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The Spirit of Independence: AN ORATION, DELIVERED BEFORE THE PROVIDENCE ASSOCIATION OF MECHANICS AND MANUFACTURERS, AT THEIR ANNUAL ELECTION, April 14, 1800.

BY TRISTAM BURGES, A. M.

PRINTED BY B. WHEELER, PROVIDENCE. 1800.

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At a Meeting of the Providence Association of Me­chanics and Manufacturers on Monday the 14th Day of April, A. D. 1800.

RESOLVED, That Messrs. Isaac Green­wood, Jeremiah Whiting, and Abel Allen be, and they hereby, are appointed a Committee to wait on Tristam Burges, Esq and present him the Thanks of this Association for his very elegant and appropriate Address delivered before them this Day, and request a Copy thereof for the Press.

A true Copy: Witness, JOS. BALCH, Sec'ry.

TO the Association at whose Request this Oration is published, it is most respectfully inscribed by

Their very humble Servant, TRISTAM BURGES.
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AN ORATION.

Gentlemen of the Association,

TOday you commemorate the establish­ment of your Society. This anniver­sary discovers the importance of your institution. On the present occasion, we behold, not only the Members of your Association, every department of the community seems to croud about you, and lau­dably emulate your zeal for improving the arts of our country. The ancients, our forefathers, and we ourselves, have, by national festivals, ever delighted to solemnize the events of war; because those events terminated hostilities, established the sovereignty of empires, and in a manner secured the enjoyment of all the tranquility of peace. With singular propri­ety, then, do your fellow-citizens unite with you, in the ceremonial of institutions, which cannot ex­ist, unless under the auspices of peace, the offspring of those mighty events. If, at such times, our an­nual rejoicings have been great, because those events were glorious, our celebration of these establishments will be had with still greater joy, because they are more useful; for even deeds of glory cease to be in­teresting, when they no longer have utility; and the effulgence of victory herself loses the power to ex­cite admiration, when once she becomes destructive. The arts of peace, therefore, to which all other things [Page 4] are but subservient, will forever remain most impor­tant, because they will forever remain most useful.

THIS consideration greatly heightens the embar­rassment of one who could never without trembling publicly speak on the most trivial occasion. On the subject before us, what can he say? Every thing has been anticipated by the philosophizing sagacity of a Burrill, the dazzling imagination of a Maxcy, and the all-exhausting copiousness of a Wilson. I feel the presumption of my attempt; and nothing could have induced the undertaking, but a most ar­dent wish to comply with the request of that order of the community, to which the first habits of my life united me. Altho' for this task very little quali­fied by nature, and still less by the discipline of ear­ly instruction; altho' the duration of his residence a­mong you scarcely entitles him to the indulgence of an acquaintance, while the pecuniary circumstances of his life have hitherto excluded him from the ho­nors of citizenship; yet, Gentlemen, his appearing in this place, before you, and at your appointment, communicates to the Orator of the present occasion, a most undoubting assurance of your patronizing candour, together with the liberal and polite atten­tion of all that numerous, and brilliant concourse of citizens, which seems to croud every part of this au­gust temple.

GENTLEMEN, you associated for specifick purpo­ses. These must have been the advancement of the mechanic interest, together with the general benefit of the commonwealth. Skill in your Arts and Man­ufactures, economy in the distribution of your be­nevolence, and a viligant attention to the interests of your order, as they stand related to the great com­munity, doubtless constituted the most considerable objects of your institution. The means of forward­ing these intentions, and the importance of those [Page 5] objects which your union was formed to secure lay before us materials for long discourse. Among these, you will say, with me, that your anniversary Orator ought ever to find his theme. If I may be permitted to tell how your designs might be advan­ced, I would first solicit your attention to the im­provement of your arts; and then say a few things concerning their importance. On these arts, how­ever, I would not be thought to offer a word by way of instruction; for altho' the hand of my youth was hardened by the toil of a most laborious trade, yet whatever I can advance on these subjects, must be perfectly known to men, who have wiped from their brow the sweat of mechanic labor through the heat of fifty summers.

