« ForrigeFortsæt »
we are free to own, that it is one we weapon was not broken. The foe was have no right to complain of; if it is only repulsed-to return in a still more not absolutely just and right, it is some. sweeping cloud of attack. And in thing not very far from it.
1840, when the strength of the merits Nor can we lay our hands on our and popularity of the Independent hearts and say, on honor bright, that it Treasury, as a measure of pariy conwas entirely undeserved on our own test, (which had alone rallied and part, after all. We had not been-no saved us in 1838-9), was somewhat party could have been-so long in spent, by the fact of its establishment power, especially under all the existing as law, and its passage out of the imcircumstances, without having con- mediate range of the discussions of the tracted sundry sins of both omission day, then came our hour of retribution, and commission; and with the same which the accident of events, and the certainty that drags the shadow afier gallant genius of a man, had postponed the substance, does an inevitable retri- but could not avert. bution, to parties as to men, follow We cannot afford to dwell upon the every fault and every folly they are other principal elements of the revoluever guilty of. Our great blunder, tion, or rather the revulsion, of 1840– indeed, of the Pet Bank experiment, such as the low agricultural prices and entailed a long series of consequences the protracted commercial pressure, to which made it eventually one of the all which Whiggism offered remedy heaviest of the weights that bore us and relief--the continued derangement down-a measure adopted at the ex. of the banking system, and the active press rejection of that very one which power of the great interest of insolvenat a later day we so justly hailed with cy, ready to move heaven, earth and delight, when brought forward under hell for a Bankrupt Act—the unparaldifferent pariy auspices. We meant leled system of party organization and well, to be sure, in that most ill-starred effort by which the most efficient elecof experiments—and it was at any rate tioneering influence was brought home better than the alternative of the other to every door where dweli a possibly side, the Recharter of Mr. Biddle, — doubtful vote--together with those but good intent is no excuse, 10 the more than suspected election frauds inexorable justice of the providence of which the Census returns su soon reveal. events, for great political errors. And ed, when in some States they showed in. when we remember all the practical so many counties of strong Whig mamischief we did by stimulating the ex- jorities the number of voies returned to pansion of the currency through the have far exceeded the entire number of distribution of the vast accumulated de- males above the age of twenty-one. posits among the banks--with even a All these and other topics that natucharge of interest to them, and at one rally connect themselves with the subtime an official encouragement to them ject, we can do no more than thus alto apply them liberally to the “relief” lude to. But there are two things of the community--when we remem- which ought not to be lost sight of in ber the prophetic warnings from the judging the period to which we refer, Opposition of the very consequences and the conduct of the people in it. which indeed were not slow to devel. The first is that it was not by means ope themselves-what right have we of, but in spite of, their miserable Log to complain if we had ourselves to Cabin mummeries that the Whigs sucswallow a very bitter dose of retribu- ceeded as they did. And the second tion for our fatal error? The punish- is, that if they did succeed, with all ment came at first in 1837, but was the disadvantages oppressing our posiarrested for a season by the god-send tion, it was only by pursuing such a of the Sub-Treasury--(the stone the course in relation to the real principles builders had rejected becoming the key at issue between the parties, as to paof the corner)—and by the splendid ralyze their own future power to do conduct of our leader, in the Presidency, harm, by those very means of dissimuaud of our numerous other powerful lation, and conflicting profession in difchampions and advocates, in the de- ferent sections, to which in so large a bates of the tongue and the pen, both degree that success was due. in Congress and the country at large. Thus much in apology for the People But the blow was only parried--the for the events, scenes and results of
1840; and in deprecation of Mr. Brown, through folly into wisdom, in the sole son's inference from the experience of way in which humanity can grow up that year, that our long-cherished con to its full and perfect stature-raiber fidence in their capacity for self-gov- than the external and superincumbent ernment is all a fond folly. They did, pressure of any possible, any conceivwe repeat, just about right, and with able government, though its Grand all our fine theories, patriotic purposes, Turk be the Angel Gabriel. and lofty statesmen and statesmanship, Mr. Brownson enumerates various served us just about right.
