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Q 171 S126



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1836, by Light

& STEARNS, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of Massachusetts.


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Age of associations,

Result of civilization.

This is an age of associations. Almost every new enterprise, in whatever department, is carried through, or at least attempted, by a party, or a society, or a corporation, or an association under some other form and name. If a course of lectures is to be delivered, or a canal to be dug, -if an India-rubber factory is to be put up, or a vice or abuse in the community to be put down,—the first movement, infallibly, is to call a meeting, and the second, to organize an institution, for the purpose. Combination is a characteristic of the age ; and it is so in our own country more than in any other, by far. We are a people involved in the meshes of all sorts of associations, year in and year out. They scarcely leave us the liberty of breathing, without some society's vote, certified by the secretary thereof.

To'a certain extent, this general state of things is necessarily the result and accompaniment of civilization. Men are gregarious in all conditions ; in a condition of civilization more so than in barbarous communities; variously so in various civilized communities, according to circumstances innumerable; but of all others, most likely to be so, and likely to be most so, in precisely a country and a state of society like our own. The circumstances that produce this tendency need not be here detailed.

The social power.

Abuse of it.

Enough for our present argument, that the effect, and the fact, are as they are; that the spirit of the age is essentially and eminently a public spirit,-a spirit of enterprise, and combined enterprise,-a merging, in other words, of individuality in the social principle, (as ice is wasted away in a warm air;) and that the spirit of our country, for permanent reasons peculiar to itself, is the foremost representative and leader of the spirit of the age.

Great good results from this tendency; not great achievements only-moral and physical-beyond the reach of individual resources,—but great good. In this country, especially, as it is one of the consequences, so is it one of the causes,—one of the chief ones,-of our unexampled prosperity. Our associations, great and small -in every department of society and life--from the Federal Union down to the least of all the organized operations of the bodies of men it includes—have carried everything before them. The world never has witnessed before such a development of the social power. But with the great things and good things which have resulted from its action and still result--and still will evil also, great evil, has been and will be mixed. Some of it is inevitable, and some of it incidental and needless, while yet another portion perhaps lies between these two classes. It is not wholly to be either prevented or remedied, but is greater than it need be. It admits of being guarded against to a certain extent; and for that reason, if for no other, it should be well understood.

We have alluded already to the amalgamating process in character (so to speak) which, under these influences, is going on among us; and that is the result we now particularly refer to as one to be kept in mind. It is the relting down of individuality in the floating character of the ambient community, and in the warm incumbent

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