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would prefer passing it by, if a sense of duty did not impel
him to mention it.
6 It is worthy of the reflection of the wealthy and influential, whose example is law, whether the abolition of this custom of tradition might not be compatible with true benevolence and charity. Respectable philanthropic associations (not alluding to the religious society whose discipline forbids external signals of mourning) have adopted resolutions for this purpose.
7 The reverend and venerable author* of the celebrated essays published in the Connecticut Courant, under the title of "The Brief Remarker," recommends, very earnestly, in one of those essays, the suppression of a custom which he considers not only unnecessary, and embarrassing to the poor, but also burdensome to the merchants in particular, who are often prevented by sympathy and delicacy, from refusing a credit to afflicted though indigent applicants for the means of imitating their more fortunate neighbors, in the display of the customary tokens of grief.t
8 It is a great duty which parents owe their children, to restrict the gratification of their fancy and passions to rational limits. We shall omit to particularize the superfluities of female apparel; if desirable, there will be no difficulty in finding much room for retrenchment. It would be criminal, however, to neglect this opportunity of condemning, without reservation, the odious, disgusting, sacrilegious, and suicidal practice of deforming the natural perfection of the human fabric with CORSETS and STAYS.
9 Incalculable sums are uselessly expended for the ornamental appearance of our dwelling houses, churches, tombstones, carriages, equipage for horses, and domestic furniture.
10 The wealth which has been vainly, if not wickedly, squandered in the magnificence of meeting houses and their lofty steeples, would be sufficient for the establishment of perpetual free schools, and free libraries for the instruction
* Mr. Sampson.
† Since writing these remarks the author has met with the following seasonable and practical corroboration of his sentiments, in a newspaper: "Mourning Dresses.-A writer in the Boston Recorder condemns the practice of wearing mourning at funerals as being unnecessary, because by no means indicative of true grief, and as being an oppressive burthen to the poor. He recently deviated from this custom in the case of a deceased individual of his family, and transmitted ten dollars, to the American Education Society as a part of the sum saved."
of all the poor children in the United States. And which would best advance the cause of virtue and happiness, and promote the glory of God? Let a reverse experiment solve this problem.
11 Who can contemplate, without painful regret, the vast quantity of silver and labor which are thrown away never to be recovered, in order to display a few white shining spots, on our carriages, harnesses, saddles and bridles? The superfluities of house furniture are numerous, and generally so conspicuous that it is only necessary to invite reflection on their impropriety. The gilding and ornamental work of looking-glasses and picture frames, books, chairs, &c. are expensive offerings to those idols, Fancy and Fashion.
12 "The poets who are ever apt to be seduced by appearances, and do not consider themselves bound to be wiser than politicians and men of business, have been loud in the praise of luxury; and the rich have not been backward in adopting principles, that exalt their ostentation into a virtue, and their self-gratification into beneficence.
13 "This prejudice, however, must vanish, as the increasing knowledge of political economy begins to reveal the real sources of wealth, the means of production, and the effect of consumption. Vanity may take pride in idle expense, but will ever be held in no less contempt by the wise, on account of its pernicious effects, than it has been all along for the motives by which it is actuated.
14 "These conclusions of theory have been confirmed by experience. Misery is the inseparable companion of luxury. The man of wealth and ostentation squanders upon costly trinkets, sumptuous repasts, magnificent mansions, dogs, horses, &c. a portion of value, which, vested in productive occupation, would enable a multitude of willing laborers, whom his extravagance now consigns to idleness and misery, to provide themselves with warm clothing, nourishing food, and household conveniencies. The gold buckles of the rich man leaves the poor one without shoes to his feet; and the laborer will want a shirt to his back, while his rich neighbor glitters in velvet and embroidery.”*
15 The whole country is drained every spring and autumn, of a large portion of its cash and most valuable productions, to pay for foreign commodities; a great proportion of which might be dispensed with, or manufactured among ourselves.
* Say's Political Economy.
16 An unbridled hankering after something far fetched and dear bought, gay to the eye and pleasing to the tongue, is equally ruinous to a nation as to a private family. The nation, or family, that buys more than it sells, that exchanges articles of solid value for articles of fancy, that imports more than it exports, must eventually suffer severe embarrassment from deficiency of money and the common stock of wealth. 17 The following extract from Memoirs of the Life of Benjamin Lay, written by Roberts Vaux, is prophetically illustrative of this subject: Mr. Vaux describes the labors of Lay as one of the earliest and principal projectors of the Abolition of the Slave Trade and Slavery, and of the substitution of State Prisons for the Gallows; and thus introduces his sentiments on the great political error of sending away "good things" for evil things:
18 "With the same enlightened zeal, he pointed out the pernicious consequences which would result from the introduction of foreign spirits into this country. He declared that the general introduction of them would corrupt and degrade any people, and that there was danger, if they could be easily and cheaply procured, of their becoming the habitual beverage of the inhabitants.
19 "He introduces the subject in considering the trade which at that day was extensively carried on with the West Indies; and says, 'We send away our excellent provisions and other good things, to purchase such filthy stuff, which tends to the corruption of mankind, and they send us some of their worst slaves, when they cannot rule them themselves, along with their rum to complete the tragedy; that is to say, to destroy the people in Pennsylvania, and ruin the country.""
20 The advice of Governor Galusha, in his late farewell speech to the Legislature of Vermont, is excellent, and appropriate in this place :-"The only safe remedy against embarrassment or poverty, is a retrenchment of family expenses, and lessening the consumption of articles of foreign growth and manufacture. Much may be done by encouraging home manufactures, by legislative provisions; but the most powerful of all is that of example.
21 "Let but one influential citizen, from each town in this State, return from this Legislature to his constituents, with a rigid determination to abandon the unnecessary use of foreign articles, and, while he enjoys all the real comforts and actual conveniencies of life, reject every thing that is
superfluous; his fellow citizens would soon emulate his example, and exhibit an improved state of society.
22"General information is indispensably necessary to the preservation of a free republican government; but this cannot be retained, if the great body of the people, through want of economy, indulge their propensities in the use of superfluities, and become poor and unable to educate their children. The patronage of the wealthy, will never be indiscriminately extended to the children of the whole community. Even that source will diminish where extravagance prevails.".
23 Citizens of the American Republic! if I possessed the eloquence of Demosthenes, I would address you in your cities, and your villages, with my voice instead of my quill;— I would convince you that your enemy,* the conqueror of all nations except your own, instead of preparing to march against you, has already entered your doors, and is receiving your self-betraying caresses, instead of manly resistance.
24 I would persuade you to rise en masse, from your slumber, erect the banners of ECONOMY and PLENTY, and exterminate, without quarter, the devouring traitors Luxury, Superfluity, and Fashion; I would persuade you to practise, voluntarily, the virtues which Lycurgus enforced by the decrees of power; and which made the Lacedemonians the happiest people that history acquaints us with.
25 He suppressed luxury and extravagance; he excluded superfluous and useless arts, and prevented the introduction of foreign merchandise; he discouraged avarice, and yet compelled the most perfect economy and simplicity in the construction of houses, furniture, &c.
26 Among the causes of poverty, besides ignorance and vice, indolence and intemperance, the want of steady employment, to all who are able and willing to labor, is one which has not received the consideration of legislators and moralists that it deserves. A great proportion of crimes might be traced to this cause. Robbery or forgery, is the alternative frequently preferred, by persons of weak moral princi- . ples, to starvation, or the humiliation of beggary.
27 It is easier to prevent poverty and crimes, by instruction and employment, than to relieve and suppress them by charity and punishments. There ought to be a public agricultural and manufacturing institution, in every county,
where poor people who are capable of digging potatoes, turning a wheel, or working a loom, or of performing any kind of mechanical or other labor, may be employed, and suitably rewarded, whenever application shall be made. Schools and moral libraries ought to form a department in all such institutions.
28 The expenditure of such enormous sums of money as are continually dissipated in play houses, balls, novel reading, and other idle amusements, is totally unjustifiable; even if health of body and mind were not at the same time impaired. It is surprising that people of refined taste, should be willing to breathe the vitiated air of crowded theatres
29 The consummation of human folly and madness is to be found in the beastly custom of nominally civilized as well as savage nations, of settling their differences, through the medium of iron cannon, muskets, swords, bayonets, balls, and leaden bullets; fire and brimstone, salt-petre and charcoal; and HUMAN BLOOD, the final product of the whole. This method of obtaining justice or injustice, incurs an incalculable sacrifice of wealth and morals, as well as of life.
30 National military establishments swallow up a vast proportion of the revenues of a country, even in time of peace. Is there no alternative? If not, then let man cease to boast his moral superiority to tigers and dogs. O ye mad nations! retrieve your abused divine legacy, reason! Commence your retreat from the horrid game of folly, blood and death, simultaneously.
31 Dismantle all your war ships, frigates, &c., and sink in the ocean, or destroy, every engine of human destruction. Dismiss your war servants, and abolish military schools. Institute a perpetual Congress of delegates, from each nation respectively, to which all national disputes, not amicably arranged by agents of the parties, shall be referred for final decision.