesman who can step before
his class, beyond his age, and legislate for a whole nation, leading the
people and giving us new ideas to incarnate in the multitude, his word
becoming flesh. We have not planters, but trimmers! A great statesman
never came of mercantile politics, only of politics considered as the
national application of religion to life. Our political morals, you all
know what they are, the morals of a huckster. This is no new thing; the
same game was played long ago in Venice, Pisa, Florence, and the result
is well known. A merely mercantile politician is very sharp-sighted and
perhaps far-sighted, but a dollar will cover the whole field of his
vision and he can never see through it. The number of slaves in the
United States is considerably greater than our whole population when we
declared Independence, yet how much talk will a tariff make, or a
public dinner; how little the welfare of three million men! Said I not
truly, our most famous politicians are, in the general way, only
mercantile party-men? Which of these men has shown the most interest in
those three million slaves? The man who in the Senate of a Christian
Republic valued them at twelve hundred million dollars! Shall
respectable men say, "We do not care what sort of a Government the
people have, so long as we get our dividends." Some say so; many men do
not say that, but think so and act accordingly! The Government,
therefore, must be so arranged that they get their dividends.

This class of men buys up legislators, consciously or not, and pays
them, for value received. Yes, so great is its daring and its conscious
power, that we have recently seen our most famous politician bought up,
the stoutest understanding that one finds now extant in this whole
nineteenth century, perhaps the ablest head since Napoleon. None can
deny his greatness, his public services in times past, nor his awful
power of intellect. I say we have seen him, a Senator of the United
States, pensioned by this class, or a portion thereof, and thereby put
mainly in their hands! When a whole nation rises up and publicly throws
its treasures at the feet of a great man who has stood forth manfully
contending for the nation, and bids him take their honors and their gold
as a poor pay for noble works, why that sight is beautiful, the
multitude shouting hosanna to their King, and spreading their garments
underneath his feet! Man is loyal, and such honors so paid, and to such,
are doubly gracious; becoming alike to him that takes and those who
give. Yes, when a single class, to whom some man has done a great
service, goes openly and makes a memorial thereof in gold and honors
paid to him, why that also is noble and beautiful. But when a single
class, in a country where political doings are more public than
elsewhere in the whole world, secretly buys up a man, in high place and
world-famous, giving him a retaining fee for life, why the deed is one I
do not wish to call by name! Could such men do this without a secret
shame? I will never believe it of my countrymen.[28] A gift blinds a
wise man's eyes, perverts the words even of the righteous, stopping his
mouth with gold so that he cannot reprove a wrong! But there is an
absolute justice which is neither bought nor sold! I know other nations
have done the same and with like effect. Fight with silver weapons, said
the Delphic oracle, and you'll conquer all. It has always been the craft
of despots to buy up aspiring talent; some with a title; some with gold.
Allegiance to the sovereign is the same thing on both sides of the
water, whether the sovereign be an eagle or a guinea. Some American, it
is said, wrote the Lord's Prayer on one side of a dime, and the Ten
Commandments on the other. The Constitution and a considerable
commentary might perhaps be written on the two sides of a dollar!

This class controls the Churches, as the State. Let me show the effect
of that control. I am not to try men in a narrow way, by my own
theological standard, but by the standard of manliness and Christianity.
As a general rule, the clergy are on the side of power. All history
proves this, our own most abundantly. The clergy also are unconsciously
bought up, their speech paid for, or their silence. As a class, did they
ever denounce a public sin? a popular sin? Perhaps they have. Do they do
it now and here? Take Boston for the last ten years, and I think there
has been more clerical preaching against the abolitionists than against
slavery; perhaps more preaching against the temperance movement than in
its favor. With the exception of disbelieving the popular theology, your
evangelical alliance knows no sin but "original sin," unless indeed it
be "organic sins," which no one is to blame for; no sinner but Adam and
the devil; no saving righteousness but the "imputed." I know there are
exceptions, and I would go far to do them honor, pious men who lift up a
warning, yes, bear Christian testimony against public sins. I am
speaking of the mass of the clergy. Christ said the priests of his time
had made a den of thieves out of God's house of prayer. Now they conform
to the public sins and apologize for popular crime. It is a good thing
to forgive an offence: who does not need that favor and often? But to
forgive the theory of crime, to have a theory which does that, is quite
another thing. Large cities are alike the court and camp of the
mercantile class, and what I have just said is more eminently true of
the clergy in such towns. Let me give an example. Not long ago the
Unitarian clergy published a protest against American slavery. It was
moderate, but firm, and manly. Almost all the clergy in the country
signed it. In the large towns few: they mainly young men and in the
least considerable churches. The young men seemed not to understand
their contract, for the essential part of an ecclesiastical contract is
sometimes written between the lines and in sympathetic ink. Is a
steamboat burned or lost on the waters, how many preach on that
affliction! Yet how few preached against the war? A preacher may say he
hates it as a man, no words could describe his loathing at it, but as a
minister of Christ, he dares not say a word! What clergymen tell of the
sins of Boston,--of intemperance, licentiousness; who of the ignorance
of the people; who of them lays bare our public sin as Christ of old;
who tells the causes of poverty, and thousand-handed crime; who aims to
apply Christianity to business, to legislation, politics, to all the
nation's life? Once the church was the bride of Christ, living by his
creative, animating love; her children were apostles, prophets, men by
the same spirit, variously inspired with power to heal, to help, to
guide mankind. Now she seems the widow of Christ, poorly living on the
dower of other times. Nay, the Christ is not dead, and 'tis her alimony,
not her dower. Her children--no such heroic sons gather about her table
as before. In her dotage she blindly shoves them off, not counting men
as sons of Christ. Is her day gone by? The clergy answer the end they
were bred for, paid for. Will they say, "We should lose our influence
were we to tell of this and do these things?"[29] It is not true. Their
ancient influence is already gone! Who asks, "What do the clergy think
of the tariff, or free trade, of annexation, or the war, of slavery, or
the education movement?" Why no man. It is sad to say these things.
Would God they were not true. Look round you, and if you can, come tell
me they are false.

We are not singular in this. In all lands the clergy favors the
controlling class. Bossuet would make the monarchy swallow up all other
institutions, as in history he sacrificed all nations to the Jews. In
England the established clergy favors the nobility, the crown, not the
people; opposes all freedom of trade, all freedom in religion, all
generous education of the people: its gospel is the gospel for a class,
not Christ's gospel for mankind. Here also the sovereign is the head of
the church, it favors the prevailing power, represents the morality, the
piety which chances to be popular, nor less nor more; the Christianity
of the street, not of Christ.

Here trade takes the place of the army, navy, and court in other lands.
That is well, but it takes also the place in great measure of science,
art and literature. So we become vulgar, and have little but trade to
show. The rich man's son seldom devotes himself to literature, science,
or art; only to getting more money, or to living in idleness on what he
has inherited. When money is the end, what need to look for any thing
more? He degenerates into the class of consumers, and thinks it an
honor. He is ashamed of his father's blood, proud of his gold. A good
deal of scientific labor meets with no reward, but itself. In our
country this falls almost wholly upon poor men. Literature, science and
art are mainly in their hands, yet are controlled by the prevalent
spirit of the nation. Here and there an exceptional man differs from
that, but the mass of writers conform. In England, the national
literature favors the church, the crown, the nobility, the prevailing
class. Another literature is rising, but is not yet national, still less
canonized. We have no American literature which is permanent. Our
scholarly books are only an imitation of a foreign type; they do not
reflect our morals, manners, politics, or religion, not even our rivers,
mountains, sky. They have not the smell of our ground in their breath.
The real American literature is found only in newspapers and speeches,
perhaps in some novel, hot, passionate, but poor, and extemporaneous.
That is our national literature. Does that favor man--represent man?
Certainly not. All is the reflection of this most powerful class. The
truths that are told are for them, and the lies. Therein the prevailing
sentiment is getting into the form of thought. Politics represent the
morals of the controlling class, the morals and manners of rich Peter
and David on a large scale. Look at that index, you would sometimes
think you were not in the Senate of a great nation, but in a board of
brokers, angry and higgling about stocks. Once in the nation's loftiest
hour, she rose inspired and said: "All men are born equal, each with
unalienable rights; that is self-evident." Now she repents her of the
vision and the saying. It does not appear in her literature, nor church,
nor state. Instead of that, through this controlling class, the nation
says: "All dollars are equal, however got; each has unalienable rights.
Let no man question that!" This appears in literature and legislation,
church and state. The morals of a nation, of its controlling class,
always get summed up in its political action. That is the barometer of
the moral weather. The voters are always fairly represented.

       *       *       *       *       *

The wicked baron, bad of heart, and bloody of hand, has passed off with
the ages which gave birth to such a brood, but the bad merchant still
lives. He cheats in his trade; sometimes against the law, commonly with
it. His truth is never wholly true, nor his lie wholly false. He
overreaches the ignorant; makes hard bargains with men in their trouble,
for he knows that a falling man will catch at red-hot iron. He takes the
pound of flesh, though that bring away all the life-blood with it. He
loves private contracts, digging through walls in secret. No interest is
illegal if he can get it. He cheats the nation with false invoices, and
swears lies at the custom-house; will not pay his taxes, but moves out
of town on the last of April.[30] He oppresses the men who sail his
ships, forcing them to be temperate, only that he may consume the value
of their drink. He provides for them unsuitable bread and meat. He would
not engage in the African slave-trade, for he might lose his ships and
perhaps more; but he is always ready to engage in the American
slave-trade, and calls you a "fanatic" if you tell him it is the worse
of the two. He cares not whether he sells cotton or the man who wears
it, if he only gets the money; cotton or negro, it is the same to him.
He would not keep a drink-hole in Ann Street, only own and rent it. He
will bring or make whole cargoes of the poison that deals "damnation
round the land." He thinks it vulgar to carry rum about in a jug,
respectable in a ship. He makes paupers, and leaves others to support
them. Tell not him of the misery of the poor, he knows better; nor of
our paltry way of dealing with public crime, he wants more jails and a
speedier gallows. You see his character in letting his houses, his
houses for the poor. He is a stone in the lame man's shoe. He is the
poor man's devil. The Hebrew devil that so worried Job is gone; so is
the brutal devil that awed our fathers. Nobody fears them; they vanish
before cock-crowing. But this devil of the nineteenth century is still
extant. He has gone into trade, and advertises in the papers; his name
is "good" in the street. He "makes money;" the world is poorer by his
wealth. He spends it as he made it, like a devil, on himself, his family
alone, or worse yet, for show. He can build a church out of his gains,
to have his morality, his Christianity preached in it, and call that the
gospel, as Aaron called a calf--God. He sends rum and missionaries to
the same barbarians, the one to damn, the other to "save," both for his
own advantage, for his patron saint is Judas, the first saint who made
money out of Christ. Ask not him to do a good deed in private, "men
would not know it," and "the example would be lost;" so he never lets a
dollar slip out between his thumb and finger without leaving his mark on
both sides of it. He is not forecasting to discern effects in causes,
nor skilful to create new wealth, only spry in the scramble for what
others have made. It is easy to make a bargain with him, hard to settle.
In politics he wants a Government that will insure his dividends; so
asks what is good for him, but ill for the rest. He knows no right, only
power; no man but self; no God but his calf of gold.

What effect has he on young men? They had better touch poison. If he
takes you to his heart, he takes you in. What influence on society? To
taint and corrupt it all round. He contaminates trade; corrupts
politics, making abusive laws, not asking for justice but only
dividends. To the church he is the Anti-Christ. Yes, the very Devil,
and frightens the poor minister into shameful silence, or, more
shameless yet, into an apology for crime; makes him pardon the theory of
crime! Let us look on that monster--look and pass by, not without

The good merchant tells the truth and thrives by that; is upright and
downright; his word good as his Bible-oath. He pays for all he takes;
though never so rich he owns no wicked dollar; all is openly, honestly,
manfully earned, and a full equivalent paid for it. He owns money and is
worth a man. He is just in business with the strong; charitable in
dealing with the weak. His counting-room or his shop is the sanctuary of
fairness, justice, a school of uprightness as well as thrift. Industry
and honor go hand in hand with him. He gets rich by industry and
forecast, not by slight of hand and shuffling his cards to another's
loss. No men become the poorer because he is rich. He would sooner hurt
himself than wrong another, for he is a man, not a fox. He entraps no
man with lies, active or passive. His honesty is better capital than a
sharper's cunning. Yet he makes no more talk about justice and honesty
than the sun talks of light and heat; they do their own talking. His
profession of religion is all practice. He knows that a good man is just
as near heaven in his shop as in his church, at work as at prayer; so he
makes all work sacramental; he communes with God and man in buying and
selling--communion in both kinds. He consecrates his week-day and his
work. Christianity appears more divine in this man's deeds than in the
holiest words of apostle or saint. He treats every man as he wishes all
to treat him, and thinks no more of that than of carrying one for every
ten. It is the rule of his arithmetic. You know this man is a saint, not
by his creed, but by the letting of his houses, his treatment of all
that depend on him. He is a father to defend the weak, not a pirate to
rob them. He looks out for the welfare of all that he employs; if they
are his help he is theirs, and as he is the strongest so the greater
help. His private prayer appears in his public work, for in his devotion
he does not apologize for his sin, but asking to outgrow that,
challenges himself to new worship and more piety. He sets on foot new
enterprises which develop the nation's wealth and help others while they
help him. He wants laws that take care of man's rights, knowing that
then he can take care of himself and of his own, but hurt no man by so
doing. He asks laws for the weak, not against them. He would not take
vengeance on the wicked, but correct them. His justice tastes of
charity. He tries to remove the causes of poverty, licentiousness, of
all crime, and thinks that is alike the duty of Church and State. Ask
not him to make a statesman a party-man, or the churches an apology for
his lowness. He knows better; he calls that infidelity. He helps the
weak help themselves. He is a moral educator, a church of Christ gone
into business, a saint in trade. The Catholic saint who stood on a
pillar's top, or shut himself into a den and fed on grass, is gone to
his place--that Christian Nebuchadnezzar. He got fame in his day. No man
honors him now; nobody even imitates him. But the saint of the
nineteenth century is the good merchant; he is wisdom for the foolish,
strength for the weak, warning to the wicked, and a blessing to all.
Build him a shrine in bank and church, in the market and the exchange,
or build it not, no saint stands higher than this saint of trade. There
are such men, rich and poor, young and old; such men in Boston. I have
known more than one such, and far greater and better than I have told
of, for I purposely under-color this poor sketch. They need no word of
mine for encouragement or sympathy. Have they not Christ and God to aid
and bless them? Would that some word of mine might stir the heart of
others to be such; your hearts, young men. They rise there clean amid
the dust of commerce and the mechanic's busy life, and stand there like
great square pyramids in the desert amongst the Arabians' shifting
tents. Look at them, ye young men, and be healed of your folly. It is
not the calling which corrupts the man, but the men the calling. The
most experienced will tell you so. I know it demands manliness to make a
man, but God sent you here to do that work.

The duty of this class is quite plain. They control the wealth, the
physical strength, the intellectual vigor of the nation. They now
display an energy new and startling. No ocean is safe from their canvas;
they fill the valleys; they level the hills; they chain the rivers; they
urge the willing soil to double harvests. Nature opens all her stores to
them; like the fabled dust of Egypt her fertile bosom teems with new
wonders, new forces to toil for man. No race of men in times of peace
ever displayed so manly an enterprise, an energy so vigorous as this
class here in America. Nothing seems impossible to them. The instinct of
production was never so strong and creative before. They are proving
that peace can stimulate more than war.

Would that my words could reach all of this class. Think not I love to
speak hard words, and so often; say not that I am setting the poor
against the rich. It is no such thing. I am trying to set the strong in
favor of the weak. I speak for man. Are you not all brothers, rich or
poor? I am here to gratify no vulgar ambition, but in Religion's name to
tell their duty to the most powerful class in all this land. I must
speak the truth I know, though I may recoil with trembling at the words
I speak; yes, though their flame should scorch my own lips. Some of the
evils I complain of are your misfortune, not your fault. Perhaps the
best hearts in the land, no less than the ablest heads, are yours. If
the evils be done unconsciously, then it will be greatness to be higher
than society, and with your good overcome its evil. All men see your
energy, your honor, your disciplined intellect. Let them see your
goodness, justice, Christianity. The age demands of you a development of
religion proportionate with the vigor of your mind and arms. Trade is
silently making a wonderful revolution. We live in the midst of it, and
therefore see it not. All property has become movable, and therefore
power departs from the family of the first-born, and comes to the family
of mankind. God only controls this revolution, but you can help it
forward, or retard it. The freedom of labor, and the freedom of trade,
will work wonders little dreamed of yet; one is now uniting all men of
the same nation; the other, some day, will weave all tribes together
into one mighty family. Then who shall dare break its peace? I cannot
now stop to tell half the proud achievements I foresee resulting from
the fierce energy that animates your yet unconscious hearts. Men live
faster than ever before. Life, like money, like mechanical power, is
getting intensified and condensed. The application of science to the
arts, the use of wind, water, steam, electricity, for human works, is a
wonderful fact, far greater than the fables of old time. The modern
Cadmus has yoked fire and water in an iron bond. The new Prometheus
sends the fire of heaven from town to town to run his errands. We talk
by lightning. Even now these new achievements have greatly multiplied
the powers of men. They belong to no class; like air and water they are
the property of mankind. It is for you, who own the machinery of
society, to see that no class appropriates to itself what God meant for
all. Remember it is as easy to tyrannize by machinery as by armies, and
as wicked; that it is greater now to bless mankind thereby, than it was
of old to conquer new realms. Let men not curse you, as the old
nobility, and shake you off, smeared with blood and dust. Turn your
power to goodness, its natural transfiguration, and men shall bless your
name, and God bless your soul. If you control the nation's politics,
then it is your duty to legislate for the nation,--for man. You may
develop the great national idea, the equality of all men; may frame a
government which shall secure man's unalienable rights. It is for you to
organize the rights of man, thus balancing into harmony the man and the
many, to organize the rights of the hand, the head, and the heart. If
this be not done, the fault is yours. If the nation play the tyrant over
her weakest child, if she plunder and rob the feeble Indian, the feebler
Mexican, the Negro, feebler yet, why the blame is yours. Remember there
is a God who deals justly with strong and weak. The poor and the weak
have loitered behind in the march of man; our cities yet swarm with men
half-savage. It is for you, ye elder brothers, to lead forth the weak
and poor! If you do the national duty that devolves on you, then are you
the saviors of your country, and shall bless not that alone, but all the
thousand million sons of men. Toil then for that. If the church is in
your hands, then make it preach the Christian truth. Let it help the
free development of religion in the self-consciousness of man, with
Jesus for its pattern. It is for you to watch over this work, promote
it, not retard. Help build the American church. The Roman church has
been, we know what it was, and what men it bore; the English church yet
stands, we know what it is. But the church of America--which shall
represent American vigor aspiring to realize the ideas of Christianity,
of absolute religion,--that is not yet. No man has come with pious
genius fit to conceive its litany, to chant its mighty creed, and sing
its beauteous psalm. The church of America, the church of freedom, of
absolute religion, the church of mankind, where Truth, Goodness, Piety,
form one trinity of beauty, strength, and grace--when shall it come?
Soon as we will. It is yours to help it come.

For these great works you may labor; yes, you are laboring, when you
help forward justice, industry, when you promote the education of the
people; when you practise, public and private, the virtues of a
Christian man; when you hinder these seemingly little things, you hinder
also the great. You are the nation's head, and if the head be wilful
and wicked, what shall its members do and be? To this class let me say:
Remember your Position at the head of the nation; use it not as pirates,
but Americans, Christians, men. Remember your Temptations, and be warned
in time. Remember your opportunities--such as no men ever had before.
God and man alike call on you to do your duty. Elevate your calling
still more; let its nobleness appear in you. Scorn a mean thing. Give
the world more than you take. You are to serve the nation, not it you;
to build the church, not make it a den of thieves, nor allow it to
apologize for your crime, or sloth. Try this experiment and see what
comes of it. In all things govern yourselves by the eternal law of
right. You shall build up not a military despotism, nor a mercantile
oligarchy, but a State, where the government is of all, by all, and for
all; you shall found not a feudal theocracy, nor a beggarly sect, but
the church of mankind, and that Christ which is the same yesterday,
to-day and for ever, will dwell in it, to guide, to warn, to inspire,
and to bless all men. And you, my brothers, what shall you become? Not
knaves, higgling rather than earn; not tyrants, to be feared whilst
living, and buried at last amid popular hate; but men, who thrive best
by justice, reason, conscience, and have now the blessedness of just men
making themselves perfect.


[23] I gather these facts from a Review of Major Poussin's _Belgique et
les Belges, depuis 1830_, in a foreign journal. The condition of the
merchant manufacturer I know not.

[24] Subsequent events (in 1850 and 1851) show that he was right in his
statement. What was thought calumny then has become history since, and
is now the glory and boast of Boston.

[25] Mr. _Robert J. Walker_ published a letter in favor of the
annexation of Texas. In it he said: "Upon the refusal of re-annexation
shall thereafter be compelled to resort to direct taxes to support the
Government." Notwithstanding this foolish threat, a large number of
citizens of Massachusetts remonstrated against annexation. The House of
Representatives, by a large majority, passed a resolve declaring that
Massachusetts "announces her uncompromising opposition to the further
extension of American slavery," and "declares her earnest and
unalterable purpose to use every lawful and constitutional measure for
its overthrow and entire extinction," etc. But the Senate voted that the
resistance of the State was already sufficient! The passage in the text
refers to these circumstances.

[26] It was then thought that the aqueduct would cost but $2,000,000.

[27] I refer to the Report of M. Villerme, in the _Mémoires de
l'Institut, Tom._ lxxi.

[28] This was printed in 1846. In 1850, and since, these men have
publicly gloried in a similar act even more atrocious.

[29] Keble, in one of his poems, represents a mother seeing her sportive
son "enacting holy rites," and thus describes her emotions:

    "She sees in heart an empty throne,
      And falling, falling far away,
    Him whom the Lord hath placed thereon:
      She hears the dread Proclaimer say,
    'Cast ye the lot, in trembling cast,
    The traitor to his place hath past,--
    Strive ye with prayer and fast to guide
    The dangerous glory where it shall abide.'"

