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There appeared, not long since, an article in one of the British reviews, evidently written by Miss HARRIET MARTINEAU, upon the condition and character of domestic service, in England and America. In that article, the writer sets out with the allegation that the relation between domestics and employers is much less harmonious now, in England, than it was in former years ; that service, on the one part, is rendered with less of personal attachment, and that command, on the other, is exercised with less of consideration and gentleness ; in a word, that the distinction between superiors and inferiors, in household economy, is made broader and more ungracious; and a very considerable portion of the paper is devoted to an inquiry into the causes of this unhappy change. Our present business is not with the truth or the inaccuracy of the statement itself, nor with the validity of the reasons assigned for it; we design only to quote one passage, which struck us as affording a proper and convenient starting point, from which to enter upon the consideration of the subject of the present article. Miss Martineau says, speaking of England : • The alienation between different classes has also been much increased by the growth of the commercial spirit in this country. This spirit is eminently selfish. However magnificent may be its collateral effects and ultimate results, its immediate influences are clearly unfavorable to free mutual trust; and this in regard to classes quite as much as to individuals. With poverty pressing behind, and ambition hanging out her lures before, men and orders of men are treading on the heels of men and orders of men, and social struggle is the characteristic of the time. No one's position is fixed, at least of our town population. There are not, as of old, families and

generations born to service, and having no other idea than of dying in it; nor are there numbers, as it is to be hoped there will be hereafter, who are satisfied with service, from an enlightened view of its real dignity, and the value of the security it offers. The lottery of commerce is preferred to the sure gains of service, wherever the choice is possible ; and every one feels depressed who has not a prospect of rising. The actual wealth of the country has enormously increased, and the multitude are dissatisfied with any position which prevents VOL. XIV.



their trying to get in a hand to spatch a share. Though the class of domestic servants may not be conscious that this is the present state of affairs, the jealousy and restlessness consequent upon it extend to them, and impair the chances of tranquillity and content.'

Miss Martineau is a woman of highly respectable talent; and she has exercised her abilities with considerable advantage to the great cause of moral truth. She is an active inquirer, and a vigorous and industrious thinker; but her inquiries are too often superficial, and her vigor and industry of thought are seriously impaired in their employment for good, by a lamentable want of accuracy. She reasons much, but not well; and the passage just quoted, affords a striking illustration of this defect in her intellectual performances. The substance of her argument is, that the desire to improve our condition in life, a desire as natural and universal as any other that impels human beings to action, is detrimental to morality, or if not to morality, at least to the growth of amiable feelings, and to the cultivation of peaceful and harmonious relations. It carries the principle that enjoins contentment with the lot in which we are placed, to an extreme never intended by sound philosophy, nor by genuine religion. These forbid repining at what cannot be altered; but Miss Martineau goes farther, and says, not only that men should not repine, but that they must not seek or desire to change the circumstances in which, by comparison with those of other men, they find that there is room for change and melioration. The very universality of the desire to attain a better condition, proves that it is natural and proper; just as the immortality of the soul is proved by the universal belief of mankind that there is to be a continuation of existence after death. The doctrine of its impropriety strikes at the very root of all human progress in knowledge, power, civilization, and science.

It is not difficult to discover the source of Miss Martineau's error. It arises from a Utopian and impracticable notion, that runs through all her works, and which she seems to cherish with a tenacity of faith in due proportion to its absurdity; just as we sometimes hear of ancient maiden ladies attaching themselves to pets, as a pug-dog, or a monkey, for example, with a fervor of affection commensurate with the ugliness and ill-nature of the object. The lady appears to be haunted by a visionary dream of universal equality, not only of rights but of condition; of some impossible state of society, in which all men and all women shall be equally rich, favored, and respected ; shall all live in houses of the same dimensions, with exactly the same kind of furniture, eat the same food, wear the same garments, and in short, lay out their whole existence by precisely the same pattern; a state of society in which there shall be no division into classes, but all stand upon the same level of occupation and enjoyment. Now we do not conceive it possible for such a state of society to exist at all; but certainly, if possible, it can only be in the very lowest stage of human being; that is, among a people entirely unacquainted with art, occupying a large extent of territory in small numbers, and subsisting by pasturage; like the wandering Arabs of the early ages, the first descendants of the patriarchs, or the nomade Tartars of the present day, or the miserable Esquimaux of the frozen regions, at the northern extremity of our continent, who all


is wrong.

