Margaret Fuller, Critic: Writings from the New-York Tribune, 1844-1846

By Judith Mattson Bean; Joel Myerson | Go to book overview

The Rich Man—An Ideal Sketch

In my walks through this City, the sight of spacious and expensive dwelling houses now in process of building, has called up the following reverie.

All benevolent persons, whether deeply thinking on, or only deeply feeling, the woes, difficulties and dangers of our present social system, are agreed either that great improvements are needed, or a thorough reform.

Those who desire the latter, include the majority of thinkers. And we ourselves, both from personal observation and the testimony of others, are convinced that a radical reform is needed. Not a reform that rejects the instruction of the past, or asserts that God and man have made mistakes till now. We believe that all past developments have taken place under natural and necessary laws, and that the Paternal Spirit has at no period forgot his children, but granted to all ages and generations their chances of good to balance inevitable ills.—We prize the Past; we recognize it as our parent, our nurse and our teacher, and we know that for a time the new wine required the old bottles to prevent its being spilled upon the ground.

Still we feel that the time is come which not only permits, but demands, a wider statement, and a nobler action. The aspect of society presents mighty problems, which must be solved by the soul of Man “divinely intending” itself to the task, or all will become worse instead of better, and ere long the social fabric totter to decay.

Yet while the new measures are ripening and the new men educating, there is yet room on the old platform for some worthy action. It is possible for a man of piety, resolution and good sense, to lead a life which, if not expansive, generous, graceful, and pure from suspicion and contempt, is yet not entirely unworthy of his position as the child of God and ruler of a planet.

Let us take then some men just where they find themselves, in a mixed state of society where, in quantity, we are free to say the bad preponderates, though the good, from its superior energy in quality, may finally redeem and efface its plague-spots. Our society is ostensibly under the rule of the precepts of Jesus.

-359-

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