[30] It is the custom in Massachusetts to tax men in the place where
they reside, on the first day of May; as the taxes differ very much in
different towns of the same State, it is easy for a man to escape the
burden of taxation.




    If a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone
    astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into
    the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?

We are first babies, then children, then youths, then men. It is so with
the nation; so with mankind. The human race started with no culture, no
religion, no morals, even no manners, having only desires and faculties
within, and the world without. Now we have attained much more. But it
has taken many centuries for mankind to pass from primeval barbarism to
the present stage of comfort, science, civilization, and refinement. It
has been the work of two hundred generations; perhaps of more. But each
new child is born at the foot of the ladder, as much as the first child;
with only desires and faculties. He may have a better physical
organization than the first child; he certainly has better teachers;
but he, in like manner, is born with no culture, no religion, no morals,
even with no manners; born into them, not with them; born bare of these
things and naked as the first child. He must himself toil up the ladder
which mankind have been so long in constructing and climbing up. To
attain the present civilization he must pass over every point which the
race passed through. The child of the civilized man, born with a good
organization and under favorable circumstances, can do this rapidly, and
in thirty or forty years attains the height of development which it took
the whole human race sixty centuries or more to arrive at. He has the
aid of past experience and the examples of noble men; he travels a road
already smooth and beaten. The world's cultivation, so slowly and
painfully achieved, helps civilize him. He may then go further on, and
cultivate himself; may transcend the development of mankind, adding new
rounds to the ladder. So doing he aids future children, who will one day
climb above his head, he possibly crying against them,--that they climb
only to fall, and thereby sweep off him and all below; that no new
rounds can be added to the old ladder.

Still, after all the helps which our fathers have provided, every future
child must go through the same points which we and our predecessors
passed through, only more swiftly. Every boy has his animal period,
when he can only eat and sleep, intelligence slowly dawning on his mind.
Then comes his savage period, when he knows nothing of rights, when all
thine is mine to him, if he can get it. Then comes his barbarous period,
when he is ignorant and dislikes to learn; study and restraint are
irksome. He hates the school, disobeys his mother; has reverence for
nobody. Nothing is sacred to him--no time, nor place, nor person. He
would grow up wild. The greater part of children travel beyond this
stage. The unbearable boy becomes a tolerable youth; then a powerful
man. He loves his duty; outstrips the men that once led him so unwilling
and reluctant, and will set hard lessons for his grandsire which that
grandsire, perhaps, will not learn. The young learns of the old, mounts
the ladder they mounted and the ladder they made. The reverse is seldom
true, that the old climbs the ladder which the young have made, and over
that storms new heights. Now and then you see it, but such are
extraordinary and marvellous men. In the old story Saturn did not take
pains to understand his children, nor learn thereof; he only devoured
them up, till some outgrew and overmastered him. Did the generation that
is passing from the stage ever comprehend and fairly judge the new
generation coming on? In the world, the barbarian passes on and becomes
the civilized, then the enlightened.

In the physical process of growth from the baby to the man, there is no
direct intervention of the will. Therefore the process goes on
regularly, and we do not see abortive men who have advanced in years,
but stopped growth in their babyhood, or boyhood. But as the will is the
soul of personality, so to say, the heart of intellect, morals and
religion, so the force thereof may promote, retard, disturb, and perhaps
for a time completely arrest the progress of intellectual, moral and
religious growth. Still more, this spiritual development of men is
hindered or promoted by subtle causes hitherto little appreciated.
Hence, by reason of these outward or internal hinderances, you find
persons and classes of men who do not attain the average culture of
mankind, but stop at some lower stage of this spiritual development, or
else loiter behind the rest. You even find whole nations whose progress
is so slow, that they need the continual aid of the more civilized to
quicken their growth. Outward circumstances have a powerful influence on
this development. If a single class in a nation lingers behind the rest,
the cause thereof will commonly be found in some outward hinderance.
They move in a resisting medium, and therefore with abated speed. No one
expects the same progress from a Russian serf and a free man of New
England. I do not deny that in the case of some men personal will is
doubtless the disturbing force. I am not now to go beyond that fact, and
inquire how the will became as it is. Here is a man who, from whatever
cause, is bodily ill-born, with defective organs. He stops in the animal
period; is incapable of any considerable degree of development,
intellectual, moral, or religious. The defect is in his body. Others
disturbed by more occult causes do not attain their proper growth. This
man wishes to stop in his savage period, he would be a freebooter, a
privateer against society, having universal letters-of-marque and
reprisal; a perpetual Arab, his rule is to get what he can, as he will
and where he pleases, to keep what he gets. Another stops at the
barbarous age. He is lazy and will not work, others must bear his share
of the general burden of mankind. He claims letters patent to make all
men serve him. He is not only indolent, constitutionally lazy, but lazy,
consciously and wilfully idle. He will not work, but in one form or
another will beg or steal. Yet a fourth stops in the half-civilized
period. He will work with his hands, but no more. He cannot discover; he
will not study to learn; he will not even be taught what has been
invented and taught before. None can teach him. The horse is led to the
water, or the water brought to the horse, but the beast will not drink.
"The idle fool is whipt at school," but to no purpose. He is always an
oaf. No college or tutor mends him. The wild ass will go out free, wild,
and an ass.

These four, the idiot, the pirate, the thief, and the clown are
exceptional men. They remain stationary. Meanwhile, mankind advances,
continually, but not with an even front. The human race moves not by
column or line, but by _échelon_ as it were. We go up by stairs, not by
slopes. Now comes a great man, of far-reaching and prospective sight, a
Moses, and he tells men that there is a land of promise, which they have
a right to who have skill to win it. Then lesser men, the Calebs and
Joshuas, go and search it out, bringing back therefrom new wine in the
cluster and alluring tales. Next troops of pioneers advance, yet lesser
men; then a few bold men who love adventure. Then comes the army, the
people with their flocks and herds, the priesthood with their ark of the
covenant and the tabernacle, the title-deeds of the new lands which they
have heard of but not seen. At last there comes the mixed multitude,
following in no order, but not without shouting and tumult, men treading
one another under foot, cowards looking back and refusing to march, old
men dying without seeing their consolation. If you will lie down on the
ground and take the profile of a great city, and see how hill, steeple,
dome, tower, the roof of the tall house, gain on the sky, and then come
whole streets of warehouses and shops, then common dwellings, then
cheap, low tenements, you will have a good profile of man's march to
gain new conquests in science, art, morals, religion, and general
development. It is so in the family, a bright boy shooting before all
the rest, and taking the thunder out of the adverse cloud for his
brothers and sisters, who follow and grow rich with unscathed forehead.
It is so in the nation, a few great men bearing the brunt of the storm,
and wading through the surges to set their weaker brothers, screaming
and struggling, with dry feet, in safety, on the firm land of science or
religion. It is so in the world, a tall nation achieving art, science,
law, morals, religion, and by the fact revealing their beauty to the
barbarian race.

In all departments of human concern there are such pioneers for the
family, the nation or mankind. It is instructive to study this law of
human progress, to see the De Gamas and Columbuses, aspiring men who
dream of worlds to come and lead the perilous van; to see the Vespuccis,
the Cortezes, the Pizarros, who get rank and fame by following in their
track; to see next the merchant adventurers, soldiers, sutlers and the
like, who make money out of the new conquest, while the great
discoverers had for meet reward the joy of their genius, the nobleness
of their work, a sight of the world's future welfare from the prophet's
mountain--a hard life, a bad name, and a grave unknown.

Now while there are those men in the van of society, who aspire at more,
chiding and taxing mankind with idleness, cowardice, and even sin, there
are yet those others who loiter on the way, from weakness or wilfulness,
refusing to advance--idlers, cowards, sinners. If born in the rear,
afar from civilization, they are left to die--the savages, the inferior
races, the perishing classes of the world. If born in the centre of
civilization, for a while they impede the march by actively hindering
others, by standing in their way, or by plundering the rest--the
dangerous classes of society. They too are slain and trodden under foot
of men, and likewise perish.

In most large families there is a bad boy, a black sheep in the flock,
an Ishmael whom Abraham will drive out into the wilderness, to meet an
angel if he can find one. That story of Hagar and her son is very old,
but verified anew each year in families and nations. So in society there
are criminals who do not keep up with the moral advance of the mass,
stragglers from the march, whom society treats as Abraham his base-born
boy, but sending them off with no loaf or skin of water, not even a
blessing, but a curse; sending them off as Cain went, with a bad name
and a mark on their forehead! So in the world there are inferior
nations, savage, barbarous, half-civilized; some are inferior in nature,
some perhaps only behind us in development; on a lower form in the great
school of Providence--Negroes, Indians, Mexicans, Irish, and the like,
whom the world treats as Ishmael and the Gibeonites got treated: now
their land is stolen from them in war; their children, or their persons,
are annexed to the strong as slaves. The civilized continually preys on
the savage, reannexing their territory and stealing their
persons--owning them or claiming their work. Esau is rough and hungry,
Jacob smooth and well fed. The smooth man overreaches the rough; buys
his birthright for a mess of pottage; takes the ground from underneath
his feet, thereby supplanting his brother. So the elder serves the
younger, and the fresh civilization, strong, and sometimes it may be
wicked also, overmasters the ruder age that is contented to stop. The
young man now a barbarian will come up one day and take all our places,
making us seem ridiculous, nothing but timid conservatives!

All these three, the reputed pests of the family, society, and the
world, are but loiterers from the march, bad boys, or dull ones.
Criminals are a class of such; savages are nations thereof--classes or
nations that for some cause do not keep up with the movement of mankind.
The same human nature is in us all, only there it is not so highly
developed. Yet the bad boy, who to-day is a curse to the mother that
bore him, would perhaps have been accounted brave and good in the days
of the Conqueror; the dangerous class might have fought in the Crusades
and been reckoned soldiers of the Lord whose chance for heaven was most
auspicious. The savage nations would have been thought civilized in the
days when "there was no smith in Israel." David would make a sorry
figure among the present kings of Europe, and Abraham would be judged
of by a standard not known in his time. There have been many centuries
in which the pirate, the land-robber and the murderer were thought the
greatest of men.

Now it becomes a serious question, What shall be done for these
stragglers, or even with them? It is sometimes a terrible question to
the father and mother what they shall do for their reprobate son who is
an offence to the neighborhood, a shame, a reproach and a heart-burning
to them. It is a sad question to society, What shall be done with the
criminals--thieves, housebreakers, pirates, murderers? It is a serious
question to the world, What is to become of the humbler nations--Irish,
Mexicans, Malays, Indians, Negroes?

In the world and in society the question is answered in about the same
way. In a low civilization, the instinct of self-preservation is the
strongest of all. They are done with, not for; are done away with. It is
the Old Testament answer:--The inferior nation is hewn to pieces, the
strong possess their lands, their cities, their cattle, their persons,
also, if they will; the class of criminals gets the prophet's curse: the
two bears, the jail and the gallows, eat them up. In the family alone is
the Christian answer given; the good shepherd goes forth to seek the one
sheep that has strayed and gone, lost upon the mountains; the father
goes out after the poor prodigal, whom the swine's meat could not feed
nor fill.[31] The world, which is the society of nations, and society,
which is the family of classes, still belong mainly to the "old
dispensation," Heathen or Hebrew, the period of force. In the family
there is a certain instinctive love binding the parent to the child, and
therefore a certain unity of action, growing out of that love. So the
father feels his kinship to his boy, though a reprobate; looks for the
causes of his son's folly or sin, and strives to cure him; at least to
do something for him, not merely with him. The spirit of Christianity
comes into the family, but the recognition of human brotherhood stops
mainly there. It does not reach throughout society; it has little
influence on national politics or international law--on the affairs of
the world taken as a whole. I know the idea of human brotherhood has
more influence now than hitherto; I think in New England it has a wider
scope, a higher range, and works with more power than elsewhere. Our
hearts bleed for the starving thousands of Ireland, whom we only read
of; for the down-trodden slave, though of another race and dyed by
Heaven with another hue; yes, for the savage and the suffering
everywhere. The hand of our charity goes through every land. If there is
one quality for which the men of New England may be proud it is this,
their sympathy with suffering man. Still we are far from the Christian
ideal. We still drive out of society the Ishmaels and Esaus. This we do
not so much from ill-will as want of thought, but thereby we lose the
strength of these outcasts. So much water runs over the dam--wasted and

       *       *       *       *       *

In all these melancholy cases what is it best to do? what shall the
parents do to mend their dull boy, or their wicked one? There are two
methods which may be tried. One is the method of force, sometimes
referred to Solomon, and recommended by the maxim, "Spare not the rod
and spoil the child." That is the Old Testament way, "Stripes are
prepared for the fool's back." The mischief is, they leave it no wiser
than they found it. By the law of the Hebrews, a man brought his
stubborn and rebellious son before the magistrates and deposed: "This
our son is stubborn and rebellious: he will not obey our voice. He is a
glutton and a drunkard." Thereupon, the men of the city stoned him with
stones and so "put away the evil from amongst them!" That was the method
of force. It may bruise the body; it may fill men with fear; it may
kill. I think it never did any other good. It belonged to a rude and
bloody age. I may ask intelligent men who have tried it, and I think
they will confess it was a mistake. I think I may ask intelligent men
on whom it has been tried, and they will say, "It was a mistake on my
father's part, but a curse to me!" I know there are exceptions to that
reply; still I think it will be general. A man is seldom elevated by an
appeal to low motives; always by addressing what is high and manly
within him. Is fear of physical pain the highest element you can appeal
to in a child; the most effectual? I do not see how Satan can be cast
out by Satan. I think a Saviour never tries it. Yet this method of force
is brief and compact. It requires no patience, no thought, no wisdom for
its application, and but a moment's time. For this reason, I think, it
is still retained in some families and many schools, to the injury alike
of all concerned. Blows and violent words are not correction, often but
an adjournment of correction: sometimes only an actual confession of
inability to correct.

The other is the method of love, and of wisdom not the less. Force may
hide, and even silence effects for a time; it removes not the real
causes of evil. By the method of love and wisdom the parents remove the
causes; they do not kill the demoniac, they cast out the demon, not by
letting in Beelzebub, the chief devil, but by the finger of God. They
redress the child's folly and evil birth by their own wisdom and good
breeding. The day drives out and off the night.

Sometimes you see that worthy parents have a weak and sickly child,
feeble in body. No pains are too great for them to take in behalf of the
faint and feeble one. What self-denial of the father; what sacrifice on
the mother's part! The best of medical skill is procured; the tenderest
watching is not spared. No outlay of money, time, or sacrifice is
thought too much to save the child's life; to insure a firm constitution
and make that life a blessing. The able-bodied children can take care of
themselves, but not the weak. So the affection of father and mother
centres on this sickly child. By extraordinary attention the feeble
becomes strong; the deformed is transformed, and the grown man, strong
and active, blesses his mother for health not less than life.

Did you ever see a robin attend to her immature and callow child which
some heedless or wicked boy had stolen from the nest, wounded and left
on the ground, half living; left to perish? Patiently she brings food
and water, gives it kind nursing. Tenderly she broods over it all night
upon the ground, sheltering its tortured body from the cold air of night
and morning's penetrating dew. She perils herself; never leaves it--not
till life is gone. That is nature; the strong protecting the feeble.
Human nature may pause and consider the fowls of the air, whence the
Greatest once drew his lessons. Human history, spite of all its tears
and blood, is full of beauty and majestic worth. But it shows few things
so fair as the mother watching thus over her sickly and deformed child,
feeding him with her own life. What if she forewent her native instinct
and the mother said, "My boy is deformed, a cripple--let him die?" Where
would be the more hideous deformity?

If his child be dull, slow-witted, what pains will a good father take to
instruct him; still more if he is vicious, born with a low organization,
with bad propensities--what admonitions will he administer; what
teachers will he consult; what expedients will he try; what prayers will
he not pray for his stubborn and rebellious son! Though one experiment
fail, he tries another, and then again, reluctant to give over. Did it
never happen to one of you to be such a child, to have outgrown that
rebellion and wickedness? Remember the pains taken with you; remember
the agony your mother felt; the shame that bowed your father's head so
oft, and brought such bitter tears adown those venerable cheeks. You
cannot pay for that agony, that shame, not pay the hearts which burst
with both--yet uttering only a prayer for you. Pay it back then, if you
can, to others like yourself, stubborn and rebellious sons.

Has none of you ever been such a father or mother? You know then the sad
yearnings of heart which tried you. The world condemned you and your
wicked child, and said, "Let the elders stone him with stones. The
gallows waiteth for its own!" Not so you! You said: "Nay, now, wait a
little. Perchance the boy will mend. Come, I will try again. Crush him
not utterly and a father's heart besides!" The more he was wicked, the
more assiduous were you for his recovery, for his elevation. You saw
that he would not keep up with the moral march of men; that he was a
barbarian, a savage, yes, almost a beast amongst men. You saw this; yes,
felt it too as none others felt. Yet you could not condemn him wholly
and without hope. You saw some good mixed with his evil; some causes for
the evil and excuses for it which others were blind to. Because you
mourned most you pitied most--all from the abundance of your love.
Though even in your highest hour of prayer, the sad conviction came that
work or prayer was all in vain--you never gave him over to the world's
reproach, but interposed your fortune, character, yes, your own person,
to take the blows which the severe and tyrannous world kept laying on.
At last if he would not repent, you hid him away, the best you could,
from the mocking sight of other men, but never shut him from your heart;
never from remembrance in your deepest prayers. How the whole family
suffers for the prodigal till he returns. When he comes back, you
rejoice over one recovered olive-plant more than over all the trees of
your field which no storm has ever broke or bowed. How you went forth to
meet him; with what joy rejoiced! "For this my son was lost and is
found," says the old man; "he was dead and is alive once more. Let us
pray and be glad!" With what a serene and hallowed countenance you met
your friends and neighbors, as their glad hearts smiled up in their
faces when the prodigal came home from riot and swine's-bread, a new man
safe and sound! Many such things have I seen, and hearts long cold grew
bright and warm again. Towards evening the clouds broke asunder; Simeon
saw his consolation and went home in sunlight and in peace.

The general result of this treatment in the family is, that the dull boy
learns by degrees, learns what he is fit for: the straggler joins the
troop, and keeps step with the rest, nay, sometimes becomes the leader
of the march: the vicious boy is corrected; even the faults of his
organization get overcome, not suddenly, but at length. The rejected
stone finds its place on the wall, and its use. Such is not always the
result. Some will not be mended. I stop not now to ask the cause. Some
will not return, though you go out to meet them a great way off. What
then? Will you refuse to go? Can you wholly abandon a friend or a child
who thus deserts himself? Is he so bad that he cannot be made better?
Perhaps it is so. Can you not hinder him from being worse? Are you so
good that you must forsake him? Did not God send his greatest, noblest,
purest Son to seek and save the lost? send him to call sinners to
repent? When sinners slew him, did God forsake mankind? Not one of
those sinners did his love forget.

Does the good physician spend the night in feasting with the sound, or
in watching with the sick? Nay, though the sick man be past all hope, he
will look in to soothe affliction which he cannot cure; at least to
speak a word of friendly cheer. The wise teacher spends most pains with
backward boys, and is most bountiful himself where Nature seems most
niggard in her gifts. What would you say if a teacher refused to help a
boy because the boy was slow to learn; because he now and then broke
through the rules? What if the mother said: "My boy is a sickly dunce,
not worth the pains of rearing. Let him die!" What if the father said:
"He is a born villain, to be bred only for the gallows; what use to toil
or pray for him! Let the hangman take my son!"

       *       *       *       *       *

What shall be done for Criminals, the backward children of society, who
refuse to keep up with the moral or legal advance of mankind? They are a
dangerous class. There are three things which are sometimes confounded:
there is Error, an unintentional violation of a natural law. Sometimes
this comes from abundance of life and energy; sometimes from ignorance,
general or special; sometimes from heedlessness, which is ignorance for
the time. Next there is Crime, the violation of a human statute.
Suppose the statute also represents a law of God; the violation thereof
may be the result of ignorance, or of design, it may come from a bad
heart. Then it becomes a Sin--the wilful violation of a known law of
God. There are many errors which are not crimes; and the best men often
commit them innocently, but not without harm, violating laws of the body
or the soul, which they have not grown up to understand. There have been
many crimes; yes, conscious violations of man's law which were not sins,
but rather a keeping of God's law. There are still a great many sins not
forbidden by any human statute, not considered as crimes. It is no crime
to go and fight in a wicked war; nay, it is thought a virtue. It was a
crime in the heroes of the American Revolution to demand the unalienable
rights of man--they were "traitors" who did it; a crime in Jesus to sum
up the "Law and the Prophets," in one word, Love; he was reckoned an
"infidel," guilty of blasphemy against Moses! Now to punish an error as
a crime, a crime as a sin, leads to confusion at the first, and to much
worse than confusion in the end.

But there are crimes which are a violation of the eternal principles of
justice. It is of such, and the men who commit them, that I am now to
speak. What shall be done for the dangerous classes, the criminals?

The first question is, What end shall we aim at in dealing with them?
The means must be suited to accomplish that end. We may desire
vengeance; then the hurt inflicted on the criminal will be proportioned
to the loss or hurt sustained by society. A man has stolen my goods,
injured my person, traduced my good name, sought to take my life. I will
not ask for the motive of his deeds, or the cause of that motive. I will
only consider my own damage, and will make him smart for that. I will
use violence--having an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. I will
deliver him over to the tormentors till my vengeance is satisfied. If he
slew my friend, or sought to slay but lacked the power, as I have the
ability I will kill him! This desire of vengeance, of paying a hurt with
a hurt, has still very much influence on our treatment of criminals. I
fear it is still the chief aim of our penal jurisprudence. When
vengeance is the aim, violence is the most suitable method; jails and
the gallows most appropriate instruments! But is it right to take
vengeance; for me to hurt a man to-day solely because he hurt me
yesterday? If so, the proof of that right must be found in my nature, in
the law of God; a man can make a statute, God only a right. As I study
my nature, I find no such right; reason gives me none; conscience none;
religion quite as little. Doubtless I have a right to defend myself by
all manly means; to protect myself for the future no less than for the
present. In doing that, it may be needful that I should restrain, and
in restraining seize and hold, and in holding incidentally hurt my
opponent. But I cannot see what right I have in cold blood wilfully to
hurt a man because he once hurt me, and does not intend to repeat the
wrong. Do I look to the authority of the greatest Son of man? I find no
allusion to such a right. I find no law of God which allows vengeance.
In his providence I find justice everywhere as beautiful as certain; but
vengeance nowhere. I know this is not the common notion entertained of
God and his providence. I shudder to think at the barbarism which yet
prevails under the guise of Christianity; the vengeance which is sought
for in the name of God!

