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nature is yet unsearched and unsubdued. Still, vast progress has been made toward gaining control of her ten thousand agencies.
In gathering this knowledge, we have not sought for it among the faded monuments and rolls of the ancients, as we call the inhabitants of the earth's childhood: but have looked to records of vaster antiquity, the writings of the infinite God in creation, which are now as fresh with beauty and wisdom as when His finger first mapped out the heavens, or traced the flowers and crystals of the earth. This is the fountain whence we have drawn; and what is the result?
How is it with water in these last times ? Instead of wasting its powers in gambols down valleys, or in sluggish quiet about “ sleepy hollows," it is trained to toil. With as much glee as it ever displayed running and leaping in its free channel, a single stream now turns over a million of spindles in this New England.
Changed to steain, there is terror in its strength even now. Yet the laws of steam, of its production, condensation, and elasticity, have been so carefully studied, and also the strength and other qualities of the metal used to confine it, as well as the nature and effects of fuel, that if we are careful not to defy established principles, steam is our inost willing worker, — turning saw-mills, printing-presses, cottongins, – speeding over our roads with indefinite trains of carriages and freight, — bearing away floating mansions, against wind and tide, across the oceans, cooking, heating, searching out dyes from coarse logwood, and the like, -- and applying itself to useful purposes, one way or another, in alınost all the arts. Again, if we will it, and follow nature's laws, water gives up its oxygen and hydrogen, and thus the chemist secures the means of burning even the diamond ; the aëronaut makes wings for his adventurous flight, and the lighthouse derives the famous Drummond light for its work of mercy.
Light is no longer a mere colorless medium of sight. We may evoke from it any color we please, either for use or pleasure. We may also take its chemical rays from the rest, or its light rays, or its heat rays, and employ thein separately or together; for we have found out where its strength lies in these particulars, so that at will, light may pass from our manipulations, shorn of its heating power, or of its power of promoting growth, or chemical change. Ay, the subtile agent will now use its pencil in taking sketches from nature, or portraits, if we desire it: and the work is well done.
The ancient wise men, discoursing on the power which holds matter
together, sometimes attributed to the particles convenient hooks for clinging to one another. Little was it dreamed that the force of combination in matter - now called attraction
included the lightning among its effects, and would be inade to run errands and do hard work for man. Electricity, galvanism, magnetism, are modern names for some of the different moods under which this agent appears; and none of nature's powers now do better service. It is kept on constant run with messages over the continents, scaling mountains or traversing seas with equal facility. It does our gilding and silverplating Give it an engraved plate as a copy, and it will make a hundred such in a short time. If taken into einploy, it will, in case of fire, set all the bells of a city ringing at once; or it will strike a common beat for all the clocks of a country; or be the astronomer's best and surest aid in observing phases in the heavens, or measuring longitude on the earth. All this and more it accomplishes for us, or can if we wish, besides opening to our inquiring eyes the profound philosophy which God has inscribed in his works.
Nature is not now full of gloom and terror. Her fancied fiends have turned out friends. Although God still holds supreme control, and often makes man remember whence his strength, yet every agent, however mighty in itself, is becoming a gentle and ready assistant, both in our work and play, — in the material progress of nations, as well as their moral and intellectual advancement.
JOHN LOTHROP MOTLEY, one of the most eminent of American historians, was born in Dor. chester, Massachusetts, in 1814. Graduating at Harvard College at the age of seventeen, he went to Europe, where he spent several years in preparation for a task to which he had early devoted himself, — the writing of a History of the Rise of the Dutch Republic. Young as he was, he had already produced two novels, Morton's Hope, or The Memoirs of a Provincial, and Merry Mount, A Romance of the Massachusetts Colony, which were long ago forgotten. After fifteen years of arduous labor he finished his History, and its reception on both sides of the Atlantic was exceptionally cordial. Mr. Everett said of it that it was, in his judgment, “a work of the highest merit,” and placed “the name of Motley by the side of those of our great American historical trio, – Bancroft, Irving, and Prescott.” The instantaneous success of this History — the work of a young and unknown writer - is unprecedented in the annals of historical literature. Not content with this triumph, which assured him of an immortality of fame, Mr. Motley at once set about a new enterprise, the results of which appear in The History of the United Netherlands, in which the career of the young nation, the story of whose birth had been told in the previous work, is described with equal spirit and accuracy. During the current year (1874) Mr. Motley's third historical work, Life and Death of John of Barneveld, has been published. In common with the eminent historians with whom Edward Everett classed him, Mr. Motley possesses in rare combination the highest intellectual qualifications for his work. He is especially remarkable for a certain breadth of mind which impels him to take comprehensive and exhaustive views of his subject. His style is a model of vigor and grace, and in dramatic quality it is equaled by that of no other historian of this century. It would be, perhaps, in possible to indicate any other historical works than his, of comparatively modern issue, touching which the judgment of critics has been so unanimously favorable. Some foreign reviewers, unable to appreciate, or, perhaps, eager to rebuke, the sturdy Republican spirit that animates this American writer, have charged him with excessive severity in his denunciation of Spanish despotism ; but with this exception his candor and conscientious accuracy have never been impugned. Mr. Motley was appointed United States Minister to Austria by President Lincoln, and, after honorable service at Vienna, was transferred to England, where he represented this government with conspicuous ability. The exigencies of partisan politics required his removal, and he is now, a private citizen, fully occupied with congenial literary labors.
