« PreviousContinue »
not walk for them, nor be grateful for them; nor be a terror to the royal tyrant, and an asylum to the degraded slave for them, God did his part, but they refused to do their part.
My reason for dwelling so much upon our corrupt, though popular mode of education, is this; I consider it the source from whence proceeds all our miseries, individual, doméstic, and national, which, if fully described, a thousand volumes would not contain the dreadful delineation. It is a certain fact, that children may be taught by early education, any error or any truth, or indeed any religion, manners and habits ; even though contrary to the laws of nature.
How necessary then is it to correct the present abomina. ble mode of education, and to substitute a better in its room ! Is it not a sin that cries to heaven for vengeance, against those who see the evil, and have it in their power to remedy it, and yet do not use that power to remedy evils so fatal, so dreadful, so profound? The royal oak, when a twig, may receive any bend, and the brick, when clay, may receive any form; so is it with educating our youth. The first lesson taught by parents and preceptor, by example, is cruelty. Mr. Jefferson says, “ children are imitative animals.". The master at school, and the parent at home, with whip in hand, both act the tyrant. The children must therefore learn by the sense of feeling, as well as seeing. - The second lesson is ambition : this is inculcated by threats, by promises, by classical advancement, and by the hope of a silver medal.
When civil and christian education, so called, is such, is it not abominable injustice to hang one man and imprison another, who only act according to the principles dictated by this mode of society? If the present system of education is the parent of crime, is it not the indispensable duty of those who have it in their power, to correct this deleterious mode, and without delay ? The man 'who has been frustrated in his ambitious arrangements to make his fortune by legal swindling, such as fraudful speculation, shaving notes, enor. mous usury, the banking system pushed to an extreme, &c, &c; so powerful are first impressions, and the prejudice of education, that he uses unlawful means to accomplish his object, by forgery, by robbery, by murder, &c. This is the cause of the premature and violent deaths of many thousands in christendom, every year. I do contend, that there can be
no real happiness, but what ultimately tends, either directly or indirectly, to promote the happiness of mankind. If this is a fundamental truth, our present and most perfect mode of civilized and christianized society, is corrupt, totally corrupt, to its very source, Hence we see all ranks and grades in civil society, in full pursuit after riches which will enable them to attain the highest pinnacle of grandeur. Of course, we see in church, and state, all people and parties are endeav. ouring to outvie each other in outward decorations and equipages, to the total neglect of the inward ornament of a philanthropic and patriotic heart. Yet every body knows, because daily experience demonstrates the, melancholy fact, that wealth without charity, is misery most profound. Man was ordained by nature, to progress from imbecility and ignorance, to intelligence and social intercourse : but what is the fact, as is relates to civil society? It is this; that man, so far from considering that his individual happiness consists in promoting the happiness of his fellow.creatures, of all kinds, kindreds and colors; he necessarily considers, because he has been always taught so, that his happiness consists not in virtue, nor in promoting the happiness of others; but rather in accumulating a fortune, building a palace, and outshining all others in elegance and splendor! I am truly sorry I connot find language to depicture in proper colors, the mountains of mischief and misery produced, particularly in civil society, by this fatal deviation from the plain laws of nature, and the simple dictates of common sense. The order of nature is subverted, and a curse attends the subversion ! Witness the palaces and prisons in christian cities; the abodes of extra. vagant sensuality, and of want and misery : one part cloyed with super-abundance, and the other part literally perishing with hunger ! The few are seeking their happiness in vain show, in pomp and pride, the foolish titles of royalty, and the useless tinsel of superstition ; and in so doing, rob the many of the necessaries of life, and doom them to degradation, starvation, and desperation : and then, forsooth, execute them by thousands, for doing what society collectively first teaches, and then individually compels them to do. Religion, matrimony, politics, genius, the arts and sciences, are all prostituted to gain riches. And if one intelligent child of nature will refuse to go down with the general torrent of moral corrup
tion, infamy, disgrace, and poverty, must be his portion. Was he worth thousands this year, the next he would be a beggar.
