Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 6: No 2) >> The Philosophy of the Omnibus >> Page 20

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Page 20

Reviews/Essays | 1998
Transcription expands inordinately and the one, in process of time, necessarily becomes the
due representative of the other.
But it is not merely in government in the art vilely misnamed that of
politics that the Omnibus is the dangerous vehicle of levellism and vulgarity.
There are some things in the history of civilization and society, to which it should
never extend, but which it nevertheless presumes, with irreligious and profane
hands, most desperately to grapple. There are some things, some pursuits, some
principles and performance, essentially aristrocratic in their very nature, and only
to be approached with clean hands and barefoot, as things for love, for reverence,
for worship. Such are the just principle of truth and wisdom, to be educed from
the unselfish natures of high and worthy men men who should be beyond the
price and pay, as they must be above the praise of the vulgar and the unworthy.
Such are the charities and offices of religion--such are the gentle joys and
pleasantries of the happy fireside of domestic felicity and evening resort such
are the polite and fine arts such are poetry, music, the drama and the dance, and
all things which lighten the spirit of its weariness, and aim to win us back to the
pure nature, from which we are always on the eve of departure.
The Omnibus principle should have no control over these things. We
recognize its existence within a given and limited sphere as perfectly legitimate.
It will do for the mere utilitarian for the bad weather for the dusty feet for
the vile necessity. But when we behold it carried into our halls of council, our
theatres when we see the tobacco voided in volumes over our houses when we
perceive the tradesman, fresh from the comptinghouse, adjusting his business and
talking over his baking concerns and shipments, while the play is in progress, to
the infinite annoyance of all around him when we see the youth keeping his hat
resolutely stuck to his head as if it had grown there, while sitting in the box with
ladies rapidly encoring or hissing, while in the same situation we immediately
suspect the agency of that revolutionary principle in morals which has brought the
Omnibus into existence. We see, at once, that some have availed themselves of
its carriage, to penetrate into a region for which they have never been prepared by