clothe themselves alike with skins, and all subsist alike upon seal flesh and whale blubber. But man was not created for such a condition of existence. Progress is the great principle of his being; Progress in knowledge, in expansion of intellect, in subjugation of all nature to his own uses, in enjoyment, in refinement; or to sum up all in one comprehensive word, in civilization. To accomplish this progress, it is clear that there must be individual effort ; single minds must be actuated by the desire to go beyond the minds around them; and when they have succeeded, other minds must be actuated by the desire to follow where they have led, and even to go beyond them; and here we have, as necessities of our nature, ambition, and division of mankind into classes.

Miss Martineau supposes this ambition, and this division of mankind into classes, to be social evils; and here, in our judgment, she

We look

upon them as indispensable agents in the fulfilment of our being's end and aim; having exclusive reference, of course, to our temporal existence; we have duties also, high and imperative duties, with regard to the life hereafter, but of these it is not our design to treat. In our present state of being, then, we conceive that the very condition which Miss Martineau describes as one to be deplored, is necessary as a means, as the means, of accomplishing our human destiny; that there is wisdom in the ordinance which gives to no man a fixed position; which causes poverty to press behind, and ambition to hang out her lures before, which makes every one feel depressed, who has not a prospect of rising ; makes men and orders of men to tread upon the heels of the men and orders of men whom accident or successful effort has placed before them; and creates the social struggle so truly designated as the characteristic of the time. For it is this condition, this ordinance, that impels us onward in the course for which we were designed.

We are conscious that the metaphysical tenor of these suggestions may not strike the reader as particularly entertaining, or perhaps instructive ; but they were necessary to the proper performance of the work before us ; and we have endeavored to present them with as vindicate the commercial spirit from the stigma of intense selfishmuch brevity as was consistent with the fulfilment of our purpose to ness, and to show that its action is not only grand, but generous and beneficent; that the pursuit of commerce is intimately connected with, and a powerful agent in, that progress of the intellect, and that improvement of the moral and physical condition of our race, which we have pointed out as the purpose of our creation ; in short, that commerce is indispensable to civilization.

It is now well enough understood, and frankly enough admitted, by philosophers, and by all right-thinking people, whether philosophers or not, that the first step in the process of raising men to the proper standard of moral and intellectual elevation, is accomplished by raising the standard of their physical comfort; that before we undertake to improve the mind, we must begin by improving the condition of the body; or, in other words, that physical civilization, or the just relation between demand for the conveniences of life and the supply of that demand, is the basis of mental civilization. Every general improvement in human existence is inseparably connected with the special improvement of the circumstances and modes of living. If we go into a community of savages, with the benevolent purpose of reclaiming them from their state of barbarism, we must begin with teaching them how to make themselves more comfortable. We must show them how to clothe themselves in better habiliments than the skins of beasts ; how to provide themselves with better and more abundant supplies of food than they can obtain by hunting and fishing ; how to construct more substantial and commodious habitations than the wigwam of the Indian, the cave of the African troglodyte, or the mud hovel of the Hottentot; we must make them acquainted with the nutritious and wholesome variety of products that can be obtained by cultivation of the earth; and gradually teach them what comforts and advantages are to be enjoyed, by means of well-regulated and instructed industry. Not till we have done all this, can any good result from our efforts to instil into their minds the principles of higher and more speculative knowledge. When we have taught them to dig the earth, to plant, to sow, to reap, to build, to weave, to cook, to tan skins into leather, to fashion wood and iron into implements of husbandry, and of household thrift, then we may go farther, and instruct them in reading, and writing, and arithmetic. First, we must give them the knowledge how to supply their wants; and after we have done that, we may go on and give them books. We must commence by giving them things, and after this, it will be time enough to give them knowledge.

