Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine >> Chapter XVIII / What Constitutes a State? >> Page 442

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Page 442

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription 442 SOUTHWARD HO!
The state represents the eternity of a race�its whole duration
whether long or short. Cut the sinews of the state, in obedience
to the caprices of a generation, and they must perish. All this is
very obscure, I know, and it can not well be otherwise, with
such a subject, and in a mere casual conversation. It must ne-
cessarily elude all common demonstrative analysis, particularly
as it lies based on great but mysterious secrets, in the general
plan of Providence, which it is scarcely permitted to us to explore.
The subject belongs to the spiritual nature in high degree and
is not to be measured by the common rules of argument. It
constitutes a study for the metaphysician who is at the same
time, a religious man. It is one of those problems which the
rulers of a people have need carefully to study, as it is upon the
due knowledge and appreciation of ' the state,' that every peo-
ple's future must depend. Nations perish /really because of their
simple failure to recognise this distinction between state and
people : and it is thus that a capricious generation, perpetually
bent on change, restless and impatient because of its atrocious
vanity, still wrecks all the ideal morals of their ancestors, and
all the hopes, born of those ideals, which would conduct their
posterity to power."
I confess this transcendentalism is quite too much for me. I
do not see the meaning yet of your distinction. It appears to
me only a dreamy sophism."
Precisely, and if you will show me the man to whom a met-
aphysical subtilty is for the first time presented, who is prepared
on the instant not only to argue it but to judge it, I shall be
willing to attach some importance to your present cavalier dis-
missal of the topic. Your process seems to be that of one of our
western members of Congress, who, some years ago, began his
speech with, ' I don't know nothing, Mr. Speaker, of the sub-
ject hyar before us, but I intend to go on argyfying it ontil I
gits all the necessary knowledge.' But even he, bold and
brave and candid as he was, never ventured to decide. He only
proposed to use ` argument' as a means of getting his ' edica-
tion.'
Why, you are perfectly savage."
No ; searching only.� To resume our subject for a moment
longer. There is a passage from one of our southern poets, who