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effect on the imagination of these ecclesiastical pomps, winding, with quaint robes and emblems, through the melancholy streets of Rome. We have been touched by the symbolic meanings covered in those gay and strange disguises, — still more by the fact that they are the emblems which speak to the eye, even now, of that awful and overshadowing power of the Church of the Middle Age; by sympathy, also, with what will sometimes appear in them sincere and tender, as belonging to the real faith of a living people. We do not quarrel with them because they speak to us in a dialect of past ages of faith, so foreign and strange to us. But one contrast strikes us, when we think what these ceremonies — and especially this crowning one of canonization — have been to other times, and what they are to ours. In this view, they are far from being the triumphal spectacle, and the earnest of spiritual dominion, which they have seemed to our enthusiastic narrator. On the contrary, they are the most pathetic symbol of the change which the passing centuries have brought upon the Church and the world.
If we recall the sainted names of the first age of the Church, we find they include those dearest to the memory and imagination of every Christian believer, from the narratives of the Testament, or from the tragical annals of early martyrdom. If we recall the names of the second age, we find they include those of the heroes and martyrs of the Christian civilization of Europe, — such as Martin, and Boniface, and Anschar,— who represent the victorious encounter of Christianity with the merciless paganism of the French, the German, and the Northman; or of others, as St. Bavon and St. Germain,* and so many of the pious monks, who taught the first lessons of humanity and mercy in the corrupt and wicked estate of the perishing Empire of the Cæsars. Still further on, such names as St. Louis and St. Roch, St. Bernard and St. Charles, speak to us of the Church in its era of nobility and power, when it was the consecration of royalty to be the helper of the weak, when the healer of pestilence, the redeemer of captives, and the feeder of the poor, stood highest in that hierarchy of illustrious men whom the Church held worthy of its celestial honors. The sweetness and purity of the noblest womanhood has never been more delicately embodied than in those Catholic idealizations that made the fairest inspiration of mediæval art. These all represent to us phases of that great and manifold life by which Catholic Christianity has rendered its indispensable services to the world; and, while that was in its best estate, its representative names were likewise the foremost and noblest of their age. It was not only natural, but right, – a means of influence without which the work of the Church would have lacked one very essential thing, - that the feudal hierarchy in the state should be matched by an ecclesiastical hierarchy in the unseen world; and it is to the lasting honor of the Church, that those whom it raised to its rank of supreme beatitude should have included not only the noble and the strong, but also so many of the humble, the poor, the suffering, and the weak. So far as it went, this hierarchy did in fact do honor to genuine Christian virtues; and among them the high and the low had impartial recognition.
* See Guizot's “ Civilization in France."
It is to the credit of that Church in its decline, that the candidates for its supreme rank of sainthood should still include the poor of this world, rich in faith, and those whom God has “ chosen in the furnace of affliction.” That one lesson of the profoundest humanity may still be read on the flaunting banners, and in the myriad of kindled tapers, that do honor to the few poor and nameless men who died in torture for their faith, in an obscure and distant island, so long ago, that, without this gorgeous ceremonial, the world would have forgotten that they had ever been. We are far from mocking at even the hollow form and unmeaning words that may possibly convey to any human heart the sense of sympathy offered to the humblest from the highest, — the lesson that it is precisely the humblest that are nearest to the heart of the Most High. But we think of that wealth of the noblest life in these later days which by the creed of Romanism is outcast and accursed; we remember how far its sainted catalogue is from including the true representative names of modern Christianity; and then these pompous ceremonials seem to
us little less than a profanation and a lie. Then it is to us a confession of failure and decay, the more touching because unconscious, that, letting pass in despair the so far grander army of the faithful in the world's battles of holiness and truth, that Church can find illustration of the virtues fit to win its highest official honor only in the obscure, almost forgotten, half-mythical lives of these poor martyrs of Japan.
Art. VI. — DEMOCRACY ON TRIAL.
1. Democracy in America. By ALEXIS DE TOCQUEVILLE. Trans
lated by Henry REEVE, Esq. Edited, with Notes, the Translation revised and in great part rewritten, and the Additions made to the recent Paris Editions now first translated, by Francis Bowen, Alford Professor of Moral Philosophy in Harvard University.
