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The Continental Monthly, Vol. 6, No 2, August, 1864 Devoted to Literature and National Policy   By:

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First Page:

THE

CONTINENTAL MONTHLY:

DEVOTED TO

LITERATURE AND NATIONAL POLICY:

VOL. VI. AUGUST, 1864. No. II.

Transcriber's note: Obvious printer errors have been corrected. All other inconsistencies are as in the original.

AMERICAN CIVILIZATION.

SECOND PAPER.

As a nation we are fast losing that reverence for the powers that be which is enjoined by Holy Writ, and without which no form of government can be lasting, no political system can take a firm hold upon the affections of the people. The opposition press teems with vituperation and personal abuse of those whom the people themselves have chosen to control the public policy and administer the public affairs. The incumbent of the Presidential chair, so far from receiving that respect and deference to which his position entitles him, becomes the victim of slander and vilification, from one portion of the country to another, on the part of those who chance to differ with him in political sentiments. Even beardless boys, taking their cue from those who, being older, should know better, are unsparing in the use of such terms as 'scoundrel,' 'fool,' 'tyrant,' as applied to those whom the people have delighted to honor, either unconscious or utterly heedless of the disgust with which their language inspires the older and more thoughtful. And thus it has become a recognized fact that no man's reputation can withstand the trial of a four years' term of service in the Presidential office. While this is in a great measure the reaction from the king worship of the Old World, it is nevertheless a blot upon our civilization, a departure from those lofty and noble sentiments which characterize every advanced stage of human intellect, in which the supremacy and inviolability of the law is acknowledged, and in which the ruler is reverenced as the representative and impersonation of the law. And as, in such a stage, respect for the magistrate and the law mutually react upon each other, so in the present state of affairs the tendency is, in the course of time, to reach from the ruler to the edict which he administers, and thus to beget a disrespect and disregard of law itself, paving the way to that violence and mob rule which, in the present state of humanity, must inevitably attend the establishment of the democratic principle.

The remedy is to be found in reform in the education of our youth, whereby the utmost respect for the law and for those by whom it is administered shall be inculcated as the groundwork of all patriotism and national progress, while at the same time cultivating a loftier appreciation of the blessings of social order and harmony, and of well regulated liberty of thought, speech, and action, and a purer standard of right. Yet even this will be of little avail except in connection with the abatement, through the strong good sense of a thinking and upright people, of that national nuisance of bitter and unmerciful political partisanship of which we have spoken, all of whose tendencies are to evil, and so removing from the eyes of our youth a low, unworthy, and degrading example, which they are too prone to follow. The child will tread, to a great degree, in the steps of the father, and the whole course of his intellectual life be governed, more or less, by the principles and prejudices which he is accustomed every day to hear from the lips of a parent, who is necessarily the teacher and, in a great measure, the moulder of his infant mind. How careful, then, ought every parent to be of the principles which he inculcates and the examples which he sets in his conversation, especially when that conversation is directed to a condemnation of the motives or the acts of the ruling powers! lest the child be some time inclined to enlarge upon his views, and carry his deductions farther than he himself ever dreamed, till he shall finally be led into a contempt of the institutions as well as of the rulers of his native land, through a father's teaching, and so grow up an embryo traitor, ready at the first signal to embark in any revolutionary scheme or wild enterprise of visionary reform, such as have been and are still the disturbers of our national prosperity... Continue reading book >>


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