Indiana. General Assembly.

Documentary journal of Indiana 1856, part 1 (Volume 1856, pt.1) online

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their attainment, should be deemed too costly to secure them. —
Your sons will bless your memories for their possession. Such a
capital at their outset in life, will prove a more reliable assurance
of success than all the wealth of "Wall Street." With such life-
preservers, they cannot be long submerged by the billows of mis-
fortune. The elastic power of such habits will carry them tri-
umphantly through every reverse, and the shield of such a charac-
ter will quench all the fiery darts of temptation.

Let mothers also remember that the loveliest trait in a daughter's
character is sympathy with a mother's toils, and her highest accom-
plishment, a modest, cheerful spirit that finds its purest enjoyment
in the alleviation of that mother's cares and domestic labors. —



583

What can be more unfilial and unlovely, than the pride and indo-
lence that ignore all such sympathy and withhold the needed aid?
What trait in a daughter's character could be more ominous of
evil, more significant of the meagerness of her mental endow-
ments and the poverty of her moral culture? Nothing could be
more out of place, inappropriate and in bad taste, than some
fen: ale accomplishments, attained at the expense of others more
essential, and studiously made prominent to divert attention from
manifest deficiencies of a fundamental character. Such decoys
deceive no one, whose capture would not be a misfortune, and
whose affinity would not more likely prove a burden than a bless-
ing. Valuable as such accomplishments may be in their appro-
priate place, and I would not underate their worth nor depreciate
their value, yet the substitution of them for the more real and sub-
stantial attainments of mental and moral culture, only betrays the
folly of the preference and the poverty of the exchange. A tune
skillfully played on the piano would be a poor substitute for a sad
loaf of bread. The harp may sound well in the parlor, but its
harmony would be no atonement for the manifest deficiencies of
the table arrangements. A cup of coffee, indicative of a scientific
knowledge of its manufacture, the light rolls, golden butter, rich
cream and snowy table-cloth, are no equivocal signs of a domestic
training, which will do more to gladden the countenance and cheer
the heart of the care worn husband, than all the music, painting,
embroidering and nameless et ceteras that ever graced the pro-
gramme of the most renowned Female College in the land. —
French may be an apology for sense, but it will never be accepted
as a substitute for prompt, efficient and neat housewifery. The
poetry of life must not encroach on the real, every day prose of our
earthly being. Splendid jewelry, whether galvanized or genuine,
is rather significant, and not unfrequently sustains a similar rela-
tion to the mental caliber and culture of its proprietor, that fancy
stocks do to the real responsibility of the kiting banker. Let no
one suppose that auricular appendages will be regarded as legal
evidence of a surplus of brains, by any one whose stock is suffi-
cient to enable him to distinguish the difference between the
internal and external endowments. Hang out no such signals of
distress, exhibit no such signs of cerebral wealth, for they will
rather repel than lure any responsible craft to the capture. The
Indian's simplicity and ignorance lead him to admire ear rings and
bracelets. The daughters of Ham take peculiar delight in such
physical decorations. Let these untutored minds revel and delight
themselves with such gewgaw ornaments, so admirably suited to
enhance the charms of ebony belles and quadroon beauties. Hoops
may impart a seeming importance and responsibility to the cor-
poration, and display the beauty and amplitude of silk dresses, but
like many other devices of fashion, they rather burlesque than
beautify the workmanship divine. A collapse in these flues of
vanity would probably result in nothing more serious than the



584

explosion of a folly and fashion, which were driven from civilized
life a century ago by the shafts of ridicule. Eschew all such vain
pretence. Repudiate all such deceptive show. Seek the more
enduring and permanent embellishments of mental discipline and
moral culture, and you will need no such auxiliaries, require no
such adventitious appendages to demonstrate the superiority of
intellectual attainment ove mere physical decorations.