Indeed many of our boasted laws are so absurd in their nature, and so great an insult to common sense in their tendency, that the most ignorant of our own population cannot help seeing their injustice, their mighty prejudice to the contrary notwithstanding. How cruel, how absurd, how wicked, to punish the crimes in manhood which we ourselves incul. cated in infancy. What a dreadful outrage on common hon. esty, that the tender philanthropist, who, by his conduct, adorned human nature, should, for his virtue, be doomed himself to beggary, and his poor children cast as lambs among wild beasts-carted to the poorhouse-there corrupted, and soon after hung for stealing the value of a few shillings, which starvation perhaps compelled them to. While, on the other hand, the fraudulent speculator, who, from sordid avarice, and not from want, robbed his neighbours of millions, is first made a magistrate, (for what won't money make,) then an alderman, and lastly, a chief justice, senator, or what not, who rides in his superb coach and four horses, whilst his philanthropic neighbour, we have just mentioned, is reduced to beg (propped on his staff and shaking as he goes) a morsel of bread, with a lame leg, a hungry belly, and a breaking heart; and his poor children, O! dreadful thought! are sentenced to an ignominious death, by this very judge, who gained his wealth and weight, in a most corrupt society, by vice; while the intelligent philanthropist is brought to starvation for attending to the opposite virtue, and, of course, violating the wicked laws of Christianized man. Those who laugh at this true, though tragical delineation, I would to heaven they could be compelled to visit our prisons, our poorhouses, and brothels, in America as well as Europe, and examine indivi. dually, their wretched inmates, relative to their misfortunes, their vices, and their connexions ; their true and tragic tales would unfold more of the corruptions of our civil society than it would be prudent for me to delineate, however true I could prove my, delineation to be. The fact is, I could say and prove a great deal in support of my glimpse of popular depravity, which would implicate many respectable bodies, political and ecclesiastical; but by thus saying what might
be said with the strictest truth, I would subvert my own pri. mary object, namely, benefiting my fellow-creatures with the pure motive of pleasing my Creator alone. I can speak with more confidence on this subject than many others, from this consideration, that I have travelled much, as I have already mentioned ; and also, when I was a sectarian preacher, I regularly preached in prisons and poorhouses, and, in so doing, heard tales of wo, that would make the heart of a mid. night assassin, though made of stone, almost weep tears of blood.
Look at the superb streets of palaces, in one part of our cities, where thousands die of indolence and luxury, and then turn your eyes to another part of them, and you will see millions in stinking lanes, and alleys, perishing for want: I saw myself, a poor widow and her daughter, one cold winter's morning, in a corner of a miserable room, laying upon the floor; their bed and covering was a piece of an old carpet, which was sprinkled over with snow, as well as the whole room, as there was not a pane of glass in the windows, nor fuel, nor furniture, nor food in this wretched habitation, though it was within a pistol-shot of the pompous and luxuriant abodes of the sons and daughters of extravagant sensuality.
Among the savages, with whom I have been, their children were always raised without stripes, and almost without a frown; their wants, being natural, were few; their education was simple, namely, humility and obedience. I recollect, when I was 17 years of age, I happened to be among savages not totally corrupted by the sons of civilization : they were in a large circular pavillion, the roof of which was the spread. ing branches of palm trees, which were planted in an exact circle, and very close to each other, which formed at once a simple, romantic, and cooling retreat. Here the chiefs were assembled, with their usual hospitality, to regale us with palm wine; there was but one white man who sat and drank with the chiefs; but for my part, I had to kneel down at their feet, as their own children did : thus I partook of their pleasant beverage. I mention this to show how children may be taught humility without cruel chastisements. The parents are affectionate, their children are filial. They are taught, by times, to plant some simple roots, to gather the spontane. ous fruits with which the woodlands abound; as also to hunt,
fish, &c. These simple occupations supply their few and simple wants; and the children as naturally and regularly provide for their parents, in their old age, as they did before for them in their infancy. The want of filial or fraternal love or hospitality, so common among civil and polished society, is never to be seen among them. I will not except even the barbarians who devour human flesh ; even this, the lowest and most degraded of savage society, is less pregnant with misery and mischief than some of our most highly extolled civil societies. For instance, whether is it most cruel to behold helpless old age and infancy, absolutely and literally enduring the lingering and tormenting pains of death, by starvation, for no offence ? or men and women roasting in the slow fires of the inquisition for not believing a lie? or the patriot enduring the tortures of the rack, for opposing the cruel government of his most Christian majesty ? or the philanthropist enduring the lingering pains of death in a dungeon, for advocating injured innocence, and vindicating the rights of man, by his pen? or the sanguine, but, alas, imprudent champion of civil liberty, who is burned alive on a gibbet, for the unpardonable crime of what his Christian tyrant calls high treason ?
These are only a small specimen of the blessings of Christian society, and the tender mercies of Christian potentates. Now which, I would ask, is most cruel, the conduct of the most barbarous part of savage society, I mean cannibals, who kill instantaneously, and then devour their prisoners of war, or the conduct of the societies I have given a glimpse of ? Common sense, common candour, and common feeling, will answer the interrogation. Let any man read Captain Wil. son's account of the Pelew Islands, in order to see the most favourable view of savage society, when totally uncontaminated by civilized and Christianized man, and then the contrast will appear most glaring between civil and savage society,
There are institutions formed in our cities, for the purpose of collecting funds, for civilizing and Christianizing the Asiatics ; as also, for the support of the ministers of religion. Yet, alas, while they were accumulating money for the conversion and tuition of the heathens, their own near neighbours, young and old, were absolutely perishing with hunger and cold. What a sight is this for kind heaven to behold! the professors