The aim may be not to revenge a crime, but to prevent it; to deter the
offender from repeating the deed, and others from the beginning thereof.
In all modern legislation the vindictive spirit is slowly yielding to
the design of preventing crime. The method is to inflict certain uniform
and specific penalties for each offence, proportionate to the damage
which the criminal has done; to make the punishment so certain, so
severe, or so infamous, that the offender shall forbear for the future,
and innocent men be deterred from crime. But have we a right to punish a
man for the example's sake? I may give up my life to save a thousand
lives, or one if I will. But society has no right to take it, without my
consent, to save the whole human race! I admit that society has the
right of eminent domain over my property, and may take my land for a
street; may destroy my house to save the town; perhaps seize on my store
of provisions in time of famine. It can render me an equivalent for
those things. I have not the same lien on any portion of the universe as
on my life, my person. To these I have rights which none can alienate
except myself, which no man has given, which all men can never justly
take away. For any injustice wilfully done to me, the human race can
render me no equivalent.

I know society claims the right of eminent domain over person and life
not less than over house and land--to take both for the Commonwealth. I
deny the right--certainly it has never been shown. Hence to me, resting
on the broad ground of natural justice, the law of God, capital
punishment seems wholly inadmissible, homicide with the pomp and
formality of law. It is a relic of the old barbarism--paying hurt for
hurt. No one will contend that it is inflicted for the offender's good.
For the good of others I contend we have no right to inflict it without
the sufferer's consent. To put a criminal to death seems to me as
foolish as for the child to beat the stool it has stumbled over, and as
useless too. I am astonished that nations with the name of Christian
ever on their lips, continue to disgrace themselves by killing men,
formally and in cold blood; to do this with prayers--"Forgive us as we
forgive;" doing it in the name of God! I do not wonder that in the
codes of nations, Hebrew or heathen, far lower than ourselves in
civilization, we should find laws enforcing this punishment; laws too
enacted in the name of God. But it fills me with amazement that worthy
men in these days should go back to such sources for their wisdom;
should walk dry-shod through the Gospels and seek in records of a
barbarous people to justify this atrocious act! Famine, pestilence, war,
are terrible evils, but no one is so dreadful in its effects as the
general prevalence of a great theological idea that is false.

It makes me shudder to recollect that out of the twenty-eight States of
this Union twenty-seven should still continue the gallows as a part of
the furniture of a Christian Government. I hope our own State, dignified
already by so many noble acts, will soon rid herself of the stain. Let
us try the experiment of abolishing this penalty, if we will, for twenty
years, or but ten, and I am confident we shall never return to that
punishment. If a man be incapable of living in society, so ill-born or
ill-bred that you cannot cure or mend him, why, hide him away out of
society. Let him do no harm, but treat him kindly, not like a wolf but a
man. Make him work, to be useful to himself, to society, but do not kill
him. Or if you do, never say again, "Forgive us our trespasses as we
forgive those that trespass against us." What if He should take you at
your word! What would you think of a father who to-morrow should take
the Old Testament for his legal warrant, and bring his son before your
Mayor and Aldermen because he was "stubborn and rebellious, a drunkard
and a glutton," and they should stone him to death in front of the City
Hall! But there is quite as good a warrant in the Old Testament for that
as for hanging a man. The law is referred to Jehovah as its author. How
much better is it to choke the life out of a man behind the prison wall?
Is not society the father of us all, our protector and defender? Hanging
is vengeance; nothing but vengeance. I can readily conceive of that
great Son of man, whom the loyal world so readily adores, performing all
needful human works with manly dignity. Artists once loved to paint the
Saviour in the lowly toil of lowly men, his garments covered with the
dust of common life; his soul sullied by no pollution. But paint him to
your fancy as an executioner; legally killing a man; the halter in his
hands, hanging Judas for high treason! You see the relation which that
punishment bears to Christianity. Yet what was unchristian in Jesus does
not become Christian in the sheriff. We call ourselves Christians; we
often repeat the name, the words of Christ,--but his prayer? oh no--not

There are now in this land, I think, sixteen men under sentence of
death; sixteen men to be hanged till they are dead! Is there not in the
nation skill to heal these men? Perhaps it is so. I have known hearts
which seemed to me cold stones, so hard, so dry. No kindly steel had
alchemy to win a spark from them. Yet their owners went about the
streets and smiled their hollow smiles; the ghastly brother cast his
shadow in the sun, or wrapped his cloak about him in the wintry hour,
and still the world went on though the worst of men remained unhanged.
Perhaps you cannot cure these men!--is there not power enough to keep
them from doing harm; to make them useful? Shame on us that we know no
better than thus to pour out life upon the dust, and then with reeking
hands turn to the poor and weak and say, "Ye shall not kill."

But if the prevention of crime be the design of the punishment, then we
must not only seek to hinder the innocent from vice, but we must reform
the criminal. Do our methods of punishment effect that object? During
the past year we have committed to the various prisons in Massachusetts
five thousand six hundred sixty-nine persons for crime. How many of them
will be reformed and cured by this treatment, and so live honest and
useful lives hereafter? I think very few. The facts show that a great
many criminals are never reformed by their punishment. Thus in France,
taking the average of four years, it seems that twenty-two out of each
hundred criminals were punished oftener than once; in Scotland
thirty-six out of the hundred. Of the seventy-eight received at your
State's prison the last year--seventeen have been sent to that very
prison before. How many of them have been tenants of other institutions
I know not, but as only twenty-three of the seventy-eight are natives of
this State, it is plain that many, under other names, may have been
confined in jail before. Yet of these seventy-eight, ten are less than
twenty years old.[32] Of thirty-five men sent from Boston to the State's
prison in one year, fourteen had been there before. More than half the
inmates of the House of Correction in this city are punished oftener
than once! These facts show that if we aim at the reformation of the
offender we fail most signally. Yet every criminal not reformed lives
mainly at the charge of society; and lives too in the most costly way,
for the articles he steals have seldom the same value to him as to the
lawful owner.

It seems to me that our whole method of punishing crimes is a false one;
that but little good comes of it, or can come. We beat the stool which
we have stumbled over. We punish a man in proportion to the loss or the
fear of society; not in proportion to the offender's state of mind; not
with a careful desire to improve that state of mind. This is wise if
vengeance be the aim; if reformation, it seems sheer folly. I know our
present method is the result of six thousand years' experience of
mankind; I know how easy it is to find fault--how difficult to devise a
better mode. Still the facts are so plain that one with half an eye
cannot fail to see the falseness of the present methods. To remove the
evil, we must remove its cause,--so let us look a little into this
matter, and see from what quarter our criminals proceed.

Here are two classes.

I. There are the foes of society; men that are criminals in soul, born
criminals, who have a bad nature. The cause of their crime therefore is
to be found in their nature itself, in their organization if you will.
All experience shows that some men are born with a depraved
organization, an excess of animal passions, or a deficiency of other
powers to balance them.

II. There are the victims of society; men that become criminals by
circumstances, made criminals, not born; men who become criminals, not
so much from strength of evil in their soul, or excess of evil
propensities in their organization, as from strength of evil in their
circumstances. I do not say that a man's character is wholly determined
by the circumstances in which he is placed, but all experience shows
that circumstances, such as exposure in youth to good men or bad men,
education, intellectual, moral, and religious, or neglect thereof entire
or partial, have a vast influence in forming the character of men,
especially of men not well endowed by nature.

Now the criminals in soul are the most dangerous of men, the born foes
of society. I will not at this moment undertake to go behind their
organization and ask, "How comes it that they are so ill-born?" I stop
now at that fact. The cause of their crime is in their bodily
constitution itself. This is always a small class. There are in New
England perhaps five hundred men born blind or deaf. Apart from the
idiots, I think there are not half so many who by nature and bodily
constitution are incapable of attaining the average morality of the race
at this day; not so many born foes of society as are born blind or deaf.

The criminals from circumstances become what they are by the action of
causes which may be ascertained, guarded against, mitigated, and at last
overcome and removed. These men are born of poor parents, and find it
difficult to satisfy the natural wants of food, clothing, and shelter.
They get little culture, intellectual or moral. The school-house is
open, but the parent does not send the children, he wants their
services, to beg for him, perhaps to steal, it may be to do little
services which lie within their power. Besides, the child must be
ill-clad, and so a mark is set on him. The boy of the perishing classes,
with but common endowments, cannot learn at school as one of the thrifty
or abounding class. Then he receives no stimulus at home; there every
thing discourages his attempts. He cannot share the pleasure and sport
of his youthful fellows. His dress, his uncleanly habits, the result of
misery, forbid all that. So the children of the perishing herd together,
ignorant, ill-fed, and miserably clad. You do not find the sons of this
class in your colleges, in your high schools where all is free for the
people; few even in the grammar schools; few in the churches. Though
born into the nineteenth century after Christ, they grow up almost in
the barbarism of the nineteenth century before him. Children that are
blind and deaf, though born with a superior organization, if left to
themselves become only savages, little more than animals. What are we to
expect of children, born indeed with eyes and ears, but yet shut out
from the culture of the age they live in? In the corruption of a city,
in the midst of its intenser life, what wonder that they associate with
crime, that the moral instinct, baffled and cheated of its due, becomes
so powerless in the boy or girl; what wonder that reason never gets
developed there, nor conscience, nor that blessed religious sense learns
ever to assert its power? Think of the temptations that beset the boy;
those yet more revolting which address the other sex. Opportunities for
crime continually offer. Want impels, desire leagues with opportunity,
and the result we know. Add to all this the curse that creates so much
disease, poverty, wretchedness, and so perpetually begets crime; I mean
intemperance! That is almost the only pleasure of the perishing class.
What recognized amusement have they but this, of drinking themselves
drunk? Do you wonder at this? with no air, nor light, nor water, with
scanty food and a miserable dress, with no culture, living in a cellar
or a garret, crowded, stifling, and offensive even to the rudest sense,
do you wonder that man or woman seeks a brief vacation of misery in the
dram-shop and in its drunkenness? I wonder not. Under such circumstances
how many of you would have done better? To suffer continually from lack
of what is needful for the natural bodily wants of food, of shelter, of
warmth, that suffering is misery. It is not too much to say, there are
always in this city thousands of persons who smart under that misery.
They are indeed a perishing class.

Almost all our criminals, victims and foes, come from this portion of
society. Most of those born with an organization that is predisposed to
crime are born there. The laws of nature are unavoidably violated from
generation to generation. Unnatural results must follow. The misfortunes
of the father are visited on his miserable child. Cows and sheep
degenerate when the demands of nature are not met, and men degenerate
not less. Only the low, animal instincts, those of self-defence and
self-perpetuation get developed; these with preternatural force. The
animal man wakes, becomes brutish, while the spiritual element sleeps
within him. Unavoidably then the perishing is mother of the dangerous

I deny not that a portion of criminals come from other sources, but at
least nine tenths thereof proceed from this quarter. Of two hundred and
seventy-three thousand, eight hundred and eighteen criminals punished in
France from 1825 to 1839, more than half were wholly unable even to
read, and had been brought up subject to no family affections. Out of
seventy criminals in one prison at Glasgow who were under eighteen,
fifty were orphans having lost one or both parents, and nearly all the
rest had parents of bad character and reputation. Taking all the
criminals in England and Wales in 1841, there were not eight in a
hundred that could read and write well. In our country, where everybody
gets a mouthful of education, though scarce any one a full meal, the
result is a little different. Thus of the seven hundred and ninety
prisoners in the Mount Pleasant State's Prison in New York, one hundred
it is said could read and understand. Yet of all our criminals only a
very small proportion have been in a condition to obtain the average
intellectual and moral culture of our times.

Our present mode of treating criminals does no good to this class of
men, these victims of circumstances. I do not know that their
improvement is even contemplated. We do not ask what causes made this
man a criminal, and then set ourselves to remove those causes. We look
only at the crime; so we punish practically a man because he had a
wicked father; because his education was neglected, and he exposed to
the baneful influence of unholy men. In the main we treat all criminals
alike if guilty of the same offence, though the same act denotes very
different degrees of culpability in the different men, and the same
punishment is attended with quite opposite results. Two men commit
similar crimes, we sentence them both to the State Prison for ten years.
At the expiration of one year let us suppose one man has thoroughly
reformed, and has made strict and solemn resolutions to pursue an honest
and useful life. I do not say such a result is to be expected from such
treatment; still it is possible, and I think has happened, perhaps many
times. We do not discharge the man; we care nothing for his penitence;
nothing for his improvement; we keep him nine years more. That is an
injustice to him; we have robbed him of nine years of time which he
might have converted into life. It is unjust also to society, which
needs the presence and the labor of all that can serve. The man has been
a burden to himself and to us. Suppose at the expiration of his ten
years the other man is not reformed at all; this result, I fear, happens
in the great majority of cases. He is no better for what he has
suffered; we know that he will return to his career of crime, with new
energy and with even malice. Still he is discharged. This is unjust to
him, for he cannot bear the fresh exposure to circumstances which
corrupted him at first, and he will fall lower still. It is unjust to
society, for the property and the persons of all are exposed to his
passions just as much as before. He feels indignant as if he had
suffered a wrong. He says, "Society has taken vengeance on me, when I
was to be pitied more than blamed. Now I will have my turn. They will
not allow me to live by honest toil. I will learn their lesson. I will
plunder their wealth, their roof shall blaze!" He will live at the
expense of society, and in the way least profitable and most costly to
mankind. This idle savage will levy destructive contributions on the
rich, the thrifty, and the industrious. Yes, he will help teach others
the wickedness which himself once, and perhaps unavoidably learned. So
in the very bosom of society there is a horde of marauders waging
perpetual war against mankind.

Do not say my sympathies are with the wicked, not the industrious and
good. It is not so. My sympathies are not confined to one class,
honorable or despised. But it seems to me this whole method of keeping a
criminal a definite time and then discharging him, whether made better
or worse is a mistake. Certainly it is so if we aim at his reformation.
What if a shepherd made it a rule to look one hour for each lost sheep,
and then return with or without the wanderer? What if a smith decreed
that one hour and no more should be spent in shoeing a horse, and so
worked that time on each, though half that time were enough--or sent
home the beast with but three shoes, or two, or one, because the hour
passed by? What if the physicians decreed, that all men sick of some
contagious disease, should spend six weeks in the hospital, then, if the
patient were found well the next day after admission, still kept him the
other forty; or, if not mended at the last day, sent him out sick to the
world? Such a course would be less unjust, less inhuman, only the wrong
is more obvious.

To aggravate the matter still more, we have made the punishment more
infamous than the crime. A man may commit great crimes which indicate
deep depravity; may escape the legal punishment thereof by gold, by
flight, by further crimes, and yet hold up his head unblushing and
unrepentant amongst mankind. Let him commit a small crime, which shall
involve no moral guilt, and be legally punished--who respects him again?
What years of noble life are deemed enough to wipe the stain out of his
reputation? Nay, his children after him, to the third generation, must
bear the curse!

The evil does not stop with the infamy. A guilty man has served out his
time. He is thoroughly resolved on industry and a moral life. Perhaps he
has not learned that crime is wrong, but found it unprofitable. He will
live away from the circumstances which before led him to crime. He comes
out of prison, and the jail-mark is on him. He now suffers the severest
part of his punishment. Friends and relations shun him. He is doomed and
solitary in the midst of the crowd. Honest men will seldom employ him.
The thriving class look on him with shuddering pity; the abounding
loathe the convict's touch. He is driven among the dangerous and the
perishing; they open their arms and offer him their destructive
sympathy. They minister to his wants; they exaggerate his wrongs; they
nourish his indignation. His direction is no longer in his own hands.
His good resolutions--he knows they were good, but only impossible. He
looks back, and sees nothing but crime and the vengeance society takes
for the crime. He looks around, and the world seems thrusting at him
from all quarters. He looks forward, and what prospect is there? "Hope
never comes that comes to all." He must plunge afresh into that miry
pit, which at last is sure to swallow him up. He plunges anew, and the
jail awaits him; again; deeper yet; the gallows alone can swing him
clear from that pestilent ditch. But he is a man and a brother, our
companion in weakness. With his education, exposure, temptation, outward
and from within, how much better would the best of you become?

No better result is to be looked for from such a course. Of the one
thousand five hundred and ninety-two persons in the State's prison of
New York, four hundred have been there more than once. In five years,
from 1841 to 1847, there were punished in the House of Correction in
this city, five thousand seven hundred and forty-eight persons; of these
three thousand one hundred and forty-six received such a sentence
oftener than once. Yes, in five years, three hundred and thirteen were
sent thither, each ten times or more! How many found a place in other
jails I know not.

What if fathers treated dull or vicious boys in this manner at
home--making them infamous for the first offence, or the first dulness,
and then refusing to receive them back again? What if the father sent
out his son with bad boys, and when he erred and fell, said: "You did
mischief with bad boys once; I know they enticed you. I knew you were
feeble and could not resist their seductions. But I shall punish you. Do
as well as you please, I will not forgive you. If you err again, I will
punish you afresh. If you do never so well, you shall be infamous for
ever!" What if a public teacher never took back to college a boy who
once had broke the academic law--but made him infamous for ever? What if
the physicians had kept a patient the requisite time in the hospital,
and discharged him as wholly cured, but bid men beware of him and shun
him for ever? That is just what we are doing with this class of
criminals; not intentionally, not consciously--but doing none the less!

Let us look a moment more carefully, though I have already touched on
this subject, at the proximate causes of crime in this class of men. The
first cause is obvious--poverty. Most of the criminals are from the
lowest ranks of society. If you distribute men into three classes, the
abounding, the thriving, the perishing, you will find the inmates of
your prisons come almost wholly from the latter class. The perishing
fill the sink of society, and the dangerous the sink of the
perishing--for in that "lowest deep there is a lower depth." Of three
thousand one hundred and eighty-eight persons confined in the House of
Correction in this city, one thousand six hundred and fifty-seven were
foreigners; of the five hundred and fifty sent from this city in five
years to the State's Prison, one hundred and eighty-five were
foreigners. Of five hundred and forty-seven females in the Prison on
Blackwell's Island at one time--five hundred and nineteen were committed
for "vagrancy;" women with no capital but their person, with no friend,
no shelter. Examine minutely, you shall find that more than nine tenths
of all criminals come from the perishing class of men. There all
cultivation, intellectual, moral, religious, is at the lowest ebb. They
are a class of barbarians; yes, of savages, living in the midst of
civilization, but not of it. The fact, that most criminals come from
this class, shows that the causes of the crime lie out of them more than
in them; that they are victims of society, not foes. The effect of
property in elevating and moralizing a class of men is seldom
appreciated. Historically the animal man comes before the spiritual.
Animal wants are imperious; they must be supplied. The lower you go in
the social scale, the more is man subordinated to his animal appetites
and demonized by them. Nature aims to preserve the individual and repeat
the species--so all passions relative to these two designs are
preëminently powerful. If a man is born into the intense life of an
American city, and grows up, having no contact with the loftier culture
which naturally belongs to that intense life, why the man becomes mainly
an animal, all the more violent for the atmosphere he breathes in. What
shall restrain him? He has not the normal check of reason, conscience,
religion, these sleep in the man; nor the artificial and conventional
check of honor, of manners. The public opinion which he bows to favors
obscenity, drunkenness, and violence. He is doubly a savage. His wants
cannot be legally satisfied. He breaks the law, the law which covers
property, then goes on to higher crimes.

The next cause is the result of the first--education is neglected,
intellectual, moral, and religious. Now and then a boy in whom the soul
of genius is covered with the beggar's rags, struggles through the
terrible environment of modern poverty to die, the hero of misery, in
the attempt at education! His expiring light only makes visible the
darkness out of which it shone. Boys born into this condition find at
home nothing to aid them, nothing to encourage a love of excellence, or
a taste for even the rudiments of learning. What is unavoidably the lot
of such? The land has been the schoolmaster of the human race--but the
perishing class scarce sees its face. Poverty brings privations, misery,
and that a deranged state of the system; then unnatural appetites goad
and burn the man. The destruction of the poor is their poverty. They see
wealth about them, but have none; so none of what it brings; neither the
cleanliness, nor health, nor self-respect, nor cultivation of mind, and
heart, and soul. I am told that no Quaker has ever been confined in any
jail in New England for any real crime. Are the Quakers better born than
other men? Nay, but they are looked after in childhood. Who ever saw a
Quaker in an almshouse? Not a fiftieth part of the people of New York
are negroes, yet more than a sixth part of all the criminals in her four
State's Prisons are men of color. These facts show plainly the causes of

It is almost impossible to exaggerate the temptations of the perishing
class in our great cities. In Boston at this moment there are more than
four hundred boys employed about the various bowling-alleys of the
city, exposed to the intemperance, the coarseness, the general
corruption of the men who mainly frequent those places. What will be
their fate? Shall I speak of their sisters; of the education they are
receiving; the end that awaits them? Poverty brings misery with its
family of vices.

A third cause of crime comes with the rest--intemperance, the destroying
angel that lays waste the household of the poor. In our country, misery
in a healthy man is almost proof of vice; but the vice may belong to one
alone, and the misery it brings be shared by the whole family. A large
proportion of the perishing class are intemperate, and a great majority
of all our criminals.

Now, our present method is wholly inadequate to reform men exposed to
such circumstances. You may punish the man, but it does no good. You can
seldom frighten men out of a fever. Can you frighten them from crime,
when they know little of the internal distinction between right and
wrong; when all the circumstances about them impel to crime? Can you
frighten a starving girl into chastity? You cannot keep men from
lewdness, theft and violence, when they have no self-respect, no
culture, no development of mind, heart, and soul. The jail will not take
the place of the church, of the school-house, of home. It will not
remove the causes which are making new criminals. It does not reform
the old ones. Shall we shut men in a jail, and when there treat them
with all manner of violence, crush out the little self-respect yet left,
give them a degrading dress, and send them into the world cursed with an
infamous name, and all that because they were born in the low places of
society and caught the stain thereof? The jail does not alter the
circumstances which occasioned the crime, and till these causes are
removed a fresh crop will spring out of the festering soil. Some men
teach dogs and horses things unnatural to these animals; they use
violence and blows as their instrument of instruction. But to teach man
what is conformable to his nature, something more is required.

