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and living that, without the charge of one dollar on ine people, you will meet the universal and urgent demand by the precise and adequate supply. By such a library as you can collect here, something will be done, much will be done, to help every college, every school, every studious man, every writer and thinker in the country to just what is wanted most. Inquirers after truth may come here and search for it. It will do them no harm at all to pass a few studious weeks among these scenes. Having pushed their investigations as far as they may at home, and ascertained just what, and how much more, of helps they require, let them come hither and find it. Let them replenish themselves, and then go back and make distribution among the people! Let it be so that,
"Hither as to their fountains other stars
I have no objection at all-1 should rejoice rather-to see the literary representatives of an instructed people come hither, not merely for the larger legislation and jurisprudence, but for the rarer and higher knowledge. I am quite willing, not only that our “Amphictyonic Council" should sit here, but that it should find itself among some such scenes and influences as surrounded that old renowned assembly; the fountain of purer waters than those of Castalia; the temple and the oracle of our Apollo! It will do good to have your educated men come to Washington for what has heretofore cost voyages to Germany. They will be of all parts of the country. They will become acquainted with each other. They will contract friendships and mutual regards. They will go away not only better scholars, hut better Unionists. Some one has said that a great library molds all minds into one Republic. It might, in a sense of which he little dreamed, help to keep ours together.
I have intimated, Mr. President, a doubt whether a college or university of any description, even the highest, should be at present established here. But let it be con- . sidered by the enlightened friends of that object, if such there are, that even if your single purpose were to create such a university, you could possibly begin in no way so judiciously as by collecting a great library. Useful in the other modes which I have indicated, to a university it is •verything. It is as needful as the soul to the body. While you are doubting, then, what to do, what you will bave, you can do nothing so properly as to begin to be accumulating the books which you will require on whatever permanent plan of application you at last determine.
I do not expect to hear it said in this assembly that this expenditure for a library will benefit a few only, not the mass; that it is exclusive, and of the nature of monopoly. It is to be remembered that this fund is a gift; that we take it just as it is given; and that by its terms it must be dis. bursed here. Any possible administration of it, therefore, is exposed to the cavil that all cannot directly, and literally, and equally partake of it. How many and of what classes of youth from Louisiana, or Illinois, or New England, for example, can attend the lectures of your professor of astron. omy? But I say it is a positive and important argument for the mode of application which I urge, that it is so diffusive. Think of the large absolute numbers of those who, in the succession of years will come and partake directly of these stores of truth and knowledge! Think of the numbers without number who, through them, who by them indirectly, will partake of the same stores! Studious
men will come to learn to speak and write to and for the growing millions of a generally educated community. They will learn that they may communicate. They cannot hoard if they would, and they would not if they could. They take in trust to distribute; and every motive of ambition, of interest, of duty, will compel them to distribute. They buy in gross, to sell by retail. The lights which they kindle here will not be set under a bushel, but will burn on a thousand hills. No, sir; a rich and public library is no anti-republican monopoly. Who was the old Egyptian king who inscribed on his library the words, “The dispensary of the soul"? You might quite as well inscribe on it,
” "Armory and light and fountain of liberty!"
It may possibly be inquired what account I make of the library of Congress. I answer, that I think it already quite good and improving, but that its existence constitutes no sort of argument against the formation of such a one as I recommend In the theory of it, that library is merely to furnish Congress and the government with the means of doing their official business. In its theory it must be, in some sort, a professional library, and the expenditure we now make-five thousand dollars in a year, or, as last year, two thousand and five hundred—can never carry it up to the rank and enable it to fulfil the functions of a truly great and general public library of science, literature, and art. The value of books which could be added under the appropriations of the last year cannot greatly exceed twenty-one hundred dollars. Doubtless, however, in the course of forming the two, it would be expedient and inevi. table to procure to a great extent different books for each.
I do not think, Mr. President, that I am more inclined than another to covet enviously anything which the older civilization of Europe possesses which we do not. I do not suppose that I desire, any more than you, or than any of you, to introduce here those vast inequalities of fortune, that elaborate luxury, that fantastic and extreme refinoment. But I acknowledge a pang of envy and grief that there should be one drop or one morsel more of the bread of intellectual life tasted by the European than by the American mind. Why should not the soul of this country eat as good food and as much of it as the soul of Europe? Why should a German or an Englishman sit down to a repast of five hundred thousand books, and an American scholar who loves truth as well as he be put on something less than half allowance? Can we not trust ourselves with so much of so good a thing? Will our digestion be im. paired by it? Are we afraid that the stimulated and fervid faculties of this young nation will be oppressed and overlaid? Because we have liberty which other nations have not, shall we reject the knowledge which they have, and which we have not? Or will you not rather say, that, bocause we are free, therefore will we add to our freedom that deep learning and that diffused culture which are its grace and its defence ?
THE NECESSITY OF COMPROMISES IN AMERICAN
U see, sir, the nature and the effect of the proposed amendment. If it is adopted, instead of arming the
corporation with the power of setting up branches all over the States, each possessing and exercising all the functions of a perfect bank, you empower it to do so only with the assent of the States. In the meantime, however, independently of, and prior to, any such assent, and even against their expressed dissent, if dissent they should happen to express, you empower it, by means of agencies distributed throughout the country, to perform everywhere all the business which a bank can perform, except to discount. That business, the loaning of money on local paper, itself in great measure a local and domestic one, and of inferior policy, it may not perform but with the consent of the States, within whose limits, for the benefit of whose inhabitants, and side by side with whose local banks, it is to be carried on. This is the whole of the amendment. The bill of the committee authorizes the bank to engross the local discount business of the States without their consent; the bill as amended authorizes it to do all things else which a bank can do: to deal in exchange; to issue a cur. rency of its own notes; and to do all things else without
i On Friday, July 2, 1841, the Senate having under consideration the amend. ment proposed by Mr. Rives of Virginia to the Fiscal Bank Bill, Mr. Choate spoke on the necessity for compromises illustrating the governing theory of the first half century of national politics. The argument on the bill itself is here omitted.