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[224] add further to it is only to increase that weakness. The breaking of the Constitution, too, on this vital point, is breaking the old bargain and the compromise between the North and the South, which is becoming every day more important to them than it is to us. And the consequence of all this is, that ill — will is growing up between the free States and the slave States, that can be a source of nothing but mischief, especially to the poor slaves. For to them there is no source of hope and ultimate benefit, except in the influence, the kindly, peaceful influence, of the North, and its spirit of freedom. The Union, however, will not be broken in my time. It is too important to both extremes; and whenever it is broken, it will be because, as so often happens, the passions of men triumph over their interests. . . .

Very different from all this is the ‘Vestiges of Creation,’ a book which has been reprinted here, and read, perhaps, quite as much as it has in England. I read it through at once, in the beautiful copy you sent me, and enjoyed the transparent style in which it is written, and the boldness of its philosophical generalization, very much. But I have no faith in the conclusion to which it comes, because almost every step in the argument is set upon some not sure theory, and the whole consists of a series of nicely fitted links, in which ‘ten, or ten thousandth, breaks the chain alike.’ If the author fails in a single instance,—even in the poor matter of the Mac Lac speculations at the end,—the whole system explodes, just as a Prince Rupert's drop does when you break off its tail. Of each of the scientific parts that compose it I am no sufficient judge, but I hear the experts in each branch, on both sides the Atlantic, are least satisfied where they are most skilled; that Lyell likes all but the geology, Owen all but the comparative anatomy, etc.,—so that from the nebulous theory up to the theory of the perfectibility of human nature, this veiled prophet and philosopher, who draws all his materials from the darkness of the past, and pushes them with his mace, like a great causey, into the darker chaos of the future, will not be likely to find many who will venture on ‘his new, wondrous pontifrice.’ Those that do, will, I think, be seen dropping through it, one after another, like the crowds in Mirza's vision in the Spectator, but none will get over by it to the shadowy land beyond. It is no common man, however, that undertook such a work, and if you ever find out who he is, I pray you to send me word. . . . .

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