Wlliam Gilmore Simms
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Reviews/Essays | 1998
Transcription The Philosophy of the Omnibus

William Gilmore Simms

"Trace the great chain, each thin-spun link pursue,
And prove the wondrous springs of Nature true,--
Nor deem the fountain's eye, that, from the hills,
Pours forth its tearful tribute into tills,
Unmeet, when swelling on in sinuous course,
To yield the sea its bulk, the storm its force."

The Omnibus is of modern invention—the ancients knew nothing of the
Omnibus. Its enjoyments were forbidden to them. They could neither see nor
taste. The fountain was shut up—the book sealed. They were ignorant. They
lived too early in the world's history. They died too soon for their own. We can
only lament their ignorance—it is now too late to repair the evil, and our joys an
luxuries must sometimes be embittered, when we think how few were possessed
by our fathers when we reflect that they knew nothing of the Omnibus!
And yet they fondly imagined, in simplicity most wonderful, that they
knew much,--that they enjoyed much, and many of their wise men and magnates,
doubtless, in the solitude of distinction, wept with the madman of Macedon, that

1 This important Simms essay appeared in the American Monthly Magazine (May
1834), 153-159. It was later revised for Godev 's (September 1841), 104-107.
The initial version of 1834 is here published without emendation.