Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine >> Chapter XVII / How the Bilious Orator Essayed >> Page 397

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Page 397

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
motely over the surface of the earth. Now, the activity of the common intellect depends chiefly upon the rough and incessant attrition of the people. Wanting in this attrition, the best minds sink into repose, that finally becomes sluggishness. As a natural consequence, therefore, of the exclusive occupation of agriculture in the South, the profits of this culture, and the sparseness of our population, the Southern people left it to the Northern States to supply all their wants. To them we looked for books and opinion´┐Żand they thus substantially ruled us, through the languor which we owed to our wealth, and the deficient self-esteem naturally due to the infrequency of our struggle in the common marts of nations. The Yankees furnished all our manufactures, of whatever kind, and adroitly contrived to make it appear to us that they were really our benefactors, at the very moment when they were sapping our substance, degrading our minds, and growing rich upon our raw material, and by the labor of our slaves. Any nation that defers thus wholly to another is soon emasculated, and finally subdued. To perfect, or even secure, the powers of any people, it requires that they shall leave no province of enterprise or industry neglected, which is available to their labor, and not incompatible with their soil and climate. And there is an intimate sympathy between the labors of a people, and their higher morals and more ambitious sentiment. The arts are all so far kindred, that the one necessarily prepares the way for the other. The mechanic arts thrive as well as the fine arts, in regions which prove friendly to the latter ; and Benvenuto Cellini was no less excellent as a goldsmith and cannoneer than as one of the most bold and admirable sculptors of his age. To secure a high rank in society, as well as history, it is necessary that a people should do something more than provide a raw material. It is required of them to provide the genius also, which shall work the material up into forms and fabrics equally beautiful and valuable. This duty has been neglected by the South ; abandoned to her enemies ; and, in the train of this neglect and self-abandonment, a thousand evils follow, of even greater magnitude. The worst of these is a slavish deference to the will, the wit, the wisdom, the art and ingenuity of the people to whom we yield our manufactures ; making it the most difficult thing in the world, even when our own peo-