NOTHING seems to me to comprehend more of the means of your improvement, than your associ­ated, and individual independence. Dependence, it is true, is the principle of union throughout mate­rial and moral nature; but, it is also true, that inde­pendence is the principle of individuality. It is this which makes each being what it is, and preserves it in the exercise of its constituted nature. There is, through all the universe, a principle by which each particular being appropriates whatever it acquires to the perpetuation of its own individual existence.— This is but the principle of independence. Under various names we every where behold it. In the in­animate world, it is called attraction; in plants, ve­getation; instinct, in mere animals; reason in man; and independence in political associations. Destroy this appropriating principle of independence, and nations would dissolve into unconnected wanderers; men would cease to regard each other, because they would not feel interested in themselves; brutes might wallow in the brook or trample on the green herbage, but they would never make an effort to quench their thirst, or satisfy their hunger; the ver­dure [Page 6] of spring never more could cloth the valley; the rock on which we step would pulverize beneath our foot, and the earth itself crumble into atoms too small for divisibility.

THOSE beings are most perfect in their kind, most completely subserve the design of their creation, in which this principle is found most uninterrupted in its operations. In the inanimate world, it is not often disturbed, and we, therefore, see, that part of the universe, unvaryingly subserve the purposes of animated, reasonable and social existence, the great and only design of its creation. In plants, this prin­ciple is almost as steady. They vegetate, with near­ly the same certainty, that rain descends from the clouds, or rivers roll away from their sources. Ani­mals follow their honest instincts, and travel round the circle of their existence just as certainly as spring renews the green foliage of the oak. In man, this principle is violated. We see him, often rash, or weak, and undecided. It is because he suffers his reason, the director of his actions, the principle of his independence, the guardian of his individuality, to remain uninstructed by knowledge, not strength­ened by frequent discipline, and often biased by pas­sions. Such a reason will, one moment, make a thousand resolves, and supercede them, by a thousand contrary resolutions the next; and finally, when it determines to action, that determination is as pro­bably the will of another, as that of its possessor.— Actions, originating from such a will, and such a rea­son, are puny and feeble, like their parents; they de­prave human nature, and diminish individuality by increasing dependence. It is an informed, strong, and unbiased reason, which gives energy to his will, and moves a man forward in the orbit of his nature, like the Sun travelling thro' the fields of heaven.— Such men are sufficient for whatever God designed them. They are fraught with exhaustless resources, [Page 7] and seem almost self-subsistent. Men of the oppo­site character are swallowed up in the common mass of animated things; and if deprived of shapes and names they would not retain one characteristeric of individuality.

IN political bodies, this principle is still more fre­quently violated. That spirit of independence, which supports their existence, and ought to direct all their actions, like the reason of an individual, of­ten becomes weak, unenlightened, and liable to in­fluence in a thousand ways. Every society, like every man, too ignorant, too weak, too pusilanimous, or, in one word, too dependent, to direct its own ac­tions, will forever find the intriguing, or the pow­erful, ready to assume the direction of them. As this dependence increases, their individuality fades away, until nothing of it remains but the name of their incorporation. It is this huge Leviathan of dependence, stretched on the political ocean, which swallows up even states and empires.

When once a corporation has lost its indepen­dence, when once its existence has become merely nominal, the designs of its institution, whatever they may have been, must be entirely lost. Let the im­provement of home manufactures be the design of an association, would this improvement be made if this association were totally dependant on a collec­tion of men, united to encrease the importation of foreign manufactures? If it were formed to encour­rage benevolence, would it not be destroyed by a dependance on an institution to promote parsimony? —If it were instituted to advance religion, or mo­rals, or arts, or science, when once its resolves, and its actions, were governed by a society on which it was entirely dependant, and the object of whose in­stitution was entirely different from its own, would [Page 8] not the design of its union be lost in that dependance which thus almost annihilates its existence? Let it, therefore, Gentlemen, be remembered that nothing can secure, nothing can forward, the design of your Association, when once its independence has depart­ed from it.

THIS independence of corporation, implies the in­dependence of all those individuals who compose it. It will not be possible to form an independent Asso­ciation from individuals who have any other depen­dencies than mutual ones. If each citizen of the U­nited States lived, and had no other means of living, but by a pension from the King of Great Britain, where should we find the independence of the Fed­eral Government? If therefore, Gentlemen, your Association be independent, every member of it will be independent.

