Sam Adam Reply to Modern Thespians

Sam Adam Reply to Modern Thespians

 

The moral ineptness of those who claim to be proponents of art are fallacious in the attempts to impact cultural conversion. As to the theatrical, I found that in 1778 this was to be a mixture of gave vanity that Whigs and Tories, being totally incompatible with the present seriousness of the times consorted in amusement. I asked, Who among the Grave and Who among the Whigs, I mean such Whigs as have a feeling for their distressd Country and the Multitudes of distressd Individuals in it, are present at such Entertainmts? I wonder of those who participate in such frivolity, is there a Man who would stand against the folly of subversion and the design of the actors to impede the Virtue and Liberty of the Republic? When entertainers are established as idols and the People set up a so-called Great Peron of their own, their Jealousy of Liberty is asleep, and they are in Danger of a Master.

 

To my friend John Scollay I wrote in 1780 regarding the pomp, which can be pronounced against these modern self-aggrandizing thespians: “Our Government, I perceive, is organizd on the Basis of the new Constitution. I am affraid there is more Pomp & Parade than is consistent with those sober Republican Principles, upon which the Framers of it thought they had founded it. Why should this new AEra be introducd with Entertainments expensive & tending to dissipate the Minds of the People? Does it become us to lead the People to such publick Diversions as promote Superfluity of Dress & Ornament, when it is as much as they can bear to support the Expense of cloathing a naked Army? Will Vanity & Levity ever be the Stability of Government, either in States, in Cities, or what, let me hint to you is of the last Importance, in Families? Of what Kind are those Manners, by which, as we are truly informd in a late Speech, “not only the freedom but the very Existence of Republicks is greatly affected?” HOW fruitless is it, to recommend “the adapting the Laws in the most perfect Manner possible, to the Suppression of Idleness Dissipation & Extravagancy,” if such Recommendations are counteracted by the Example of Men of Religion, Influence & publick Station? I meant to consider this Subject in the View of the mere Citizen. But I have mentiond the sacred Word Religion. I confess, I am surprizd to hear, that some particular Persons have been so unguarded as to give their Countenance to such kind of Amusements. I wish Mr —— would recollect his former Ideas when his Friend Whitfield thunderd in the Pulpit against Assemblies & Balls. I think he has disclaimd Diversions, in some Instances, which to me have always appeard innocent. Has he changd his Opinions, or has the Tendency of things alterd? Do certain Manners tend to quench the Spirit of Religion at one time & are they harmless at another? Are Morals so vague as to be sanctified or dispens’d with by the Authority of different Men? He does not believe this. But I will not be severe, for I love my Friend. Religion out of the Question for the present. It was asked in the Reign of Charles the 2d of England, HOW shall we turn the Minds of the People from an Attention to their Liberties? The Answer was, by making them extravagant, luxurious, effeminate. Hutchinson advisd the Abridgment of what our People called English Liberties, by the same Means. We shall never subdue them, said Bernard, but by eradicating their Manners & the Principles of their Education. Will the judicious Citizens of Boston be now caught in the Snare, which their artful, insidious Enemies, a few years ago laid for them in vain? Shall we ruin ourselves by the very means, which they pointed out in their Confidential Letters, tho even they did not dare openly to avow them? Pownal, who was indeed a mere Fribble, venturd to have his Riots & Routs at his own house, to please a few Boys & Girls. Sober People were disgusted at it, & his privy Councellors never thought it prudent to venture so far as expensive Balls. Our Bradfords, Winslows & Winthrops would have revolted at the Idea of opening Scenes of Dissipation & Folly; knowing them to be inconsistent with their great Design, in transplanting themselves into what they called this “Outside of the World.” But I fear I shall say too much. I love the People of Boston. I once thought, that City would be the Christian Sparta. But Alas! Will men never be free! They will be free no longer than while they remain virtuous. Sidney tells us, there are times when People are not worth saving. Meaning, when they have lost their Virtue. I pray God, this may never be truly said of my beloved Town. Adieu.”

And lastly, “After the organization of the Federal government, the legislative proceedings of the several States assumed a subordinate character. The permission of theatrical representations was one of the local questions in Massachusetts. In 1790 a petition was presented to the Legislature for opening a theatre in Boston, which was rejected. In November of the following year, though many of the old residents, including Myself (Mr. Adams), opposed the proceeding, a town meeting instructed the Boston Representatives to obtain, if possible, a repeal of the prohibitory act; but the effort did not succeed. It was especially advocated by Morton, Tudor, and Dr. Jarvis, and opposed by (Myself) Samuel Adams, Dawes, Austin, and H. G. Otis. The latter is represented as having spoken with such eloquenoe at Faneuil Hall in opposition to Goodman s instructions to the Representatives that I “thanked God that there was one young man willing to step forth in the good old cause of morality and religion.” Now the act was not repealed but the theatre did open in Boston. Upon the meeting of the Legislature, Governor Hancock denounced this infraction of the law, and soon after the whole theatrical company were arrested on the stage.