To return to the other class, who are born criminals. Bare confinement
in the prison alters no man's constitutional tendencies; it can no more
correct moral or mental weakness or obliquity than it can correct a
deficiency of the organs of sensation. You all know the former treatment
of men born with defective or deranged intellectual faculties--of madmen
and fools. We still pursue the same course towards men born with
defective or deranged moral faculties, idiots and madmen of a more
melancholy class, and with a like result.

I know how easy it is to find fault, and how difficult to propose a
better way; how easy to misunderstand all that I have said, how easy to
misrepresent it all. But it seems to me that hitherto we have set out
wrong in this undertaking; have gone on wrong, and, by the present
means, can never remove the causes of crime nor much improve the
criminals as a class. Let me modestly set down my thoughts on this
subject, in hopes that other men, wiser and more practical, will find
out a way yet better still. A jail, as a mere house of punishment for
offenders, ought to have no place in an enlightened people. It ought to
be a moral hospital where the offender is kept till he is cured. That
his crime is great or little, is comparatively of but small concern. It
is wrong to detain a man against his will after he is cured; wrong to
send him out before he is cured, for he will rob and corrupt society,
and at last miserably perish. We shall find curable cases and incurable.

I would treat the small class of born criminals, the foes of society, as
maniacs. I would not kill them more than madmen; I would not inflict
needless pain on them. I would not try to shame, to whip, or to starve
into virtue men morally insane. I would not torture a man because born
with a defective organization. Since he could not live amongst men, I
would shut him out from society; would make him work for his own good
and the good of society. The thought of punishment for its own sake, or
as a compensation for the evil which a man has done, I would not harbor
for a moment. If a man has done me a wrong, calumniated, insulted,
abused me with all his power, it renders the matter no better that I
turn round and make him smart for it. If he has burned my house over my
head, and I kill him in return, it does not rebuild my house. I cannot
leave him at large to burn other men's houses. He must be restrained.
But if I cure the man perhaps he will rebuild it, at any rate, will be
of some service to the world, and others gain much while I lose nothing.

When the victims of society violated its laws, I would not torture a man
for his misfortune, because his father was poor, his mother a brute;
because his education was neglected. I would shut him out from society
for a time. I would make him work for his own good and the good of
others. The evil he had caught from the world I would overcome by the
good that I would present to him. I would not clothe him with an
infamous dress, crowd him with other men whom society had made infamous,
leaving them to ferment and rot together. I would not set him up as a
show to the public, for his enemy, or his rival, or some miserable fop
to come and stare at with merciless and tormenting eye. I would not load
him with chains, nor tear his flesh with a whip. I would not set
soldiers with loaded gun to keep watch over him, insulting their brother
by mocking and threats. I would treat the man with firmness, but with
justice, with pity, with love. I would teach the man; what his family
could not do for him, what society and the church had failed of, the
jail should do, for the jail should be a manual labor school, not a
dungeon of torture. I would take the most gifted, the most cultivated,
the wisest and most benevolent, yes, the most Christian man in the
State, and set him to train up these poor savages of civilization. The
best man is the natural physician of the wicked. A violent man, angry,
cruel, remorseless, should never enter the jail except as a criminal.
You have already taken one of the greatest, wisest, and best men of this
Commonwealth, and set him to watch over the public education of the
people.[33] True, you give him little money, and no honor; he brings the
honor to you, not asking but giving that. You begin to see the result of
setting such a man to such a work, though unhonored and ill paid. Soon
you will see it more plainly in the increase of temperance, industry,
thrift, of good morals and sound religion! I would set such a man, if I
could find such another, to look after the dangerous classes of society.
I would pay him for it; honor him for it. I would have a Board of Public
Morals to look after this matter of crime, a Secretary of Public Morals,
a Christian Censor, whose business it should be to attend to this class,
to look after the jails and make them houses of refuge, of instruction,
which should do for the perishing class what the school-house and the
church do for others. I would send missionaries amongst the most exposed
portions of mankind as well as amongst the savages of New Holland. I
would send wise men, good men. There are already some such engaged in
this work. I would strengthen their hands. I would make crime infamous.
If there are men whose crime is to be traced not to a defective
organization of body, not to the influence of circumstances, but only to
voluntary and self-conscious wickedness,--I would make these men
infamous. It should be impossible for such a man, a voluntary foe of
mankind, to live in society. I would have the jail such a place that the
friends of a criminal of either class should take him as now they take a
lunatic or a sick man, and bring him to the Court that he might be
healed if curable, or if not might be kept from harm and hid away out of
sight. Crime and sin should be infamous; not its correction, least of
all its cure. I would not loathe and abhor a man who had been corrected
and reformed by the jail more than a boy who had been reformed by his
teacher, or a man cured of lunacy. I would have society a father who
goes out to meet the prodigal while yet a great way off; yes, goes and
brings him away from his riotous living, washes him, clothes him, and
restores him to a right mind. There is a prosecuting attorney for the
State; I would have also a defending attorney for the accused, that
justice might be done all round. Is the State only a step-mother? Then
is she not a Christian Commonwealth but a barbarous despotism, fitly
represented by that uplifted sword on her public seal, and that motto of
barbarous and bloody Latin. I would have the State aid men and direct
them after they have been discharged from the jail, not leave them to
perish; not force them to perish. Society is the natural guardian of the

I cannot think the method here suggested would be so costly as the
present. It seems to me that institutions of this character might be
made not only to support themselves, but be so managed as to leave a
balance of income considerably beyond the expense. This might be made
use of for the advantage of the criminal when he returned to society; or
with it he might help make restitution of what he had once stolen.
Besides being less costly, it would cure the offender and send back
valuable men into society.

It seems to me that our whole criminal legislation is based on a false
principle--force and not love; that it is eminently well adapted to
revenge, not at all to correct, to teach, to cure. The whole apparatus
for the punishment of offenders, from the gallows down to the House of
Correction, seems to me wrong; wholly wrong, unchristian, and even
inhuman. We teach crime while we punish it. Is it consistent for the
State to take vengeance when I may not? Is it better for the State to
kill a man in cold blood, than for me to kill my brother when in a rage?
I cannot help thinking that the gallows and even the jail, as now
administered, are practical teachers of violence and wrong! I cannot
think it will always be so. Hitherto we have looked on criminals as
voluntary enemies of mankind. We have treated them as wild beasts, not
as dull or loitering boys. We have sought to destroy by death, to
disable by mutilation or imprisonment, to terrify and subdue, not to
convince, to reform, encourage, and bless.

The history of the past is full of prophecy for the future. Not many
years ago we shut up our lunatics in jails, in dungeons, in cages; we
chained the maniac with iron; we gave him a bottle of water and a sack
of straw; we left him in filth, in cold and nakedness. We set strong and
brutal men to watch him. When he cried, when he gnashed his teeth and
tore his hair, we beat him all the more! They do so yet in some places,
for they think a madman is not a brother but a devil. What was the
result? Madness was found incurable. Now lunacy is a disease, to be
prescribed for as fever or rheumatism; when we find an incurable case we
do not kill the man, nor chain him, nor count him a devil. Yet lunacy is
not curable by force, by jails, dungeons, and cages; only by the
medicine of wise men and good men. What if Christ had met one demoniac
with a whip and another with chains!

You know how we once treated criminals! with what scourgings and
mutilations, what brandings, what tortures with fire and red-hot iron!
Death was not punishment enough, it must be protracted amid the most
cruel torments that quivering flesh could bear. The multitude looked on
and learned a lesson of deadly wickedness. A judicial murder was a
holiday! It is but little more than two hundred years since a man was
put to death in the most enlightened country of Europe for eating meat
on Friday; not two hundred since men and women were hanged in
Massachusetts for a crime now reckoned impossible! It is not a hundred
years since two negro slaves were judicially burned alive in this very
city! These facts make us shudder, but hope also. In a hundred years
from this day will not men look on our gallows, jails, and penal law as
we look on the racks, the torture-chambers of the middle ages, and the
bloody code of remorseless inquisitors?

We need only to turn our attention to this subject to find a better way.
We shall soon see that punishment as such is an evil to the criminal,
and so swells the sum of suffering with which society runs over; that it
is an evil also to the community at large by abstracting valuable force
from profitable work, and so a loss.[34] We shall one day remember that
the offender is a man, and so his good also is to be consulted. He may
be a bad man, voluntarily bad if you will. Still we are to be economical
even of his suffering, for the least possible punishment is the best.
Already a good many men think that error is better refuted by truth than
by fagots and axes. How long will it be before we apply good sense and
Christianity to the prevention of crime? One day we must see that a
jail, as it is now conducted, is no more likely to cure a crime than a
lunacy or a fever! Hitherto we have not seen the application of the
great doctrines of Christianity; not felt that all men are brothers. So
our remedies for social evils have been bad almost as the disease;
remedies which remedied nothing, but hid the patient out of sight. All
great criminals have been thought incurable, and then killed. What if
the doctors found a patient sick of a disease which he had foolishly or
wickedly brought upon himself, and then, by the advice of twelve other
doctors, professionally killed him for justice or example's sake? They
would do what all the States in Christendom have done these thousand
years. I cannot see why the Legislature has not as good right to
authorize the medical college thus to kill men, as to authorize the
present forms of destroying life!

We do not look the facts of crime fairly in the face. We do not see what
heathens we are. Why, there is not a Christian nation in the world that
has not a Secretary of War, armies, soldiers, and the terrible apparatus
of destruction. But there is not one that has a Secretary of Peace, not
one that takes half the pains to improve its own criminals which it
takes to build forts and fleets! Yet it seems to me that a Christian
State should be a great peace society, a society for mutual advancement
in the qualities of a man!

Do we not see that by our present course we are teaching men violence,
fraud, deceit, and murder? What is the educational effect of our present
political conduct, of our invasions, our battles, our victories; of the
speeches of "our great men?" You all know that this teaches the poor,
the low, and the weak that murder and robbery are good things when done
on a large scale; that they give wealth, fame, power, and honors. The
ignorant man, ill-born and ill-bred, asks: "Why not when done on a small
scale; why not good for me?" If it is right in the President of the
United States to rob and murder, why not for the President of the United
States Bank? Do famous men say, "Our country however bounded," and vote
to plunder a sister State? then why shall not the poor man, hungry and
cold, say, "My purse however bounded," and seize on all he can get? Give
one a seat in Congress if you will, and the other a noose of hemp, there
is a God before whom seats in Congress and hempen halters are of equal
value, but who does justice to great and little!

       *       *       *       *       *

To reform the dangerous classes of society, to advance those who loiter
behind our civilization, we need a special work designed directly for
the good of the criminals and such as stand on that perilous ground
which slopes towards crime. Some good men undertook this work long ago.
They found much to do; a good deal to encourage them. Some of them are
well known to you, are laboring here in the midst of us. They need
counsel, encouragement, and aid. We must not look coldly on their
enterprise nor on them. They can tell far better than I what specific
plans are best for their specific work. Already have they accomplished
much in this noble enterprise. The society for aiding discharged
convicts is a prophecy of yet better things. Soon I trust it will extend
its kind offices to all the prisons, and its work be made the affair of
the State. The plan now before your Legislature for a "State Manual
Labor School," designed to reform vicious children, is also full of
promise. The wise and anonymous charity which so beautifully and in
silence has dropped its gold into the chest for these poor outcasts, is
itself its hundred-fold reward. Institutions like that which we
contemplate have been found successful in England, Germany, and France.
They actually reform the juvenile delinquent and bring up useful men,
not hardened criminals.[35] We are beginning to attend to this special
work of removing the causes of crime, and restoring at least the young

However, the greater portion of this work is not special and for the
criminal, but general and for society. To change the treatment of
criminals, we must change every thing else. The dangerous class is the
unavoidable result of our present civilization; of our present ideas of
man and social life. To reform and elevate the class of criminals, we
must reform and elevate all other classes. To do that, we must educate
and refine men. We must learn to treat all men as brothers. This is a
great work and one of slow achievement. It cannot be brought about by
legislation, nor any mechanical contrivance and reorganization alone.
There is no remedy for this evil and its kindred but keeping the laws of
God; in one word, none but Christianity, goodness, and piety felt in the
heart, applied in all the works of life, individually, socially, and
politically. While educated and abounding men acknowledge no rule of
conduct but self-interest, what can you expect of the ignorant and the
perishing? While great men say without rebuke that we do not look at
"the natural justice of a war," do you expect men in the lowest places
of society, ignorant and brutish, pinched by want, to look at the
natural justice of theft, of murder? It were a vain expectation. We must
improve all classes to improve one; perhaps the highest first.
Different men acting in the most various directions, without concert,
often jealous one of another, and all partial in their aims, are helping
forward this universal result. While we are contending against slavery,
war, intemperance, or party rage, while we are building up hospitals,
colleges, schools, while we are contending for freedom of conscience, or
teaching abstractly the love of man and love of God, we are all working
for the welfare of this neglected class. The gallows of the barbarian
and the Gospel of Christianity cannot exist together. The times are full
of promise. Mankind slowly fulfils what a man of genius prophesies; God
grants what a good man asks, and when it comes, it is better than what
he prayed for.


[31] The allusion is to the following passages of Scripture, which were
read as the lesson for the day: Numb. xiv.; 2 Kings, ii. 23-25; and
Luke, xv.

[32] See other statistics in "Sermon of the Perishing Classes," pp. 205,

[33] Mr. Horace Mann.

[34] The period of confinement in our States' Prisons differs a good
deal in the various States, as will appear from the following Table.

          Whole No.
           in prison.               Average sentence.
In Conn.    189,             March 31, 1841,  7 yrs. 3 mos.
   Va.      181,             Sept 30, 1839,   6  "  10  "
   Mass.    322,             Sept. 30, 1840,  5  "   9  "
   La.       68,             Sept 30, 1839,   5  "   1  "
   N. J.    152,             Sept. 30, 1840,  4  "   7  "
   Ky.      162,             Sept. 30, 1839,  4  "
   D. C.     79,             Nov.  30, 1840,  3  "   8  "
   Md.      104,                              3  "
   Phila.   129,             Sept. 30, 1840,  2  "   5  "

The difference between the average term of punishment in Connecticut and
Philadelphia is 300 per cent! If the same result is effected by each,
there has then been a great amount of gratuitous suffering in one case.

[35] I refer to the prisons at Stretton-upon-Dunmore in Warwickshire,
that at Horn near Hamburg, and the one at Mettray near Tours in France.
The French penal code allows the guardian or relatives of an offender
under age to take him from prison on giving bonds for his good behavior.
While these pages were first passing through the press, I learned the
happy effect which followed the execution of the license laws in this
city. In 1846, from the 10th of March to the 24th of April, there were
sent to the House of Correction for intemperance one hundred eighty-nine
persons. During the same period of the year 1847, only eighty-four have
been thus punished! But alas, in 1851 the evil has returned, and the
demon of drunkenness mows down the wretched in Boston with unrestricted




    The destruction of the poor is their poverty.

Last Sunday something was said of riches. To-day I ask your attention to
a sermon of poverty. By poverty, I mean the state in which a man does
not have enough to satisfy the natural wants of food, raiment, shelter,
warmth and the like. From the earliest times that we know of, there have
been two classes of men, the rich who had more than enough, the poor who
had less. In one of the earliest books which treats of the condition of
men, we find that Abraham, a rich man, owns the bodies of three hundred
men that are poor. In four thousand years, the difference between rich
and poor in our part of America is a good deal lessened, not done away
with. In New England property is more uniformly distributed than in
most countries, perhaps more equally than in any land as highly
civilized. But even here the old distinction remains in a painful form
and extended to a pitiful degree.

At one extreme of society is a body called the rich, men who have
abundance, not a very numerous body, but powerful, first through the
energy which accumulates money, and secondly, through the money itself.
Then there is a body of men who are comfortable. This class comprises
the mass of the people in all the callings of life. Out of this class
the rich men come, and into it their children or grandchildren commonly
return. Few of the rich men of Boston were sons of rich men; still fewer
grandsons; few of them perhaps will be fathers of men equally rich;
still fewer grandfathers of such. Then there is the class that is
miserable. Some of them are supported by public charity, some by
private, some of them by their toil alone--but altogether they form a
mass of men who only stay in the world, and do not live in the best
sense of that word.

Such are the great divisions of society in respect to property. However,
the lines between these three classes are not sharp and distinctly
drawn. There are no sharp divisions in nature; but for our convenience,
we distinguish classes by their centre where they are most unlike, and
not by their circumference where they intermix and resemble each other.
The line between the miserable and comfortable, between the comfortable
and rich, is not distinctly drawn. The centre of each class is obvious
enough while the limits thereof are a dissolving view.

The poor are miserable. Their food is the least that will sustain
nature, not agreeable, not healthy; their clothing scanty and mean,
their dwellings inconvenient and uncomfortable, with roof and walls that
let in the cold and the rain--dwellings that are painful and unhealthy;
in their personal habits they are commonly unclean. Then they are
ignorant; they have no time to attend school in childhood, no time to
read or to think in manhood, even if they have learned to do either
before that. If they have the time, few men can think to any profit
while the body is uncomfortable. The cold man thinks only of the cold;
the wretched of his misery. Besides this they are frequently vicious. I
do not mean to say they are wicked in the sight of God. I never see a
poor man carried to jail for some petty crime, or even for a great one,
without thinking that probably, in God's eye, the man is far better than
I am, and from the State's prison or scaffold, will ascend into heaven
and take rank a great ways before me. I do not mean to say they are
wicked before God; but it is they who commit the minor crimes, against
decency, sobriety, against property and person, and most of the major
crimes, against human life. I mean that they commit the crimes that get
punished by law. They crowd your courts, they tenant your jails; they
occupy your gallows. If some man would write a book describing the life
of all the men hanged in Massachusetts for fifty years past, or tried
for some capital offence, and show what class of society they were from,
how they were bred, what influences were about them in childhood, how
they passed their Sundays, and also describe the configuration of their
bodies, it would help us to a valuable chapter in the philosophy of
crime, and furnish mighty argument against the injustice of our mode of
dealing with offenders.

Poverty is the dark side of modern society. I say modern society, though
poverty is not modern, for ancient society had poverty worse than ours
and a side still darker yet. Cannibalism, butchery of captives after
battle, frequent or continual wars for the sake of plunder, and the
slavery of the weak--these were the dark side of society in four great
periods of human history, the savage, the barbarous, the classic and the
feudal. Poverty is the best of these five bad things, each of which,
however, has grimly done its service in its day.

There is no poverty among the Gaboon negroes. Put them in our latitude,
and it soon comes. Nay, as they get to learn the wants of cultivated
men, there will be a poorer class even in the torrid zone. Poverty
prevails in every civilized nation on earth; yes, in every savage nation
in austere climes. Let us look at some examples. England is the richest
country in Europe. I mean she has more wealth in proportion to her
population than any other in a similar climate. Look at her possessions
in every corner of the globe; at her armies which Europe cannot conquer;
at her ships which weave the great commercial web that spreads all round
about the world; at home what factories, what farms, what houses, what
towns, what a vast and wealthy metropolis; what an aristocracy--so rich,
so cultivated, so able, so daring, and so unconquered.

But in that very English nation the most frightful poverty exists. Look
at the two sister islands: this the queen, and that the beggar of all
nations; the rose and the shamrock; the one throned in royal beauty, the
other bowed to the dust, torn and trampled under foot. In that capital
of the world's wealth, in that centre of power far greater than the
power of all the Cæsars, there is the most squalid poverty. Look at St.
Giles and St. James--that the earthly hell of want and crime, this the
worldly heaven of luxury and power! Put on the one side the stately
nobility of England, well born, well bred, armed with the power of
manners, the power of money, the power of culture and the power of
place, and on the other side put the beggary of England, the two million
paupers who are kept wholly on public or private charity; the three
million laborers who formerly fed on potatoes, God knows what they feed
on now, and all the other hungry sons of want who are kept in awe only
by the growling lion who guards the British throne; and you see at once
the result of modern civilization in the ablest, the foremost, the
freest, the most practical and the richest nation in the old world.

Even here in New England, a country not two hundred and fifty years old,
a little patch of cleared land on the edge of the continent, we hear of
poverty which is frightful to think of. It is a serious question what
shall be done for the poor; there are few that can tell what shall be
done with them, or what is to become of them. Want is always here in
Boston. Misery is here. Starvation is not unknown. What is now serious
will one day be alarming. Even now it is awful to think of the misery
that lurks in this Christian town. New England in fifty years has
increased vastly in wealth, but poverty increases too. There has been a
great advance in the productiveness of human labor; with our tools a man
can do as much rude work in one day as he could in three days a hundred
years ago. I mean work with the axe, the plough, the spade; of nicer
work, yet more; of the most delicate work, see what machines do for him.
The end is not yet; soon we shall have engines that will whittle
granite, as a gang of saws cleaves logs into broad smooth boards. Yet
with all this advance in the productiveness of human toil, still there
is poverty. A day's work now will bring a man greater proportionate pay
than ever before in New England. I mean to say that the ordinary wages
for an ordinary day's work will support a man comfortably and
respectably longer than they ever would before. On the whole, the price
of things has come down and the price of work has gone up. Yet still
there are the poor; there is want, there is misery, there is starvation.
The community gives more than ever before; a better public provision is
made for the poor, private benevolence is more active and works far more
wisely--yet still there is poverty, want, misery unremoved, unmitigated,
and, many think, immitigable!

Now I am not going to deny that poverty, like other forms of suffering,
plays a part in the economy of the human race. If God's children will
not work, or will throw away their bread, I do not complain that He
sends them to bed without their supper--to a hard bed and a narrow and a
cold. "Earn your breakfast before you eat it," is not merely the counsel
of Poor Richard, but of Almighty God; it is a just counsel, and not
hard. But is poverty an essential, substantial, integral element in
human civilization, or is it an accidental element thereof, and
transiently present; is it amenable to suppression? For my own part, I
believe that all evil is transient, a thing that belongs to the process
of development, not to the nature of man, or the higher forms of social
life towards which he is advancing. If God be absolutely good, then only
good things are everlasting. This general opinion which comes from my
religion as well as my philosophy, affects my special opinion of the
history and design of poverty. I look on it as on cannibalism, the
butchery of captives, the continual war for the sake of plunder, or on
slavery; yes, as I look on the diseases incident to childhood, things
that mankind live through and outgrow; which, painful as they are, do
not make up the greatest part of the entire life of mankind. If it shall
be said that I cannot know this, that I have not a clear intellectual
perception of the providential design thereof, or the means of its
removal, still I believe it, and if I have not the knowledge which comes
of philosophy, I have still faith, the result of instinctive trust in

       *       *       *       *       *

Let us look a little at the causes of poverty. Some things we see best
on a large scale. So let us look at poverty thus, and then come down to
the smaller forms thereof.

