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town. It seems to me that our communities, or towns of houses, ought to yield each other more solid benefit than we have yet learned to draw from them; for example, the providing the single individual with the means and apparatus of science and of the elegant arts. There are a great many articles of the highest value for occasional inspection which few men are able to own, and which really few men, or perhaps no man wishes to own; for instance, a telescope. Every man, every child wishes to see the ring of Saturn, the belts of Jupiter and Mars, the mountains and craters in the moon; yet how few can buy a telescope, and of these, scarcely one would wish the trouble of keeping it in order and exhibiting it. The same remark applies to electrical and to chemical apparatus. There are a great many books which every man sometimes wishes to consult, which he neither is able nor desirous to possess; such as encyclopædias, dictionaries, charts, maps; pictures of birds, beasts, shells, trees, flowers, whose names he desires to know, but which he only wants for occasional reference, and by no means wishes to own. Especially is this true of works of the fine arts, such as pictures, and prints, and sculptures. There is an influence from these works on a prepared mind that is as positive as the influence of music — indescribably pleasing and refining, and not to be supplied from any other source.
But who can own such things as pictures, and engravings, and statues, and casts? They are a very costly kind of property, and immediately entail new expenses, as of framing, and rooms for their exhibition; and the use which any man can make of them is only rare, and the value is greatly enhanced by the numbers of men who can share the enjoyment of them. I go to Rome and see on the walls of the Vatican the Transfiguration, painted by Ra
phael, reckoned the first picture in the world; or in Sistine Chapel I see the grand sibyls and prophets, painted in fresco by Michael Angelo, which have every day now for three hundred years inflamed the imagination and exalted the piety of what vast multitudes of men of all nations. I wish to bring home to my children and my friends copies of these admirable forms, which I can find in the shops of the engravers: but I do not wish the vexation of owning them. I wish to find in my own town a library and museum which is the property of all the town, where I can deposit this precious treasure, where I and my children can see it from time to time, and where it has its proper place among hundreds of such donations from all the other citizens who have also brought thither whatever articles they have judged to be in their nature rather a public than a private property. A collection of this kind, the property of each neighborhood, of each town, would dignify each town; it would draw the bonds of neighborhood closer; a town would then be a town for an intellectual and humane purpose also, and we would love and respect our neighbors more. Obviously, it would be very easy for every town to discharge this truly municipal duty. Every one of us would gladly contribute his share; and the more gladly, the more considerable the institution had become.
In Europe, where the feudal form of society secures the permanence of wealth in certain families, those families in each town buy and preserve these things and throw them open to the public. That is the reason why our own countrymen of taste and education desire to go to Europe — to visit the galleries and libraries that are there preserved in a hundred places. But in America, where democratic institutions regularly divide every great estate into small
portions again after a few years, it is necessary that the public should step into the place of these permanent proprietors, and a lyceum, a public library, a public gallery, should exist in every town and village for the education and inspiration of all the individuals.
2. Certainly, not aloof from this homage to beauty, but in strict connection therewith, the house will come to be esteemed a Sanctuary. The language of a ruder age has given to common law the maxim that every man's house is his castle: the progress of truth will make every house a shrine. Will not man one day open his eyes and see how dear he is to the soul of Nature how near it is to him? Will he not rise above the fogs that blind him, and see that Law prevails forever and ever; that his private being is a part of it; that its home is in his own unsounded heart; that his economy, his labor, his good and bad fortune, his health and manners, are all a curious and exact demonstration in miniature of the Genius of the Eternal Providence? When he perceives the Law, he ceases to despond. Whilst he sees it, every thought and act of his is raised, and becomes an act of religion. Does the consecration of Sunday confess of the desecration of the entire week? Does the consecration of the church confess the profanation of the house? Let us read the incantation backward. Let the man stand on his feet. Let religion cease to be occasional. And the pulses of thought that go to the borders of the universe, let them proceed from the bosom of the Household.
These are the consolations — these are the ends to which the household is instituted, and the rooftree stands. If these are sought, and in any good degree attained, can the State, can commerce, can climate, can the labor of many for one, yield anything better, or half as good? Besides these aims, Society is weak
and the State an intrusion. I think that the heroism which at this day would make on us the impression of Epaminondas and Phocion must be that of a domestic conqueror. He who shall bravely and gracefully subdue this Gorgon of Convention and Fashion, and show men how to lead a clean, handsome and heroic life amid the beggarly elements of our cities and villages; whoso shall teach me how to eat my meat, and take my repose, and deal with men, without any shame following, will restore the life of man to splendor, and make his own name dear to all history.
MR. PRESIDENT, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: “I suppose there is no anniversary that meets from all parties, a more entire good will than this rural festival. Town and country, trader and manufacturer, clerk and layman, sailor and soldier, men and women, all have an equal stake in the prosperity of the farmer. It is well with all when it is well with him. He has no enemy, and all are loud in his praise. Every wise State has favored him, and the best men have held him highest. Cato said, when it was said that such or such a man was a good husbandman, it was looked upon as the very highest compliment. Of all the rewards given by the Romans to great public benefactors, the most valued and the rarest bestowed was the crown of grass, given only by the acclamation of the army for the preservation of the whole army, by the valor of one man. Since the dependence, not of the whole army, but of the whole State, rests on the tiller of the ground, the arval crown, the crown of grass should be more rightfully awarded to the farmer. Let us then look at the condition of the farmer, or the man with the hoe, at his strength and weakness, at his aids and servants, at his greater and lesser means, and his share in the great future which opens before the people of this country.
The glory of the farmer is that it is his to construct and to create. Let others borrow and imitate, travel and exchange, and make fortunes by speed and dexterity in selling something which they never made, all