one serious and formidable thing in nature is a will.
Society is servile from want of will, and therefore the
world wants saviours and religions. One way is right to
go: the heroes see it, and moves on that aim, and
has the world under them for root and support. They are
to others as the world. Their approbation is honor;
their dissent, infamy. The glance of their eye has the
force of sunbeams. A personal influence towers up in
memory only worthy, and we gladly forget numbers, money,
climate, gravitation, and the rest of Fate.
can afford to allow the limitation, if we know it is the
meter of the growing person. We stand against Fate, as
children stand up against the wall in their parents' house, and notch their height from year to year.
when the child grows to adult, and is master of the house,
he or she pulls down that wall, and builds a new and bigger.
'Tis only a question of time. Every brave youth is in
training to ride and rule this dragon. Their science is to
make weapons and wings of these passions and retarding
Now whether, seeing these two things, fate and
power, we are permitted to believe in unity? The bulk of
humankind believe in two gods. They are under one dominion
here in the house, as friend and parent, in social
circles, in letters, in art, in love, in religion:
in mechanics, in dealing with steam and climate, in
trade, in politics, they think they come under another;
and that it would be a practical blunder to transfer the
method and way of working of one sphere, into the other.
What good, honest, generous
people at home, will be wolves
and foxes on change! What pious men and women in the parlor will
vote for what reprobates at the polls!
To a certain
point, they believe themselves the care of a Providence.
But, in a steamboat, in an epidemic, in war, they
believe a malignant energy rules.
relation and connection are not somewhere and sometimes,
but everywhere and always. The divine order does not
stop where their sight stops.
The friendly power works
on the same rules, in the next farm, and the next
planet. But, where they have not experience, they run
against it, and hurt themselves. Fate, then, is a name
for facts not yet passed under the fire of thought; —
for causes which are unpenetrated.
every jet of chaos which threatens to exterminate us, is
convertible by intellect into wholesome force. Fate is
unpenetrated causes. The water drowns ship and sailor,
like a grain of dust. But learn to swim, trim your bark,
and the wave which drowned it, will be cloven by it, and
carry it, like its own foam, a plume and a power. The
cold is inconsiderate of persons, tingles your blood,
freezes a person like a dew-drop. But learn to skate,
and the ice will give you a graceful, sweet, and poetic
The cold will brace your limbs and brain to
genius, and make you foremost people of time. Cold and
sea will train an imperial Saxon race, which nature
cannot bear to lose, and, after cooping it up for a
thousand years in yonder England, gives a hundred
Englands, a hundred Mexicos. All the bloods it shall
absorb and domineer: and more than Mexicos, — the
secrets of water and steam, the spasms of electricity,
the ductility of metals, the chariot of the air, the
ruddered balloon are awaiting you.
annual slaughter from typhus far exceeds that of war;
but right drainage destroys typhus. The plague in the
sea-service from scurvy is healed by lemon juice and
other diets portable or procurable: the depopulation by
cholera and small-pox is ended by drainage and
vaccination; and every other pest is not less in the
chain of cause and effect, and may be fought off.
whilst art draws out the venom, it commonly extorts some
benefit from the vanquished enemy. The mischievous
torrent is taught to drudge for people: the wild beasts
they make useful for food, or dress, or labor; the chemic
explosions are controlled like their watches. These are now
the steeds on which they ride. People move in all modes, by
legs of horses, by wings of wind, by steam, by gas of
balloon, by electricity, and stand on tiptoe
threatening to hunt the eagle in its own element. There's nothing
they will not make their carrier.
was, till the other day, the devil which we dreaded.
Every pot made by any human potter or brazier had a hole
in its cover, to let off the enemy, lest it should lift
pot and roof, and carry the house away. But the Marquis
of Worcester, Watt, and Fulton bethought themselves,
that, where was power, was not devil, but was God; that
it must be availed of, and not by any means let off and
Could he lift pots and roofs and houses so
handily? He was the workman they were in search of.
could be used to lift away, chain, and compel other
devils, far more reluctant and dangerous, namely, cubic
miles of earth, mountains, weight or resistance of
water, machinery, and the labors of all people in the
world; and time he shall lengthen, and shorten space.
has not fared much otherwise with higher kinds of steam.
The opinion of the million was the terror of the world,
and it was attempted, either to dissipate it, by amusing
nations, or to pile it over with strata of society, —
a layer of soldiers; over that, a layer of lords; and a
king on the top; with clamps and hoops of castles,
garrisons, and police. But, sometimes, the religious
principle would get in, and burst the hoops, and rive
every mountain laid on top of it. The Fultons and Watts
of politics, believing in unity, saw that it was a
power, and, by satisfying it, (as justice satisfies
everybody,) through a different disposition of society,
— grouping it on a level, instead of piling it into a
mountain, — they have contrived to make of his terror
the most harmless and energetic form of a State.