THIS independence is a condition below the dissi­pation of wealth, and above the solicitude of necessi­ty; it is as far removed from the hurry of want, as from the laziness of opulence; it is the parent of leisure, of that leisure which ever associates itself with constant pursuit, and regular employment.— Let us, Gentlemen, enquire how this independence can forward any of the designs of your Association.

MEN in this condition, with too much of busi­ness ever to be idle, and too far removed from want, ever to be hurried in the performance of their labor, will not only finish their work with accuracy and skill, they will also lay the perfecting hand of im­provement on that art which employs their attention. But the man, who is dependant, who is driven on in the performance of his task by the commands of penurious necessity, will never have time to give his work a perfect finishing. His productions will be the half formed result of hurried application; scarred [Page 9] by the rapidity of a hasty hand; and among a mul­tiplicity of them you will search in vain to find a piece completed by the finishing touches of an ar­tist. For tho' want has been the ever teeming pa­rent of inventions; yet, like the indigent and wi­dowed mother of a numerously multiplied progeny of orphans, this prolifick parent of inventions has al­ways been compelled to leave them, unnurtured, without culture, and rude as when they first received their existence. One mechanic of independence will give more perfection to an art, than a host of "lean unwashed artificers," who, driven on by penurious dependence "to their daily labours add the night."

IN all arts there is a science, a system of elementa­ry rules, or first principles, which may properly be denominated their philosophy. It is the theory of the art; that part of it which stands opposed to prac­tise; that which exists in the mind, not that which employs the hand. Theory teaches the artist what to do; practice guides him in the performance. The complete artist has, not only accustomed his hand to all the curiously difficult operations of his trade; but he has also made himself perfectly master of all its whole system of scientifick principles, and is en­tirely a philosopher in his own profession. He goes still further, and examines all that world of things which lies immediately surrounding his daily em­ployment. Nor is this applicable to the less toil­some trades only. Even the rough son of Mulcer­ber has seen the steel redden in the fire, and expand beneath the hammer; but this is not all. He has learned their philosophy. He knows the power of the subtle, active, all softening, all-dissipating ele­ment; and, in a thousand ways, can call "this fla­ming minister" to aid his hand, and with a philo­sophick skill instruct is whither to direct its blazing energies.

[Page 10]THE man who operates on principle, who u­nites theory and practice, who has perfected phi­losophy by experiment, and become more skilful in experiment, by the aid of philosophy, this man in his own trade is more sage than Newton, more powerful than Franklin, and will produce, whatever of perfection, his art can produce. But before he can do this, he must have rendered himself indepen­dent. Little indeed can he philosophize, who must stand at the whistle of a thousand dependencies; who suffers his mind to feel the whirl of an eternal rota­tion of wants. Independence alone gives time for thought, and bestows that leisure in which we can indulge curiosity, and pursue investigation. If there­fore, Gentlemen, you would perfect yourselves as ar­tists, you must secure to yourselves independence.

SKILL in art, is the effect of a habit, which, like all other habits, grows from a repetition of precisely the same performance. The foot becomes habitua­ted to a frequent trodden path, and we pass over it with such facility that the distance seems shortened. A man writes his name better than any other word, because he is most habituated to writing it. One constant, unvaried, and frequent operation, grows into a habit; and that habit gives the hand of the artificer the easy, rapid, and dexterous movement, which is denominated skill. To perfect skill, there­fore, the operations of the hand should be as little varied as possible. For when we forsake one ope­ration for another, we inevitably lose skill in that from which we departed; because, time obliterates every thing, and those habits which custom has im­pressed on our system are worn away by time.— What we acquire in youth, unless retained by con­stant practice, will escape from us in age. The mind must lose its ideas, the "right hand its cun­ning." He then who would perfect his skill, must constantly apply to one trade.

[Page 11]IT is an observation, not less true, than ancient, that he, who applies to a multiplicity of trades, will be skillful at none of them. If he be, at one time, a shipwright, at another, a carpenter, then a smith, a taylor, or a shoemaker, we should wonder indeed if he were not a bungler at all his trades. I have seen men who were sometimes, farmers, and, sometimes, artificers; the consequence was, their lands were wretchedly cultivated, and all their work but half finished. They might have been skilful husband­men, or skilful artificers, had they applied to one of these occupations only, but, perpetually exchanging, they could not excel in either. Let, therefore, the smith remain a smith, the carpenter, a carpenter; and each particular artificer uninterruptedly pursue the trade to which from infancy he has accustomed his hand; for in this way only can he cherish the young habits of his nature, and complete all his pro­ductions with dexterity, and skill.

