In dealing with the State we ought to remember that its institution
are not aboriginal, though they existed before we were born; that they are not superior to the citizen; that every one of them was once the act of a single man; every law and usage was a man's expedient to meet a particular case; that they all are imitable, all alterable; we may make as good, we may make better.
Like most other public institutions in America, of the same class, it stands a mile or two without the town, in a cheerful healthy spot; and is an airy, spacious, handsome edifice.
Here, as in many institutions, no uniform is worn; and I was very glad of it, for two reasons.
It was a source of inexpressible pleasure to me to observe the almost imperceptible, but not less certain effect, wrought by this institution among the small community of Boston; and to note at every turn the humanising tastes and desires it has engendered; the affectionate friendships to which it has given rise; the amount of vanity and prejudice it has dispelled.
Yet the theoretic principles, as they were drawn into discussion, could not fail to arrest their attention, and must have assisted them to form accurate ideas concerning the origin and extent of authority among men, independent of positive institutions. The importance of these circumstances will not be duly weighed without taking into consideration the state of opinion then prevalent in England.
To ascertain the precise point of division between the genuine institutions of Christianity and the corruptions accumulated upon them in the progress of fifteen centuries, was found a task of extreme difficulty throughout the Christian world.
I do but quote from one of those speeches when I declare that "I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution
of slavery where it exists.
But it was not always so easy to perceive wherein you had contravened the spirit of this institution. I was many times called to order, if I may use the phrase, when I could not for the life of me conjecture what particular offence I had committed.
When I consider the slight disparity of condition among the islanders--the very limited and inconsiderable prerogatives of the king and chiefs--and the loose and indefinite functions of the priesthood, most of whom were hardly to be distinguished from the rest of their countrymen, I am wholly at a loss where to look for the authority which regulates this potent institution. It is imposed upon something today, and withdrawn tomorrow; while its operations in other cases are perpetual.
"Yes; but you must agree that it's a new institution
of undoubted utility that's being started.
I found the new Institution torn by internal schisms even before it was opened to the public.
I jumped up to reply, amid the counter-cheering of the loose-thinkers; but before I could say a word the President of the Institution and the rector of the parish came into the room.