Let the home training be what its mission demands. Let it aim
to fit its subjects for the sturdy realities of life, by a thorough pro-
vision for mental and moral culture, making utility prominent and
fundamental, accomplishments subordinate and secondary. Let
such attainments be reached in connection with the proper culti-
vation of the social affections. Home should possess attractions
of a social nature unrivalled by any other locality. Let no pains
be spared to gather around this palladium of domestic happiness
all that experience can suggest, affection prompt and wisdom com-
mend to entertain, interest and cultivate the home sympathies of
youth. As the impressions of early years are the most permanent,
so they should be the most pure and pleasant. When home is the
happy place it should be, foreign scenes and associates will not
acquire an undue influence and power. When the fathers com-
pany is regarded by the children as the richest entertainment of
the evening, there will be no occasion for the mother to feel that
the burden of rendering the home influence what it ought to be,
devolves on her alone. Wealth accumulated at the expense of the
culture of these affections, will prove neither a comfort to parents
nor a blessing to their offspring. Thousands have made this fatal
mistake, exchanged domestic happiness for gold, bartered their
children's peace and welfare for honors, saddened their own declin-
ing years and entailed on their memories a legacy of Medean
curses. Let parental example create the impression that the
culture of the intellectual, social and moral powers, is paramount
to another attainments, and progress in the family training, of a
permanent and reliable character, will be reached and in the right
direction. Such a domestic education will correct many existing
evils, rescue thousands from disappointment and ruin, and make
sons and daughters an honor and comfort to parents, a blessing to
society and pillars in the church of God. It will also prove an
admirable preparation for the public education of the school and
the college. A character moulded and shaped under such home
influences and trained to an experimental acquaintance with the
uncompromising realities of labor, is the best material for the
development and discipline of the public institution. It is from
such home circles that our best scholars come; taught obedience
prompt and cheerful, to parental authority, they are prepared for
like compliance with the rules and regulations of the public school,
and trained to industrious habits at home, they are disposed to
improve their time with like diligence in the acquisition of knowl-
edge. It is not from such hearth-stones that come the dandy boy



585

and the pert miss, the coxcomb youth and the conceited madam-
oiselle, the mustached, perfumed, supercilious and gasy apology
of a man and his exquisite counterpart. Would that we could
class such specimens among the extinct species and contemplate
the genera only as the fossil remains of some antediluvian period.

Our age is characterized as an era of progress. But let it not
be forgotten that progress is not always synonymous with im-
provement. There is the up-grade of wisdom, intellectual culture,
scientific attainment and moral development; and there is also the
down-grade of folly, mental indolence, intellectual dissipation and
moral deterioration. The one demands the constant pressure of
steam, the other needs only a slight application of the brakes. On
this double track of life these opposite trains are constantly pass-
ing, under their appropriate conductors, freighted with passengers
of corresponding character and destination. It is a problem yet
unsolved, on which of these trains the majority of our youth will
ultimately be found, whether the out -train of pleasure, poverty and
perdition, or the in-train of health, wealth and heaven. Let all
now in the depot of youthful hopes and buoyancy, look well to
their tickets, and see that they are not only through tickets and
properly endorsed, but also for the up-train. Beware of cheats,
pickpockets and runners for the down-train, should be posted in
every depot, for the admonition of the inexperienced and unwary.
Be sure and buy the W tickets, headed work, worth and wisdom,
but beware of purchasing the F tickets even though offered at
half price. Their very motto, fun, fashion and folly, sufficiently
indicates the buyers destiny and the result of his earthly trip. —
Beware of the fast train on the broad gauge, for passengers with
tickets for this line are soon put through health, wealth and char-
acter, bankrupts for this world and with no bill of credit for the
next.

One of the marked features of our times is the wonderful in-
crease of the means for intellectual and moral culture. No one
can contemplate these facilities without a feeling of deep solici-
tude, that our youth should thoroughly appreciate their privileges
and fully avail themselves of the proffered aid, and that our sons
and daughters should prove themselves, by their intellectual and
moral attainments, to be no degenerate offspring of noble ancestry,
but worthy heirs of the richest patrimony earth affords. What
title of nobility can compare with the sovereignty of an American
citizen? Stars and garters, coronets and crowns, thrones and
scepters are but the merest baubles in comparison with the noble
independence of an honest, frank, outspoken and fearless man,
who, in the conscious dignity of an intelligent mind and cultivated
heart, replies to the arrogant assumptions of royalty, in the preg-
nant and talismanic phrase, "I am an American Citizen!" A
sentence more potent, significant, soul-inspiring, never fell from
uninspired lips. Do our youth appreciate the import of that
declaration, fraught, not only with interesting historical associa-



