Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 6: No 2) >> The Philosophy of the Omnibus >> Page 16

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Reviews/Essays | 1998
Transcription social. The social history of the Romans was a farce. The Scythians preyed less
upon one another, and seem never to have had a Nero, who could fiddle while
their cities were burning. Mark the change as we progress to our own times.
Peter the Cruel could share such luxuries with his mistress, and the social
condescensions of Miguel are something of a proverb. Tyranny to-day is
certainly not the tyranny of yesterday. Anciently, the despot hunted game for
himself, and wo to the poor devil who came between his spear and the victim.
The modern tyrants hunt always in couples, and the holy alliance will be found to
illustrate the social character of the era which their own wise labors are intended
to subvert. It is rather irreverent in a matter so very grave as the present, to
perpetrate a pun; but under our own eyes have we not seen an entire people, with
no other reason but that they were Poles, ready made to the hand, yoked to the
body of the great Omnibus of Russia. Kings are social now they were selfish in
times past. The luxuries of power, like all other luxuries, have undergone
refinement. The difference between past and present, in the particular, is
indicated by a comparison the most humble. Of old, all drank from the same
cup—now, each man has a cup of his own, and thus mark the social loveliness
of the thing all drink together all are upon an equal footing, and thus all matter
of offence is avoided.
This fact brings to view another peculiarity of this era, and the most
striking feature of all its levellism. In this abides a chief beauty of the Omnibus.
It ministers equally to all classes, and, as if the more fully to illustrate the
republicanism of the thing, the little urchin who receives the sixpences at the door,
is, without doubt, the most important personage of the company. The Omnibus
has no prejudices, no partialities no charge of favoritism will lie against it. The
coxcomb takes his seat beside the blacksmith, and dare not complain, if his white
inexpressibles win some unusual hues from the fellowship of his sooty neighbor.
The statesman and politician is "hale fellow, well met," with the greasy citizen
who votes against him; and the zealots of different sectaries, dismounted of their
several doxies, are compelled to ride, cheek-by-jowl, with one another. Such is