THIS can seldom be performed, in our country, by the sons of dependence. Nothing, like unfeeling necessity, drives a man round the toilsome circuit of all the trades. A want of employment, at one, hur­ries him into another; and, the same day, you may see him sweating over the ax, driving the saw, or smoking at the anvil. Independence only will save him from these vicissitudes. The independent man will not be hurried in any one employment, nor ob­liged to pursue many at the same time. He there­fore can fix all his attention to one kind of opera­tion, and give every piece of his workmanship a perfect finishing.

I KNOW it may be said, that such a division of labour, as will confine each man to one employment, is the effect of the populousness and luxury of a country, not of the independence of its artificers.— It is true, the wealthy cities of Europe and Asia, o­pen [Page 12] a market for every production of art. It is true, artificers in those cities seldom know the sweets of independence. They are the poor, pitiful, hirelings of the wealthy, and the powerful; or the abject slaves of their own wants and extravagancies. Ne­cessity alone urges them to ply the hand; and a so­licitude to please their proud patrons, and ornament their pageantry, drives them to finish their work with anxious attention. With them the completion of the artificer is the perfect degradation of the man. They are not only servile, but ignorant. In London, where the meagre forms of men are for life confined to pointing needles, or heading pins, we shall find them indeed skilful in these occupations, but stupid beyond all conception, and ignorant of every thing except the mere mechanic task which daily employs their hands. Their minds are contracted to the narrow dimensions of their labour; the little trade engrosses all the little man; and he has quite as much claim to rationality, as the little tools with which he performs his work.

SURELY our Country would not improve arts and manufactures at such expence. If, for every finished artificer, a citizen must be sacrificed, the gain will be far short of the loss; and it were better to remain satisfied with the rude productions of un­practised hands, than to degrade a large and intelligent part of the community into pieces of mere mechanism. Consider, Gentlemen, the amazing difference be­tween our country, and those which have been pop­ulated almost ever since the birth of creation. We have not, and long may we be destitute of, the causes to perfect arts and manufactures, which have gi­ven them perfection in the luxurious regions of Eu­rope and Asia. Here they must owe their improve­ment to the independence of their votaries; to that independence which, while it gives power to confine their hands to the exercise of one art only, leaves their [Page 13] minds possessed of leisure amply sufficient to study the principles, the philosophy of their own profession.

IF independence be of so much importance in the improvements of arts, does it not become a part of our subject? Will it not be proper for a moment to turn our attention to the means of acquiring it? E­very man may be independent; every man who can so controul his own wants, that he will have need of nothing which he has not already obtained, or which it is in the power of any one to withhold from him. Dependence does not inevitably grow out of a multiplicity of wants; nor independence flourish amidst the immensity of possessions. We often see the independent man clad in plain gar­ments, while the sons of servility are robed in gor­geous apparel. The whole art of independence consists in keeping our desires within our power of gratifying them. While we do this, whether the inventory of our goods and chattels be long, or short; whether our power be narrow, or uncircum­scribed, we shall lean on no man, we shall be influen­ced by no man, but, lords, and sovereigns of our­selves, we shall be masters of our own resolves. On the contrary, the moment we suffer our wants to ad­vance beyond the line of our ability, neither the wealth of both Indies, nor the power of an ancient Caliph, can elevate us above the prostrate servility of dependence.

THERE has been introduced into our country a mode of living very unfriendly to this noble spirit of which we are discoursing. We shall be convinced of this, and perhaps discover a remedy for this pub­lic disease, by examining its origin and progress. At the close of the revolutionary war, much of the pub­lic debt was in the hands of men in needy circum­stances. To relieve their own wants, and support their families, they sold the price of their toil at a small [Page 14] part of the nominal value. This began the first act in the great farce of American speculation. The sale of lands followed; and these negociations were carried to an amazing extent. Fortunes on paper were created in a day. Men rose at once from pe­nurious obscurity, and blazed, and dazzled in all the splendor of opulence. They revelled in the luxu­ries of wealth; became ostentatious of their riches; built houses, set up equipages, and furnished tables merely to shew the world how much money they could throw away.