But what inducement have we to do all this? Why should we, who have come into possession of the comforts and enjoyments provided by civilization, be moved to extend that possession to the barbarous and scarcely human occupants of those regions into which the light of civilization has not yet penetrated ? Why should we not rest content with our good things and our knowledge, and leave them to get on as well as they may, with their privations and their ignorance ? The answer is at hand, and lets us into one of the secrets of God's providence, and of his wise and benevolent arrangements for the melioration and elevation of our race. In his wisdom and benevolence, he has bestowed upon every variety of soil and climate some peculiar products, which may be turned to account by all, in the supply of physical wants, and the increase of physical enjoy. ment, but which can be shared by all only through some process of acquisition and conveyance, which necessarily implies systematic and regular intercommunication, and the establishment of certain relations between the people of different countries.

One land produces the means of sustenance, another materials for clothing; a third abounds in wood, a fourth in minerals, a fifth in articles of luxury ; and so, throughout all the earth, we find a great plan of mutual want and supply, here abundance and there deficiency, which imposes upon mankind the necessity of devising means to equalize possession,

This equality of possession is so completely a thing of habit with us, and enters so largely into the composition of our daily life, that we seldom take thought of its remarkable operation. Yet if we pause for a moment in any of our pursuits or enjoyments, and reflect upon the materials with which we are employed, we cannot but be


struck with admiration at the results of a system so extensive.

We lay many portions of the earth under contribution, almost in every hour of our lives. Even in the simple business of refreshing ourselves with a good breakfast, we employ or consume the products of many regions. The tea we drink comes from China, or perhaps it is Mocha coffee, from Arabia ; the sugar with which we sweeten it, from the West Indies; our porcelain cups and saucers were probably made in France; the silver spoon with which each is provided, once lay dark and deep in the mines of South America ; the table itself is mahogany, from Jamaica or Honduras; and the table-cloth was manufactured from a vegetable production in Ireland; the teapot is probably of English block-tin; and the steel of which the knives are wrought, may have come from Germany or Sweden ; the bread is made of wheat, raised probably in Michigan; and the butter, if particularly good, must have come, a Philadelphian will say, from the neighborhood of his own city. If we are in the habit of eating relishes at breakfast, we discuss perhaps a beef-steak from Ohio, or a piece of smoked salmon from Maine, or it may be a herring from Scotland. Or suppose we take so very useless a personage as one of the foplings, whose greatest pleasure is in the decoration of their persons, and whose chief employment is to exhibit themselves at stated hours in Broadway, for the admiration of the ladies—and see how many

lands are called


to furnish the nice equipments of bis dainty person. His hat is made of fur, brought thousands of miles from the north-west coast of America, or from an island in the South Antarctic ocean ; his fine linen is from Ireland, inwrought with cambric from British India; in the bosom glitters a diamond from Brazil, or perhaps an opal from Hungary; his coat is of Saxony wool, made into cloth in England, and it is lined with silk from Italy; bis white waistcoat is of a fabric wrought in France; the upper leathers of his morocco boots have come from Barbary, and the soles are made of a hide from South America. His white hand, covered with kid-leather from Switzerland, jauntily bears a little cane, made of whale-bone from the Pacific, the agate head of which was brought from Germany; and from his neck is suspended a very unnecessary eye-glass, the golden frame of which is a native of Africa. His handkerchief is perfumed with scents of Persia, and the delicate moustache that shades his upper lip, has been nourished by a fragrant oil from the distant East, or by the fat of a bear that once roamed for prey amid the wastes of Siberia ; while its jetty blackness has probably been artificially bestowed, by the application of the same Turkish dye that gives its sable hue to the magnificent beard of the sublime Sultan.

Thus we find that every country has its peculiar products; that the possession and use of these are necess

essary, or at least desirable, to the full enjoyment of existence; and that men are stimulated by the wish for that possession, to pass from climate to climate, and from region to region, and thus establish intercourse between all the nations of the earth. But the mere act of visiting distant countries will not suffice to gain possession of the things that are desired. These are generally either absolutely provided, or else prepared for use, by the people of the country to which they are peculiar ; and something


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