A PROGRESSIVE STATE is necessary to the happiness and perfection of Man. Whatever attainments are already reached, attainments still higher should be pursued. Let us, therefore, strive with noble emulation. Let us suppose we have done nothing, while any thing yet remains to be done. Let us, with fervent zeal, press forward, and make unceasing advances in every thing that can SUPPORT, IMPROVE, REFINE or EMBELISH Society.
To enter into particulars under each of these heads, and to dilate them according to their importance, would be improper at this time. A few remarks on the last of them will be congenial with the entertainments of this auspicious day.
If we give the slightest attention to NATURE, we shall discover that with utility she is curious to blend ornament. Can we imitate a better pattern? Public exhibitions have been the favorite amusements of some of the wisest and most accomplished nations. GREECE, in her most shining era, considered her games as far from being the least respectable among her public establishments. The shows of the Circus evince, that, on this subject, the sentiments of GREECE were fortified by those of ROME.
Public processions may be so planned and executed, as to join both the properties of Nature’s rule. They may instruct and improve, while they entertain and please. They may point out the elegance or usefulness of the sciences and the arts. They may preserve the memory, and engrave the importance of great political events. They may represent, with peculiar felicity and force, the operation and effects of great political truths. The picturesque and splendid decorations around me furnish the most beautiful and most brilliant proofs, that these remarks are FAR FROM BEING IMAGINARY.
The commencement of our Government has been eminently glorious: Let our progress in every excellence be proportionably great. It will, it must be so. What an enraptured prospect opens on the UNITED STATES! Placid HUSBANDRY walks in front, attended by the venerable plough. Lowing herds adorn our vallies: Bleating flocks spread o’er our hills, Verdant meadows, enameled pastures, yellow harvests, bending orchards, rise in rapid succession from east to west. PLENTY, with her copious horn, sits easy-smiling, and in conscience complacency, enjoys and presides over the scenes. COMMERCE next advances, in all her splendid and embellished forms. The rivers and lakes and seas are crouded with ships. Their shores are covered with cities. The cities are filled with inhabitants. The ARTS, decked with elegance, yet with simplicity, appear in beautiful variety, and well-adjusted arrangement. Around them are diffused, in rich abundance, the necessaries, the decencies and the ornaments of life. With heartfelt contentment, INDUSTRY beholds his honest labors flourishing and secure. PEACE walks serene and unalarmed over all the unmolested regions; while LIBERTY, VIRTUE and RELIGION go hand in hand harmoniously, protecting, enlivening and exalting all! HAPPY COUNTRY! MAY THY HAPPINESS BE PERPETUAL.
Saturday, February 6, 2010
James Wilson's Progressive Enlightenment Vision For America
Taken from his Oration on the Fourth of July 1788. A taste: