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[437] keep aloft on the splendid summit of affairs a few mortals of average merit.

Yet it is clear to our young friend, that whatever of essential dignity and substantial good is possessed by a few individuals, like those just named, it is within the compass of human talent and the Creator's bounty, to afford to all the family of man! In the contemplation of their possibility, and comparing it with the actual state of things, some of the finest spirits have gone distracted. Others have devoted themselves to impracticable schemes. Others have turned misanthropic, and others, philanthropic. Others have arrived, by degrees, at a variety of conclusions, of which the following are few: that man is rather a weak creature, and it is doubtful whether it is worth while to take much interest in him; that, as a rule, man enjoys exactly as much freedom as he becomes fit for, and no more; that, except a man have not the necessaries of life, poverty is no evil; that to most men increase of possessions is not of the slightest advantage; that the progress of mankind in wisdom and self-command is so slow, that after two thousand years of Christianity, it is not self-evident that any true advance has been made, though the fact of an advance is probably susceptible of proof; that whatever is, is the best that can be in the circumstances; and finally, that a man may mind his own business, and let the world alone.

Others, on the contrary, come to very different conclusions. They perceive that man is so great, and wondrous, and divine a creature, that it is irrational, in fact impossible, to take a real and deep interest in anything not connected with his welfare. They believe in the hourly progress of the species. They discover that the fruits of a good life, a good deed, a good word, can no more be lost than the leaves are lost when they wither and disappear. They long for the time, and confidently expect it, and would fain do something to hasten it, when Man will come forth from his dismal den of selfishness, awake to the truth that the interest of each individual and the interest of the community are identical, strive with his fellow for the general good, and so cease to be a Prince in exile, in disguise, in sackcloth, and ascend the throne that is rightfully his, and sway, with magnificence and dignity worthy of him, his great inheritance. From the general tenor of Horace Greeley's words

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Horace Greeley (1)
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