Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 6: No 2) >> The Philosophy of the Omnibus >> Page 17

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Reviews/Essays | 1998
Transcription the levelling and democratic Omnibus. This was not the case of yore. What were
vehicles then? The horse himself was a decided aristocrat. He bore no burthen
which was not honorable in the strict acceptance of ,society. The scion of the
ancient stock looked down in his loneliness of place upon the poor plebeian, who
was required to keep pace on foot beside him. No wonder the horse is proud. He
had the pay of a soldier in times past, and was far more honored for his service.
So, too, the dog he had his pay for military service, agreeably to the same
standard, in the days of chivalry; and in the Spanish wars in America, the favorite
breed and blood frequently slept in the same bed with his owner. All these
periods were decidedly hostile, not less to society, than to the Omnibus. They
discouraged all utilitarianism as slavish, which came not with battle they kept
down humanity they restrained the onward course of man, and bowed his neck
to the yoke of the oxen they fettered civilization, and dammed up all the
generous tendencies of society, which, in its true nature, is entirely republican.
There is yet another feature of this era, thus indicated by the Omnibus. It
does not merely bring down the prince from his high station his pride of place,
and the concentrated selfishness of all his purposes. It goes yet farther. It lifts th
peasant into hope! It does ndt merely bring the peer to his level it elevates him,
if not into the condition of the peer, at least into an arena of equal contest and a
fair field, in which the peer has no advantage. There is an important, an imposing
truth, in this small particular. It carries a warning to the titled,--to the insolent
dominator of ages,--to the misbegotten and misdirected assumptions of class and
caste,--to the few, who, violating all the legitimacies of nature,- yet assume to be
the legitimates of earth. We convey this warning lesson, this solemn truth, in a
single sentence, when we ask, how can the chariot of the peer presume, to clash
with the Omnibus of the people? How can the slight though showy vehicle, with
its solitary inmate, stand audaciously in the highway, when the Omnibus comes
whirling along, carrying twenty-four sturdy citizens? The thing is ridiculous the
thought is, that of one, foolish with his own conceit, and maddened as those
forever must be, whom God desires to destroy. Quo Deus, etc.