THIS spirit of speculation spread, rapidly as the fogs of a vernal atmosphere, until it had possessed e­very class of the community. All were making haste, not only to be rich, but also to be luxurious. The bubble of imaginary wealth raised millions to bask in the blaze of prosperity; millions who evi­dently beheld in its broad transparent bosom all the glories of a new heaven and a new earth. As it ex­panded they were elevated, until its fatal explosion, and they found themselves struggling in the dirt from which they first emerged.

BUT when the phantom fled from our deluded country it left behind a foul progeny; it left us all our habits of profusion and extravagance. The sim­ple manners and rigid economy of our ancestors, had been expelled from the nation; the productions of our own soil could not regale our fastidious appetites; the manufactures of our own country were too plain for her proud sons and daughters; and our wants, originating from this source, have reduced us to a servile dependence on foreign nations for our food and raiment.

IT is for you, Gentlemen, if you would be inde­pendent, to restore primitive plainness. In the Ame­rican war, when our country struggled with unutter­able [Page 15] difficulties, how did the spirit of our ancestors walk abroad in the majesty of independence? Beauty was then clad in garments which her own hand had wrought; and blushing in unadorned loveliness, felt secure of conquest without the aid of Asiatic or Euro­pean auxiliaries. Those who then fought, waited not until they could be robed in purple, and fine li­nen; but, dressed from the loom where our mothers toiled to cloath their sons for the long campaign, they rushed from their native hills, terrible in the battles of their country, and victorious over her foes. The temperance, the economy, the simplicity, the industry of those times, would render our country independent of every nation on earth; and each individual of us entirely independent of all the influ­ence of his neighbours, and perfectly master of his own resolves.

LOOK out, and behold the independence of all creation. The oak grows from the earth, drinks the dewy showers, warms by the rays of summer noon, and expands its verdant foliage to the sweep­ing breeze of evening; yet, tho' fed, and supported, by all the elements of nature, it leans to none of them, but lifts its branches towards heaven, and rears its head aloft in all the majesty of independence.— The ox on the plain lows without permission from a neighbour grazer. The wolfe asks not his kindred prowler of the forest when he may leave his rocky den, stalk down from the mountain, or howl to the dismal responses of midnight echo. Even the dog, that fawns on man so much, begs not a brother dog for leave to bark. Every thing but man pre­serves its native independence.

IF, therefore, Gentlemen, independence be the pre­serving principle of the Universe; if the brutes by their instincts, and the very trees by silent ex­ample seem to teach it to man; if the influence of [Page 16] it preserves the existence of nations; if the designs of your Association must expire when they shall no longer be nurtered by this principle; if in our coun­try your arts cannot flourish unless they flourish un­der its fostering hand, then let independence be the great mystery of all your trades, the first and last maxim of your lives.

SHOULD any imagine this path to mechanical im­provement, steep of ascent, and difficult to be trod­den, let them with me, a little while, contemplate the importance of those arts; and they cannot then want motives to animate, and to urge their exer­tions. To speak on this part of the subject is dif­ficult indeed; for it is scarcely possible to look out a point of beginning, or to fix any ultimate boun­dary to discourse. I can see nothing; I can think of nothing, which does not hold up to me the im­portance of your arts. Convenience is indebted to them no less than superfluity; and it would be dif­ficult to say whether they most advance the utilities or the ornaments of life. Is there any thing com­modious, useful, or ornamental; is their any thing beautiful, grand, sublime, or magnificent, among the works of men, which did not originate from them, as naturely, and as necessarily as streams originate from their fountains.

LOOK at your white ensign which to day has waved in the winds of heaven. The world of me­chanic philosophy is epitomised on that wonderful production of nature's admired copiest, and arts most ingenious pupil.

WHAT built the numerous cities, what raised the vast palaces which glitter along the shores of our country? What spread this town on the banks of a river once rolling its black waves thro' the shaggy bosom of a forest? Whence those edifices, catching [Page 17] the gazing attention of the traveller? Whence this temple, reared on ground, where erst the unhallowed foot of barbarity beat the shaded sod? This lofty temple, whose broad front blazes so far in the sun­beams of evening, whose consecrated dome so often re echos with the sound of morning hallelujahs.— All these grew up under the fostering hand of mechan­ic arts; and all these are but a small part of their many productions. It would be endless to trace them through all their connexions with the most impor­tant transactions of man; to tell how by them war is armed with all his terrors; by them peace is robed in all her allurements; by them agriculture "hews the hard rock, and harrows up the plain;" by them commerce freights the wealth of every clime, asso­ciates the nations of distant worlds, and encircles e­very region of the earth in one broad horizon.

