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The Life of Gouverneur Morris
ings and softer emotions. The heavens with their splendid garniture of celestial orbs, the earth clad in its robe of verdure ever varied in the colors and shapes it assumes, the wide blue sea reflecting from its tranquil bosom the images of the heavenly hosts, that keep watch over its midnight slumbers, these and the myriads of animated semblances of beauty that people air, earth, and ocean, are so many sources of enjoyment, and so many calls on the gratitude and devotion of man. These are the objects of his contemplative thoughts, the themes of his musing hours, and where contemplation dwells the passions are silent, and the social principle is most easily diffused and cultivated.
As in the theatre of natural existences, so in the world of art, the forms of beauty are at once the indications and the causes of melioration, refinement, and the social progress. What are the fine arts, what are the arts of life, but proofs of this position? What are sculpture, architecture, painting, what the thousand varied combinations of taste and elegance, which serve for the ornaments and convenience of the social state, but so many demonstrations of the same fact? They divest man of his savage attributes, and bring him under the influence of his milder nature. Moral beauty comes to the same result. Virtue is beautiful, vice deformed; the one refines, purifies, expands, elevates; the other debases and degrades; the one promotes good faith, order, and tranquillity in society; the other perfidy, misrule, and confusion; the one is a cheerful attendant on happiness, the other is leagued with misery. Such is the power of beauty in nature, in art, and the soul of man. The speaker does not forget to enlarge on female beauty and its all conquering influence, and here he draws upon his classical erudition, and the records of history, and talks of heroes, and conquerors, and the downfall of empires, the youthful king of Macedon, and of others, who 'laid the spoils of a captive world at beauty's feet.’ But enough has been said to give some idea of this first effort in the departments of composition and eloquence, in which he afterwards became so successful and eminent.
From The Life of Gouverneur Morris: With Selections from His Correspondence and Miscellaneous Papers; Detailing Events in the American Revolution, The French Revolution, and in the Political History of the United States, by Jared Sparks, Volume 1, Boston: Gray & Bowen, 1832, p 9. Some minor edits may have been made, but an attempt has been made to preserve the original spelling. Although some effort has been made to correct the limitations of OCR technology, if you find an error please report it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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