586

tion, but pre-eminently suggestive of the responsibilities of the
possessor of such a birth right ? Let them remember that to be
worthy of such an inheritance, they should not only be deeply
versed in the history of their country, the character of its founders
and the genius of its government, but they should be in profound
sympathy with the master spirits that have shaped its course,
moulded its character and directed its development. How else
can they rightly understand their mission, or execute its high
behest? How most effectually to accomplish the work assigned
him and meet the responsibilities of his birth, is an interrogatory
of no ordinary significancy, even to the one on whom these respon-
sibilities have rested for years; but to the young and inexperienced
adventurer, it becomes a question paramount to all others.

There is a high and sacred duty, which every youth, whatever
may be his station or circumstances in life, owes his country,
second only to that allegiance, which his Creator claims of him as
the subject of his moral government. Let it not be forgotten by
any of our youth, that such a duty can be met and its claims be
satisfied only by a faithful, earnest and assiduous cultivation of
his intellectual and moral powers. The noble eminence to which
he may and ought to aspire, can be reached and maintained only
by such culture. Anything short of this will end in disappoint-
ment. Wealth has no stability, no potency, no assurance, and its
arrogant claims justly merit the withering rebuke, implied in the
sarcastic enquiry, "is it gold that makes the man?" Work, work
is the watchword of progress, the talisman of success, the title
deed to real dignity, permanent greatness and vital godliness. The
materials of these fabrics must be wrought into their befitting
form and fineness by a process analogous to the silk-worms toil.
Mental indolence and moral apathy must be shaken off as a fatal
incubus, would you win the prize and gain the crown. You will
carry with you into another world nothing, absolutely nothing but
your character. You may accumulate wealth, enjoy pleasure and
attain earthly honors, but they are not permanent possessions. —
Death will cancel all your claim on such property, issue a writ of
ejectment that you will not be at liberty to ignore or resist, and
administer on your estate in a manner that will disclose the real
worthlessness of all such assets.

To youth character is everything, emphatically everything, both
for this world and the next. As the stately son of the forest main-
tains a proud position among his sylvan peers and draws from his
mother's bosom, through massive roots and their thousand ramifi-
cations, that nourishment, which gives verdure to his foliage and
amplitude to his trunk; so the youth, who would withstand the
seductions of prosperity, resist the blandishments of pleasure, over-
come the temptations of gain, repel the suggestions of ambition
and conquer the hydra-headed monsters of his own corrupt heart,
must have a character, based on the eternal principles of truth and
competent to stand the severest tests, to which it may be subjected



587

by the combined powers of the world, the flesh and the devil. —
Nothing, but the massive strength and the vital energy of sterling
principles, will be sufficient to sustain him in the conflicts of life.
Standing like a sapling oak, exposed to the storms of adversity,
assailed by the tempests of passion and beset by the seductions
of vice, in all her Protean forms and with all her Circeari arts, he
gains strength by a firm and steady resistance, and acquires force
and vigor from these varied assaults and subtile tests. A charac-
ter thus evolved carries with it a pre-emption right to success, con-
tains the germ of wealth, and is itself the true source of pleasure
and the fountain of all real, permanent honor. Let the work of
constructing such a character be undertaken with a proper appre-
ciation of its nature.