THE improvement of mechanic arts in our coun­try will expand into vast importance, when we con­sider our immense importation of foreign manufac­tures. We know that from thence our ships are rigged for the sea; from thence our houses receive their ornaments; and the very beds on which we re­pose ourselves are fitted up, and sent to us by fo­reigners. We are, every one of us, dressed by other nations. Columbian beauty wraps her white limbs in the lawn of a foreign loom; and the valour of America does not yet disdain to wear a British liv­ery. The materials of which these were wrought, perhaps, were worth one hundredth part the price at which we purchase them. Nine hundred of every thousand dollars, paid by us for imported manufac­tures, rewards the superior skill of the foreign artist. These must be obtained in exchange for the un­wrought productions of our own soil. How vastly against us the balance in this exchange. What a trifle, growing on the plains of Flanders, or the hills of China, will, before it arrives at the hands of one of [Page 18] our husbandmen, purchase the labours of his whole year. I have seen the company, at a birth-night ball, glittering in the spoils of a hundred seasons. I­magine, therefore, if you can, Gentlemen, imagine, a subject more important, more interesting, to our country than the improvement of American arts and manufactures; for until we can excel foreigners, this importation cannot be prevented. Will not, then, the improvement of your arts be a rich re­ward for all the labour it can cost you?

THE importance of your arts will be still more conspicuous, if we consider the political influence of that noble spirit of independence by which they are cherished and improved. In all countries wealth is power; and therefore the most wealthy are the most powerful. He, who can support one man, will be more powerful, than he, who cannot support one. If one thousand pounds a year will feed ten depen­dents, ten thousand pounds a year will feed one hun­dred. Every accession of wealth will produce a new accession of power. Thus it was over all Europe in the days of feudal dominion. The tyrant, whe­ther a prince, or a lord, who could, by parceling out his lands, pay the greatest number of soldiers, was ever most powerful. Thus it is in the Ottoman realms at this day. The Grand Seignor is sole pro­prietor of all the lands; and these constitute the whole wealth of the empire. He is, therefore, the unresisted, and undisputed lord, not only of the ser­vices, but of the lives, of his trembling vassals.

THE genius of our government is not like those; but tho' vastly different, it is quite as liable to be wielded by that kind of power. Altho' every thing with us is done by suffrage; yet he, who can bring to the place of election, one thousand, who eat bread from his table, will be as powerful, as a thousand whose wealth can support none of these dependents. [Page 19] Here we behold the birth of aristocracies; and they grow up, and gather strength, from all those causes which collect the wealth of a nation into the hands of a few. Great individual wealth has an influ­ence, hostile to the first principles of our go­vernment. This influence ought to be opposed, or, like a troubled ocean, it will break in upon us, and deluge the liberties of our nation. In this op­position nothing can be so efficient as individual in­dependence; as that spirit by which your arts must be fostered, and improved; that spirit which will animate every artificer, whose habits of life set him beyond reliance on the rich, whose professional skill renders him necessary to the luxurious, and whose erect and independent soul will never lean from its own basis to support the powerful.

ALTHO' this country has not felt the effects of ex­orbitant individual wealth, altho' no proud aristoc­racy hitherto has laid its massy hand on this govern­ment; yet if ever accident, or any permanent cause, should throw too much wealth into the hands of a few, this spirit of power, "this goblin damned," would rise secretly, like "the pestilence that walketh in darkness;" or gathering audacity from an accumu­lation of the causes which first gave it existence, it would finally stalk abroad at noon-day, in all the haughty forms of usurped authority, and insolent oppression. If ever this should happen in our coun­try, then would an independence like yours, the in­dependence of numerous, intelligent, and respecta­ble citizens, be too mighty for this genius of mischief, and hie him back to the foul region from which he arose.

