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rive asunder the massive rocks, and unfold the history of creation as it lies written on the pages of their piled-up strata. Let them gather up the fossil fragments of a lost Fauna, reproducing the ancient forms which inhabited the land or the seas, bringing them together, bone to his bone, till Leviathan and Behemoth stand before us in bodily presence and in their full proportions, and we almost tremble lest these dry bones should live again! Let them put nature to the rack, and torture her, in all her forms, to the betrayal of her inmost secrets and confidences. They need not forbear. The foundations of the round world have been laid so strong that they cannot be moved.

But let them not think by searching to find out God. Let them not dream of understanding the Almighty to perfection. Let them not dare to apply their tests and solvents, their modes of analysis or their terms of definition, to the secrets of the spiritual kingdom. Let them spare the foundations of faith. Let them be satisfied with what is revealed of the mysteries of the Divine Nature. Let them not break through the bounds to gaze after the Invisible, – lest the day come when they shall be ready to cry to the mountains, Fall on us, and to the hills, Cover us!

Brethren, I have a deep feeling that one of the great wants of our time is a stronger sense of responsibility among educated and literary men for the word spoken and the word written. There needs more of that spirit with which Johnson concluded his “ Rambler," when he said, “I shall never envy the honors which wit and learning obtain in any other cause, if I can be remembered among the writers who have given ardor to virtue and confidence to truth.” There needs more of that spirit to which Walter Scott- who, as we have seen, was not unaware of the importance of complete novelty for literary success -- gave expression, when he said to a friend a few years before his death, “I am drawing near to the close of my career. I am fast shuffling off the stage. I have been, perhaps, the most voluminous author of the day; and it is a comfort for me to think, that I have tried to unsettle no man's faith, to corrupt no man's principle, and that I have written nothing which, on my death-bed, I should wish blotted.” There needs more of that spirit to which Alexander Pope gave brilliant and beautiful utterance, in the summing-up of his survey of the Temple of Fame:

“Nor fame I slight, nor for her favors call:

She comes unlooked for, if she comes at all.
But if the purchase costs so dear a price,
As soothing folly, or exalting vice;
Oh, if the Muse must flatter lawless sway,
And follow still where fortune leads the way;
Or if no basis bear my rising name,
But the fall’n ruins of another's fame, -
Then teach me, Heaven! to scorn the guilty bays,
Drive from my breast that wretched lust of praise;
Unblemish'd let me live, or die unknown;
Oh, grant an honest fame, or grant me none!”

Or better still might it be, if we could rise with Milton to a strain of higher mood, and realize that

Fame is no plant that grows on mortal soil,
Nor in the glistering foil
Set off to the world, nor in broad rumor lies;
But lives and spreads aloft by those pure eyes,
And perfect witness of all-judging Jove;
As he pronounces lastly on each deed,
Of so much fame in heaven expect thy meed."

And more especially are such deeper views of responsibility, and such loftier ideas of a true and honest fame, needed among the speakers and writers of our own land. When Rome had risen to the highest pitch of grandeur and renown, her sagacious Satirist saw the cause of her approaching decline and fall in the growth of a vicious, corrupting, and enervating luxury.

“Sævior armis Luxuria incubuit, victumque ulciscitur orbem.”

This was an enemy which would be peculiarly fatal to a great military empire, which had built itself up by conquest, and which could only rely upon the manhood, the courage, the physical energy and endurance of its people, to repel the invasions of Gauls or of Goths. But it is ours to live in a great MORAL EMPIRE ; - not, indeed, without solemn forms of law, not without revered tribunals of justice, not without organized systems of government, but all resting on the original consent of the governed, all appealing to the intelligence and morality of the people for their continued support and maintenance, all relying

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on the more than atmospheric pressure of an enlightened public opinion for their stability and authority. And, if some Juvenal were here to-day to lash the follies and portray the perils of our own land, I doubt if he could point out a more serious and salient source of danger —I do not say danger of its decline and fall, for we admit no such ideas into our minds, no such words into our vocabulary, but of its social deterioration, its internal distraction, its failure to fulfil and act out the whole great rôle which has been assigned to it -- than the growing license and licentiousness of speech and of the press.

