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and fair dealing, who is a good man—a man of principle. We mean that the highest success in any department of human action is dependent upon the principles of the gospel. We mean that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. But the question meets us every day, what is duty We all know of want and distress we might help, if we chose to make the necessary sacrifice. We know of families in cities that have hardly enough to eat from day to day, certainly who have nothing ahead. Is it my duty to sell all my superfluous clothing, to take the carpets from my floors, and sell them to give to these poor people? This brings the question right before us. There are persons who contend that we should make this sacrifice. We say we should not. But if we may not do this, what must we do? What is duty for you and me—for Christians? What is Christian charity? mercantile charity ? Suppose the case of the merchant. He now is charitable, hospitable, a supporter of the good institutions of our time. He supports his part of the various calls upon the charity and liberality of the public. He is a good citizen. Everybody allows this; but he lives elegantly; there are many superfluities about him, things he could do without. He has furni. ture he rarely uses, clothes he rarely or never wears, pictures whose rich coloring only occasionally attracts his eye. He has horses and carriages, pleasure-grounds, and a park of deer; he indulges in expensive tastes; he visits the great curiosities of nature in his own country and abroad. All this is expensive, and costs money. But let us add the character that belongs to many a merchant of our time. He is a good husband and father; he is domestic, social, and kind; he is public spirited and liberal; his house is like the palace of a prince, and his manners are refined and elegant as any courtier's; he passes by people poorly clad every day; he sees hungry and ragged children in the street every day. Will you, can you, ask this man to sell his house and lands, and clothe these poorly-clad people, and these ragged children, and feed them too? He gives now to many objects; but you ask that he give more. He is now benevolent; but you insist that he reduce his manner of living to a common level, and refuse to enjoy anything in which all others do not share. Now suppose that he do this from a sense of duty;-this man we have brought forward as an instance, does give up his property and luxu. ries, and distributes to the poor. It works well for a month, or a year. There is abundance now where there was want; and it seems that a new order of things had been brought about. But, at the end of a month, or a year, this benevolence is exhausted; the means he distributed are used up. He himself is poor. The great objects to which he formerly gave support now languish; the school, the church, public improvements, the hospital, the asylum. The wealth that helped to support them is gone. It has been spread over a large surface where it was felt but a short time. Now—now we say the condition of the poor is worse than ever. They have spent their principal, and there is no interest now that can accrue. The heart of the benevolent man is as warm as ever, but he no longer has the means to second his good intentions. He is now poor himself, and there is none to help him. The case we have supposed, to illustrate what must be the meaning of our Saviour in his conversation with the young man, may be shown by a physical comparison. Suppose this wealth, which, many say, it is unchrisVol. xv.-no. W. 30
tian for any man to hoard, while there is want and hunger about him—suppose this wealth to be a reservoir of water which furnishes supply to a neighborhood. There is enough, in ordinary cases, to supply the common want. But a drought occurs; the land is parched. It is proposed to take the water of the reservoir, and spread it over the land. It is done. The effect is hardly perceived, and now there is no water left to supply the do. mestic purposes of life. It has all been exhausted in this one act of extraordinary benevolence, and the people die of thirst. Thus would it be, were the wealth which now supports our institutions scattered and divided. And this is no impossible supposition. There are cities supplied by cisterns of water caught from the clouds, where are no wells of water, like Madrid. Suppose here that the water kept for that city should, in a time of drought, be distributed over the country; would it be well or ill for the people 7 Now let the cisterns of water stand for the men of wealth in the community, and it will, at once, be seen that they too supply a want which it is as essential to supply as that a city be furnished with water. And again there is another consideration which will prevent this equal distribution of property by the disciple of Christ. It requires money to make money. Capital is indispensable to most kinds of business, especially that done upon a large scale. True benevolence looks far ahead. It is not content to give to-day, but contrives how to be generous in the future. Shall the merchant, then, take from his capital, and feed the hungry and clothe the naked! Is it not better that he employ his talents in so using his wealth that a constant stream of bounty flows from his hand, to bless thousands, year after year? He is God’s steward. He must guard the means entrusted to him from waste and misuse. Will you ask the farmer to sell his farm and distribute to the poor, and thus cut off all chance of future benevolence 1 Shall the mechanic sell his tools, the means by which he works, and makes enough to supply his own wants, and also give something to the wants of others? These are all parallel cases. We know that no man will do