Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 6: No 2) >> The Philosophy of the Omnibus >> Page 18

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Page 18

Reviews/Essays | 1998
Transcription Considered morally thus, and as embodying visibly to the eye the current
expression of the popular thinking, the Omnibus certainly holds forth illustrations,
abundantly numerous and strong, in support of these opinions. So far, then, it
may be looked upon with favor, and we give it our passport. It certainly indicates
an elevation in the aim of man in the general, though, perhaps, largely subtracting
from all his individuality. Great men will seldom ride in the Omnibus. For our
own part, we never think to do what all the town does, and the person solicitous of
his own stature will always keep clear of the crowd. Levellism, though of great
benefit to the community, is dangerous to the man. The individual is lost in the
species; and, what in his estimation is a much greater evil, the exceptions which
make him the individual, and upon which he so much prides himself, are merged
completely in the mountainous and mixing masses which surround him. The fine
features have no command, no eminence, among the mob—the fine shades and
colors soon undergo obscuration; and what are the nice proprieties of the
gentleman, where Toms, Dicks, and Harrys, make up the majority?
We see yet another feature of the moral condition of society, brought
actively forth by this new and levelling quality of the Omnibus; and here our
approval ends. It is no favorite here. The principle of thought, which, in this
respect, governs, and has led to its existence, is highly dangerous, and subversive
of sundry of those fine features which sometimes make up the redeeming and
apologetic circumstances in the progress of a tyranny-a tyranny such as that of
Augustus Caesar----of a time when Omnibuses could not be. The Omnibus shows
us that there is no limit to levellism when once it begins that it stops at
nothing that it recognizes no restraining agency that the spirit which has
brought it into being is one, as reckless in the pursuit of the one social, as the
olden power in the desire for the other selfish, extreme. And this is the evil of th
Omnibus. It wants discrimination. It is without taste. It takes up riders who are
not altogether prepared for such a mode of conveyance. It lifts men from the
ground, who have not yet freed their shoes from the mud. It begets a passion for
elevation, which has infinitely the start of any general preparation for such ascent