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fant state of our country, and the nature of our government, we have more reafon to boast, than be afhamed of our progrefs in the fine arts.
If not equal in this refpect, 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 diftribution of property. Our mode of education has the fame tendency to promote an equal diftribution 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 ariftocratic governments of Europe, the cafe is far different. A few privileged orders 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 fcience, as a neceffary inftrument of livelihood, and deem it abfurd to devote our whole lives to the acquifition of implements, without having it in our power to make them useful to ourfelves or others.
They have their thousands who are totally ignorant of letters; we have but very few, who are not inftructed in the rudiments of fcience. They may boast a small number of mafters in the fine arts; we are all scholars in the useful; and employed in improving the works of nature, rather than imitating them.
So ftrong is our propenfity to ufeful employments, and fo fure the reward of thofe who pursue them, that neceffity, "the mother of invention," has reared but few profeffional poets, painters, or musicians among us. Thofe, who have occafionally purfued the imitative arts, from natural inclination, have given fufficient proof, that even in them, our capacity and genius are not inferior to thofe of Europeans; but the encouragement they have met fhows that the fpirit of our habits and government tends rather to general improvement in the useful, than partial perfection in the amusing arts.
EXTRACT FROM AN ORATION, DELIVERED AT BOSTON, MARCH 5th, 1780; BY JONATHAN MASON, JUN. ESQ.
HE rifing glory of this western hemifphere is already announced; and fhe is fummoned to her feat among the nations of the earth. We have publicly declared ourselves convinced of the destructive tendency of standing armies. We have acknowledged the neceffity of public spirit and the love of virtue, to the happiness of any people; and we profess to be fenfible of the great bleffings that flow from them. Let us not then act unworthily of the reputable character we now fuftain. Let integrity of heart, the spirit of freedom, and rigid virtue be feen to actuate every member of the commonwealth.
The trial of our patriotifm is yet before us; and we have reafon to thank Heaven, that its principles are fo well known and diffused. Exercife towards each other the benevolent feelings of friendship; and let that unity of fentiment, which has fhown in the field, be equally animating in our councils. Remember that profperity is dangerous; that though fuccefsful, we are not infallible.
Let this facred maxim receive the deepest impreffion upon our minds, that if avarice, if extortion, if luxury, and political corruption, are suffered to become popular among us, civil difcord, and the ruin of our country will be the fpeedy confequence of fuch fatal vices. But while patriotifm is the leading principle, and our laws are contrived with wifdom, and executed with vigour; while industry, frugality, and temperance, are held in estimation, and we depend upon public fpirit and the love of virtue for our focial happiness, peace and affluence will throw their fmiles upon the brow of individuals; our commonwealth will flourish; land will become a land of liberty, and AMERICA an afylum for the oppreffed.