tempted to say, that the old chivalric and sentimental
barbarism were better. In the absence of a feudal
aristocracy of birth and blood, we were inaugurating
that worst of all social castes—an aristocracy of riches.
Craft, shrewdness, subtlety, artifice, cunning—any¬
thing, everything mighty in money-getting, were
grounds of claim for our patents of nobility. The
men successful in heaping treasures, let them be
whatsoever else they might—dexterous cheats, un¬
scrupulous defaulters, adroit stock-gamblers, robbers
of public revenues—though uncultured in intellect,
unchristian in morals, uncouth in manners—were
nevertheless fast becoming the principalities and
powers of our social hierarchy.
Esquire Money-Love, Colonel Many-Acres, the
Reverend Dr. Make-Gain, the Honorable Mr. Great-
Purse—these were the men taking precedence of the
great nobles of character at the court-end of the
Republic. Gold was becoming our supreme national
god. Gold controlled our franchises, elected our
rulers, shaped our politics, and colored our religion.
For gold our juries rendered verdicts, our rulers
reversed sentences, our statesmen endorsed measures,
our physicians turned charlatans, and the very
ministers of our sanctuaries left God's sheep in
the wilderness, to wander vagrant and mounte¬
bank through the land, lecturing on — moonshine.
Virtue was a thing quoted in prices-current; con¬
science and character rose and fell with the stock-
market. "The creed of the multitude was, life is