as in the case of its counterpart. * * * * But we must not forget, that we are to determine simply what may be done by the friends of temperance for the advancement of the noble cause in which they are engaged, rather than what the more ardent of them (with whom we are proud to rank ourselves) would desire to see accomplished.
We are to look at things as they are; and, in that view, all attempts to interdict the sale of intoxicating liquors in our hotels, our country stores, and our steam-boats, in the present state of public opinion, must be hopelessly, ridiculously futile. * * * * The only available provision bearing on this branch of the traffic, which could be urged with the least prospect of success, is the imposition of a real license-tax—say from $100 to $1000 per annum—which would have the effect of diminishing the evil by rendering less frequent and less universal the temptations which lead to it. But even that, we apprehend, would meet with strenuous opposition from so large and influential a portion of the community, as to render its adoption and efficiency extremely doubtful.
The most bold and stirring of his articles in the New Yorker, was one on the ‘Tyranny of Opinion,’ which was suggested by the extraordinary enthusiasm with which the Fourth of July was celebrated in 1837.
A part of this article is the only specimen of the young editor's performance, which, as a specimen, can find place in this chapter.
The sentiments which it avows, the country has not yet caught up with; nor will it, for many a year after the hand that wrote them is dust.
After an allusion to the celebration, the article proceeds:
The great pervading evil of our social condition is the worship and the bigotry of Opinion.
While the theory of our political institutions asserts or implies the absolute freedom of the human mind—the right not only of free thought and discussion, but of the most unrestrained action thereon within the wide boundaries prescribed by the laws of the land, yet the practical commentary upon this noble text is as discordant as imagination can conceive.
Beneath the thin veil of a democracy more free than that of Athens in her glory, we cloak a despotism more pernicious and revolting than that of Turkey or China.
It is the despotism of Opinion.
Whoever ventures to propound opinions strikingly at variance with those of the majority, must be content to brave obloquy, contempt and persecution.
If political, they exclude him from public employment and trust; if religious, from social intercourse and general regard, if not from absolute rights.
However moderately heretical in his political views, he cannot be a justice of the peace, an officer of the customs, or a lamp-lighter; while, if he be positively and frankly sceptical in his theology, grave judges pronounce him incompetent to give