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it declared, with indescribable gravity of countenance, that the rightful remedy was found at last. “Nullification is the rightful remedy.” It is not for us, at this time, to discuss the question whether this was or not a constitutional remedy. But, writing historically, the fact is, that the panacea of nullification had this good effect upon the political doctors that it relieved their bosoms of much perilous stuff of a very gaseous nature. But the patient did not benefit by it, for nullification was followed by the Tariff Act of 1842.
Defeated, but not discouraged, Mr. Rhett some time afterwards separated himself from Mr. Calhoun, and began to agitate another question deeply interesting to the South, and upon which it is justly extremely sensitive. The abolition party had pursued a course highly offensive and dangerous to us.
Congress was supposed to possess all powers, or at least sufficient to justify it in legislating upon that subject. Mr. Calhoun warned the Senate that disunion would be the lamentable consequence of this course of policy ; Mr. Rhett, differing with him, resolved to make that which Mr. Calhoun regarded as dreadful even in apprehension, a fact ! He proposed secession. Nullification was now an obsolete idea of ancient fogydom. Secession was the rightful remedy. But, so soon as, in his usual dashing style of practice, he seized this new panacea between thumb and finger, in order to administer it secundum artem, the patient, in a most unaccountable manner, very unexpectedly shut his teeth close; whilst the medicine, being of a very gaseous character, like most of the gentleman's specifics, exploded like a hənd grenade, overthrowing the doctor and scattering his assistants. So very decided was the overthrow and dispersion of the faculty after this explosion, that we have no reason to question the assurance that they give us, that they will kindly wait until the patient shall declare himself ready to co-operate with them in curing himself. The co-operation party, accordingly, continues still to wait for the good time that is coming.
At this stage of the political career of the leading politician of this State, Mr. Walker came forward and respectfully requested him to try a new method, which, although
not having the advantage of the stamp of office to give it currency, was certainly efficacious. It was recommended as a peaceful measure provided by the Constitution, and that it had not failed like nullification and secession. “No,” says Mr. Rhett; "no remedy can be of any use now that secession is bankrupt." In vain do we protest that nullification and secession are only synonyms for various degrees of insanity. Still, he insists that no other means can possibly be efficient. Now, to a plain man, all this looks very much like an intention, on the part of Mr. Rhett, not to remedy the evil at all. But, supposing him still uncured of the insanity of secession, this stubbornness of his very much resembles that of the ancient ladies in the island of Laputa, who, when the imperial palace took fire, highly applauded the attempts of the people to extinguish the flames with thimble-fulls of water. But when Mr. Gulliver, seeing the certain ruin of the edifice, if other and more powerful means were not employed instantly, with the instinct of genius, conceived the design of arresting the flames by a process quite as efficient as simple-letting himself fairly out for the purpose, and bringing his engine to bear upon the fire, with a vigour greatly increased by long retention, and the free use of glimigrim--then it was that the old ladies of the palace shrieked out their hostility to the only process by which the building could be saved. Better that the palace should burn a thousand times, than that they should discard from use the puttylike thimbles, which hitherto had only added fuel to the flames !* Had our ex-Senator made this little history his special study, he could not more completely have fashioned his own philosophy upon it. We commend him to a re-perusal of Swift, with particular regard to the politics and government of Laputa.
It is also to be observed that the tract is not a party tract. The writer chose to express his opinions on the subject of government, and in so doing violated no duty to the country. His style is courteous--to a degree which is unusual in po
* Lest some of our young readers should have passed over Swift among the English classics, we refer them to the source of this comparison in the first part of the Voyage to Laputa, Chap. 5.