practical measures on which the people Democracy lays no claim to infalli- have not acted up to his and our lights bility for the People. The phrase of truth. Well-many of these proVox populi Vor Dei does not mean that positions appear plain enough 10 us the vote of a majority is the perfection who have made ourselves familiar with of reason,-nor in its proper sense is them, but have we therefore a right 10 there any “blasphemy” in it. Mr. charge stupidity and folly upon the Brownson asks whether those who People for not taking equally clear talk of their “confidence in the virtue, views of them? On the contrary, may intelligence and capacity of the peo- there not be a higher wisdom maniple,” really mean to say “that the festing itself through this instinctive people acting individually or collec- action of great masses, which would tively never do, and never can do any rebuke our short-sighted speculations, wrong?” Why ask a question to our partial views of truth and policy? which no answer was seriously ex. Though abstractly right and logical pected? Collectively, as individually, “per se,” yet does not the very fact that ihe People of course both can do and our ideas are not yet fully imbibed and often have done, and will often continue absorbed by the People, go to show to do, very wrong-very foolishly, aye, that they are not yet quite ready for and sometimes very wickedly, wrong. their practical application ? And as it And yet after all, in the long run, Demo- is an essential part of the true wisdom cracy, with its Liberty and Equality of of reform, to pay its full due regard to Rights and Chances, is a something far the existing state of preparation, moral better than any of the other forms of and physical, for the wholesome recepgovernment by which the Few have in tion and digestion of its proposed all ages and countries plundered and changes, is there not perhaps a most defrauded the Many-be they monar- precious conservative wisdom in this chies, aristocracies, or (last and worst) very slowness and difficulty exhibited by theocracies. All these expressions of the popular mind to admit even theclear“confidence” in the People are merely est abstract demonstrations that may comparative and relative. Far better be offered them ?-however it may fret they should govern themselves, than the impatience of the eager reformer be even for a while belter governed by and stir his angry bile. We do not think any force extraneous to themselves. he will mend the matter much-(even Far better that the child should rough if it need mending or ought to be mendit through its first necessary stumbles ed)-by flying into a passion with the and bumps on its own natural legs, people, and chiming in with their imthan be for ever borne in the arms of memorial enemies and slanderers to the skilfullest nurse or the tenderest abuse them as fools or denounce them mother. Give us, we say, rather Self- as knaves. Their very conduct, Government-Self-Reliance-Self-De- whether in doing what Mr. Brownson velopment-Freedom-yes, freedom to thinks they ought not to have done, make mistakes, if you please, but then or leaving undone what he thinks they also to mend them; to reach the “king. ought to have done, could he but look dom of heaven” in our own way, even far, wide, and deep, into all the elements though it must be “through much tri- and over all the ultimate bearings of the bulation"-than the best and wisest question, may peradventure have been extraneous government that ever re- -nay, we doubt not, was the very mained pure for twenty-four hours. best they could have adopted ; that is Give us, we say, such a state-with to say, then, there, and for them. Free-Will, Conscience, Reason, and We sincerely trust that we do not the Bible—to let us grow, from inward exaggerate the extent to which Mr. outward, through vice into virtue, Brownson means to state the sentiment
we thus combat,,but we must con. sides of life and action, not immedifess that the general current and di- ately pressed upon by any external rection of his Article look very suspi- force of governing power-(and these ciously like the usual process by which, comprise far the greater part of exislafter passing the grand climacteric of ence). There is indeed, to both, a life, the young Liberal so often be- government governing even this very comes metamorphosed into the old absence of other and lower forms of govConservative ; and we are generally ernment,-that, namely, which issues prone to listen with distrust to this from the inner throne of the Reason, kind of discouraging and disheartening with thought for its legislative, freepreaching which the latter is so often will its executive, and conscience its apt to address io the former, in a man- judiciary; but this is only another mode ner whose very patronizing and pitying of stating that freedom, for the “Sovekindness is far more fatal to all his gen- reignty of the People," from all huerous aspirations and efforts, than all man authority paramount to itself, for the scornful sneers, or the honestly con- which we contend. A constitution is temptuous denunciations, of ancient and indeed its self-adopted rule of actionavowed aristocracy. The day may changeable, like a resolution or selfyet await us when we ourselves shall pledge, by the same power which similarly (similarly, we say, to the gen- adopted or has chosen lo tolerate it. eral process alluded to, without impu. The general good sense, the social vis ting it as yet certainly to our highly inertiæ, the universal spirit of a true valued and respected correspondent), and good conservatism prevailing in slough off into a cold, doubting, distrust- any community enlightened enough to ing conservatism, as flake after flake of have achieved the possession of a free the snow of years shall begin to streak constitution, will be sufficient guaranour head with its whiteness, and to ties against abuse of this rightful strike down to the blood of our heart power of change of constitution; and with its wintry chill. Till the arrival when good and fair methods have been of that day, we trust that we shall agreed upon and established for such continue to feel and to think the feelings practical changes, there is no danger of and thoughts wbich prompt the Protest ever finding any large number of perof our present remarks;-and when sons attempting revolutionary methods it comes, we shall hold ourselves bound, of doing the same thing. However, on the appearance of our first grey we must content ourselves with these hair, to surrender into younger and slight suggestive hints on this point,fitter hands the place we now regard nor need we be unwilling to leave it as one of the highest honor and satis- for the present to the reflections of the faction, the Editorship of the Demo- intelligent reader. cratic Review.