Remember, that " a good name is better than great riches," is
not only an embodiment of daily experience, established, directly
or indirectly, by constant observation, but it is also clothed with
the authority of an inspired aphorism. Remember, also, that the
structure of such a character is a work for life, no less than life's
great work, and well accomplished is worth life's utmost toil. It
is by slow and imperceptible accretions that the vegetable world
reaches its maturity, and only by a subtile chemistry that floral
beauty and loveliness are evolved. If the oak is the growth of
years, and the cedar is the exponent of centuries, shall not suf-
ficient time be allotted to the mind to elaborate its powers, devel-
ope its energies and mature its capacities? If fragile beauty is
the result of a protracted and inexplicable formation of the tissue
through which it sheds its radiance, shall not time and appropriate
effort be awarded to the developement, culture and maturity of the
inner man of the heart? How proposterous the thought, how
absurd and vain the expectation, that the mind and heart, God's
noblest workmanship on earth, can be properly educated in a few
terms at one of those literary hot-beds, called "Boarding Schools!"

The intellectual and moral railway must be carried over the
ravines of selfishness and ignorance, across the streams of indo-
lence and apathy, through the hills and ledges of prejudice and
pride. The cuts and fills on this route will be neither few, nor
small, nor far between. Dividends in such a corporation must be
appropriated, for years, to the general item of construction, repairs
and rolling stock. Understand well the work, its true character
and results, and then address yourselves manfully to its accom-
plishment, and you will have no occasion to regret the investment.

Let our youth cultivate a spirit of filial obedience, the real
foundation of all that is lovely and praiseworthy in character, to
the exercise of which is attached the pledge of God's richest bless-
ing, and on the disregard of which He has entailed his direst
curse. Let them do their utmost to counteract the promptings of
indolence, and eradicate from our national character one of its
foulest blots and most serious defects, that miserable compound
of self conceit, recklessness and ignorance, dignified with the title
ID. J.— 42



588

of "Young America," the raw material from which demagogues
and fourth-rate politicians are manufactured. This is a sad mis-
nomer, a gross perversion of a name, for there is no term in the
language, which should be more significant for good, more truly
synonymous with all that is valuable in mental and moral culture,
noble in aspiration and lovely in spirit. In its true and legitimate
import, it indicates a revised and enlarged edition of all the moral
worth and literary attainment that have preceded, a nobility to
which all may aspire and attain, whose decorations will be more
enduring and valuable than all the stars and garters of royalty,
whose noble and significant motto, "Excelsior," will be more
inspiring and potent to move the masses, than all the insignia that
ever bedecked cod-fish aristocracy, and whose aim and purpose
will be the universal diffusion of knowledge, the universal preva-
lence of virtue. Let it be rescued from its present degradation,
reclaimed from its past perversion and dissociated from disobedi-
ence and dissipation, recklessness and an utter disregard of all
authority, both human and divine, from ignorance, self-conceit and
presumption. Thus redeemed from its illegitimate associations,
and restored to its true position and import, it would be no longer
a term of reproach, but become an appropriate title, and a signifi-
cant symbol of the noble and associated efforts of our youth to
become, in literary progress, business enterprise and moral attain-
ment, all that they can and ought to be.

Let them also beware of that miserable delusion, that popular
fallacy, "Vox populi vox dei," the voice of the people the voice of
God, which is nothing else than the very quintessence of the
religion of Atheistic France during the reign of terror. This
sham divinity has committed the grossest outrages earth ever wit-
nessed. It has martyred thousands, banished the purest patriots,
and crucified the Lord of glory. The great principles of right are
as immutable as the throne of God, and as unchangeable as the
cycles of eternity. Make them the basis of your actions, the rule
of your conduct, the guide of your opinions, and you will not be
misled by that specious, yet shallow and deceptive saying, " Our
country right or wrong," which is nothing more nor less than
another edition of the vox populi fallacy, under another name.
The individual, who has no higher standard of moral action than
this, will find himself the sport of every breeze of popular change.
Like the Jews of old, one day "shouting Hosanna," and the
next equally vociferous in the cry, "crucify him," he will be little
else than an embodiment of fickleness, the mere echo of party
supremacy. Nothing could be more delusive than a maxim which
would justify any outrage, committed by a majority, however
shameful and lawless, that would sustain the grossest abuse of
power, that would tolerate, nay, defend and justify the vilest vil-
lainy, and tamely submit to the iron heel of that despotism which
would leave no trace of either mental, moral or political independ-
ence. A man with such a creed has no occasion for a conscience,



589

and the possessor of an enlightened conscience will have no use
for such a creed. Adopt no such motto, endorse no such principle,
if you would not partake of the crimes, enormities and murders
that have been perpetrated under its sanction and at its suggestion.
Suffer yourselves, young friends, to be led by no such ignis fatuus,
either in morals, politics or religion. The demon of party and
sect would bind you to his car and bid you do his will and blindly
obey his behest. Submit to no such domination. Remember that
there is neither true piety nor genuine patriotism in any such blind
adhesion to political platforms or sectarian creeds.

