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United States for the District of Massachusetts. The use already made of the other writings in the volume is sufficiently indicated in the introduction of each piece. Of the Lectures, it is proper to say, that portions, and, in some instances, very considerable portions, were omitted in the delivery.
THREE ERAS OF NEW ENGLAND:
DELIVERED BEFORE THE NEW ENGLAND SOCIETY OF
NEW YORK, DECEMBER 3, 1856.
The beginnings of a nation are necessarily small. I speak not more of its numbers, than of its condition and habits. Nature, at the commencement of all colonial existence, takes the place of art, and the wants of nature are few and simple. It is surprising how summarily a removal from that state of society, which may be styled the common round of civilized being, strips us of our acquired tastes, and of the customary usages of our lives, and even of many of our most ordinary necessities. Conformity with the mere absolute requirements of life becomes then the result of that law, which is emphatically the essence of reason.
The object, for which we then erect the rude and shapeless hut, is, that we may be shielded from the unfriendly elements. And, then, the unhewn timber, or unchiselled stone serve the same purpose, in our behalf, as base and pediment, façade, colonnade, architrave and frieze, contrived by the inward-looking eye of genius and wrought out by the most curious manipulations of art. Our primary necessities, of
food, clothes and fire, we shall then reckon to be all honestly supplied, though the meat be not presented upon the burnished service, which illuminates the banquet, nor the garments glitter with the lustre of invaluable jewels, nor the genial warmth be tempered, equalized, and controlled by the application of any artificial aid.
Whenever this is the state of man, the impertinent fictions and weak sophisms of life die out. The borrowings and lendings of the human creature fall away from him, under the rigid discipline of primeval necessities, as the encrusting dirt, which bedimmed the diamond, is removed by the hard process, which reveals and confirms its inestimable price. The voice of the mountain winds would mock at the most indispensable and best-recognized trappings of polished society, as they rent them away, and fastened them fluttering in the crevice of the cliff, or, bore them onwards to the unknown wilderness, and would hail its very comforts with the shout and laughter of derision. And what more piteous spectacle could be exhibited, than the favorite of the most courtly circle, arrayed for triumphant conquest, sitting solitary and helpless in the desert, where life itself is only granted