« ZurückWeiter »
TO MY FORMER PUPILS.
There are now in different portions of this country not far from a thousand citizens in the formation of whose minds I have had some share as a teacher. Many of you are in places of authority, and I consider myself more fortunate than the great founder of political science in this, that Aristotle taught a royal youth and future conqueror, and Athenians indeed, but at a period when the sun of Greece was setting, while my lot has been to instruct the future law-makers of a vast and growing commonwealth in the noblest branches that can be imparted to the minds of youths preparing themselves for the citizenship of a great republic. I have taught you in the early part of our history which God has destined to fill a fair page in the annals of man if we do our arduous duty. If not, our shame will be proportionate. He never holds out high rewards without corresponding penalties.
When you were members of this institution, I led you through the history of man, of rising and of ebbing civilization, of freedom, despotism and anarchy. I have taught you how men are destined to be producers and exchangers, how wealth is gathered and lost; and how without it, there can be no progress and no culture. I have studied with many of you, the ethics of states and of political man. You can bear me witness that I have endeavored to convince you of man's inextinguishable individuality and of the organic nature of society; that there is no right without a parallel duty, no honor without justice; no liberty without the supremacy of the law; no glory without freedom, and no high destiny without earnest perseverance—that there can be no greatness of man and no grandeur of nations without self-denial.
Through you my life and name are linked to the republic, and it seems natural that I should dedicate to you a work intended to complete that part of my Political Ethics which touches more especially on liberty. You will take it as the gift of a friend, and will allow it kindly to remind you of that room where you were accustomed to sit before your teacher with the busts of Washington, Socrates, Shakspeare, and other laborers in the vineyard of humanity, looking down upon us.
The suffrages of your fellow-citizens have carried many of you into the legislative halls of our confederated states; a few of you are clothed with their chief authority, or have risen to the bench; others have seats in our congress; some have become teachers of the young; some labor in the church. Many of you are at home, and near at hand; some are on the shores of the Pacific, or in foreign lands. Wherever this book may reach you, in whatever sphere of duty it may find you occupied, receive it as a work earnestly intended to draw increased attention to the great argument of our times.
Our age has added new and startling commentaries to many subjects discussed in the Political Ethics, and things there spoken of as probably past all recurrence have since burst upon an
1 For other readers it may be mentioned that the writer is professor of History and of Political Philosophy and Economy in the State College of South Carolina.—So far the note, which was written in the year 1853. In the year 1857, he was appointed Professor of History and Political Science in Columbia College, in the city of New York, and the number of his former pupils, both in the South and the North, has increased much beyond the limits indicated at the beginning of these dedicatory pages. He affectionately includes in this address to his former pupils all those, who, since it was written, have passed from his tuition into the practical life of the citizen. Much has happened, in our own country and abroad, since the first writing of these pages, that makes the author address the sentiments contained in them and throughout the work with still warmer earnestness; and with an increased consciousness of their claim to an honest attention, and of their importance to the country whose welfare, in part, lies in the hands of the author's former pupils—the country for which they will have to give an account before that tribunal where acts and omissions are not judged of by the standard of party, passion, vanity or success, and where the prara negligentia stands recorded as a deed, as much so as the prava deligentia.
amazed world. We would never have supposed that socialism and despotism, the fatal negations of freedom, could have been boldly proclaimed in this century as the defence and refuge of humanity, We could never have believed possible such a waste of national zeal within so short a period, as we have witnessed in Italy and Germany—countries that are endeared to every civilized man.
A large part of Europe is in a state of violence, either convulsive action or enforced repose, and one of the greatest nations has apparently once more sought refuge in the reminiscences of the saddest times of Rome. History often reaches our shores from that portion of the globe by entire chapters. We are necessarily affected by new events and new ideas, as we in turn influence Europe; for we are of kindred blood, of one christian faith, of similar pursuits and civilization; we have one science and the same arts; we have one common treasure of knowledge and power; our alphabet and our numeric signs are the same; and we are members of one family of advanced nations. In such times it behooves us to keep a steady eye on all the signs of the times. Let us be attentive; let us understand. Goethe says truly that we must learn to read occasionally between the lines of books in order to understand them. It is a remark which applies with still greater force to the pages of history and those that record the changes of our own days.
You live in an energetic age. Men are intently bent on bold and comprehensive ends, and mischief is pursued with similar activity. The calling of our inter-oceanic country is a solemn one; the youngest nation shall bind the old to the oldest, and the Pacific shall unite, though the narrow Bosphorus has long divided. Your institutions come from the freest nation of ancient and venerable Europe—and your duties are proportionate to the blessings you are enjoying. The period we live in, our country's position and youth, our abundance of land and food, our descent and our freedom—all call upon us, and warn us.
If this work then aid, in ever so slight a degree, in the discharge of these high duties; if it help to show that the political and national Know Thyself is as important as the individual; if it impress more forcibly upon your minds the advice of Pliny : Habe ante oculos hanc esse terram quæ nobis miserit jura, and give it a meaning far wider than that which the Roman could give to it; if it prove an additional incentive to hold fast to our liberty and to cultivate it with fresh purity of purpose; if it increase our love of sterling action and disdain of self-praise; if it tend to confirm civil fortitude, that virtue which is acquired by the habit of at once obeying and insisting upon the laws of a free country, and shows itself most elevated when it resists alluring excitement; if, in some measure, it serve to restrain us from exaggeration and judging by plausibility-two faults that are rifer in our age than they have been almost at any other period ; if it steady the reader against that enthusiasm which Wesley designates as “the looking to the end without the means;
;" if it deepen our abhorrence of all absolutism, whether it be individual or collective, called by whatever name, monarchical or democratic, and founded upon whatever theory, whether on the jus divinum of a dynasty or the pretended universal suffrage of a Cæsar, or on the arrogance of a party and of its demagogue; and if it strengthen our conviction of the dignity of man, too feeble to wield unlimited power, and too noble to submit to it; if this book aid, in any degree, in the acknowledgment of St. Paul's great command : “Honor all men,” in the wide sphere of political existence—then, indeed, I shall be richly rewarded, and shall not consider myself too bold if I point to you as Epaminondas, in his dying hour, pointed to Leuctra and Mantinea.?
COLUMBIA, S. C., July, 1853.
i General Minutes, appended to his edition of the Book of Common Prayer, for the American Methodists.
2 Diodor. Sic. L. XV. C. 87, 6.