I. There may be a natural and organic cause. The people of Lapland,
Iceland and Greenland are a poor people compared with the Scotch, the
Danes, or the French. There is a natural and organic cause for their
poverty in the soil and climate of those countries, which cannot be
changed. They must emigrate before they can become rich or comfortable
in our sense of the word. Hence their poverty is to be attributed to
their geographical position. Put the New Englanders there, even they
would be a poor people. Thus the poverty of a nation may depend on the
geographical position of the nation.

Suppose a race of men has little vigor of body or of mind, and yet the
same natural wants as a vigorous race; put them in favorable
circumstances, in a good climate, on a rich soil, they will be poor on
account of the feebleness of their mind and body; put them in a stern
climate, on a sterile soil, and they will perish. Such is the case with
the Mexicans. Soil and climate are favorable, yet the people are poor.
Suppose a nation had only one third part of the Laplander's ability, and
yet needed the result of all his power, and was put in the Laplander's
position, they would not live through the first winter. Had they been
Mexicans who came to Plymouth in 1620, not one of them, it is probable,
would have seen the next summer. Take away half the sense or bodily
strength of the Bushmans of South Africa, and though they might have
sense enough to dig nuts out of the ground, yet the lions and hyenas
would eventually eat up the whole nation. So the poverty of a nation may
come from want of power of body or of mind.

Then if a nation increases in numbers more rapidly than in wealth, there
is a corresponding increase of want. Let the number of births in England
for the next ten years be double the number for the last ten, without a
corresponding creation of new wealth, and the English are brought to the
condition of the Irish. Let the number of births in Ireland in like
manner multiply, and one half the population must perish for want of
food. So the poverty of a nation may depend on the disproportionate
increase of its numbers.

Then an able race, under favorable outward circumstances, without an
over-rapid increase of numbers, if its powers are not much developed,
will be poor in comparison with a similar race under similar
circumstances, but highly developed. Thus England, under Egbert in the
ninth century, was poor compared with England under Victoria in the
nineteenth century. The single town of Liverpool, Manchester,
Birmingham, or even Sheffield, is probably worth many times the wealth
of all England in the ninth century. So the poverty of a nation may
depend on its want of development.

Old England and New England are rich, partly through the circumstances
of climate and soil, partly and chiefly through the great vigor of the
race, with only a normal increase of numbers, and partly through a more
complete development of the nations. Such are the chief natural and
organic causes of poverty on a large scale in a nation.

II. The causes may be political. By political, I mean such as are
brought about by the laws, either the fundamental laws, the
constitution, or the minor laws, statutes. Sometimes the laws tend to
make the whole nation poor. Such are the laws which force the industry
of the people out of the natural channel, restricting commerce,
agriculture, manufactures, industry in general. Sometimes this is done
by promoting war, by keeping up armies and navies, by putting the
destructive work of fighting, or the merely conservative work of ruling,
before the creative works of productive industry. France was an example
of that a hundred years ago. Spain yet continues such, as she has been
for two centuries.

Sometimes this is done by hindering the general development of the
nation, by retarding education, by forbidding all freedom of thought.
The States of the Church are an example of this when compared with
Tuscany; all Italy and Austria, when compared with England; Spain, when
compared with Germany, France, and Holland.

Sometimes this is brought about by keeping up an unnatural
institution--as slavery, for example. South Carolina is an instance of
this, when compared with Massachusetts. South Carolina has many
advantages over us, yet South Carolina is poor while Massachusetts is

Sometimes this political action primarily affects only the distribution
of wealth, and so makes one class rich and another poor. Such is the
case with laws which give all the real estate to the oldest son, laws
which allow property to be entailed for a long time or forever, laws
which cut men off from the land. These laws at first seem only to make
one class rich and the others poor, and merely to affect the
distribution of wealth in a nation, but they are unnatural and retard
the industry of the people, and diminish their productive power, and
make the whole nation less rich. Legislation may favor wealth and not
men--property which is accumulated labor, rather than labor which is the
power that accumulates property. Such legislation always endangers
wealth in the end, lessening its quantity and making its tenure

Two things may be said of European legislation in general, and
especially of English legislation. First, That it has aimed to
concentrate wealth in the hands of a few and keep it there. Hence it
favors primogeniture, entails monopolies of posts of profit and of
honor. Second, It has always looked out for the proprietor and his
property, and cared little for the man without property; hence it always
wanted the price of things high, the wages of men low, and in addition
to natural and organic obstacles it continually put social impediments
in the poor man's way. In England no son of a laborer could rise to
eminence in the law or in medicine, scarcely in the church; no, not even
in the army or navy.

These two statements will bear examination. The genius of England has
demanded these two things. The genius of America demands neither, but
rejects both; demands the distribution of property, puts the rights of
man first, the rights of things last. Such are the political causes, and
such their effects.

III. Then there are social causes which make a nation poor. Such are the
prevalence of an opinion that industry is not respectable; that it is
honorable to consume, disgraceful to create; that much must be spent,
though little earned. The Spanish nation is poor in part through the
prevalence of this opinion.

Sometimes social causes seem only to affect a class. The Pariahs in
India must not fill any office that is well paid. They are despised, and
of course they are poor and miserable. The blacks in New England are
despised and frowned down, not admitted to the steamboat, the omnibus,
to the school-houses in Boston, or even to the meeting-house with white
men; not often allowed to work in company with the whites; and so they
are kept in poverty. In Europe the Jews have been equally despised and
treated in the same way, but not made poor, because they are in many
respects a superior race of men, and because they have the advantage of
belonging to a nation whose civilization is older than any other in
Europe; a nation specially gifted with the faculty of thrift; a tribe
whom none but other Jews, Scotchmen, or New Englanders, could outwit,
over-reach, and make poor. No Ferdinand and Isabella, no inquisition
could so completely expel them from any country, as the superior craft
and cunning of the Yankee has driven them out of New England. There are
Jews in every country of Europe, everywhere despised and maltreated, and
forced into the corners of society, but everywhere superior to the men
who surround them. Such are the social causes which produce poverty.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now let us look at the matter on a smaller scale, and see the cause of
poverty in New-England, of poverty in Broad street and Sea street. From
the great mass let me take out a class who are accidentally poor. There
are the widows and orphan children who inherit no estate; the able men
reduced by sickness before they have accumulated enough to sustain them.
Then let me take out a class of men transiently poor, men who start with
nothing, but have vigor and will to make their own way in the world. The
majority of the poor still remain--the class who are permanently poor.
The accidentally poor can easily be taken care of by public or private
charity; the transient poor will soon take care of themselves. The young
man who lives on six cents a day while studying medicine in Boston, is
doubtless a poor man, but will soon repay society for the slight aid it
has lent him, and in time will take care of other poor men. So these two
classes, the accidental and the transient poor, can easily be disposed

What causes have produced the class that is permanently poor? What has
just been said of nations, is true also of individuals.

First, there are natural and organic causes of poverty. Some men are
born into the midst of want, ignorance, idleness, filthiness,
intemperance, vice, crime; their earliest associations are debasing,
their companions bad. They are born into the Iceland of society, into
the frigid zone, some of them under the very pole-star of want. Such men
are born and bred under the greatest disadvantages. Every star in their
horoscope has a malignant aspect, and sheds disastrous influence. I do
not remember five men in New England, from that class, becoming
distinguished in any manly pursuit,--not five. Almost all of our great
men and our rich men came from the comfortable class, none from the
miserable. The old poverty is parent of new poverty. It takes at least
two generations to outgrow the pernicious influence of such

Then much of the permanent poverty comes from the lack of ability, power
of body and of mind. In that Iceland of society men are commonly born
with a feeble organization, and bred under every physical disadvantage;
the man is physically weak, or else runs to muscle and not brain, and so
is mentally weak. His feebleness is the result of the poverty of his
fathers, and his own want in childhood. The oak tree grows tall and
large in a rich valley, stunted, small, and scrubby on the barren sand.

Again this class of men increase most rapidly in numbers. When the poor
man has not half enough to fill his own mouth, and clothe his own back,
other backs are added, other mouths opened. He abounds in nothing but
naked and hungry children.

Further still, he has not so good a chance as the comfortable to get
education and general development. A rude man, with superior abilities,
in this century, will often be distanced by the well-trained man who
started at birth with inferior powers. But if the rude man begin with
inferior abilities, inferior circumstances, encumbered also with a load
becoming rapidly more burdensome, you see under what accumulated
disadvantages he labors all his life. So to the first natural and
organic cause of poverty, his untoward position in society; to the
second, his inferior ability; and to the third, the increase of his
family, excessively rapid, we must add a fourth cause, his inferior
development. An ignorant man, who is also weak in body, and besides
that, starts with every disadvantage, his burdens annually increasing,
may be expected to continue a poor man. It is only in most extraordinary
cases that it turns out otherwise.

To these causes we must add what comes therefrom as their joint result:
idleness, by which the poor waste their time; thriftlessness and
improvidence, by which they lose their opportunities and squander their
substance. The poor are seldom so economical as the rich; it is so with
children, they spoil the furniture, soil and rend their garments, put
things to a wasteful use, consume heedlessly and squander, careless of
to-morrow. The poor are the children of society.

To these five causes I must add intemperance, the great bane of the
miserable class. I feel no temptation to be drunken, but if I were
always miserable, cold, hungry, naked, so ignorant that I did not know
the result of violating God's laws, had I been surrounded from youth
with the worst examples, not respected by other men, but a loathsome
object in their sight, not even respecting myself, I can easily
understand how the temporary madness of strong drink would be a most
welcome thing. The poor are the prey of the rum-seller. As the lion in
the Hebrew wilderness eateth up the wild ass, so in modern society the
rum-seller and rum-maker suck the bones of the miserable poor. I never
hear of a great fortune made in the liquor trade, but I think of the
wives that have been made widows thereby, of the children bereft of
their parents, of the fathers and mothers whom strong drink has brought
down to shame, to crime, and to ruin. The history of the first barrel of
rum that ever visited New England is well known. It brought some forty
men before the bar of the court. The history of the last barrel can
scarcely be much better.

Such are the natural and organic causes which make poverty.

With the exception of laws which allow the sale of intoxicating drink, I
think there are few political causes of poverty in New England, and they
are too inconsiderable to mention in so brief a sketch as this. However,
there are some social causes of our permanent poverty. I do not think we
have much respect for the men who do the rude work of life, however
faithfully and well--little respect for work itself. The rich man is
ashamed to have begun to make his fortune with his own hard hands; even
if the rich man is not, his daughter is for him. I do not think we have
cared much to respect the humble efforts of feeble men; not cared much
to have men dear, and things cheap. It has not been thought the part of
political economy, of sound legislation, or of pure Christianity, to
hinder the increase of pauperism, to remove the causes of poverty, yes,
the causes of crime--only to take vengeance on it when committed!

Boston is a strange place; here is energy enough to conquer half the
continent in ten years; power of thought to seize and tame the
Connecticut and the Merrimack; charity enough to send missionaries all
over the world; but not justice enough to found a high school for her
own daughters, or to forbid her richest citizens from letting bar-rooms
as nurseries of poverty and crime, from opening wide gates which lead to
the almshouse, the jail, the gallows, and earthly hell!

       *       *       *       *       *

Such are the causes of poverty, organic, political, social. You may see
families pass from the comfortable to the miserable class, by
intemperance, idleness, wastefulness, even by feebleness of body and of
mind; yet while it is common for the rich to descend into the
comfortable class, solely by lack of the eminent thrift which raised
their fathers thence, or because they lack the common stimulus to toil
and save, it is not common for the comfortable to fall into the pit of
misery in New England, except through wickedness, through idleness, or

It is not easy to study poverty in Boston. But take a little inland
town, which few persons migrate into, you will find the miserable
families have commonly been so, for a hundred years; that many of them
are descended from the "servants," or white slaves, brought here by our
fathers; that such as fall from the comfortable classes, are commonly
made miserable by their own fault, sometimes by idleness, which is
certainly a sin, for any man who will not work, and persists in living,
eats the bread of some other man, either begged or stolen--but chiefly
by intemperance. Three fourths of the poverty of this character, is to
be attributed to this cause.

Now there is a tendency in poverty to drive the ablest men to work, and
so get rid of the poverty, and this I take it is the providential design
thereof. Poverty, like an armed man, stalks in the rear of the social
march, huge and haggard, and gaunt and grim, to scare the lazy, to goad
the idle with his sword, to trample and slay the obstinate sluggard. But
he treads also the feeble under his feet, for no fault of theirs, only
for the misfortune of being born in the rear of society. But in poverty
there is also a tendency to intimidate, to enfeeble, to benumb. The
poverty of the strong man compels him to toil; but with the weak, the
destruction of the poor is his poverty. An active man is awakened from
his sleep by the cold; he arises and seeks more covering; the indolent,
or the feeble, shiver on till morning, benumbed and enfeebled by the
cold. So weakness begets weakness; poverty, poverty; intemperance,
intemperance; crime, crime.

Every thing is against the poor man; he pays the dearest tax, the
highest rent for his house, the dearest price for all he eats or wears.
The poor cannot watch their opportunity, and take advantage of the
markets, as other men. They have the most numerous temptations to
intemperance and crime; they have the poorest safeguards from these
evils. If the chief value of wealth, as a rich man tells us, be
this--that "it renders its owner independent of others," then on what
shall the poor men lean, neglected and despised by others, looked on as
loathsome, and held in contempt, shut out even from the sermons and the
prayers of respectable men? It is no marvel if they cease to respect

The poor are the most obnoxious to disease; their children are not only
most numerous, but most unhealthy. More than half of the children of
that class, perish at the age of five. Amongst the poor, infectious
diseases rage with frightful violence. The mortality in that class is
amazing. If things are to continue as now, I thank God it is so. If
Death is their only guardian, he is at least powerful, and does not
scorn his work.

In addition to the poor, whom these causes have made and kept in
poverty, the needy of other lands flock hither. The nobility of old
England, so zealous in pursuing their game, in keeping their entails
unbroken, and primogeniture safe, have sent their beggary to New
England, to be supported by the crumbs that fall from our table. So, in
the same New England city, the extremes of society are brought together.
Here is health, elegance, cultivation, sobriety, decency, refinement--I
wish there was more of it; there is poverty, ignorance, drunkenness,
violence, crime, in most odious forms--starvation! We have our St.
Giles's and St. James's; our nobility, not a whit less noble than the
noblest of other lands, and our beggars, both in a Christian city. Amid
the needy population, Misery and Death have found their parish. Who
shall dare stop his ears, when they preach their awful denunciation of
want and woe?

Good men ask, What shall we do? Foreign poverty has had this good
effect; it has shamed or frightened the American beggar into industry
and thrift.

Poverty will not be removed till the causes thereof are removed. There
are some who look for a great social revolution. So do I; only I do not
look for it to come about suddenly, or by mechanical means. We are in a
social revolution, and do not know it. While I cannot accept the
peculiar doctrines of the Associationists, I rejoice in their existence.
I sympathize with their hope. They point out the evils of society, and
that is something. They propose a method of removing its evils. I do not
believe in that method, but mankind will probably make many experiments
before we hit upon the right one. For my own part, I confess I do not
see any way of removing poverty wholly or entirely, in one or two, or in
four or five generations. I think it will linger for some ages to come.
Like the snow, it is to be removed by a general elevation of the
temperature of the air, not all at once, and will long hang about the
dark and cold places of the world. But I do think it will at last be
overcome, so that a man who cannot subsist, will be as rare as a
cannibal. "Ye have the poor with you always," said Jesus, and many who
remember this, forget that he also said, "and when soever ye will, ye
may do them good." I expect to see a mitigation of poverty in this
country, and that before long.

It is likely that the legal theory of property in Europe will undergo a
great change before many years; that the right to bequeathe enormous
estates to individuals will be cut off; that primogeniture will cease,
and entailments be broken, and all monopolies of rank and power come to
an end, and so a great change take place in the social condition of
Europe, and especially of England. That change will bring many of the
comfortable into the rich class, and eventually many of the miserable
into the comfortable class. But I do not expect such a radical change
here, where we have not such enormous abuses to surmount.

I think something will be done in Europe for the organization of labor,
I do not know what; I do not know how; I have not the ability to know;
and will not pretend to criticize what I know I cannot create, and do
not at present understand. I think there will be a great change in the
form of society; that able men will endeavor to remove the causes of
crime, not merely to make money out of that crime; that intemperance
will be diminished; that idleness in rich or poor will be counted a
disgrace; that labor will be more respected; education more widely
diffused; and that institutions will be founded, which will tend to
produce these results. But I do not pretend to devise those
institutions, and certainly shall not throw obstacles in the way of such
as can or will try. It seems likely that something will be first done in
Europe, where the need is greatest. There a change must come. By and by,
if it does not come peaceably, the continent will not furnish "special
constables" enough to put down human nature. If the white republicans
cannot make a revolution peacefully, wait a little, and the red
republicans will make it in blood. "Peaceably if we can, forcibly if we
must," says mankind, first in a whisper, then in a voice of thunder. If
powerful men will not write justice with black ink, on white paper,
ignorant and violent men will write it on the soil, in letters of blood,
and illuminate their rude legislation with burning castles, palaces and
towns. While the social change is taking place never so peacefully, men
will think the world is going to ruin. But it is an old world, pretty
well put together, and, with all these changes, will probably last some
time longer. Human society is like one of those enormous boulders, so
nicely poised on another rock, that a man may move it with a single
hand. You are afraid to come under its sides, lest it fall. When the
wind blows, it rocks with formidable noise, and men say it will soon be
down upon us. Now and then a rude boy undertakes to throw it over, but
all the men who can get their shoulders under, cannot raise the
ponderous mass from its solid and firm-set base.

Still, after all these changes have taken place, there remains the
difference between the strong and the weak, the active and the idle, the
thrifty and the spendthrift, the temperate and the intemperate, and
though the term poverty ceases to be so dreadful, and no longer denotes
want of the natural necessaries of the body, there will still remain the
relatively rich and the relatively poor.

But now something can be done directly, to remove the causes of poverty,
something to mitigate their effects; we need both the palliative
charity, and the remedial justice. Tenements for the poor can be
provided at a cheap rent, that shall yet pay their owner a reasonable
income. This has been proved by actual experiment, and, after all that
has been said about it, I am amazed that no more is done. I will not
exhort the churches to this in the name of religion--they have other
matters to attend to; but if capitalists will not, in a place like
Boston, it seems to me the City should see that this class of the
population is provided with tenements, at a rate not ruinous. It would
be good economy to do it, in the pecuniary sense of good economy;
certainly to hire money at six per cent., and rent the houses built
therewith, at eight per cent., would cost less than to support the poor
entirely in almshouses, and punish them in jails.

Something yet more may be done, in the way of furnishing them with work,
or of directing them to it; something towards enabling them to purchase
food and other articles cheap.

Something might be done to prevent street beggary, and begging from
house to house, which is rather a new thing in this town. The
indiscriminate charity, which it is difficult to withhold from a needy
and importunate beggar, does more harm than good.

Much may be done to promote temperance; much more, I fear, than is
likely to be done; that is plainly the duty of society. Intemperance is
bad enough with the comfortable and the rich; with the poor it is
ruin--sheer, blank and swift ruin. The example of the rich, of the
comfortable, goes down there like lightning, to shatter, to blast, and
to burn. It is marvellous, that in Christian Boston, men of wealth, and
so above the temptation which lurks behind a dollar, men of character
otherwise thought to be elevated, can yet continue a traffic which leads
to the ruin and slow butchery of such masses of men. I know not what can
be done by means of the public law. I do know what can be done by
private self-denial, by private diligence.

Something also may be done to promote religion amongst the poor, at
least something to make it practicable for a poor man to come to church
on Sunday, with his fellow-creatures who are not miserable--and to hear
the best things that the ablest men in the church have to offer. We are
very democratic in our State, not at all so in our church. In this
matter the Catholics put us quite to shame. If, as some men still
believe, it be a manly calling and a noble, to preach Christianity, then
to preach it to men who stand in the worst and most dangerous positions
in society; to take the highest truths of human consciousness, the
loftiest philosophy, the noblest piety, and bring them down into the
daily life of poor men, rude men, men obscure, unfriended, ready to
perish; surely this is the noblest part of that calling, and demands the
noblest gifts, the fairest and the largest culture, the loftiest powers.

It is no hard thing to reason with reasoning men, and be intelligible to
the intelligent; to talk acceptably and even movingly to scholars and
men well read, is no hard thing if you are yourself well read and a
scholar. But to be intelligible to the ignorant, to reason with men who
reason not, to speak acceptably and movingly with such men, to inspire
them with wisdom, with goodness and with piety, that is the task only
for some men of rare genius who can stride over the great gulf betwixt
the thrones of creative power, and the humble positions of men ignorant,
poor and forgot! Yet such men there are, and here is their work.

Something can be done for the children of the poor--to promote their
education, to find them employment, to snatch these little ones from
underneath the feet of that grim Poverty. It is not less than awful, to
think while there are more children born in Boston of Catholic parents
than of Protestant, that yet more than three fifths thereof die before
the sun of their fifth year shines on their luckless heads. I thank God
that thus they die. If there be not wisdom enough in society, nor enough
of justice there to save them from their future long-protracted
suffering, then I thank God that Death comes down betimes, and moistens
his sickle while his crop is green. I pity not the miserable babes who
fall early before that merciful arm of Death. They are at rest. Poverty
cannot touch them. Let the mothers who bore them rejoice, but weep only
for those that are left--left to ignorance, to misery, to intemperance,
to vice that I shall not name; left to the mercies of the jail, and
perhaps the gallows at the last. Yet Boston is a Christian city--and it
is eighteen hundred years since one great Son of Man came to seek and to
save that which was lost!