THINK not, Gentlemen, that I would degrade your Association into a democratic club. These clubs are the birth places of party spirit. Here young faction is cradled, and nursed, until with gi­gantic limbs stalking forth he can trample on law, [Page 20] religion, and humanity. That independence, which I would recommend, is not the independence of a party, but of the individual. It is the independence of a man, and not of a faction. Its votary is of no party, he is of the community. You, therefore, Gentlemen, in guarding against the influence of wealth, will never enquire from what department of the community that influence originated. In these political efforts, you will never stand forth as a me­chanic association, but as so many unconnected in­dividuals, taught by long habits of independence, to oppose every influence which may rise up to o­verthrow the principles of our government.

THE importance of your arts will shine with the most engaging lustre, when we behold their improve­ment collecting you together as a benevolent asso­ciation. Altho' our country feeds most of her chil­dren with a liberal profusion, yet many, and many, are the sons and daughters of want. Truly was it said to mortals; "The poor you always have with you." That host of contingencies which perpetu­ally war against human hopes, can, and often do, in a day, lay waste all our expectations. Have you not seen those whose bounty fed thousands reduced to the necessity of begging? How often death transfixes with one dart two kindred bosoms; and leaves their young orphans, the tender blossoms of their love, to be blighted by the cold unkindness of a world! Few are the joys of many. They seldom taste the wholesome meal, or feel the warm garment, or see the bright fire. Often do they stand the bare­footed companions of unhoused nakedness, shivering in the howling winds of December midnight.

SHALL they be doomed to ceaseless wretchedness? Will not charity nourish them in her own bosom? For their relief, and for our joy in relieving them, has not the hand of nature woven the fine filaments of [Page 21] compassion into the texture of our hearts? That be­nevolence, Gentlemen, which your Association in­culcates, will never pass by them on the other side of the way. You will cheer their gloomy abodes with the voice of consolation. You will cause the widow­ed heart to sing for joy. You will rescue young in­nocence from the temptations of cruel necessity; and lead those by the hand who have none to direct their steps. How then do your arts rise in importance when benevolence becomes the inseparable compan­ion of their improvement!

I FEEL still an additional proof of the importance of your Association, when I behold assembled on the present occasion, so large a collection of such Ap­prentices. Young Gentlemen, we all rejoice to see you here; to me it is doubly grateful. It brings back to memory the days of my own apprenticeship. What my Master, my Father, then taught me, I will now say to you. Be not satisfied, before you perfect­ly know, whatever you undertake to learn. If there be any excellence in your trade, if there be any praise which can be merited by you, cease not to labor, and to meditate, until you have obtained that ex­cellence, until you have deserved that praise. Youth is the stuff of which your whole characters must be wrought. If you waste this, or work it up into vi­cious habits your characters will be contemptible, and your lives wretched. The idle boy will be an idle man; the ignorant boy will be an ignorant man; the vicious boy will be a vicious man You never saw a man, idle, and ignorant, and vicious, who was not poor, and dispised, and miserable. If, therefore, you would be happy and respectable men, you must now be industrious, sober, and thoughtful; you must turn your eyes from every temptation, nor even set a foot in the path of vice.

YOU have parents whose hearts throb with anxiety [Page 22] for your success in life. Your prosperity will cheer them to the very evening of their days; your ruin would carry them sorrowing to the grave. Your Masters have this day presented you to the public; and in this hallowed temple, with the eyes of all this assembly upon you, they now consecrate you to your country. Remember you must one day become cit­izens, you must one day solemnize the rites of this society; and when your masters shall be taken from your head, may a double portion of the spirit of this institution, like the mantle of the departing pro­phet, forever rest upon you.

