RESTLESS from Democracy in America

lady in red
“…IT IS STRANGE TO SEE WITH WHAT FEVERISH ARDOR THE AMERICANS PURSUE THEIR OWN WELFARE, AND TO WATCH THE VAGUE DREAD THAT CONSTANTLY TORMENTS THEM LEST THEY SHOULD NOT HAVE CHOSEN THE SHORTEST PATH WHICH MAY LEAD TO IT.

A NATIVE OF THE UNITED STATES CLINGS TO THIS WORLD’S GOODS AS IF HE WERE CERTAIN NEVER TO DIE; HE IS SO HASTY IN GRASPING AT ALL WITHIN HIS REACH THAT ONE WOULD SUPPOSE HE WAS CONSTANTLY AFRAID OF NOT LIVING LONG ENOUGH TO ENJOY THEM. HE CLUTCHES EVERYTHING, HE HOLDS NOTHING FAST, BUT SOON LOOSENS HIS GRASP TO PURSUE FRESH GRATIFICATIONS.

IN THE UNITED STATES A MAN BUILDS A HOUSE IN WHICH TO SPEND HIS OLD AGE, AND HE SELLS IT BEFORE THE ROOF IS ON; HE PLANTS A GARDEN AND LETS IT JUST AS THE TREES ARE COMING INTO BEARING; HE BRINGS A FIELD INTO TILLAGE AND LEAVES OTHER MEN TO GATHER THE CROPS; HE EMBRACES A PROFESSION AND GIVES IT UP; HE SETTLES IN A PLACE, WHICH HE SOON AFTERWARDS LEAVES TO CARRY HIS CHANGEABLE LONGINGS ELSEWHERE. IF HIS PRIVATE AFFAIRS LEAVE HIM ANY LEISURE, HE INSTANTLY PLUNGES INTO THE VORTEX OF POLITICS; AND IF AT THE END OF A YEAR OF UNREMITTING LABOR HE FINDS HE HAS A FEW DAYS’ VACATION, HIS EAGER CURIOSITY WHIRLS HIM OVER THE VAST EXTENT OF THE UNITED STATES, AND HE WILL TRAVEL FIFTEEN HUNDRED MILES IN A FEW DAYS TO SHAKE OFF HIS HAPPINESS. DEATH AT LENGTH OVERTAKES HIM, BUT IT IS BEFORE HE IS WEARY OF HIS BOOTLESS CHASE OF THAT COMPLETE FELICITY WHICH FOREVER ESCAPES HIM. ”

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