Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 6: No 2) >> The Philosophy of the Omnibus >> Page 14

image of pageExplore Inside

Page 14

Reviews/Essays | 1998
Transcription the Ultima Thule had been attained. The appetite and the sense had, with them,
pillars not less impassable than those of Hercules. The world was all waste
beyond. No barque might penetrate that unfathomable void no mind perceive
its depths no conqueror win its sway no plummet fathom its mysteries; and the
potentate who proffered the wealth of a world for an untasted pleasure--a new
enjoyment had, not less than Solomon, discovered all the narrow nothingness of
life. He, too, could feel with the preacher, that all was vanity. He knew nothing
of the Omnibus!
Years ages succeeded, and the Omnibus was yet unknown. Strange, that
life should have been desirable on such terms. Well might they esteem it vanity,
when lampreys and the mushroom were held luxuries for men. What, indeed,
under such circumstances, was the value, the importance, the passion of conquest?
For what? Here, indeed, lies the mystery. The era of the Omnibus is not the era
of ambition. It could not be looked for at such a period. It required for its
discovery a new condition of things —a new order of events —a new class of men.
Pursuits, differing entirely from those existing at, and marking, such a time, wer
essentially necessary to the establishment of the Omnibus. The Romans, thought
wise in many things, and daring in all, could never have made it. They were not
wise, not daring enough for this; and again, they were quite too individual too
selfish. The horse then was rather the instrument of war, not merely, or not so
much, of carriage. With the Greeks, the case did not vary, materially. They
counted the speed rather than the utility of the animal, and the horse had no
existence independent of the racer. All his employments were for the individual,
for the selfish, for the ambitious; and the Omnibus was still unknown. A social
era was necessary for its creation, and the popular mind required a new direction,
and an impulse directly opposite, for such an invention. The chariot of the ancien
games, or of ancient warfare, driven and maintained by a single, or not over a pai
of warriors, though guided in all directions, was any thing but social in its
character. Destruction was the striking organ of such a period, and the build of
the Omnibus demands the opposite development.