I see not what more can be done directly, and I see not why these things
should not be done. Still some will suffer: the idle, the lazy, the
proud who will not work, the careless who will voluntarily waste their
time, their strength, or their goods--they must suffer, they ought to
suffer. Want is the only schoolmaster to teach them industry and
thrift. Such as are merely unable, who are poor not by their fault--we
do wrong to let them suffer; we do wickedly to leave them to perish. The
little children who survive--are they to be left to become barbarians in
the midst of our civilization?

Want is not an absolutely needful thing, but very needful for the
present distress, to teach us industry, economy, thrift and its creative
arts. There is nature--the whole material world--waiting to serve. "What
would you have thereof?" says God. "Pay for it and take it, as you will;
only pay as you go!" There are hands to work, heads to think; strong
hands, hard heads. God is an economist: He economizes suffering; there
is never too much of it in the world for the purpose it is to serve,
though it often falls where it should not fall. It is here to teach us
industry, thrift, justice. It will be here no more when we have learned
its lesson. Want is here on sufferance; misery on sufferance; and
mankind can eject them if we will. Poverty, like all evils, is amenable
to suppression.

Can we not end this poverty--the misery and crime it brings? No, not
to-day. Can we not lessen it? Soon as we will. Think how much ability
there is in this town, cool, far-sighted talent. If some of the ablest
men directed their thoughts to the reform of this evil, how much might
be done in a single generation; and in a century--what could not they
do in a hundred years? What better work is there for able men? I would
have it written on my tombstone: "This man had but little wit, and less
fame, yet he helped remove the causes of poverty, making men better off
and better," rather by far than this: "Here lies a great man; he had a
great place in the world, and great power, and great fame, and made
nothing of it, leaving the world no better for his stay therein, and no
man better off."

       *       *       *       *       *

After all the special efforts to remove poverty, the great work is to be
done by the general advance of mankind. We shall outgrow this as
cannibalism, butchery of captives, war for plunder, and other kindred
miseries have been outgrown. God has general remedies in abundance, but
few specific. Something will be done by diffusing throughout the
community principles and habits of economy, industry, temperance; by
diffusing ideas of justice, sentiments of brotherly love, sentiments and
ideas of religion. I hope every thing from that--the noiseless and
steady progress of Christianity; the snow melts, not by sunlight, or
that alone, but as the whole air becomes warm. You may in cold weather
melt away a little before your own door, but that makes little
difference till the general temperature rises. Still while the air is
getting warm, you facilitate the process by breaking up the obdurate
masses of ice and putting them where the sun shines with direct and
unimpeded light. So must we do with poverty.

It is only a little that any of us can do--for any thing. Still we can
do a little; we can each do by helping towards raising the general tone
of society: first, by each man raising himself; by industry, economy,
charity, justice, piety; by a noble life. So doing, we raise the moral
temperature of the whole world, and just in proportion thereto. Next, by
helping those who come in our way; nay, by going out of our way to help
them. In each of these modes, it is our duty to work. To a certain
extent each man is his brother's keeper. Of the powers we possess we are
but trustees under Providence, to use them for the benefit of men, and
render continually an account of our stewardship to God. Each man can do
a little directly to help convince the world of its wrong, a little in
the way of temporizing charity, a little in the way of remedial justice;
so doing, he works with God, and God works with him.




    Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.

A man who has only the spirit of his age can easily be a popular man; if
he have it in an eminent degree, he must be a popular man in it: he has
its hopes and its fears; his trumpet gives a certain and well-known
sound; his counsel is readily appreciated; the majority is on his side.
But he cannot be a wise magistrate, a just judge, a competent critic, or
a profitable preacher. A man who has only the spirit of a former age can
be none of these four things; and not even a popular man. He remembers
when he ought to forecast, and compares when he ought to act; he cannot
appreciate the age he lives in, nor have a fellow-feeling with it. He
may easily obtain the pity of his age, not its sympathy or its
confidence. The man who has the spirit of his own, and also that of
some future age, is alone capable of becoming a wise magistrate, a just
judge, a competent critic, and a profitable preacher. Such a man looks
on passing events somewhat as the future historian will do, and sees
them in their proportions, not distorted; sees them in their connection
with great general laws, and judges of the falling rain not merely by
the bonnets it may spoil and the pastime it disturbs, but by the grass
and corn it shall cause to grow. He has hopes and fears of his own, but
they are not the hopes and fears of men about him; his trumpet cannot
give a welcome or well-known sound, nor his counsel be presently heeded.
Majorities are not on his side, nor can he be a popular man.

To understand our present moral condition, to be able to give good
counsel thereon, you must understand the former generation, and have
potentially the spirit of the future generation; must appreciate the
past, and yet belong to the future. Who is there that can do this? No
man will say, "I can." Conscious of the difficulty, and aware of my own
deficiencies in all these respects, I will yet endeavor to speak of the
moral condition of Boston.

       *       *       *       *       *

First, I will speak of the actual moral condition of Boston, as
indicated by the morals of Trade. In a city like Rome, you must first
feel the pulse of the church, in St. Petersburg that of the court, to
determine the moral condition of those cities. Now trade is to Boston
what the church is to Rome and the imperial court to St. Petersburg: it
is the pendulum which regulates all the common and authorized machinery
of the place; it is an organization of the public conscience. We care
little for any Pius the Ninth, or Nicholas the First; the dollar is our
emperor and pope, above all the parties in the State, all sects in the
church, lord paramount over both, its spiritual and temporal power not
likely to be called in question; revolt from what else we may, we are
loyal still to that.

A little while ago, in a sermon of riches, speaking of the character of
trade in Boston, I suggested that men were better than their reputation
oftener than worse; that there were a hundred honest bargains to one
that was dishonest. I have heard severe strictures from friendly
tongues, on that statement, which gave me more pain than any criticism I
have received before. The criticism was, that I overrated the honesty of
men in trade. Now, it is a small thing to be convicted of an error--a
just thing and a profitable to have it detected and exposed; but it is a
painful thing to find you have overrated the moral character of your
townsmen. However, if what I said be not true as history, I hope it will
become so as prophecy; I doubt not my critics will help that work.

Love of money is out of proportion to love of better things--to love of
justice, of truth, of a manly character developing itself in a manly
life. Wealth is often made the end to live for; not the means to live
by, and attain a manly character. The young man of good abilities does
not commonly propose it to himself to be a noble man, equipped with all
the intellectual and moral qualities which belong to that, and capable
of the duties which come thereof. He is satisfied if he can become a
rich man. It is the highest ambition of many a youth in this town to
become one of the rich men of Boston; to have the social position which
wealth always gives, and nothing else in this country can commonly
bestow. Accordingly, our young men that are now poor, will sacrifice
every thing to this one object; will make wealth the end, and will
become rich without becoming noble. But wealth without nobleness of
character is always vulgar. I have seen a clown staring at himself in
the gorgeous mirror of a French palace, and thought him no bad emblem of
many an ignoble man at home, surrounded by material riches which only
reflected back the vulgarity of their owner.

Other young men inherit wealth, but seldom regard it as a means of power
for high and noble ends, only as the means of selfish indulgence;
unneeded means to elevate yet more their self-esteem. Now and then you
find a man who values wealth only as an instrument to serve mankind
withal. I know some such men; their money is a blessing akin to genius,
a blessing to mankind, a means of philanthropic power. But such men are
rare in all countries, perhaps a little less so in Boston than in most
other large trading towns; still, exceeding rare. They are sure to meet
with neglect, abuse, and perhaps with scorn; if they are men of eminent
ability, superior culture, and most elevated moral aims, set off, too,
with a noble and heroic life, they are sure of meeting with eminent
hatred. I fear the man most hated in this town would be found to be some
one who had only sought to do mankind some great good, and stepped
before his age too far for its sympathy. Truth, Justice, Humanity, are
not thought in Boston to have come of good family; their followers are
not respectable. I am not speaking to blame men, only to show the fact;
we may meddle with things too high for us, but not understand nor

Now this disproportionate love of money appears in various ways. You see
it in the advantage that is taken of the feeblest, the most ignorant,
and the most exposed classes in the community. It is notorious that they
pay the highest prices, the dearest rents, and are imposed upon in their
dealings oftener than any other class of men; so the raven and the
hooded crow, it is said, seek out the sickliest sheep to pounce upon.
The fact that a man is ignorant, poor, and desperate, furnishes to many
men an argument for defrauding the man. It is bad enough to injure any
man; but to wrong an ignorant man, a poor and friendless man; to take
advantage of his poverty or his ignorance, and to get his services or
his money for less than a fair return--that is petty baseness under
aggravated circumstances, and as cowardly as it is mean. You are now and
then shocked at rich men telling of the arts by which they got their
gold--sometimes of their fraud at home, sometimes abroad, and a good man
almost thinks there must be a curse on money meanly got at first, though
it falls to him by honest inheritance.

This same disproportionate love of money appears in the fact that men,
not driven by necessity, engage in the manufacture, the importation, and
the sale of an article which corrupts and ruins men by hundreds; which
has done more to increase poverty, misery, and crime than any other one
cause whatever; and, as some think, more than all other causes whatever.
I am not speaking of men who aid in any just and proper use of that
article, but in its ruinous use. Yet such men, by such a traffic, never
lose their standing in society, their reputation in trade, their
character in the church. A good many men will think worse of you for
being an Abolitionist; men have lost their place in society by that
name; even Dr. Channing "hurt his usefulness" and "injured his
reputation" by daring to speak against that sin of the nation; but no
man loses caste in Boston by making, importing, and selling the cause
of ruin to hundreds of families--though he does it with his eyes open,
knowing that he ministers to crime and to ruin! I am told that large
quantities of New England rum have already been sent from this city to
California; it is notorious that much of it is sent to the nations of
Africa--if not from Boston, at least from New England--as an auxiliary
in the slave-trade. You know with what feelings of grief and indignation
a clergyman of this city saw that characteristic manufacture of his town
on the wharves of a Mahometan city. I suppose there are not ten
ministers in Boston who would not "get into trouble," as the phrase is,
if they were to preach against intemperance, and the causes that produce
intemperance, with half so much zeal as they innocently preach
"regeneration" and a "form of piety" which will never touch a single
corner of the earth. As the minister came down, the Spirit of Trade
would meet him on the pulpit stairs to warn him: "Business is business;
religion is religion; business is ours, religion yours; but if you make
or even allow religion to interfere with our business, then it will be
the worse for you--that is all!" You know it is not a great while since
we drove out of Boston the one Unitarian minister who was a fearless
apostle of temperance.[36] His presence here was a grief to that "form
of piety;" a disturbance to trade. Since then the peace of the churches
has not been much disturbed by the preaching of temperance. The effect
has been salutary; no Unitarian minister has risen up to fill that

This same disproportionate love of money appears in the fact, that the
merchants of Boston still allow colored seamen to be taken from their
ships and shut up in the jails of another State. If they cared as much
for the rights of man as for money, as much for the men who sail the
ship as for the cargo it carries, I cannot think there would be brass
enough in South Carolina, or all the South, to hold another freeman of
Massachusetts in bondage, merely for the color of his skin. No doubt, a
merchant would lose his reputation in this city by engaging directly in
the slave-trade, for it is made piracy by the law of the land.[37] But
did any one ever lose his reputation by taking a mortgage on slaves as
security for a debt; by becoming, in that way or by inheritance, the
owner of slaves, and still keeping them in bondage?

You shall take the whole trading community of Boston, rich and poor,
good and bad, study the phenomena of trade as astronomers the phenomena
of the heavens, and from the observed facts, by the inductive method of
philosophy, construct the ethics of trade, and you will find one great
maxim to underlie the whole: Money must be made. Money-making is to the
ethics of trade what attraction is to the material world; what truth is
to the intellect, and justice in morals. Other things must yield to
that; that to nothing. In the effort to comply with this universal law
of trade, many a character gives way; many a virtue gets pushed aside;
the higher, nobler qualities of a man are held in small esteem.

This characteristic of the trading class appears in the thought of the
people as well as their actions. You see it in the secular literature of
our times; in the laws, even in the sermons; nobler things give way to
love of gold. So in an ill-tended garden, in some bed where violets
sought to open their fragrant bosoms to the sun, have I seen a cabbage
come up and grow apace, with thick and vulgar stalk, with coarse and
vulgar leaves, with rank unsavory look; it thrust aside the little
violet, which, underneath that impenetrable leaf, lacking the morning
sunshine and the dew of night, faded and gave up its tender life; but
above the grave of the violet there stood the cabbage, green,
expanding, triumphant, and all fearless of the frost. Yet the cabbage
also had its value and its use.

There are men in Boston, some rich, some poor, old and young, who are
free from this reproach; men that have a well-proportioned love of
money, and make the pursuit thereof an effort for all the noble
qualities of a man. I know some such men, not very numerous anywhere,
men who show that the common business of life is the place to mature
great virtues in; that the pursuit of wealth, successful or not, need
hinder the growth of no excellence, but may promote all manly life. Such
men stand here as violets among the cabbages, making a fragrance and a
loveliness all their own; attractive anywhere, but marvellous in such a
neighborhood as that.

       *       *       *       *       *

Look next on the morals of Boston, as indicated by the Newspapers, the
daily and the weekly press. Take the whole newspaper literature of
Boston, cheap and costly, good and bad, study it all as a whole, and by
the inductive method construct the ethics of the press, and here you
find no signs of a higher morality in general than you found in trade.
It is the same centre about which all things gravitate here as there.
But in the newspapers the want of great principles is more obvious, and
more severely felt than in trade--the want of justice, of truth, of
humanity, of sympathy with man. In trade you meet with signs of great
power; the highway of commerce bears marks of giant feet. Our newspapers
seem chiefly in the hands of little men, whose cunning is in a large
ratio to their wisdom or their justice. You find here little ability,
little sound learning, little wise political economy; of lofty morals
almost nothing at all. Here, also, the dollar is both Pope and King;
right and truth are vassals, not much esteemed, nor over-often called to
pay service to their Lord, who has other soldiers with more pliant neck
and knee.

A newspaper is an instrument of great importance; all men read it; many
read nothing else; some it serves as reason and conscience too: in lack
of better, why not? It speaks to thousands every day on matters of great
moment--on matters of morals, of politics, of finance. It relates daily
the occurrences of our land, and of all the world. All men are affected
by it; hindered or helped. To many a man his morning paper represents
more reality than his morning prayer. There are many in a community like
this who do not know what to say--I do not mean what to think,
thoughtful men know what to think--about any thing till somebody tells
them; yet they must talk, for "the mouth goes always." To such a man a
newspaper is invaluable; as the idolater in the Judges had "a Levite to
his priest," so he has a newspaper to his reason or his conscience, and
can talk to the day's end. An able and humane newspaper would get this
class of persons into good habits of speech, and do them a service,
inasmuch as good habits of speech are better than bad.

One portion of this literature is degrading; it seems purposely so, as
if written by base men, for base readers, to serve base ends. I know not
which is most depraved thereby, the taste or the conscience. Obscene
advertisements are there, meant for the licentious eye; there are
loathsome details of vice, of crime, of depravity, related with the
design to attract, yet so disgusting that any but a corrupt man must
revolt from them; there are accounts of the appearance of culprits in
the lower courts, of their crime, of their punishment; these are related
with an impudent flippancy, and a desire to make sport of human
wretchedness and perhaps depravity, which amaze a man of only the
average humanity. We read of Judge Jeffreys and the bloody assizes in
England, one hundred and sixty years ago, but never think there are in
the midst of us men who, like that monster, can make sport of human
misery; but for a cent you can find proof that the race of such is not
extinct. If a penny-a-liner were to go into a military hospital, and
make merry at the sights he saw there, at the groans he heard, and the
keen smart his eye witnessed, could he publish his fiendish joy at that
spectacle--you would not say he was a man. If one mock at the crimes of
men, perhaps at their sins, at the infamous punishments they
suffer--what can you say of him?

It is a significant fact that the commercial newspapers, which of course
in such a town are the controlling newspapers, in reporting the European
news, relate first the state of the markets abroad, the price of cotton,
of consols, and of corn; then the health of the English queen, and the
movements of the nations. This is loyal and consistent; at Rome, the
journal used to announce first some tidings of the Pope, then of the
lesser dignitaries of the church, then of the discovery of new antiques,
and other matters of great pith and moment; at St. Petersburg, it was
first of the Emperor that the journal spoke; at Boston, it is legitimate
that the health of the dollar should be reported first of all.

The political newspapers are a melancholy proof of the low morality of
this town. You know what they will say of any party movement; that
measures and men are judged on purely party grounds. The country is
commonly put before mankind, and the party before the country. Which of
them in political matters pursues a course that is fair and just; how
many of them have ever advanced a great idea, or been constantly true to
a great principle of natural justice; how many resolutely oppose a great
wrong; how many can be trusted to expose the most notorious blunders of
their party; how many of them aim to promote the higher interests of
mankind? What servility is there in some of these journals, a cringing
to the public opinion of the party; a desire that "our efforts may be
appreciated!" In our politics every thing which relates to money is
pretty carefully looked after, though not always well looked after; but
what relates to the moral part of politics is commonly passed over with
much less heed. Men would compliment a senator who understood finance in
all its mysteries, and sneer at one who had studied as faithfully the
mysteries of war, or of slavery. The Mexican War tested the morality of
Boston, as it appears both in the newspapers and in trade, and showed
its true value.

There are some few exceptions to this statement; here and there is a
journal which does set forth the great ideas of this age, and is
animated by the spirit of humanity. But such exceptions only remind one
of the general rule.

In the sectarian journals the same general morality appears, but in a
worse form. What would have been political hatred in the secular prints,
becomes theological odium in the sectarian journals; not a mere hatred
in the name of party, but hatred in the name of God and Christ. Here is
less fairness, less openness, and less ability than there, but more
malice; the form, too, is less manly. What is there a strut or a
swagger, is here only a snivel. They are the last places in which you
need look for the spirit of true morality. Which of the sectarian
journals of Boston advocates any of the great reforms of the day? nay,
which is not an obstacle in the path of all manly reform? But let us not
dwell upon this, only look and pass by.

I am not about to censure the conductors of these journals, commercial,
political, or theological. I am no judge of any man's conscience. No
doubt they write as they can or must. This literature is as honest and
as able as "the circumstances will admit of." I look on it as an index
of our moral condition, for a newspaper literature always represents the
general morals of its readers. Grocers and butchers purchase only such
articles as their customers will buy; the editors of newspapers reveal
the moral character of their subscribers as well as their
correspondents. The transient literature of any age is always a good
index of the moral taste of the age. These two witnesses attest the
moral condition of the better part of the city; but there are men a good
deal lower than the general morals of trade and the press. Other
witnesses testify to their moral character.

       *       *       *       *       *

Let me now speak of your moral condition as indicated by the Poverty in
this city. I have so recently spoken on the subject of poverty in
Boston, and printed the sermon, that I will not now mention the misery
it brings. I will only speak of the moral condition which it indicates,
and the moral effect it has upon us.

In this age, poverty tends to barbarize men; it shuts them out from the
educational influences of our times. The sons of the miserable class
cannot obtain the intellectual, moral, and religious education which is
the birthright of the comfortable and the rich. There is a great gulf
between them and the culture of our times. How hard it must be to climb
up from a cellar in Cove Place to wisdom, to honesty, to piety. I know
how comfortable pharisaic self-righteousness can say, "I thank thee I am
not wicked like one of these," and God knows which is the best before
His eyes, the scorner, or the man he loathes and leaves to dirt and
destruction. I know this poverty belongs to the state of transition we
are now in, and can only be ended by our passing through this into a
better. I see the medicinal effect of poverty, that with cantharidian
sting it drives some men to work, to frugality and thrift; that the
Irish has driven the American beggar out of the streets, and will shame
him out of the almshouse ere long. But there are men who have not force
enough to obey this stimulus; they only cringe and smart under its
sting. Such men are made barbarians by poverty, barbarians in body, in
mind and conscience, in heart and soul. There is a great amount of this
barbarism in Boston; it lowers the moral character of the place, as
icebergs in your harbor next June would chill the air all day.

The fact that such poverty is here, that so little is done by public
authority, or by the ablest men in the land, to remove the evil tree and
dig up its evil root; that amid all the wealth of Boston and all its
charity, there are not even comfortable tenements for the poor to be had
at any but a ruinous rent--that is a sad fact, and bears a sad testimony
to our moral state! Sometimes the spectacle of misery does good,
quickening the moral sense and touching the electric tie which binds all
human hearts into one great family; but when it does not lead to this
result, then it debases the looker-on. To know of want, of misery, of
all the complicated and far-extended ill they bring; to hear of this,
and to see it in the streets; to have the money to alleviate, and yet
not to alleviate; the wisdom to devise a cure therefor, and yet make no
effort towards it--that is to be yourself debased and barbarized. I have
often thought, in seeing the poverty of London, that the daily spectacle
of such misery did more in a year to debauch the British heart than all
the slaughter at Waterloo. I know that misery has called out heroic
virtue in some men and women, and made philanthropists of such as
otherwise had been only getters and keepers of gain. We have noble
examples of that in the midst of us; but how many men has poverty trod
down into the mire; how many has this sight of misery hardened into cold
worldliness, the man frozen into mere respectability, its thin smile on
his lips, its ungodly contempt in his heart!

       *       *       *       *       *

Out of this barbarism of poverty there come three other forms of evil
which indicate the moral condition of Boston; of that portion named just
now as below the morals of trade and the press. These also I will call
up to testify.