SINCE these things are so, Gentlemen, what shall we say? Can you purchase the objects of your Asso­ciation at a price too dear? Will you reluct at any toil, any perseverance, any sacrifice of superfluity? Will you not cultivate those arts which furnish man with all his accommodations, all his ornaments? What tho' art can never equal nature; tho' she can­not give that endless variety which blossoms round the globe; tho' she cannot arrange like the system of the Universe, nor spread over her works the co­louring of the rainbow, nor touch them with that polish which shines on the front of heaven; yet can she continue to invent, and to improve the produc­tions of those inventions, until the world of art shall blush with a beauty, almost as perfected, as the creation of nature. Shall a country like ours, so rich in soil, so multifarious in productions, stoop to depend on other nations for the necessaries of life? When will Columbia, like another China, distribute her rich wrought manufactures to every nation of the globe? Will you not lure improvement from the embattled shores of Europe? Already she stands on the margin of the deep, trembling at the thunder of war. How long shall she look wishfully over the wide Atlantic, and hope in vain to behold the sail whitening on the horizon; the sail which shall waft her to the bosom of her sister liberty, in the peace­ful, [Page 23] and happy regions of our country? Shall not arts be cultivated? Does not the genius of independence give them to flourish into perfection? Yes, that mighty genius of independence, who, strong as the angel wielding the four winds of heaven, holds over our go­vernment the broad aegis of protection, while law, and freedom, and morality, and religion, sit smiling be­neath its ample shade. Is there not in benevolence, in goodness, a charm of almighty allurement? Is it not all we love in mortals, all we adore in God? Is it not circled in the embrace of your institution? Does not the tearful eye of distress every hour call it into ex­ercise. Persevere then, Gentlemen, we know you will persevere; we know you will pursue the path of improvement; we know you will perfect the no­ble designs of your institution; and we know while you imitate the handy work of the Great Master Builder of the Universe, you will feel the full blaze of his divine munificence kindling in your souls the ardent glow of benevolence.

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ODES, PERFORMED AT THE ANNIVERSARY ELECTION OF THE OFFICERS OF THE PROVIDENCE ASSOCIATION OF MECHANICS AND MANUFACTURERS, ON Monday, April 14, 1800.

[Page 26]

Ode First, Composed by Paul Allen, Esq.

GENIUS of Art when we survey,
Thy works, our minds with rapture glow,
The rising and the setting day
Display thy wonders here below.
Our bosoms own thy magic power,
Our native dignity we scan,
And feel at every passing hour,
The inborn majesty of man.
The massy pyramids that rise,
And o'er the humble cottage frown,
The lofty towers that prop the skies,
Are monuments of thy renown.
Behold the savage quits his bow,
Forsakes his wild ferocious clan,
He feels the genial current flow,
And mellows into social man.
Yon field of flax which summer gales,
Wave as they sweep along the plain,
Transformed by art to swelling sails,
Shall waft our glory o'er the main.
Where mines of min'ral dark and drear,
Lay cover'd with the mountain heap,
Arts mighty Genius whispers here,
Columbia's future thunders sleep.
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Ode Second, Composed by Paul Allen, Esq.

COLD was the earth and dark the skies,
No vernal beauty bloom'd,
The wild flower spread its crimson dyes,
And barren heaths perfum'd.
Wide as an Angel's eye could ken,
The tangling desart lay,
And scarce the cottages of men,
Would mark the length of way.
The hunger famished Wolf with ire,
Would pace the shades of night,
While children at the winter fire,
Sat shivering with affright.
Mechanic Art! thy mighty hand,
Dispels the midnight gloom,
We view the heath with flowers expand,
And bursting into bloom.
Let there be light, the Almighty said,
And shook the vast profound,
Dark midnight threw aside her shade,
Creation sparkled round.
The hills with flagrance seem'd to breathe,
The birds were heard to sing,
While all creation blush'd beneath,
The rosy-footed Spring.
'Twas by thine aid Almighty Art,
The world beheld this light,
And should thy heavenly beams depart,
Would sink obscur'd in night.
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Ode Third, Composed by Paul Allen, Esq.

CONTENT, thou dear object of all our desires,
To thee the fond bosom with rapture aspires;
Poor mortals deluded thy phantom pursue;
We never possess, tho' we keep thee in view.
Had Adam, our father, thy beauty but known,
Serene as the morning his days would have flown,
All nations and ages had bow'd to thy reign,
Nor pity's soft Angel would ever complain.
Dame Nature foresaw what her sons would endure,
And like a fond parent provided a cure;
She call'd fair Invention her aid to impart,
That handmaid of Science and glory of Art.
Fair Science that lately in caverns unknown,
Repin'd like a vestal, forlorn and alone;
On wings of Invention exulting shall rise,
And measure her flight with the bounds of the skies.
Those men whom the love of their country has fir'd
Who smil'd in the arms of applause, and expir'd;
From tombs more resplendently rise to the views,
Applauded by Senates, and sung by the Muse.
All hail then, Invention, thy blessings bestow,
To brighten the prospects of mortals below;
The Arts and the Sciences both shall combine,
With chaplets of glory to cover thy shrine.

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