either of these acts; but we ask the question to discover why he will not do them; that we may feel we are obeying the voice of God, and are not meanly selfish; that we are yielding to the plainest dictates of common sense, and consulting the permanent good of the poor and distressed, by taking care of our property, and husbanding our resources. No more shall the merchant distribute his capital, the farmer his farm, the mechanic his tools, than shall the impatient hand of thirst, with axe and spade, dig up the sources of the fountain, and lay bare and open to the sun those crevices in the rock, whence now flow out in a constant and small stream, the sparkling water that supplies the common want. But if you break up the hill and lay it open to the sun, the heat dries up the moisture, and the air holds it in a state of solution. It is no longer visible. It is so widely diffused, that nobody feels it. Benevolence must be considerate; regard the future as well as the present. The true object of giving is to help for the future as well as the present. The mere act of giving is not benevolence. It is charity, sometimes, to withhold giving. You may do the greatest injury, sometimes, by your careless generosity. We know very well that if a man is openhanded, and gives to everybody, he will be praised and flattered. But still we say such a person may do injury by his very largeness of heart. It is easier, too, often, to give than to examine into the claims of the asker. Many give to get rid of trouble; a small sum removes the object from their sight, while the money bestowed may only, plunge the wretched man deeper in difficulty and want, by relieving and not helping. Giving without thought, may often encourage idleness in those who ought to engage in honest labor. If one escapes too easily from difficulties in which his own follies have plunged him, he will be less likely to avoid this fault of his character in future. God has ordered that the way of the transgressor should be hard, and it is often a nice matter to decide when to give without coming between the fault, and that righteous retribution, which is the mercy of heaven to save from further sin. Let us not say a word to limit or narrow down charitable feelings. Let us not offer excuses for selfishness and meanness; and yet it is important to inquire and settle what is Christian duty towards those who solicit our aid. We fear there is less thought upon this subject than there ought to be. When you visit the city, as you walk the streets, towards evening, at almost every square, you will be met by quite young children, who, in pit. eous tones, ask of you a few cents to buy bread. If you turn and offer them bread from the shop near where you may be, they refuse it. They want money. We fear often they are sent out by intemperate parents to glean a few small coins, that they may be expended in intemperance and excess. It is hard to turn a deaf ear to the petition of children; but is it not duty to resist these questionable appeals. If one had time, it would be well to offer to go with them to their homes, and inquire into their case. Such offers are, generally, refused; sometimes it may be through shame, and fear of exposing the wretchedness of their abode ; but more often refused from fear of their parents, who dread that their vile objects in sending their children forth should be exposed. But in the country we often have difficult questions of charity to decide. There is a class of applicants for charity, quite numerous, who go about with a written tale of shipwreck and disaster, and who ask aid to bring their families from Europe to these hospitable shores. What will you do with them? What is Christian duty now? We think it is duty to feed any one who is hungry, to clothe any one who is naked, when we have it in our power; but we do not believe it is duty to give money for distant objects, and thus to encourage in our own land a class of travelling beggars, who may finally help to people our jails and prisons. To give a man money to encourage him in a system of deception, is not, surely, Christian alms-giving. We think we may avoid much difficulty, and also be at peace in our consciences, by taking care to support properly all those institutions established in our time and by our fathers, for the relief of indigence, and the encouragement of industry. We do the best service to the poor, indirectly, by looking after the common school; by seeing that all children are properly educated, their faculties trained to enable them to help them. selves. This is to avoid the causes of poverty. But there will be cases, after all, that ask our aid. The farm schools and the poor's farm are among the most excellent improvements of our time. They offer no encouragement to idleness; their doors are open to all the needy. And now, to come back to our immediate topic of inquiry, how far are we to give up luxuries we have earned, to help those who have neglected to help themselves it seems to us a narrow view to suppose any such course required of us. . We have attempted to show that wealth is given to men that they may be stewards of large bounties. It would seem, by the course of events, that Providence prospers men in trade and commerce, and useful arts, that colleges may be founded, and hospitals endowed. It would seem that in somebody’s hands must be funds for such purposes. God's stewards have not failed in our day. The rich are the benevolent, and to be poor is to have friends. From the words of our Saviour we do not see any precept inculcated but a general lesson of benevolence ; and no Christian duty seems to demand of any man to throw his possessions into the common stock. No duty demands it, because it destroys his usefulness, and fetters the hand of bounty. J. N. B.
WHATEvER relates to the introduction into use of that power which has become the mighty muscle of the world, moving its entire machinery, must be of the deepest importance. The voyage from New York to Albany, of the first steamer, opened the door to a progress for the human race, equiv. alent, at one bound, to the march of ages. A history of that voyage, we care not how minute the detail, must be of thrilling interest. It was an experiment, in the success or failure of which, the comfort and prosperity of a great fraction of mankind were interested. We have recently seen, in the Chicago Journal, an article by John Q. Wilson, Esq., of Albany, who was himself a passenger with Fulton in the first experimental voyage, a minute observer of all its incidents, and an intelligent witness of all the facts attending that era in the destinies of our race. It is appropriately published in a paper printed at Chicago, a place which, but for the annihilation of distance, which steam has achieved, would, in all probability, have had no existence. A short synopsis of the legislative proceedings relating to steam navigation, precedes the personal reminiscences of the voyage. As early as the year 1787, the legislature of New York passed an act for granting and securing to John Fitch, the sole right and advantage of making and employing, for fourteen years, the steamboat by him invented. In 1798, that act was repealed, and similar privileges extended to Robert R. Livingston, (Chancellor of the State,) provided that he should, within twelve months, give such proof as should satisfy the Governor, Lieut. Governor, and Surveyor-General, or a majority of them, of his having built a boat of at least twenty tons capacity, which should be propelled by steam, and the mean of whose progress through the water, with and against the ordinary current of the Hudson River, taken together, should not be less than four miles an hour, in which event he should have the exclusive privilege for the term of twenty years; but that he should at no time omit, for the space of one year, to have a boat of such construction plying between the cities of New York and Albany. In 1803 the preceding act was extended to Robert R. Livingston and Robert Fulton, for twenty years from the fifth of April of that year, and time for giving the necessary proof required by the act of 1798, was extended to two years. At the time these acts were passed, and particularly the last one, the privileges were considered about as valuable as if the legislature should now grant the exclusive right of making and using a machine to fly through the air. The steamboat project was then familiarly denomi
nated “the Chancellor's hobby.” The legislature were willing to gratify the Chancellor's whim, without any expectation of public or private benefit. It would seem from this that Fitch preceded Fulton; but the latter made up by triumphant success for any delinquency in time. The rate of speed designated as the ordeal of legislative power, seems ludicrous enough now, when four and twenty miles the hour is reached. Judge Wilson resided in the city of New York when Fulton was build. ing his boat, and frequently saw her on the stocks. She was a queer looking craft, and excited much attention, and not a little ridicule. When she was launched, and the steam-engine placed in her, that also was looked upon of a piece with the boat built to float it. A few had seen one at work raising the Manhattan water into the reservoir back of the almshouse; but to the people at large, the whole thing was a hidden mystery. Curiosity was greatly excited. When it was announced in the New York papers that the boat would start from the foot of Cortlandt-street, at six and a half o'clock on Friday morning, the fourth of September, and take passengers to Albany, there was a broad smile on every face, as the inquiry was made, if any one would be fool enough to go? A friend of the writer, hearing that he intended to venture, accosted him in the street, “John, will thee risk thy life in such a concern ? I tell thee she is the most fearful wild fowl living, and thy father ought to restrain thee.” When Friday morning came, the wharves, piers, house-tops, and every “coigne of vantage” from which a sight could be obtained, were filled with spectators. There were twelve berths, and every one was taken through to Albany. The fare was seven dollars. All the machinery was uncovered and exposed to view. The periphery of the balance wheels, of cast iron, some four or more inches square, ran just clear of the water. There were no outside guards; the water and balance wheels being supported by their respective shafts, which projected over the sides of the boat. The forward part was covered by a deck, which afforded shelter to the hands. The after part was fitted up, in a rough manner, for passengers. The entrance into the cabin was from the stern, in front of the steersman, who worked a tiller as in an ordinary sloop. Black smoke issued from the chimney, steam hissed from every ill-fitted valve and crevice of the engine. Fulton himself was there. His remarkably clear and sharp voice was heard above the hum of the multitude and the noise of the engine ; his step was confident and decided; he heeded not the fearfulness, doubts, or sarcasms of those by whom he was surrounded. The whole scene combined, had in it an individuality and an interest which comes but once, and is remembered for ever. When everything was ready, the engine was set in motion, and the boat moved steadily but slowly from the wharf; as she turned up the river and was fairly under weigh, there arose such a huzza as ten thousand throats never gave before. The passengers returned the cheer, but Ful. ton stood upon the deck, his eye flashing with an unusual brilliancy, as he surveyed the crowd. He felt that the magic wand of success was waving over him, and he was silent. When coming up Haverstraw Bay, a man in a skiff lay waiting for us. His appearance indicated a miller; the paddle wheels had very naturally attracted his attention; he asked permission to come on board. Fulton ordered a line to be thrown to him, and he was drawn alongside; he said