Never seek political office. If your country needs your services
they will be appreciated and sought without any effort on your
part to herald their worth. Make yourself worthy of her notice
and employment, but never court notoriety and the emoluments
of official station. Have an honest calling of your own and you
will have no occasion to descend to the low grovelling level of the
poor, miserable office seeker. I say poor, for the man who has not
industry and enterprise enough to secure an honest livelihood in
private life, may well question his competency for the public ser-
vice. He surely must be wretched enough, whose means of sub-
sistence depend on the limited and precarious tenure of official
life and compensation. A more miserable and pitiable existence
can hardly be conceived than his, who, to secure the coveted
position, must sacrifice his time, peace, present employment, self-
respect, if not his conscience, humor this man's prejudices and
that man's ignorance, be temperance and anti-temperance the
same day, pious in one neighborhood and profane in another,
flatter this man's self-conceit and ignore that man's want of wis-
dom, gamble with one man and go to church with another, com-
pliment the ministry in one locality and denounce them in another,
become all things to all men, in the widest and worst sense of the
term. Who does not turn away with utter disgust and loathing
from such a picture, a true, though faint sketch of the genuine
office seeker, on the rack of expectation and doubt till the election,
and then in the tortures of uncertainty about a re-election.

Many young men, who might otherwise have been ornaments to
their profession, valuable members of society and a comfort to
their friends, have thrown themselves away, turned political somer-
sets, and committed moral suicide in their eager chase of the
phantom of official power and place. Beware of such hallucina-
tion, lest you grasp a shadow, and find even the substance but a
mockery of your hopes. Cherish no such aspirations for office.
Seek no such responsibilities. Never be guilty of the vanity of
supposing that your talents and attainments are indispensible to
the public welfare, lest you subject yourself to the mortification of
being told, directly or indirectly, that the commonwealth will
probably suffer no detriment, should you not be called from the
retirement of private life. To such youthful aspirants, as flatter
themselves that their country would suffer irreparable loss, should



590

they not be called to her counsels, the advice would be neither
inapt nor amiss, "tarry at Jericho till your beards are grown." To
such as base their hopes of political preferment on the fact of their
connection with a dominant party and a popular sect, it might not
be inappropriately intimated that abundance of moss and mistletoe
are often found attached to the stately oak.

Let the office seek the man, and if you should be the individual
on whom its responsibilities devolve, discharge its duties faithfully,
promptly and fearlessly. Merit your own respect and you will not
be unworthy of the respect and confidence of others. Abhor that
Jesuitical maxim, "The end sanctifies the means," and that other
equivalent phrase, " All is fair in politics," remembering that the
moral stamina of their advocates is of the very lowest grade.
Adopt no such ethical code in business, politics or religion. Such
a standard will lead only to ruin, such models conduct only to
shame, and such leaders will prove " as rottenness in the bones," to
both persons and parties, that submit to their guidance.

Beware of self-constituted political engineers, whose impudence
and intrusion are equalled only by their self-conceit and presump-
tion. They arrogantly claim the post of conductors without the
competency or experience of even respectable brakemen, and not
unfrequenily aspire to run the engine of public opinion without the
qualification of decent firemen. No wonder there are frequent
collisions, trains off the track, behind time and unexpectedly
switched up Salt River to the utter amazement of the passengers.
Shun both the example and intimacy of such pretenders to politi-



Online LibraryIndiana. General AssemblyDocumentary journal of Indiana 1856, part 1 (Volume 1856, pt.1) → online text (page 49 of 53)