litical writings. His allusions to parties are accompanied with selected words of sincere kindness. Mr. Calhoun receives from him the praise of being a just man and a patriot. And although he does not agree with that distinguished person in all his opinions, and in his lifetime had never been idolatrous in his admiration of him, so, after his death, he could not be Mr. Calhoun's traducer. 66 De mortuis nil nisi bonum," is a high and noble sentiment. Under these circumstances the writer of the tract had a right to expect that his motives would not be impugned. But he might well be astonished, as he reads the following passage in the article of Mr. Rhett, p. 502 :
" But we do not like his reference to reason as the end of
government. Reason is a faculty of the mind, not a principle; and, although the noblest faculty of the mind, it is, on that account, the most perverted by our fall. At least, its aberrations in religion, morals and politics, are more flagrant, as they rise up continually and agitate the bosom of society. Looking to its vast scope and dignity in man, and rejecting the truths of the Bible, the French atheists, in 1792, enthroned it in government, us our author seems disposed to do, although from very different principles. They contended that reason was alone sufficient for man's guidance in life and government. All he had to do was to follow nature and reason. The passions were natural, and, therefore, reasonable. They were, therefore, to be indulged. Convince the reason of what is right in morals and government, and man would practice,
Now this whole passage indicates a very extraordinary confusion of ideas, and ignorance of the meaning of words. The author of the tract does not maintain the proposition as is asserted by Mr. Rhett, that reason is the end of government; but the reverse, that government is the substitute for reason ; occupies its place in the external affairs of the world, and is necessary only because human reason is too weak to controul human passions.
Again, Mr. Rhett has not displayed a very nice discrimination in the use of words in the above citation. He illustrates his remarks by referring to the worship of a woman in Notre Dame. Now, reason is a faculty, but it is that faculty of the mind which serves to restrain human passions. It is the brake on the steam car. When passions hurry man
into crime, it is not because of the aberrations of this faculty, but because of its inactivity, its deadness; because the brake is not applied to them. But Mr. Rhett uses the word reason in that vulgar sense which comprehends under it all the mental and moral qualities of man. And it is in that vulgar sense, but not the sense in which Mr. Walker has used it, that the French atheists employed it. They did not enthrone a prostitute, as the symbol of that faculty which restrains human passions, but as the symbol of human passions unrestrained by reason. It is very manifest that the reviewer neither understands the language of the philologer, nor the facts of the historian. The comparison between the practice of the French atheists and that recommended by Mr. Walker, springs solely from that want of discrimination in the use of words, which is characteristic of a particular class of mirds, which social and Christian charity will not suffer us to individualize more closely, but to all of which a course of Lindley Murray, and a certain moderate delay at Jericho, until their beards had grown, would be only proper recommendations.
It is also to be remarked, that the necessity of resuming the study of grammar, which we have recommended to the reviewer, is made very manifest by his criticism on the opinion, that “government is purely an instrument of restraint. The powers essential to it, are none, therefore, but such as will render it efficient for restraint." The reviewer states that the author “looks upon government not as an instrument to prevent injustice, but as a mere instrument of restraint.” He then proceeds to state, and manifestly he intends to contradict the author, that “it (government) is an instrument of preventing injustice, which is its aim and end. In reality, government restrains only to promote this great aim and end of its existence.”
Then government is an instrument of restraint, according to this admission. The reviewer agrees with the tract writer fully, although unconsciously; and that instrument of restraint has for its aim and end to prevent injustice. Every one who has read the tract, knows that its theme is, that the only use of government at all, is to prevent one man or one
people from indulging their passions to the wrong and injury of another. But when the reviewer proceeds to say that government is riot only an instrument to prevent or restrain (the words are synonymous) injustice, but “is also a great deal more," he contradicts himself. For if the aim and end of government is to restrain or prevent injustice, then no other powers are essential to it but such as will render it efficient for that purpose. If other powers are possessed by government, then it has other ends than to prevent injustice, and to leave the people free to choose and to act. Now the reviewer cannot name any power which government can possess, beyond those which make it a mere instrument of restraint, that will not fall under the class of progressive powers, or, if he pleases, aggressive powers. These, too, are the powers which governments have invariably used for the destruction of popular freedom, and are the only powers that can be used for that purpose. We must, however, here not omit to notice the complaint that we have used the word progressive for constructive powers. Here, again, a good grammar and dictionary were necessary to the reviewer. Progressive powers are possessed by every potentate in Europe, but none of them have powers by construction, or constructive powers. These can be found only in our government, where we have a Constitution, which, together with the laws passed in pursuance of it, is to be construed by a Court. The phrase constructive powers has been derived from the Courts. Progressive powers, therefore, may be obtained by Congress by construction, but all Europe proves that most commonly they are held by governments as their inherent and express right. The phrases, therefore, are not by any means of identical meaning, as the reviewer improperly imagines.
We have glanced hastily, but sufficiently, at the chief objections which the reviewer has presented to the two first chapters of the tract. Neither time nor space will permit us to notice all the platitudes and errors which abound in the article of Mr. Rhett. But, before proceeding to graver matters, we will observe upon the following remarks of the reviewer :