       *       *       *       *       *

One is Intemperance. This is a crime against the body; it is felony
against your own frame. It makes a schism amongst your own members. The
amount of it is fearfully great in this town. Some of our most wealthy
citizens, who rent their buildings for the unlawful sale of rum to be
applied to an intemperate abuse, are directly concerned in promoting
this intemperance; others, rich but less wealthy, have sucked their
abundance out of the bones of the poor, and are actual manufacturers of
the drunkard and the criminal. Here are numerous distilleries owned, and
some of them conducted, I am told, by men of wealth. The fire thereof is
not quenched at all by day, and there is no night there; the worm dieth
not. There out of the sweetest plant which God has made to grow under a
tropic sun, men distil a poison the most baneful to mankind which the
world has ever known. The poison of the Borgias was celebrated once;
cold-hearted courtiers shivered at its name. It never killed many; those
with merciful swiftness. The poison of rum is yet worse; it yearly
murders thousands; kills them by inches, body and soul. Here are
respectable and wealthy men, men who this day sit down in a Christian
church and thank God for his goodness, with contrite hearts praise him
for that Son of Man who gave his life for mankind, and would gladly give
it to mankind; yet these men have ships on the sea to bring the poor
man's poison here, or bear it hence to other men as poor; have
distilleries on the land to make still yet more for the ruin of their
fellow Christians; have warehouses full of this plague, which "outvenoms
all the worms of Nile;" have shops which they rent for the illegal and
murderous sale of this terrible scourge. Do they not know the ruin which
they work; are they the only men in the land who have not heard of the
effects of intemperance? I judge them not, great God! I only judge
myself. I wish I could say, "They know not what they do;" but at this
day who does not know the effect of intemperance in Boston?

I speak not of the sale of ardent spirits to be used in the arts, to be
used for medicine, but of the needless use thereof; of their use to
damage the body and injure the soul of man. The chief of your police
informs me there are twelve hundred places in Boston, where this article
is sold to be drunk on the spot; illegally sold. The Charitable
Association of Mechanics, in this city, have taken the accumulated
savings of more than fifty years, and therewith built a costly
establishment, where intoxicating drink is needlessly but abundantly
sold! Low as the moral standard of Boston is, low as are the morals of
the press and trade, I had hoped better things of these men, who live in
the midst of hard-working laborers, and see the miseries of intemperance
all about them. But the dollar was too powerful for their temperance.

Here are splendid houses, where the rich man or the thrifty needlessly
drinks. Let me leave them; the evil Demon of Intemperance appears not
there; he is there, but under well-made garments, amongst educated men,
who are respected and still respect themselves. Amid merriment and song
the Demon appears not. He is there, gaunt, bony, and destructive, but so
elegantly clad, with manners so unoffending, you do not mark his face,
nor fear his steps. But go down to that miserable lane, where men
mothered by Misery and sired by Crime, where the sons of Poverty and the
daughters of Wretchedness, are huddled thick together, and you see this
Demon of Intemperance in all his ugliness. Let me speak soberly:
exaggeration is a figure of speech I would always banish from my
rhetoric, here, above all, where the fact is more appalling than any
fiction I could devise. In the low parts of Boston, where want abounds,
where misery abounds, intemperance abounds yet more, to multiply want,
to aggravate misery, to make savage what poverty has only made
barbarian; to stimulate passion into crime. Here it is not music and the
song which crown the bowl; it is crowned by obscenity, by oaths, by
curses, by violence, sometimes by murder. These twine the ivy round the
poor man's bowl; no, it is the Upas that they twine. Think of the
sufferings of the drunkard himself, of his poverty, his hunger and his
nakedness, his cold; think of his battered body; of his mind and
conscience, how they are gone. But is that all? Far from it. These
curses shall become blows upon his wife; that savage violence shall be
expended on his child. In his senses this man was a barbarian; there are
centuries of civilization betwixt him and cultivated men. But the man of
wealth, adorned with respectability and armed with science, harbors a
Demon in the street, a profitable Demon to the rich man who rents his
houses for such a use. The Demon enters our barbarian, who straightway
becomes a savage. In his fury he tears his wife and child. The law,
heedless of the greater culprits, the Demon, and the demon-breeder,
seizes our savage man and shuts him in the jail. Now he is out of the
tempter's reach; let us leave him; let us go to his home. His wife and
children still are there, freed from their old tormentor. Enter: look
upon the squalor, the filth, the want, the misery still left behind.
Respectability halts at the door with folded arms, and can no further
go. But charity, the love of man which never fails, enters even there;
enters to lift up the fallen, to cheer the despairing, to comfort and to
bless. Let us leave her there, loving the unlovely, and turn to other

In the streets, there are about nine hundred needy boys, and about two
hundred needy girls, the sons and daughters mainly of the intemperate;
too idle or too thriftless to work; too low and naked for the public
school. They roam about--the nomadic tribes of this town, the gipsies of
Boston--doing some chance work for a moment, committing some petty
theft. The temptations of a great city are before them.[38] Soon they
will be impressed into the regular army of crime, to be stationed in
your jails, perhaps to die on your gallows. Such is the fate of the sons
of intemperance; but the daughters! their fate--let me not tell of that.

In your Legislature they have just been discussing a law against dogs,
for now and then a man is bitten and dies of hydrophobia. Perhaps there
are ten mad dogs in the State at this moment, and it may be that one man
in a year dies from the bite of such. Do the legislators know how many
shops there are in this town, in this State, which all the day and all
the year sell to intemperate men a poison that maddens with a
hydrophobia still worse? If there were a thousand mad dogs in the land,
if wealthy men had embarked a large capital in the importation or the
production of mad dogs, and if they bit and maddened and slew ten
thousand men in a year, do you believe your Legislature would discuss
that evil with such fearless speech? Then you are very young, and know
little of the tyranny of public opinion, and the power of money to
silence speech, while justice still comes in, with feet of wool, but
iron hands.[39]

There is yet another witness to the moral condition of Boston. I mean
Crime. Where there is such poverty and intemperance, crime may be
expected to follow. I will not now dwell upon this theme, only let me
say, that in 1848, three thousand four hundred and thirty-five grown
persons, and six hundred and seventy-one minors were lawfully sentenced
to your jail and House of Correction; in all, four thousand one hundred
and six; three thousand four hundred and forty-four persons were
arrested by the night police, and eleven thousand one hundred and
seventy-eight were taken into custody by the watch; at one time there
were one hundred and forty-four in the common jail. I have already
mentioned that more than a thousand boys and girls, between six and
sixteen, wander as vagrants about your streets; two hundred and
thirty-eight of these are children of widows, fifty-four have neither
parent living. It is a fact known to your police, that about one
thousand two hundred shops are unlawfully open for retailing the means
of intemperance. These are most thickly strown in the haunts of poverty.
On a single Sunday the police found three hundred and thirteen shops in
the full experiment of unblushing and successful crime. These rum-shops
are the factories of crime; the raw material is furnished by poverty; it
passes into the hands of the rum-seller, and is soon ready for delivery
at the mouth of the jail, or the foot of the gallows. It is notorious
that intemperance is the proximate cause of three fourths of the crime
in Boston; yet it is very respectable to own houses and rent them for
the purpose of making men intemperate; nobody loses his standing by
that. I am not surprised to hear of women armed with knives, and boys
with six-barrelled revolvers in their pockets; not surprised at the
increase of capital trials.

       *       *       *       *       *

One other matter let me name--I call it the Crime against Woman. Let us
see the evil in its type, its most significant form. Look at that thing
of corruption and of shame, almost without shame, whom the judge, with
brief words, despatches to the jail. That was a woman once. No! At
least, she was once a girl. She had a mother; perhaps, beyond the hills,
a mother, in her evening prayer, remembers still this one child more
tenderly than all the folded flowers that slept the sleep of infancy
beneath her roof; remembers, with a prayer, her child, whom the world
curses after it has made corrupt! Perhaps she had no such mother, but
was born in the filth of some reeking cellar, and turned into the mire
of the streets, in her undefended innocence, to mingle with the
coarseness, the intemperance, and the crime of a corrupt metropolis. In
either case, her blood is on our hands. The crime which is so terribly
avenged on woman--think you that God will hold men innocent of that? But
on this sign of our moral state, I will not long delay.

       *       *       *       *       *

Put all these things together: the character of trade, of the press;
take the evidence of poverty, intemperance, and crime--it all reveals a
sad state of things. I call your attention to these facts. We are all
affected by them more or less; all more or less accountable for them.

       *       *       *       *       *

Hitherto I have only stated facts, without making comparisons. Let me
now compare the present condition of Boston with that in former times.
Every man has an ideal, which is better than the actual facts about him.
Some men amongst us put that ideal in times past, and maintain it was
then an historical fact; they are commonly men who have little knowledge
of the past, and less hope for the future; a good deal of reverence for
old precedents, little for justice, truth, humanity; little confidence
in mankind, and a great deal of fear of new things. Such men love to
look back and do homage to the past, but it is only a past of fancy, not
of fact, they do homage to. They tell us we have fallen; that the golden
age is behind us, and the garden of Eden; ours are degenerate days; the
men are inferior, the women less winning, less witty, and less wise, and
the children are an untoward generation, a disgrace, not so much to
their fathers, but certainly to their grandsires. Sometimes this is the
complaint of men who have grown old; sometimes of such as seem to be old
without growing so, who seem born to the gift of age, without the grace
of youth.

Other men have a similar ideal, commonly a higher one, but they place
it in the future, not as an historical reality, which has been, and is
therefore to be worshipped, but one which is to be made real by dint of
thought, of work. I have known old persons who stoutly maintained that
the pears and the plums and the peaches, are not half so luscious as
they were many years ago; so they bewailed the existing race of fruits,
complaining of "the general decay" of sweetness, and brought over to
their way of speech some aged juveniles. Meanwhile, men born young, set
themselves to productive work, and, instead of bewailing an old fancy,
realized a new ideal in new fruits, bigger, fairer, and better than the
old. It is to men of this latter stamp, that we must look for criticism
and for counsel. The others can afford us a warning, if not by their
speech, at least by their example.

It is very plain, that the people of New England are advancing in
wealth, in intelligence, and in morality; but in this general march,
there are little apparent pauses, slight waverings from side to side;
some virtues seem to straggle from the troop; some to lag behind, for it
is not always the same virtue that leads the van. It is with the flock
of virtues, as with wild fowl--the leaders alternate. It is probable
that the morals of New England in general, and of Boston in special, did
decline somewhat from 1775 to 1790; there were peculiar but well-known
causes, which no longer exist, to work that result. In the previous
fifteen years, it seems probable that there had been a rapid increase of
morality, through the agency of causes equally peculiar and transient.
To estimate the moral growth or decline of this town, we must not take
either period as a standard. But take the history of Boston, from 1650
to 1700, from 1700 to 1750, thence to 1800, and you will see a gradual,
but a decided progress in morality in each of these periods. It is not
easy to prove this in a short sermon; I can only indicate the points of
comparison, and state the general fact. From 1800 to 1849, this progress
is well marked, indisputable, and very great. Let us look at this a
little in detail, pursuing the same order of thought as before.

It is generally conceded that the moral character of trade has improved
a good deal within fifty or sixty years. It was formerly a common
saying, that "If a Yankee merchant were to sell salt water at high-tide,
he would yet cheat in the measure." The saying was founded on the
conduct of American traders abroad, in the West Indies and elsewhere.
Now things have changed for the better. I have been told by competent
authority, that two of the most eminent merchants of Boston, fifty or
sixty years ago, who conducted each a large business, and left very
large fortunes, were notoriously guilty of such dishonesty in trade, as
would now drive any man from the Exchange. The facility with which notes
are collected by the banks, compared to the former method of
collection, is itself a proof of an increase of practical honesty; the
law for settling the affairs of a bankrupt tells the same thing. Now
this change has not come from any special effort, made to produce this
particular effect, and, accordingly, it indicates the general moral
progress of the community.

The general character of the press, since the end of the last century,
has decidedly improved, as any one may convince himself of, by comparing
the newspapers of that period, with the present; yet a publicity is
now-a-days given to certain things which were formerly kept more closely
from the public eye and ear. This circumstance sometimes produces an
apparent increase of wrong-doing, while it is only an increased
publicity thereof. Political servility, and political rancor, are
certainly bad enough, and base enough, at this day, but not long ago
both were baser and worse; to show this, I need only appeal to the
memories of men before me, who can recollect the beginning of the
present century. Political controversies are conducted with less
bitterness than before; honesty is more esteemed; private worth is more
respected. It is not many years since the Federal party, composed of men
who certainly were an honor to their age, supported Aaron Burr, for the
office of President of the United States; a man whose character, both
public and private, was notoriously marked with the deepest infamy.
Political parties are not very puritanical in their virtue at this day;
but I think no party would now for a moment accept such a man as Mr.
Burr, for such a post.[40] There is another pleasant sign of this
improvement in political parties: last autumn the victorious party, in
two wards of this city, made a beautiful demonstration of joy, at their
success in the Presidential election, and on Thanksgiving day, and on
Christmas, gave a substantial dinner to each poor person in their
section of the town. It was a trifle, but one pleasant to remember.

Even the theological journals have improved within a few years. I know
it has been said that some of them are not only behind their times,
which is true, "but behind all times." It is not so. Compared with the
sectarian writings--tracts, pamphlets, and hard-bound volumes of an
earlier day--they are human, enlightened, and even liberal.

In respect to poverty, there has been a great change for the better.
However, it may be said in general, that a good deal of the poverty,
intemperance, and crime, is of foreign origin; we are to deal with it,
to be blamed if we allow it to continue; not at all to be blamed for its
origin. I know it is often said, "The poor are getting poorer, and soon
will become the mere vassals of the rich;" that "The past is full of
discouragement; the future full of fear." I cannot think so. I feel
neither the discouragement nor the fear. It should be remembered that
many of the Fathers of New England owned the bodies of their laborers
and domestics! The condition of the working man has improved, relatively
to the wealth of the land, ever since. The wages of any kind of labor,
at this day, bear a higher proportion to the things needed for comfort
and convenience, than ever before for two hundred years.

If you go back one hundred years, I think you will find that, in
proportion to the population and wealth of this town or this State,
there was considerably more suffering from native poverty then than now.
I have not, however, before me the means of absolute proof of this
statement; but this is plain, that now public charity is more extended,
more complete, works in a wiser mode, and with far more beneficial
effect; and that pains are now taken to uproot the causes of
poverty--pains which our fathers never thought of. In proof of this
increase of charity, and even of the existence of justice, I need only
refer to the numerous benevolent societies of modern origin, and to the
establishment of the ministry at large, in this city--the latter the
work of Unitarian philanthropy. Some other churches have done a little
in this good work. But none have done much. I am told the Catholic
clergy of this city do little to remove the great mass of poverty,
intemperance, and crime among their followers. I know there are some few
honorable exceptions, and how easy it is for Protestant hostility to
exaggerate matters; still, I fear the reproach is but too well founded,
that the Catholic clergy are not vigilant shepherds, who guard their
sacred flock against the terrible wolves which prowl about the fold. I
wish to find myself mistaken here.

Some of you remember the "Old Almshouse" in Park-street; the condition
and character of its inmates; the effect of the treatment they there
received. I do not say that our present attention to the subject of
poverty is any thing to boast of--certainly we have done little in
comparison with what common sense demands; very little in comparison
with what Christianity enjoins; still it is something; in comparison
with "the good old times," it is much that we are doing.

There has been a great change for the better in the matter of
intemperance in drinking. Within thirty years, the progress towards
sobriety is surprising, and so well marked and obvious that to name it
is enough. Probably there is not a "respectable" man in Boston who would
not be ashamed to have been seen drunk yesterday; even to have been
drunk in ever so private a manner; not one who would willingly get a
friend or a guest in that condition to-day! Go back a few years, and it
brought no public reproach, and, I fear, no private shame. A few years
further back, it was not a rare thing, on great occasions, for the
fathers of the town to reel and stagger from their intemperance--the
magistrates of the land voluntarily furnishing the warning which a
romantic historian says the Spartans forced upon their slaves.

It is easy to praise the Fathers of New England; easier to praise them
for virtues they did not possess, than to discriminate, and fairly judge
those remarkable men. I admire and venerate their characters, but they
were rather hard drinkers; certainly a love of cold water was not one of
their loves. Let me mention a fact or two: it is recorded in the Probate
office, that in 1678, at the funeral of Mrs. Mary Norton, widow of the
celebrated John Norton, one of the ministers of the first church in
Boston, fifty-one gallons and a half of the best Malaga wine were
consumed by the "mourners;" in 1685, at the funeral of the Rev. Thomas
Cobbett, minister at Ipswich, there were consumed one barrel of wine and
two barrels of cider--"and as it was cold," there was "some spice and
ginger for the cider." You may easily judge of the drunkenness and riot
on occasions less solemn than the funeral of an old and beloved
minister. Towns provided intoxicating drink at the funeral of their
paupers; in Salem, in 1728, at the funeral of a pauper, a gallon of wine
and another of cider are charged as "incidental;" the next year, six
gallons of rum on a similar occasion; in Lynn, in 1711, the town
furnished "half a barrel of cider for the Widow Dispaw's funeral."
Affairs had come to such a pass, that in 1742, the General Court forbade
the use of wine and rum at funerals. In 1673, Increase Mather published
his "Wo unto Drunkards." Governor Winthrop complains, in 1630, that "The
young folk gave themselves to drink hot waters very immoderately."[41]

But I need not go back so far. Who that is fifty years of age, does not
remember the aspect of Boston on public days; on the evening of such
days? Compare the "Election day," or the Fourth of July, as they were
kept thirty or forty years ago, with such days in our time. Some of you
remember the celebration of Peace, in 1783; many of you can recollect
the similar celebration in 1815. On each of those days the inhabitants
from the country towns came here to rejoice with the citizens of this
town. Compare the riot, the confusion, the drunkenness then, with the
order, decorum, and sobriety of the celebration at the introduction of
water last autumn, and you see what has been done in sixty or seventy
years for temperance.

A great deal of the crime in Boston is of foreign origin: of the one
thousand and sixty-six children vagrant in your streets, only one
hundred and three had American parents; of the nine hundred and
thirty-three persons in the House of Correction here, six hundred and
sixteen were natives of other countries; I know not how many were the
children of Irishmen, who had not enjoyed the advantages of our
institutions. I cannot tell how many rum-shops are kept by
foreigners.[42] Now in Ireland no pains have been taken with the
education of the people by the Government; very little by the Catholic
church; indeed, the British government for a long time rendered it
impossible for the church to do any thing in this way. For more than
seventy years, in that Catholic country, none but a Protestant could
keep a school or even be a tutor in a private family. A Catholic
schoolmaster was to be transported, and, if he returned, adjudged guilty
of high treason, barbarously put to death, drawn and quartered. A
Protestant schoolmaster is as repulsive to a Catholic, as a Mahometan
schoolmaster or an Atheist would be to you. It is not surprising,
therefore, that the Irish are ignorant, and, as a consequence thereof,
are idle, thriftless, poor, intemperate, and barbarian; not to be
wondered at if they conduct like wild beasts when they are set loose in
a land where we think the individual must be left free to the greatest
extent. Of course they will violate our laws, those wild bisons leaping
over the fences which easily restrain the civilized domestic cattle;
will commit the great crimes of violence, even capital offences, which
certainly have increased rapidly of late. This increase of foreigners is
prodigious: more than half the children in your public schools are
children of foreigners; there are more Catholic than Protestant children
born in Boston.

With the general and unquestionable advance of morality, some offences
are regarded as crimes which were not noticed a few years ago.
Drunkenness is an example of this. An Irishman in his native country
thinks little of beating another or being beaten; he brings his habits
of violence with him, and does not at once learn to conform to our laws.
Then, too, a good deal of crime which was once concealed is now brought
to light by the press, by the superior activity of the police; and yet,
after all that is said, it seems quite clear that what is legally called
crime and committed by Americans, has diminished a good deal in fifty
years. Such crime, I think, never bore so small a proportion to the
population, wealth, and activity of Boston, as now. Even if we take all
the offences committed by these strangers who have come amongst us, it
does not compare so very unfavorably as some allege with the "good old
times." I know men often look on the fathers of this colony as saints;
but in 1635, at a time when the whole State contained less than one
tenth of the present population of Boston, and they were scattered from
Weymouth Fore-River to the Merrimack, the first grand jury ever
impanelled at Boston "found" a hundred bills of indictment at their
first coming together.

If you consider the circumstances of the class who commit the greater
part of the crimes which get punished, you will not wonder at the
amount. The criminal court is their school of morals; the constable and
judge are their teachers; but under this rude tuition I am told that the
Irish improve and actually become better. The children who receive the
instruction of our public schools, imperfect as they are, will be better
than their fathers; and their grandchildren will have lost all trace of
their barbarian descent.

I have often spoken of our penal law as wrong in its principle, taking
it for granted that the ignorant and miserable men who commit crime do
it always from wickedness, and not from the pressure of circumstances
which have brutalized the man; wrong in its aim, which is to take
vengeance on the offender, and not to do him a good in return for the
evil he has done; wrong in its method, which is to inflict a punishment
that is wholly arbitrary, and then to send the punished man, overwhelmed
with new disgrace, back to society, often made worse than before,--not
to keep him till we can correct, cure, and send him back a reformed man.
I would retract nothing of what I have often said of that; but not long
ago all this was worse; the particular statutes were often terribly
unjust; the forms of trial afforded the accused but little chance of
justice; the punishments were barbarous and terrible. The plebeian
tyranny of the Lord Brethren in New England was not much lighter than
the patrician despotism of the Lord Bishops in the old world, and was
more insulting. Let me mention a few facts, to refresh the memories of
those who think we are going to ruin, and can only save ourselves by
holding to the customs of our fathers, and of the "good old times." In
1631, a man was fined forty pounds, whipped on the naked back, both his
ears cut off, and then banished this colony, for uttering hard speeches
against the government and the church at Salem. In the first century of
the existence of this town, the magistrates could banish a woman because
she did not like the preaching, nor all the ministers, and told the
people why; they could whip women naked in the streets, because they
spoke reproachfully of the magistrates; they could fine men twenty
pounds, and then banish them, for comforting a man in jail before his
trial; they could pull down, with legal formality, the house of a man
they did not like; they could whip women at a cart's tail from Salem to
Rhode Island, for fidelity to their conscience; they could beat,
imprison, and banish men out of the land, simply for baptizing one
another in a stream of water, instead of sprinkling them from a dish;
they could crop the ears, and scourge the backs, and bore the tongues of
men, for being Quakers; yes, they could shut them in jails, could banish
them out of the colony, could sell them as slaves, could hang them on a
gallows, solely for worshipping God after their own conscience; they
could convulse the whole land, and hang some thirty or forty men for
witchcraft, and do all this in the name of God, and then sing psalms,
with most nasal twang, and pray by the hour, and preach--I will not say
how long, nor what, nor how! It is not yet one hundred years since two
slaves were judicially burnt alive, on Boston Neck, for poisoning their

But why talk of days so old? Some of you remember when the pillory and
the whipping-post were a part of the public furniture of the law, and
occupied a prominent place in the busiest street in town. Some of you
have seen men and women scourged, naked, and bleeding, in State street;
have seen men judicially branded in the forehead with a hot iron, their
ears clipped off by the sheriff, and held up to teach humanity to the
gaping crowd of idle boys and vulgar men. A magistrate was once brought
into odium in Boston, for humanely giving back to his victim a part of
the ear he had officially shorn off, that the mutilated member might be
restored and made whole. How long is it since men sent their servants to
the "Workhouse," to be beaten "for disobedience," at the discretion of
the master? It is not long since the gallows was a public spectacle here
in the midst of us, and a hanging made a holiday for the rabble of this
city and the neighboring towns; even women came to see the
death-struggle of a fellow-creature, and formed the larger part of the
mob; many of you remember the procession of the condemned man sitting on
his coffin, a procession from the jail to the gallows, from one end of
the city to the other. I remember a public execution some fourteen or
fifteen years ago, and some of the students of theology at Cambridge, of
undoubted soundness in the Unitarian faith, came here to see men kill a

Who can think of these things, and not see that a great progress has
been made in no long time. But if these things be not proof enough, then
consider what has been done here in this century for the reformation of
juvenile offenders; for the discharged convict; for the blind, the deaf,
and the dumb; for the insane, and now even for the idiot. Think of the
numerous Societies for the widows and orphans; for the seamen; the
Temperance Societies; the Peace Societies; the Prison Discipline
Society; the mighty movement against slavery, which, beginning with a
few heroic men who took the roaring lion of public opinion by the beard,
fearless of his roar, has gone on now, till neither the hardest nor the
softest courage in the State dares openly defend the unholy
institution. A philanthropic female physician delivers gratuitous
lectures on physiology to the poor of this city, to enable them to take
better care of their houses and their bodies; an unpretending man, for
years past, responsible to none but God, has devoted all his time and
his toil to the most despised class of men, and has saved hundreds from
the jail, from crime and ruin at the last. Here are many men and women
not known to the public, but known to the poor, who are daily
ministering to the wants of the body and the mind. Consider all these
things, and who can doubt that a great moral progress has been made? It
is not many years since we had white slaves, and a Scotch boy was
invoiced at fourteen pounds lawful money, in the inventory of an estate
in Boston. In 1630, Governor Dudley complains that some of the founders
of New England, in consequence of a famine, were obliged to set free one
hundred and eighty servants, "to our extreme loss," for they had cost
sixteen or twenty pounds apiece. Seventy years since, negro slavery
prevailed in Massachusetts, and men did not blush at the institution.
Think of the treatment which the leaders of the anti-slavery reform met
with but a few years ago, and you see what a progress has been made![43]

I have extenuated nothing of our condition; I have said the morals of
trade are low morals, and the morals of the press are low; that poverty
is a terrible evil to deal with, and we do not deal with it manfully;
that intemperance is a mournful curse, all the more melancholy when rich
men purposely encourage it; that here is an amount of crime which makes
us shudder to think of; that the voice of human blood cries out of the
ground against us. I disguise nothing of all this; let us confess the
fact, and, ugly as it is, look it fairly in the face. Still, our moral
condition is better than ever before. I know there are men who seem born
with their eyes behind, their hopes all running into memory; some who
wish they had been born long ago: they might as well; sure it is no
fault of theirs that they were not. I hear what they have to tell us.
Still, on the whole, the aspect of things is most decidedly encouraging;
for if so much has been done when men understood the matter less than
we, both cause and cure, how much more can be done for the future?

       *       *       *       *       *

What can we do to make things better?

I have so recently spoken of poverty that I shall say little now. A
great change will doubtless take place before many years in the
relations between capital and labor; a great change in the spirit of
society. I do not believe the disparity now existing between the wealth
of men has its origin in human nature, and therefore is to last for
ever; I do not believe it is just and right that less than one
twentieth of the people in the nation should own more than ten
twentieths of the property of the nation, unless by their own head, or
hands, or heart, they do actually create and earn that amount. I am not
now blaming any class of men; only stating a fact. There is a profound
conviction in the hearts of many good men, rich as well as poor, that
things are wrong; that there is an ideal right for the actual wrong; but
I think no man yet has risen up with ability to point out for us the
remedy of these evils, and deliver us from what has not badly been named
the Feudalism of Capital. Still, without waiting for the great man to
arise, we can do something with our littleness even now; the truant
children may be snatched from vagrancy, beggary, and ruin; tenements can
be built for the poor, and rented at a reasonable rate. It seems to me
that something more can be done in the way of providing employment for
the poor, or helping them to employment.

In regard to intemperance, I will not say we can end it by direct
efforts. So long as there is misery there will be continued provocation
to that vice, if the means thereof are within reach. I do not believe
there will be much more intemperance amongst well-bred men; among the
poor and wretched it will doubtless long continue. But if we cannot end,
we can diminish it, fast as we will. If rich men did not manufacture,
nor import, nor sell; if they would not rent their buildings for the
sale of intoxicating liquor for improper uses; if they did not by their
example favor the improper use thereof, how long do you think your
police would arrest and punish one thousand drunkards in the year? how
long would twelve hundred rum-shops disgrace your town? Boston is far
more sober, at least in appearance, than other large cities of America,
but it is still the headquarters of intemperance for the State of
Massachusetts. In arresting intemperance, two thirds of the poverty,
three fourths of the crime of this city would end at once, and an amount
of misery and sin which I have not the skill to calculate. Do you say we
cannot diminish intemperance, neither by law, nor by righteous efforts
without law? Oh, fie upon such talk. Come, let us be honest, and say we
do not wish to, not that we cannot. It is plain that in sixteen years we
can build seven great railroads radiating out of Boston, three or four
hundred miles long; that we can conquer the Connecticut and the
Merrimack, and all the lesser streams of New England; can build up
Lowell, and Chicopee, and Lawrence; why, in four years Massachusetts can
invest eight and fifty millions of dollars in railroads and
manufactures, and cannot prevent intemperance; cannot diminish it in
Boston! So there are no able men in this town! I am amazed at such talk,
in such a place, full of such men, surrounded by such trophies of their
work! When the churches preach and men believe that Mammon is not the
only God we are practically to serve; that it is more reputable to keep
men sober, temperate, comfortable, intelligent, and thriving, than it is
to make money out of other men's misery; more Christian, than to sell
and manufacture rum, to rent houses for the making of drunkards and
criminals, then we shall set about this business with the energy that
shows we are in earnest, and by a method which will do the work.

In the matter of crime, something can be done to give efficiency to the
laws. No doubt a thorough change must be made in the idea of criminal
legislation; vengeance must give way to justice, policemen become moral
missionaries, and jails moral hospitals, that discharge no criminal
until he is cured. It will take long to get the idea into men's minds.
You must encounter many a doubt, many a sneer, and expect many a
failure, too. Men who think they "know the world," because they know
that most men are selfish, will not believe you. We must wait for new
facts to convince such men. After the idea is established, it will take
long to organize it fittingly.

Much can be done for juvenile offenders, much for discharged convicts,
even now. We can pull down the gallows, and with it that loathsome
theological idea on which it rests,--the idea of a vindictive God. A
remorseless court, and careful police, can do much to hinder crime;[44]
but they cannot remove the causes thereof.

Last year, a good man, to whom the State was deeply indebted before,
suggested that a moral police should be appointed to look after
offenders; to see why they committed their crime; and if only necessity
compelled them, to seek out for them some employment, and so remove the
causes of crime in detail. The thought was worthy of the age, and of the
man. In the hands of a practical man, this thought might lead to good
results. A beginning has already been made in the right direction, by
establishing the State Reform School for Boys. It will be easy to
improve on this experiment, and conduct prisons for men on the same
scheme of correction and cure, not merely of punishment, in the name of
vengeance. But, after all, so long as poverty, misery, intemperance, and
ignorance continue, no civil police, no moral police, can keep such
causes from creating crime. What keeps you from a course of crime? Your
morality, your religion? Is it? Take away your property, your home, your
friends, the respect of respectable men; take away what you have
received from education, intellectual, moral, and religious, and how
much better would the best of us be than the men who will to-morrow be
huddled off to jail, for crimes committed in a dram-shop to-day? The
circumstances which have kept you temperate, industrious, respectable,
would have made nine tenths of the men in jail as good men as you are.

It is not pleasant to think that there are no amusements which lie level
to the poor, in this country. In Paris, Naples, Rome, Vienna, Berlin,
there are cheap pleasures for poor men, which yet are not low pleasures.
Here there are amusements for the comfortable and the rich, not too
numerous, rather too rare, perhaps, but none for the poor, save only the
vice of drunkenness; that is hideously cheap; the inward temptation
powerful; the outward occasion always at hand. Last summer, some
benevolent men treated the poor children of the city to a day of
sunshine, fresh air, and frolic in the fields. Once a year the children,
gathered together by another benevolent man, have a floral procession in
the streets; some of them have charitably been taught to dance. These
things are beautiful to think of; signs of our progress, from "The good
old times," and omens of a brighter day, when Christianity shall bear
more abundantly flowers and fruit even yet more fair.

The morals of the current literature, of the daily press--you can change
when you will. If there is not in us a demand for low morals, there
will be no supply. The morals of trade, and of politics, the handmaid
thereof, we can make better soon as we wish.

       *       *       *       *       *

It has been my aim to give suggestions, rather than propose distinct
plans of action; I do not know that I am capable of that. But some of
you are rich men, some able men; many of you, I think, are good men. I
appeal to you to do something to raise the moral character of this town.
All that has been done in fifty years, or a hundred and fifty, seems
very little, while so much still remains to do; only a hint and an
encouragement. You cannot do much, nor I much: that is true. But, after
all, every thing must begin with individual men and women. You can at
least give the example of what a good man ought to be and to do, to-day;
to-morrow you will yourself be the better man for it. So far as that
goes, you will have done something to mend the morals of Boston. You can
tell of actual evils, and tell of your remedy for them; can keep clear
from committing the evils yourself: that also is something.

Here are two things that are certain: We are all brothers, rich and
poor, American and foreign; put here by the same God, for the same end,
and journeying towards the same heaven, owing mutual help. Then, too,
the wise men and good men are the natural guardians of society, and God
will not hold them guiltless, if they leave their brothers to perish. I
know our moral condition is a reproach to us; I will not deny that, nor
try to abate the shame and grief we should feel. When I think of the
poverty and misery in the midst of us, and all the consequences thereof,
I hardly dare feel grateful for the princely fortunes some men have
gathered together. Certainly it is not a Christian society, where such
extremes exist; we are only in the process of conversion; proselytes of
the gate, and not much more. There are noble men in this city, who have
been made philanthropic, by the sight of wrong, of intemperance, and
poverty, and crime. Let mankind honor great conquerors, who only rout
armies, and "plant fresh laurels where they kill;" I honor most the men
who contend against misery, against crime and sin; men that are the
soldiers of humanity, and in a low age, amidst the mean and sordid
spirits of a great trading town, lift up their serene foreheads, and
tell us of the right, the true, first good, first perfect, and first
fair. From such men I hear the prophecy of the better time to come. In
their example I see proofs of the final triumph of good over evil.
Angels are they, who keep the tree of life, not with flaming sword,
repelling men, but, with friendly hand, plucking therefrom, and giving
unto all the leaves, the flower, and the fruit of life, for the healing
of the nations. A single good man, kindling his early flame, wakens the
neighbors with his words of cheer; they, at his lamp, shall light their
torch and household fire, anticipating the beamy warmth of day. Soon it
will be morning, warm and light; we shall be up and a-doing, and the
lighted lamp, which seemed at first too much for eyes to bear, will look
ridiculous, and cast no shadow in the noonday sun. A hundred years
hence, men will stand here as I do now, and speak of the evils of these
times as things past and gone, and wonder that able men could ever be
appalled by our difficulties, and think them not to be surpassed. Still,
all depends on the faithfulness of men--your faithfulness and mine.

The last election has shown us what resolute men can do on a trifling
occasion, if they will. You know the efforts of the three parties--what
meetings they held, what money they raised, what talent was employed,
what speeches made, what ideas set forth: not a town was left
unattempted; scarce a man who had wit to throw a vote, but his vote was
solicited. You see the revolution which was wrought by that vigorous
style of work. When such men set about reforming the evils of society,
with such a determined soul, what evil can stand against mankind? We can
leave nothing to the next generation worth so much as ideas of truth,
justice, and religion, organized into fitting institutions; such we can
leave, and, if true men, such we shall.


[36] Rev. John Pierpont

[37] This statement was made in 1849; subsequent events have shown that
I was mistaken. It is now thought respectable and patriotic not only to
engage in the slave-trade, but to kidnap men and women in Boston. Most
of the prominent newspapers, and several of the most prominent clergy,
defend the kidnapping. Attempts have repeatedly been made to kidnap my
own parishioners. Kidnapping is not even a matter of church discipline
in Boston in 1851.

[38] The conduct of public magistrates who are paid for serving the
people, is not what it should be in respect to temperance. The city
authorities allow the laws touching the sale of the great instrument of
demoralization to be violated continually. There is no serious effort
made to enforce these laws. Nor is this all: the shameless conduct of
conspicuous men at the supper given in this city after the funeral of
John Quincy Adams, and the debauchery on that occasion, are well known
and will long be remembered.

At the next festival (in September, 1851), it is notorious, that the
city authorities, at the expense of the citizens, provided a large
quantity of intoxicating drink for the entertainment of our guests
during the excursion in the harbor. It is also a matter of great
notoriety, that many were drunk on that occasion. I need hardly add,
that on board one of the crowded steamboats, three cheers were given for
the "Fugitive Slave Law," by men who it is hoped will at length become
sober enough to "forget" it. When the magistrates of Boston do such
deeds, and are not even officially friends of temperance, what shall we
expect of the poor and the ignorant and the miserable? "Cain, where is
thy Brother?" may be asked here and now as well as in the Bible story.

[39] The statistics of intemperance are instructive and surprising. Of
the one thousand two hundred houses in Boston where intoxicating drink
is retailed to be drunken on the premises, suppose that two hundred are
too insignificant to be noticed, or else are large hotels to be
considered presently; then there are one thousand common retail
groggeries. Suppose they are in operation three hundred and thirteen
days in the year, twelve hours each day; that they sell one glass in a
little less than ten minutes, or one hundred glasses in the day, and
that five cents is the price of a glass. Then each groggery receives $5
a day, or $1,565 (313 × 5) in a year, and the one thousand groggeries
receive $1,565,000. Let us suppose that each sells drink for really
useful purposes to the amount of $65 per annum, or all to the amount of
$65,000; there still remains the sum of $1,500,000 spent for
intemperance in these one thousand groggeries. This is about twice the
sum raised by taxation for the public education of all the children in
the State of Massachusetts! But this calculation does not equal the cost
of intemperance in these places; the receipts of these retail houses
cannot be less than $2,000 per annum, or in the aggregate, $2,000,000.
This sum in two years would pay for the new Aqueduct. Suppose the amount
paid for the needless, nay, for the injurious use of intoxicating drink
in private families, in boarding houses and hotels, is equal to the
smallest sum above named ($1,500,000), then it appears that the city of
Boston spends ($1,500,000 + $1,500,000 =) $3,000,000 annually for an
article that does no good to any but harm to all, and brings ruin on
thousands each year. But if a school-house or a school costs a little
money, a complaint is soon made.

[40] It must be remembered that this was written, not in 1851, but in

[41] In 1679, "The Reforming Synod," assembled at Boston, thus
complained of intemperance, amongst other sins of the times: "That
heathenish and idolatrous practice of health-drinking is too frequent.
That shameful iniquity of sinful drinking is become too general a
provocation. Days of training and other public solemnities have been
abused in this respect: and not only English but Indians have been
debauched by those that call themselves Christians.... This is a crying
sin, and the more aggravated in that the first planters of this colony
did ... come into this land with a design to convert the heathen unto
Christ, but if instead of that they be taught wickedness ... the Lord
may well punish by them.... There are more temptations and occasions
unto that sin publicly allowed of, than any necessity doth require. The
proper end of taverns, &c., being for the entertainment of strangers ...
a far less number would suffice," etc.

Cotton Mather says of intemperance in his time: "To see ... a drunken
man become a drowned man, is to see but a most retaliating hand of God.
Why we have seen this very thing more than threescore times in our land.
And I remember the drowning of one drunkard, so oddly circumstanced; it
was in the hold of a vessel that lay full of water near the shore. We
have seen it so often, that I am amazed at you, O ye drunkards of New
England; I am amazed that you can harden your hearts in your sin,
without expecting to be destroyed suddenly and without remedy. Yea, and
we have seen the devil that has possessed the drunkard, throwing him
into fire, and then kept shrieking Fire! Fire! till they have gone down
to the fire that never shall be quenched. Yea, more than one or two
drunken women in this very town, have, while in their drink, fallen into
the fire, and so they have tragically gone roaring out of one fire into
another. O ye daughters of Belial, hear and fear and do wickedly no

The history of the first barrel of rum which was brought to Plymouth has
been carefully traced out to a considerable extent. Nearly forty of the
"Pilgrims" or their descendants were publicly punished for the
drunkenness it occasioned.

[42] Over eight hundred in 1851.

[43] This statement appears somewhat exaggerated in 1851.

[44] In 1847, the amount of goods stolen in Boston, and reported to the
police, beyond what was received, was more than $37,000; in 1848, less
than $11,000. In 1849, the police were twice as numerous as in the
former year, and organized and directed with new and remarkable skill.


NOTE TO p. 62.



                                        BOSTON, November 28, 1845.


Among your friends and congregation at the Melodeon, a Society has been
organized according to law; and we have been instructed, as the Standing
Committee, to invite you to become its Minister.

It gives us great pleasure to be the means to forward, in this small
degree, the end proposed, and we cordially extend you the invitation,
with the sincere hope that it will meet a favorable answer.

We are, truly and respectfully,

              Your friends,

              MARK HEALEY,
              JOHN FLINT,
              LEVI B. MERIAM,
              AMOS COOLIDGE,
              JOHN G. KING,
              SIDNEY HOMER,
              HENRY SMITH,
              GEO. W. ROBINSON,
              C. M. ELLIS.


    _West Roxbury, Mass_.




When I received your communication of the 28th ult. I did not hesitate
in my decision, but I have delayed giving you a formal reply, in order
that I might confer with my friends in this place, whom it becomes my
painful duty to leave. I accept your invitation; but wish it to be
provided that our connection may at any time be dissolved, by either
party giving notice to the other of a desire to that effect, six months
before such a separation is to take place.

It is now nearly a year since I began to preach at the Melodeon. I came
at the request of some of you; but I did not anticipate the present
result. Far from it. I thought but few would come and listen to what was
so widely denounced. But I took counsel of my hopes and not of my fears.
It seems to me now that, if we are faithful to our duty, we shall in a
few years build up a society which shall be not only a joy to our own
hearts, but a blessing also to others, now strangers and perhaps hostile
to us. I feel that we have begun a good work. With earnest desires for
the success of our common enterprise, and a willingness to labor for the
advancement of real Christianity, I am,

        Faithfully, your friend,


        _West Roxbury, 12th Dec., 1845._

       *       *       *       *       *

On Sunday, January 4, 1846, REV. THEODORE PARKER was installed as Pastor
of the Twenty-eighth Congregational Society in Boston. The exercises on
the occasion were as follows:--




The Chairman of the Standing Committee then addressed the Congregation
as follows:--

By the instructions of the Society, the Committee have made an
arrangement with Mr. Parker, by which the services of this Society,
under its new organization, should commence with the new year; and this
being our first meeting, it has been set apart for such introductory
services as may seem fitting for our position and prospects.

The circumstances under which this Society has been formed, and its
progress hitherto, are familiar to most of those present. It first began
from certain influences which seemed hostile to the cause of religious
freedom. It was the opinion of many of those now present, that a
minister of the Gospel, truly worthy of that name, was proscribed on
account of his opinions, branded as a heretic, and shut out from the
pulpits of this city.

At a meeting of gentlemen held January 22, 1845, the following
Resolution was passed:--

"_Resolved_, That the Rev. Theodore Parker shall have a chance to be
heard in Boston."

To carry this into effect, this Hall was secured for a place of meeting,
and the numbers who have met here from Sunday to Sunday, have fully
answered our most sanguine expectations. Our meetings have proved that
though our friend was shut out from the temples, yet "the people heard
him gladly." Of the effects of his preaching among us I need not speak.
The warm feelings of gratitude and respect expressed on every side, are
the best evidences of the efficacy of his words, and of his life.

Out of these meetings our Society has naturally sprung. It became
necessary to assume some permanent form--the labor of preaching to two
Societies, would of course be too much for Mr. Parker's health and
strength--the conviction that his settlement in Boston would be not only
important for ourselves, but also for the cause of liberal Christianity
and religious freedom--these were some of the reasons which induced us
to form a Society, and invite him to become its minister. To this he has
consented; with the understanding that the connection may be dissolved
by either party, on giving six months notice to that effect.

At his suggestion, and with the warm approval of the Committee, we have
determined to adopt the old Congregational form of settling our
minister; without the aid of bishop, churches, or ministers.

As to our Choice, we are, upon mature reflection, and after a year's
trial, fully persuaded that we have found our minister, and we ask no
ecclesiastical council to ratify our decision.

As to the Charge usually given on such occasions, we prefer to do
without it, and trust to the conscience of our minister for his

As to the Right Hand of Fellowship, there are plenty of us ready and
willing to give that, and warm hearts with it.

And for such of the other ceremonies usual on such occasions, as Mr.
Parker chooses to perform, we gladly accept the substitution of his
services for those of any stranger.

The old Puritan form of settling a minister is, for the people to do it
themselves; and this let us now proceed to do.

In adopting this course, we are strongly supported both by principle and
precedent. Congregationalism is the Republicanism of the Church; and it
is fitting that the people themselves should exercise their right of
self-government in that most important particular, the choice and
settlement of a minister. For examples, I need only remind you of the
settlement of the first minister in New England, on which occasion this
form was used, and that it is also used at this day by one of the most
respectable churches in this city.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Society then ratified the proceedings by an unanimous vote; and Mr.
Parker publicly signified that he adhered to his consent to become the
Minister of this Society, and the organization of the Society was thus





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