Upon the points of the preceding But scant space remains for a single paper in which we agree with our remark on the tangent course in which esteemed friend and correspondent, we Mr. Brownson seems 10 have struck have not thought it necessary to reout into a far extreme of daring heresy mark. We are not so centrifugal in respecting the “Sovereignty of the our radicalism as to be insensible to People.” Is he not refining with too the importance of the co-ordinate cenmuch of a scholastic subtlety on the tripetal principle of conservatism, for word on which he returns so often to all harmonious order and movement. harp, “ government ?” He argues that Perhaps we differ less widely, after we it is no government, if beneaih all its get below the surface of names and forms and machinery there underlies phrases, than some readers of this blast the right of the popular will to change and counterblast, this bane and antithem all, in its own sovereignly su- dote, may be apt to imagine. We preme and irresponsible way. But most sincerely hope so--for the loss of This is exactly what we best like, self. Brownson would indeed be the loss of government, not only in the practical a more than Ajax Telamon to the organization of its modes, but in the camp of Democracy. Long distant be primary principle of that very organi- the day when we shall have to rezation. Nations must be laws unto cord and lament that so great a man themselves; just as individuals are, has fallen in Israel. and must necessarily be, on all the
There is but one genuine form of have amassed fortunes by authorship aristocracy-not pertaining to govern as well as by trade, and have lost them ment, however, not founded upon any as unfortunately. Not a few authors conventional refinements of society, have been “ born with a silver spoon in unsupported by any pretensions to their mouths;" yet, as a general truth, wealih or communicable dignities, it may be justly stated, that literature but presupposing an inherent right to includes within its pale authors and command and take the lead, existing scholars of every condition, both as to in all its purity in an order of nobility birth and fortune. From royalty down which we do not read of in books of to beggary; through the ranks of heraldry—in the sacred caste, whose wealth, and competence, down to tiile of honor is preconfirmed by grinding want. Heaven and ordained by the Founder of If such difference in point of prothe Universe and the Father of Man,– perty and worldly possessions be althe Nobility of Nature, or rather of ge- lowed, and we conceive it cannot be nius; as a great writer familiarly styles fairly questioned, in the case of men of it, God Almighty's Nobility. By ihis letters, how much greater and more term, we do not mean the rule of the inherent must be admitted, the distincdoctrinaires, or government of the tions of intellectual acquisitions and wisest, but the joint rule of the wisest original mental gifts. Who would and best. To enter this exalted class, place Shakspeare and Foote in the is rarely the reward of exertion. It is same category, though both wrote for the natural birthright of the choicest the stage? And between Plato and spirits, a privilege, and the gift of Tom Paine exists the very widest disheaven. Though the possessor of crepancy. As the disproportionate althis be by the world despised, honored lotment of original power is so various, still by the few whose eulogium is then, it must of necessity be conceded fame, yet is his claim indirectly respect that there must arise natural leaders, ed-his name secretly reverenced— instinctive philosophers, “heaven-born” even by the rich and mighty, who and directed statesmen ; authors of the seek admission within the portals of first stamp, by the divine right of Nathe Temple of Fame.