Two volumes. Cambridge: Sever and Francis. 1862. 2. Quarterly Review for July, 1861. Art. Democracy on its Trial.
The rebellion of the Southern aristocracy against a lawful government was a godsend to the high conservatives and defenders of prerogative everywhere, who welcomed it as heartily as if there had never been a rebellion before, or as if there never had been an unjustifiable one, or against any other than a democratic government. Especially the Tory party in England, which has lost ground every year more and more as liberal principles of government have gained the ascendency, has been eager to turn our misfortunes to their own uses as a party argument. If this were all, we could very easily understand it; but that the so-called liberal press, which professes to sympathize with free institutions all over the world, should be just as ready to rejoice at the anticipated overthrow of free institutions here, is hard to explain, except by the bigotry with which they reverence one special form of free institutions. · We republicans have been disposed, of late years, to let the argument as to forms of government be dropped. Agreeing to the doctrine of Pope's hackneyed line, that “ that which is best administered is best,” we have heartily given England credit for having a free and well-administered government, — resting on a false basis, as we believed, but so elastic and easily adapted to the changing wants of the nation, that its equilibrium was always maintained, and it was on the whole the best government for that people, besides having some features which we should be glad to adopt here. We were satisfied when Italy was made a constitutional monarchy under Victor Emmanuel, rather than a republic; and there has ever been a strong disposition among us, we are ashamed to say, to laud the usurped despotism of Napoleon III. But our English friends are less tolerant; they are afraid to trust their case to its own merits, and seem to think that the only way to prove theirs a beneficent and well-balanced form of government is to show that ours is not. So they refuse to wait for the results of the present struggle, when they will be able to study events a little in perspective and with some degree of calmness, but insist upon an immediate verdict of guilty.
In entering upon a defence of American Democracy, we desire to state distinctly, at the outset, what it is that we wish to prove. In the first place, it is American Democracy we are to speak of, — the intelligent, law-abiding Democracy of the United States, - not the turbulent democracy of Athens, Paris, or Mexico. Neither are we to speak specially of the American Constitution, nor of American society, except in so far as directly connected with the democracy of the country. Moreover, we are far from claiming that our government is perfect, either in form or administration. We have faults enough, Heaven knows, both as a people and as a nation, perhaps many of them directly traceable to our institutions; and we trust we shall not be led by a false patriotism to extenuate any of these. What we claim is, that democracy is a sound and conservative basis of government, — we think the soundest and most conservative; that the government we have founded upon it is the best adapted to our wants as a nation; that it is far from being as defective in its regular working as is commonly charged; and that its chief faults are not the necessary growth of the democratic principle, but are extraneous and curable, and indeed directly owing to the democratic principle being carried out only partially and imperfectly, while many of the faults of which it is accused do not exist at all. We say so much in behalf of the national government. With respect to some of the State governments, – those in which the population is most purely American, and in which the principle of democracy is most completely adopted in practice, — we do not hesitate to go further, and assert that no communities of equal extent in history have been so well governed as these.
It seems to be hard for European writers to conceive of democracy except as the government by a particular part of the people, - that part which the Greeks called the Demos, the Romans the Plebs, and the English the lower classes. If this were a true definition, the question would be settled at once against democracy; for this portion of the citizens, acting as a class, are quite as selfish as any other class, and less enlightened. But, however it may have been in Athens or Rome, this is not the idea or the practice of American democracy, whose maxim is, that the government belongs of right to the whole people, and not to any class, whether distinguished as such by wealth or birth, or by the want of these. Only one class has ever exercised extensive political power in this country,— that of the slaveholders; but their domination, which has been at the root of most of our political evils for the last generation, has been at last thrown off, and we have no reason to fear the predominance of any other class, unless false theories of democracy succeed, as they have already succeeded in some cities, in throwing the power into the hands of the mob. Mobocracy is the corruption of democracy, as despotism is of monarchy, and oligarchy of aristocracy.
But it is urged that the lower classes cannot help but rule where they have equal rights with the higher, because they will always form a majority. To this two replies may be made. First, that wealth and social position have so much inherent power, that they will generally succeed in obtaining the control of public affairs wherever matters are left, as in a democracy, to take their natural course. Even in New England it is not often that any but men of means are chosen to important offices; and the complaint that the rich manage things as they please, is oftener heard than the opposite one, that the poor