Never before were there so many opportunities for the employment of tongues and of types, and never before were there so many temptations to the abuse of them. Consider what innumerable fields for the spoken word the institutions of our country have thrown open. Not to speak of that more conspicuous arena of political debate, of which you and I, sir, should hardly care to say all that we think or to tell all that we know, consider the multitudinous legislative assemblies, and municipal councils, and caucuses, and stumps, and lyceums, and associa tions, and anniversaries, and courts of law, and temples of religion, from which words of some sort are continually flowing into that great torrent of talk, which is always sounding in our ears like the rush of mighty waters. Everywhere there are itching ears with more than an Athenian eagerness for some new thing, and with a never-tiring willingness to reward facility and felicity of speech with the highest honors of the day. What Lord Sheffield said, with doubtful justice, perhaps, of political office in Great Britain in 1785, we may say almost without qualification of all offices and honors in our own land, at the present hour. “In this country," said he, “no other proof is required of fitness for every office, than oratory; that talent supplies the place of all knowledge, experience, and judgment."

And then, the Press of America, — the periodical press, the pamphlet press, the light literature press, and, above all, the newspaper press of America, - that tremendous enginery which throws a fresh broadside at morning and evening and noonday beneath almost every roof in the republic, and whose competitions so often betray it into fatal compliances with the prejudices, the passions, and even the profligacies of its supporters; who can estimate the influence of such an enginery upon our social and moral condition? Who can calculate the pernicious effect upon the community of a single, corrupt, licentious newspaper, coining slanders like a mint, changing phases like the moon, with three hundred and sixty-five opinions in a year upon every subject which it treats, spicing its daily and its nightly potions with every variety of obscene and sensual stimulant, controlled by no sense of responsibility, finding its easy way to the knowledge and perusal of the young, the ignorant, and the inexperienced, and ministering and pandering to their diseased tastes and depraved appetites ! And who can calculate, on the other hand, the influence which might be produced, - nay, let me say, which is produced, - for I have in my mind, I thank Heaven, more than one example, — by such an engine in the hands of upright, intelligent, independent, and conscientious men, espousing and advocating neither ultraisms nor citraisms, neither a wild fanaticism nor a bigoted conservatism, with the fear of God before their eyes, with the love of truth in their hearts, and by whom the advancement of knowledge, of morality, of virtue, of right, and of righteousness, is not held subordinate to the popularity of the hour, or to the state of the subscription list.

The present accomplished and eloquent Prime Minister of England, who has been personally known and esteemed by so many of us in this country as well as in his own,* has recently declared, somewhat emphatically, on the floor of Parliament, that “as in these days the English Press aspires to share the influence of statesmen, so also it must share the reponsibilities of statesmen." It would be more true in this country, I fear, to speak of statesmen aspiring to share the influence of the press. But, however it may be as to the point of relative aspiration, there can be little question as to that of comparative responsibility. Certainly, if responsibility is to be measured by power, the responsibility of the press is greater than that of any statesman under the sun, however exalted he may be. Who has forgotten that splendid exclamation of another great English minister and orator, in 1810, when he challenged and defied all the authorities of the realm to contend against the power of the press ? “Give them," said he, "a corrupt House of Lords; give them a venal House of Commons; give them a tyrannical Prince; give them a truckling Court; and let me but have an unfettered press; - I will defy them to encroach a hair's breadth upon the liberties of England.”* Yes, an unfettered press is a match, and an overmatch, for almost any thing human. Neither tyranny nor freedom can stand against it. Neither corruption nor virtue can survive its systematic and persevering assaults. It may be rendered all but omnipotent for evil; it may be rendered all but omnipotent for good; according to the ends to which it is directed, and the influences by which it is controlled. And the only reliable, earthly influence to which we can look for safety, is a sense of responsibility, moral and religious responsibility, on the part of its controllers.

* The Earl of Derby visited the United States many years ago as Mr. Stanley.

Brethren, tremendous powers are in all our hands, tremendous responsibilities are on all our shoulders. The educated men of America, to whom peculiarly the use of the tongue and of the pen have been imparted, must look to it seasonably that they are not false or faithless to the great obligations which their advantages and opportunities have imposed upon them. It is upon them, pre-eminently, that the responsibility rests for whatever abuses of speech or of the press may endanger our political or our moral condition. It is for them to determine (under God) whether the extraordinary gift of tongues which characterizes our time and country shall be attended with something of the blessing of a Pentecost, or with more than the curse of a Babel! It is for them to cultivate and to exhibit a greater caution as to what they speak and what they print. It is for them to restrain that yearning after notoriety which leads to so much of vicious exaggeration and extravagance. It is for them to resist the temptations of poverty as well as of ambition, and to learn how to spurn the bribe which would beguile them to the advocacy or the utterance of what is false or foul. It is for them, if need be, to withstand even the temptations of their own genius, and to let even the lyre of a Mozart or the muse of a Byron lie mute for ever, rather

* Sheridan.

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