Page:The Scholar in a Republic.djvu/34

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says Arnold, "when tolerably well off: only monstrous injustice and atrocious cruelty can rouse them." Some talk of the rashness of the uneducated classes. Alas! ignorance is far oftener obstinate than rash. Against one French Revolution—that scarecrow of the ages—weigh Asia, "carved in stone," and a thousand years of Europe, with her half-dozen nations meted out and trodden down to be the dull and contented footstools of priests and kings. The customs of a thousand years ago are the sheet-anchor of the passing generation, so deeply buried, so fixed, that the most violent efforts of the maddest fanatic can drag it but a hand's-breadth.

Before the war Americans were like the crowd in that terrible hall of Eblis which Beckford painted for us,—each man with his hand pressed on the incurable sore in his bosom, and pledged not to speak of it: compared with other lands, we were intellectually and morally a nation of cowards.

When I first entered the Roman States, a customhouse official seized all my French books. In vain I held up to him a treatise by Fénelon, and explained that it was by a Catholic archbishop of Cambray. Gruffly he answered, "It makes no difference: it is French." As I surrendered the volume to his remorseless grasp, I could not but honor the nation which had made its revolutionary purpose so definite that despotism feared its very language. I only wished that injustice and despotism everywhere might one day have as good cause to hate and to fear every thing American.

At last that disgraceful seal of slave complicity is broken. Let us inaugurate a new departure, recognize that we are afloat on the current of Niagara,—eternal vigilance the condition of our safety,—that we are irrevocably pledged to the world not to go back to