Democratic as we are, we yet con This aristocracy once admitted, we tend, right loyally and reverently, for yet allow the claims of no other aristhe sovereignty of mind, the aristo- iocracy. The mere rich man may not cracy of genius, the high rank and pre- be of it, nor the haughty noble; and, cedence of talent. There are kings in least of all, the royal claimant, as the intellect, if not of the state, even here. exhibition of power is too apt to diminThere is the Magician of Poesy, if not ish as you exceed the scale of fictitious of occult science. Poetry itself is that rank. Yet each and all adventure a long sought philosopher's stone, the whole fortune of hope, at least oftlast effect of the true art of alchemy. times, if not a treasury of merits, in the The Republic of Letters has been singú. game of literary skill. It appears to larly so named. It is to be feared that, be one of the usual disadvantages of like a Pairiot King, it is a mere chime- royalty and hereditary titles in gen
Hood's witty pun explains a eral, that the holders of them rarely part of the mystery. He said that equal their names. The incumbent the commonwealth of letters was called holds his position in society, and is apt a republic, because the members come to be raied purely from that fact. posing it could not muster a sovereign With the public at large, a literary among them. But this is true of only nobleman, or a philosophic monarch, a portion of the literary world. Lite- appears to be considered an anomaly, rature, no less than commerce, has her though some of the most popular of Rothschilds and Barings. Some men English writers have either come out
from the ranks of the nobility or from or original thinkers. The latter might commoners, have been ennobled for befit a reformation of abuses, and this their works; and in spite of the names is in no wise considered the duty of a among kings of quite late date, James king. Many sovereigns have been I., Charles I., of the house of Stuart; accomplished in all the graces of a comFrederick the Great, and Joseph II. plete education, but the essentials, imThe crown is supposed to atone for the parted to the sons of private gentlemen, lack of brains under it; and the Star have been left out of consideration. and Garter, and the Golden Fleece, to In speaking of kings, we refer not to represent and conceal a deficiency of monarchs inspired directly and uniting all the qualities and resources that with divine authority. We include render famous the scholar, the thinker, not in this list the Hebrew psalmist and the true author. We are apt to and the royal philosopher, the master think a king should rest satisfied with of life, his son. Nor do we forget the his throne and the brilliant appendages philosophy and pure life of Antoninus, to it. Prejudice, perhaps, has inclined nor the bold independence (however us to suspect, that his eyes would extravagant or erroneous) of Julian. naturally become dimmed by gazing Certain eminent characters, especially intently on the dazzling splendor of a in the ancient world, have in fact court and the magnificence of national really exercised the influence of sovetreasure, and become incapable of reigns, under some other name than viewing steadily and coolly, the great that of king, as Moses the legislator problems of life and society. The and Pericles the prime minister; Cæsar education of princes is not that best the dictator, and of late years Napofitted for the vigorous exercise of their leon the first consul. The all-accomunderstanding, or the refinement of the plished, the admirable Alfred, is a affections. Their will is pampered to glorious exception to our sweeping such an excess, their judgmenis are so generalization. But of the vast herd deferred to by the wise and great, that of kings our remark holds good. The it is almost a miracle that they are not office is more than the man, and the all tyrants and bigoted. If, however, man more than the scholar or writer. smitten with the love of song, or im- First, the regal; then, the personal; pressed with the maxims of philoso- last of all, the literary character. In phy, the heir of a throne seeks to reach this enumeration, we find letters are more permanent glories in another but indifferently honored after all; path, and relies on individual and in- holding the lowest place as it were, trinsic merits to obtain that lasting re- and a merely incidental regard; viewed nown, which, all his life-long glory, somewhat as an elegant accomplishaccorded merely to his rank and office, ment like dancing or horsemanship, cannot secure to him, we are obliged “the Corinthian capital of the social in candor to admit his abilities, how- crder." ever small, and to applaud the employ In the present paper, we shall aim ment of them, however inefficient that to determine two points: 1st, the promay prove. Should the prince, at the per position of a sovereign with regard same time, show himself a poet or gen- to the claims of letters upon him, peruine philosopher, or even an ingenious sonally; and 2d, we shall attempt an critic and expert logician, we should be historical sketch of the monarchs popuready to estimate him accordingly. But larly known as writers, confining curof this high standard of regal genius selves, after a brief review, chiefly to we know not of one striking example. the first two Stuarts, James and
There have been lively wits, multifari- Charles, ous scholars, “pretty” poets, elaborate Should a king, merely from inclinahistorians among kings, but not one au- tion, without a strong native genius, thor truly great in any department of pursue the path of literary exertion? literature or philosophy. Yet pretend. As a general answer, we should say, ers to literature and philosophy have not not. A king is the head of his governbeen unfrequent among crowned heads. ment, and strictly the highest executive There have been kings great men, officer in it. The writer legislates, great legislators, warriors, pedants, teaches, entertains; but carries out theologians, controversialists, fine gen- nothing into action. The monarch tlemen; but none poets, philosophers, should be the greatest active man in
VOL. XII.-N. LYUI.