We talk of History. No man can more highly appreciate than I do the noble labors of your Society, * and of others in this country, for the preservation of memorials belonging to our brief but most important past. We can never collect too much of them, nor ponder them too carefully, for they mark the era of a new civilization. But that interesting past presses so closely upon our sight that it seems still a portion of the present; the glimmering dawn preceding the noontide of to-day.
* THE NEW YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY. The extract is from an address delivered by Mr. Motley before this society, December 16, 1868, the subject being Historic Progress and American Democracy.
I shall not be misunderstood, then, if I say that there is no such thing as human history. Nothing can be more profoundly, sadly true. The annals of mankind have never been written, never can be written ; nor would it be within human capacity to read them if they were written.
We have a leaf or two torn from the great book of human fate as it flutters in the storm-winds ever sweeping across the earth. We decipher them as we best can with purblind eyes, and endeavor to learn their mystery as we float along to the abyss; but it is all confused babble, hieroglyphics of which the key is lost. Consider but a moment. The island on which this city stands is as perfect a site as man could desire for a great, commercial, imperial city. Byzantium,* which the lords of the ancient world built for the capital of the earth ; which the temperate and vigorous Turk in the days of his stern military discipline plucked from the decrepit hands which held the scepter of Cæsar and Constantine, and for the succession to which the present lords of Europe are wrangling, — not Byzantium, nor hundred-gated Thebes, † nor London nor Liverpool, Paris nor Moscow, can surpass the future certainties of this thirteen-mile-long Manhattan. And yet it was but yesterday
for what are two centuries and a half in the boundless vista of the past ? — that the Mohawk and the Mohican were tomahawking and scalping each other throughout these regions, and had been doing so for centuries ; while the whole surface of this island, now groaniny under millions of wealth which oppress the imagination, hardly furnished a respectable hunting-ground for a single sachem, in his war-paint and moccasins, who imagined himself proprietor of the soil.
But yesterday Cimmerian darkness, primeval night. To-day, grandeur, luxury, wealth, power. I come not here to-night to draw pictures or pour forth dithyrambics that I may gratify your vanity or my own, whether municipal or national. To appreciate the unexampled advantages bestowed by the Omnipotent upon this favored Republic, this youngest child of civilization, is rather to oppress the thoughtful mind with an overwhelming sense of responsibility ; to sadden with quick-coming fears ; to torture with reasonable doubts. The world's great hope is here. The future of humanity - at least for that cycle in which we are now revolving - depends mainly upon the manner in which we deal with our great trust.
* BYZANTIUM. The original name of Constantinople, the present capital of the Turkish Empire. The beauty and convenience of its situation were observed by Constantine the Great, who made it the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire A. D. 328, and called it Constantinopolis, i. e. the City of Constantine.
* THEBES. A great city of Egypt which was formerly the capital of that country. It is now in ruins, its remains extending for seven miles along both banks of the Nile.
The good old times! Where and when were those good old times ?
“ All times when old are good,” says Byron.
“And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death,” says the great master of morals and humanity.
But neither fools nor sages, neither individuals nor nations, have any other light to guide them along the track which all must tread, save that long glimmering vista of yesterdays which grows so swiftly fainter and fainter as the present fades into the past.
And I believe it possible to discover a law out of all this apparently chaotic whirl and bustle, this tangled skein of human affairs, as it spins itself through the centuries. That law is Progress, --- slow, confused, contradictory, but ceaseless development, intellectual and inoral, of the human race.
It is of Human Progress that I speak to-night. It is of Progress that I find a startling result when I survey the spectacle which the American Present displays.
This nation stands on the point towards which other people are inoving, — the starting-point, not the goal. It has put itself - or rather Destiny has placed it --- more immediately than other natious in subordination to the law governing all bodies political as inexorably as Kepler's law controls the motions of the planets.
The law is Progress; the result, Democracy.
Sydney Smith once alluded, if I remember rightly, to a person who allowed himself to speak disrespectfully of the equator. I have a strong objection to be suspected of flattering the equator. Yet were it not for that little angle of 23° 27' 26", which it is good enough to make with the plane of the ecliptic, the history of this earth and of "all which it inherit” would have been essentially modified, even if it had not been altogether a blank.
Out of the obliquity of the equator has come forth our civilization. It was long ago observed by one of the most thoughtful writers that ever dealt with human history, John vo: Herder, th:t it was to the