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Phineas Parkhurst Quimby: His Complete Writings and Beyond

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New England

We are sometimes told that our puritan ancestors were distinguished from other men by one characteristic, viz: a tenacious adherence to a particular religious faith, and that in other respects they were like the society in which they lived. Persecuted on account of religion, they left comfortable homes and faced the dangers of the sea and planted their colony on the barren shores of the new world in order to enjoy, unmolested, the right of worship.

Now if I understand the true feelings of the people, they were men and women who partook of the principle of freedom, for the sake not of monopolizing but of extending it and teaching others to enjoy it. Jealous, therefore, of any social corrupting influence that might lead their flock astray, like Moses they established laws and penalties such as in their judgment would promote the general good. Religion was their peculiar feeling, perfectly simple and easily borne by them; but not knowing that it contained error, yet enforcing it as true, they made it obnoxious to the masses. But opposition awakened their higher faculties, and men and women came forth uniting in themselves these strong elements of character, viz: great intellectual energy, and what gives it protection and efficiency, a corresponding degree of physical strength. These are the characteristics of New England.

As drones always work their way into society, they appeared among this people and affected their intellectual development for being acted upon by the higher element. They, in their intelligence, began to invent and their inventions were counterfeits of those of the higher class because they had no sympathy. Inventiveness is never easy when there is a chance for improvement, but drones having no more respect than savages for improvement appreciated only the worldly advantage derived from them. Gain being the first law of their nature, their eyes were open to the least chance of obtaining the reward of labor without the toil. This desire for wealth became uppermost in the New England mind. But riches are not confined to dollars and cents; there is a purer one and one more difficult to attain.

Wisdom requires the highest development of man, and this the inventive element, when directed to the pursuit of wisdom, produces. Acting upon the natural man, it seeks every opportunity for improvement, while drones are striving to obtain money without intellectual effort. Ambition and love of gain are the two opposite traits of the New England character. They cannot be found in latitudes where the soil requires little or no labor to support populations. The inhabitants of such countries, finding no incentive to ambition or incentive to labor, are indolent and stupid.

If California should lose her gold, the state of society would rapidly improve. For when hard times come to New England, brains will labor and invent, and then thrift and prosperity would ensue. Again let the South become poor; it would at once produce a class of people, industrious and enterprising, who would devote themselves to agriculture and the arts and sciences. New England habits must drive out indolence and establish its own principles of free labor and education all over the country and cause science and industry to be everywhere appreciated. The natural man, who is only a grade above the brute, is proud, overbearing and fond of power. Below him is another class of mind represented in the masses, inferior, because like mortar, it must be molded by some outside influence.

Out of this proceed again the natural man and every evil thing. But when it is refined enough to receive the seeds of wisdom, then New England intelligence enters the field and makes war with the children of this kingdom. This state of things is illustrated in the parable where Jesus says, And they shall come from the East and from the West and from the North and from the South and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. So science shall come into the kingdom of truth. Southern ignorance shall be cast out and a new state of society shall appear.

No community can be thrifty and intelligent except on the basis of labor. In New England every faculty was early brought into action to make money and originate ideas. Every kind of useful implement was invented, manufactured and sold by them to the parties in exchange for land. Opposition served only as a stimulant to their inventive minds. Their wares as well as their ideas were circulated all over the country, and New England itself became a sort of pedlar's cart.

What then is New England? I answer, That portion of the human race that discovers truth, establishes science and cultivates the arts. And also that part of mankind which are skilled in low cunning and craft. The two extremes of moral condition, the subtle act of the serpent and the lofty power of genius meet in the New England character, being the outgrowth, one of the progressive and the other of the brutal elements of man. The latter causes a man to try and gain money without the honest labor of his brain or hands. In such men the highest motive of life is a selfish desire for power and to this end all their energies are directed. They want money, but instead of acquiring it by honest toil or ingenious inventions, they forge lies and appealing to the envy and jealousy of the ignorant try to turn them against all improvement. On the other hand, he, who partakes of the progressive element, brings the fruit of his brains into the market and supports his idle brethren who are too proud to work. A genuine Yankee of the first quality, whether school teacher or professional man, brings his articles into the market and advertises his business. His customers are the indolent and the ambitious. Such are Southerners who, assuming the strut of the turkey and the air of the peacock, live on the degradation of the race. Like bloodhounds they are always ready to spring at their master's bidding. Fed on prejudice they oppose every measure that demands energy of thought. Their leaders, although preaching the doctrine of equality, really stand to their followers as master to slave and find it for their interest to oppose the ambition of superior minds.

Led by sympathy, the early settlers chose localities adapted respectively to develop their peculiar traits. An indolent man in New England and a smart man in a slave community are equally out of place. Ambition and pride underlie these opposite characters and pervade society. The puritan Yankee is opposed in every principle to the Southerner and to the Northern man with Southern principles. The puritan principles of liberty and improvement will penetrate every part of the globe and will always be found battling with indolence and slavery. Although not acceptable at the South, it will one day establish itself on the ruins of slavery. It is indestructible and it would exist if the New England States should be blotted from the face of the earth. It cannot, like matter, be dissolved, for it is God in man. It will reign till slavery is under its foot. Slavery has its God and its religion, but they are in profession only, while the God of New England is in the life of his people. Slavery has its worship, but its worshippers are narrow and overbearing, demanding revenge, while the worship of the lovers of freedom is seen in their works.

February 1863

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