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fant state of our country, and the nature of our gove ernment, we have more reason to boast, than be ashamed of our progress in the fine arts.
If not equal in this respect, to our mother country, we have made more rapid improvement than any other nation in the world. Our government and habits are republican; they cherish equal rights and tend to an equal distribution of property. Our mode of education has the same tendency to promote an equal distribution of knowledge, and to make us emphatically a “republic of letters:" I would not be understood, adepts in the fine arts, but participants of useful knowledge.
In the monarchical and aristocratic governments of Europe, the case is far different. A few privileged ore ders monopolize not only the wealth and honors, but the knowledge of their country. They produce a few profound scholars, who make study the business of their lives; we acquire a portion of science, as a necessary instrument of livelihood, and deem it absurd to devote our whole lives to the acquisition of implements, without having it in our power to make them useful to ourselves or others.
They have their thousands who are totally ignorant of letters; we have but very few, who are not instructed in the rudiments of science. They may boast a small number of masters in the fine arts; we are all scholars in the useful; and employed in improving the works of nature, rather than imitating them.
So strong is our propensity to useful employments, and so sure the reward of those who pursue them, that necessity," the mother of invention," has reared but few professional poets, painters, or musicians among us. Those, who have occasionally pursued the imitative arts, from natural inclination, have given sufficient proof, that even in them, our capacity and genius are not inferior to those of Europeans; but the encouragement they have met shows that the spirit of our habits and government tend rather to general improve ment in the useful, than partial perfection in the angus. ing arts.
EXTRACT FROM AN ORATION, DELIVERED AT Bos
TON, MARCH 5th, 1780; BY JONATHAN MASON,
ready announced; and she is summoned to her seat among the nations of the earth. We have publicly declared ourselves convinced of the destructive tendency of standing armies. We have acknowledged the necessity of public spirit and the love of virtue, to the happiness of any people; and we profess to be sensible of the great blessings that flow from them. Let us not then act unworthily of the reputable character we now sustain. Let integrity of heart, the spirit of freedom, and rigid virtue be seen to actuate every member of the commonwealth. · The trial of our patriotism is yet before us; and we have reason to thank Heaven, that its principles are sb well known and diffused. Exercise towards each other the benevolent feelings of friendship; and let that unity of sentiment, which has shone in the field, be equally animating in our councils. Remember that prosperity is dangerous; that though successful, 'we are not infallible.
Let this sacred maxim receive the deepest impression upon our minds, that if avarice, if extortion, if luxury, and political corruption, are suffered to become popu. lar among us, civil discord, and the ruin of our country will be the speedy consequence of such fatal vices. But while patriotism is the leading principle, and our laws are contrived with wisdom, and executed with vigour; while industry, frugality, and temperance, are held in estimation, and we depend upon public, spirit and the love of virtue for our social happiness, peace and affluence will throw their smiles upon the brow of individuals; our commonwealth will flourish; our land will become a land of Liberty, and AMERICA an asylum for the oppressed.