To show the cultural depravation that ensued: The audience, enraged at the attempt against their public amusements, took the portrait of the Governor from the stage-box, and trod it under foot. During these commotions, it was customary, says an eye witness, to go to the theatre armed with clubs. Application was renewed to the Legislature, who, finding that the public voice was largely in favor of it, repealed the act. (Myself) Mr. Adams, then Governor, refused to sign the bill, and the prohibitory law was nominally in force during the successive administrations.

To which I say that even worse in modern society is the assault on the modicum of true Republican Liberty by the lack of character, morality and virtue by those self-patronizing thespians in general.

Oh to the likes of this character description of the great Patriot from New York: “Time is wasted by many persons as if it had no limit and they were to live for ever. But few place a proper value upon it–but a small portion of _these_ reduce it to an advantageous system. If every person realized that “time is money” and ends in eternity–it would be used very differently by many–not by all. The instances are very rare where a man of fifty can look back upon his career and not see that he has squandered a large portion of his time in senseless vacuity or improper appropriation. If he then realizes its full worth he will gaze upon the past with keen regret and vainly wish he could live his life over again–a wish that the illustrious Washington said he did not indulge. If no one of the human family wasted or improperly used time, earth would be a Paradise–Pandemonium a fable. If all would assign a due portion of time for each class of incumbent duties–rigidly adhere to the one and promptly perform the others–a harmony in action and an amount of labor would be produced that would effect a change in the social, religious and business departments that would astonish the most visionary theorist of system and order. Profligacy of time too often commences in childhood–increases in youth and is made bankrupt in manhood. Let all feel more deeply the importance of a judicious arrangement and wise improvement of precious TIME. Its whirling wheels are rolling us on rapidly to “that country from whose bourne no traveller returns.” It is a boon from our Creator–to Him we must render an account of every hour from the moment our reason assumed and presided over its empire. Let all be prepared to render that account with a joy that shall increase in ecstacy through the ceaseless ages of ETERNITY.”

 

 

 

 

 

Published in: on January 9, 2017 at 3:59 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , ,

Sam Adams On Marriage and Family

TO THOMAS WELLS.1

[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]

PHILADELPHIA Novr 22 1780

MY DEAR MR WELLS

Although I have not yet acknowledgd the obliging Letter you wrote to me some time ago, I would not have you entertain a Doubt of my sincere Respect and the Confidence I place in you. I think I gave you the strongest Proof of this when I was last in Boston. From that Moment I have considerd myself particularly interested in your Wellfare. It cannot indeed be otherwise, since I then consented that you should form the most intimate Connection with the dear Girl whom I pride myself in calling my Daughter. I did this with Caution and Deliberation; and having done it, I am now led to contemplate the Relation in which I am myself to stand with you, and I can [hardly] forbear the same Stile in this Letter, which I should take the Liberty to use if I was writing to her. The Marriage State was designd to complete the Sum of human Happiness in this Life. It some times proves otherwise; but this is owing to the Parties themselves, who either rush into it without due Consideration, or fail in point of Discretion in their Conduct towards each other afterwards. It requires Judgment on both Sides, to conduct with exact Propriety; for though it is acknowledgd, that the Superiority is & ought to be in the Man, yet as the Mannagement of a Family in many Instances necessarily devolves on the Woman, it is difficult always to determine the Line between the Authority of the one & the Subordination of the other. Perhaps the Advice of the good Bishop of St Asaph on another Occasion, might be adopted on this, and that is, not to govern too much. When the married Couple strictly observe the great Rules of Honor & Justice towards each other, Differences, if any happen, between them, must proceed from small & trifling Circumstances.

Of what Consequence is it, whether a Turkey is brought on the Table boild or roasted? And yet, how often are the Passions sufferd to interfere in such mighty Disputes, till the Tempers of both become so sowerd, that they can scarcely look upon each other with any tolerable Degree of good Humor. I am not led to this particular Mode of treating the Subject from an Apprehension of more than common Danger, that such Kind of Fricas will frequently take Place in that Connection, upon which, much of my future Comfort in Life will depend. I am too well acquainted with the Liberality of your Way of thinking, to harbour such a Jealousy; and I think I can trust to my Daughters Discretion if she will only promise to exercise it. I feel myself at this Moment so domestically disposd that I could say a thousand things to you, if I had Leisure. I could dwell on the Importance of Piety & Religion, of Industry & Frugality, of Prudence, A Economy, Regularity & an even Government, all which are essential to the Well being of a Family. But I have not Time. I cannot however help repeating Piety, because I think it indispensible. Religion in a Family is at once its brightest Ornament & its best Security. The first Point of Justice, says a Writer I have met with, consists in Piety; Nothing certainly being so great a Debt upon us, as to render to the Creator & Preserver those Acknowledgments which are due to Him for our Being, and the hourly Protection he affords us.

Remember me to all Friends, and be assured that I am

Yours

1 A younger brother of Elizabeth Wells; he married the daughter of Adams. Cf. Vol. Iii., p. 214.

Published in: on January 1, 2013 at 4:01 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: