of the Review, when we may have more moral treason. At all times, we hold the space than we can spare in this, when duty of respectful obedience to governwe shall have had time to possess our ment to be one of paramount Christian selves more fully of all the facts in the obligation, so long as it does not become case, by a further examination of interest- unendurable in its oppressions. This ing documents, and when we shall have obligation is all the stronger in our case, given to the subject all that deliberation since we have so much to do with making which so grave a matter demands, we the government, and providing an adminmay, perhaps, undertake to speak at istration for it; and it is never so strong, length on these topics, and to place the in any case, with us or with any people, responsibility of this war just where it as when the country is at war. The belongs.

putting the country at war is infinitely We may say in advance, however, the most solemn and responsible of all the that we believe this war might and should acts which government is ever called on have been avoided : that it would have to perform. It is their act, and not ours. been avoided if Mr. Clay had been Presi. As citizens, we are placed, by those who dent of the United States instead of Mr. have a right to command us, in the relaPolk, without any sacrifice of national tion of enemies to the people of another interests or national honor, whether nation; and as between our own country annexation had taken place or not; and and the common enemy, there can be no that it is emphatically an Executive war, room for choice. We are committed from and brought about, however just and the beginning; and, for ourselves, we necessary as against Mexico, by a series should not care to come into the councils of the most flagrant and alarming Execu- of those who should even think it a point tive usurpations on the Constitution of to be argued about. Nations go to war the country

These things we may because there is no other mode of settling attempt to show hereafter; when we may their disputes, when all peaceful means take occasion also to speak of the objects of adjustment have failed ; just as two to be attained in the prosecution of the individuals might think themselves comwar, since we are in it, and the manner pelled to come to a trial of personal in which it should be prosecuted. We strength to end their disputes, if we could protest beforehand against every idea of suppose them existing in what is called carrying this war into Mexico, if that a “state of nature,” and having no civil were ever so easy, with any view to the tribunals to which they might appeal. making of permanent conquests. When The appeal of two nations at war is to our brave soldiers must fight, we shall the ordeal of battle; and every citizen pray that they may win victories always, and member of each, on the one side and and everywhere--but we want no con the other, is a party to the conflict and quests no new acquisitions of territory trial of strength. The part of patriotism acquired by arms, and least of all in that in such a case is too plain to be mistaken. quarter.

Besides; we do not hesitate to affirm in We are not of the number of those who this case, that our country is not with. indulge in anxieties lest their patriotism out good grounds of complaint against and love of country, in a case like this, Mexico, of long standing; sufficient, if should be suspected. Nevertheless, we we had chosen so to consider them, deem it right to say, that when our according to abundant precedents among country is at war, her enemy is our civilized nations, to justify reprisals and enemy, whatever we may think about even war, if not otherwise redressed. the origin or causes of the rupture. And, though we should have been far When a war exists between us and from advocating a declaration of war by another people, it is enough to know Congress for these causes, (the President that our own country is one party to it; could not make such a war at all without and there can be but one other, and that rank treason to the Constitution,) certainly is the enemy. As between the two, it until all peaceful measures for reparawould seem as if no citizen who knows tion had been tried; yet, since we are what the duty of allegiance means, or is at war, and though it was not undertaken capable of feeling the sacred sentiment of for these causes, Mexico has nothing to patriotism, could hesitate about his proper complain of, if we now count her our position. It would be difficult to find a enemy till these injuries are redressed, or spot to rest upon anywhere between the atoned for. Besides all this too; hostilities support of our country in the war, and have been begun, and the sword of battle


has fallen already, with fatal effect, on apprehensions, that the notions of the adsome of our brave men and gallant officers, ministration, in regard to this war, differ and is likely to fall on many more, and widely from these views. It is manifest henceforward it is not merely duty coldly that for one whole year they have had calculated, however sacred, to which we this war in near contemplation. From are called, but the support of the war the day they began to direct the attention becomes matter of feeling, almost too deep of General Taylor to the banks of the and impetuous for the just restraints of Rio Grande, as his “ultimate destination,”

It can hardly be necessary to they must have known that their chances add, however, that all the duties of a good for a war were as a hundred to one. patriot may be performed in behalf of our They must have believed that the sumown government and country in reference mer of last year would not be endedto the common foe, without involving certainly that the autumn would not pass the necessity of abject silence and sub- --considering how skillfully their inmission, where we think, and feel, and structions were framed to that end, while know, that the rule of the country has avoiding the responsibility of peremptory fallen into incompetent or unsafe hands, orders, without seeing an American army and that the very war in which we are at the point of their “ultimate destinaengaged, the deepest calamity that can tion.” We will not think so meanly of fall on the country, is only one of the their capacity, as to suppose they could consequences and miseries we are called believe for a moment that General Taylor, to endure under the curse of their evil in that position, could escape a collision. sway. In such a case, we, certainly, Had hostilities then commenced, the shall not be deterred from uttering, in a President would have had the war wholly becoming and prudent way, our honest in his own hands, and no Congress to convictions concerning the conduct and consult in the matter, till the country character of the administration in refer- should be committed beyond any possible ence to the war, as well as other things. retreat or escape. But General Taylor We support the country, though we do would wait for peremptory orders and not support the administration; we sup we honor him for it; though the catasport the war, though we may condemn trophe has not been avoided. As it has those who have brought us into it. In turned out, the collision came when Conthis support of the war, however, we gress was present at Washington, and it shall deem it all the while a personal must be confessed that President Polk has duty, as far as the feelings naturally contrived to manage this embarrassing prompted by the conflict will allow, to circumstance with much adroitness. The keep steadily in view the paramount easy virtue of his friends in Congress object of hostilities—the only object yielded everything to the insidious aswhich a Christian people have any right sault he made upon it. A reconnoitering to propose to themselves in war—namely, party, from the American camp opposite the speediest possible restoration of peace, Matamoras, was cut off by a large force of consistently with strict national rights Mexicans on the 24th of April. General and national honor. This we hold to be Taylor, under his instructions, considered the duty of every good citizen, of the this, as he was bound to do, the comadministration, and the whole country. mencement of hostilities; and he conThe country must be defended with what- cluded at once to make a requisition, as ever energy the exigency may require. he had long been authorized to do, on the The enemy must be allowed to do us as nearest States, for an auxiliary force of little harm as possible; and we must seek “ nearly five thousand men,” as being, in to do him so much harm as may constrain his opinion, “ required to prosecute the him to come to terms with us.

war with energy, and carry it, as it should must deal him blows, they must be vigor- be, into the enemy's country.” In his ous ones, such as may bring him to a report of this affair he informs the Presi. sense of the necessity of a just composi- dent of the requisition he had made; and tion with us; but, in the whole war, the only suggestion he makes in regard ministers of reconciliation should be to it, beyond a request for the necessary deemed just as indispensable as soldiers, supplies for this additional force, is, that able negotiators for peace just as in- inasmuch as his position was remote dispensable as armies and able com from support, it would be of importance manders.

if a law could be passed authorizing vol. We confess we are not without strong unteers to be raised for twelve months

If we

instead of the short term to which their friends of the President in each House of service was contined by existing statutes. Congress, as the measure was succes. He did not ask for more men, but only sively presented to them, refused to allow that their term of service might be ex to themselves or others even a single tended : he had already called for all that night of reflection to interpose; and he then required, even to carry the war though there was not the slightest reason into the enemy's country. In his pre or apology for such urgent dispatch, at vious correspondence he had urgently once accorded to the President all, and requested that “no militia force would more than he demanded. Considering be ordered to join him without his re how this war has been begun, they might quisition for it.” Now it was on the re about as well have carried up the Consticeipt of this report from General Taylor, at tution of the country, in solemn procesWashington, that the occasion was seized sion, to the National Mansion, and laid it by the President, when all sympathies down at the President's feet!* What use were excited for our brave soldiers fallen the President means to make of his power in a murderous ambuscade, to call upon remains to be seen. The public ear is Congress, first to declare that “ war ex stunned with rumors of magnificent plans ists by the act of Mexico," and next, to and projects of conquest in Mexico. We grant him a large army and the most are not without strong apprehensions for liberal means, with imperial and dicta. the end of this business; but we shall wait torial power, to prosecute just such a war for events to develop and shape themwith Mexico as it might suit his policy selves, with what composure we may. to undertake. We are obliged to record,

D. D. B. with shame and mortification, that the


The Lily was a maiden fairy,

Nodding her white caps to the wave,
Toying, beckoning, light and airy,

As a sultan's favorite slave;
The Wave crept up the beach, all soft and stilly,
Lisping, “ Thou’rt imaged in my breast, fair Lily.

“ Sweet Lily, stayest thou lone and cheerless ?”

Half to the Wave the Lily dips.
“ Pale Lily, kiss me fond and fearless ;''-

Sweetly thrill their meeting lips ;-
“ In lands below soft bridal notes thou hearest :

Waves call thee, flowers beckon thee thither, dearest.”

“ The skies beneath are bended fairer;" –

He decks her breast with liquid pearls :
- The earth beneath hath blossoms rarer;"—

The Wave with the Lily downward whirls ;
Lisps he, “ Above us all is sad and dreary,
Beneath we'll live forever gay and cheery.”

So, palely, with the darkling water

The trembling, trusting Lily went;
And ne'er again, o Sun-light's daughter,

Thy father's eyes on thee were bent,
Nor Earth, thy mother, pressed thee, moist and chilly :
Fond marriage vows were thine, O pale and trusting Lily!

* We sympathize deeply and sincerely with those of our friends in Congress who found, or felt, themselves obliged to put their hands to this measure, or be compelled to occupy a position in which they would seem to stand opposed to furnishing the necessary supplies of men and money for the proper defence of the country,


Criticism : Coleridge.



The present century has been emin considered an impostor until proved a nently characterized by its critical spirit. reality. We think he is determined to Institutions and opinions, men, manners fool us if he can, and are therefore most and literature, have all been subjected to delighted and refreshed when we have the most exhausting analysis. The mo- analyzed the seeming genius down into ment a thing becomes a fixed fact in the the real quack. The life of the intellect community, criticism breaks it to pieces, thus becomes negative rather than positive curious to scan its elements. It is not devoted to the exposure of error, not content to admire the man until satis. to the assimilation of truth. Men of fied with his appearance as a skeleton. strong minds in this generation have The science of criticism is thus in danger established a sort of intellectual feudal of becoming a kind of intellectual an- system-each baron walled in from apatomy. The dead and not the living proach, and sallying out only to prey body of a poem or institution is dissect- upon his brothers. Everybody is on his ed, and its principle of life sought in a guard against everybody else. An auprocess which annihilates life at its first thor has to fight bis way into esteem. step. An analysis thus employing no He must have sufficient force of being to other implements but those furnished by be victorious over others: his readers the understanding, must imperfectly in- are the spoils of his conquest. He attacks terpret what has proceeded from the im- minds intrenched in their own thoughts agination. The soul ever eludes the and prejudices, and determined not to knife of the dissector, however keen and yield as long as their defences will bold cunning:

out. The poetaster in Wycherley's play, The charlatanism, which spreads and binds the widow to a chair, in order that sprawls in almost every department of she may be compelled to listen to his literature and life, is doubtless one well-penned verses. A resisting criti. cause of this analytical spirit. A man cism, somewhat after the manner of the placed in our century finds himself widow, is practiced unconsciously by surrounded by quackeries. Collision most educated readers. It is mortifying with these begets in him a feeling of to become the vassal of a superior nature; impatience and petulant opposition, and to feel the understanding bowed and bent ends often in forcing him to apply indi- before a conquering intellect, and be at vidual tests to all outward things. By once petulant and impotent. Butler's this course he, at least, preserves his own reasoning and Milton's rhetoric, fastening personality amid the whiz and burr themselves as they do on the mind or around him. None of that spurious heart, become at times distasteful, from toleration which comes from feebleness the fact of our incapacity to resist their of thought, or laxity of will, or indiffer- power. It is from men of education and ence to truth, makes him lend his ear to ability that great genius experiences most every moan of the noodle, and every prom- opposition. The multitude can scarcely ise of the quack. But this self-conscious. resist a powerful nature, but are forced ness, so jealous of encroachment, and into the current of its thoughts and imbattling against all external influences, pulses. The educated, on the contrary, shuts his mind to new truth as well as have implements of defence. Their minds old error.

He preserves his common have become formal and hardened. Colesense at the expense of his comprehen- ridge felt this deeply, when he exclaimed, sion. He is sensible and barren. His “ who will dare to force his way out of tiresome self-repetition becomes, at last, the crowd-not of the mere vulgar, but as hollow a mockery as the clap-trap of of the vain and banded aristocracy of inthe charlatan.

tellect--and presume to join the almost suThis tendency to individualism-this pernatural beings that stand by themtesting the value of all things by their selves aloof?” This aristocracy furnishes agreement or discordance with individual generally the champions of accredited modes of thinking-subjects the author opinions and processes. They flout the to hard conditions. He is necessarily innovations of genius and philanthropy, viewed from an antagonistic position, and as well as the fooleries of knavery and VOL. III.-NO. VI.


ignorance. They desire nothing new, critic understands little but himself, and good or bad.

his skill consists in a dexterous substituThe influence of this spirit on criticism tion of his own peculiarities for the laws in the present century, has been incalcu- of taste and beauty, or in sneeringly lable. "In those cases where personal and alluding to the difference between the partisan feelings have not converted lite- work he is reviewing and works of esrary judgments into puffs or libels, the tablished fame. Lord Jeffrey is an inanalytical and unsympathizing mode in stance. The position in which he was which critical inquiries have been prose- placed, as editor of the most influential cuted has been unjust to original genius. Review ever published, was one requirPoets have been tried by tests which ing the most comprehensive thought and their writings were never intended to the most various attainments. At the meet. Where a work is a mere collection period the Edinburgh Review was started, of parts, loosely strung together, and an. the literary republic swarmed with a host imated by no central principle of vitali- of vain and feeble poetasters, whose worthty; analysis has only to cut the string lessness invited destruction ; but in the to destroy its rickety appearance of life. midst of these there were others, the exAs a large majority of productions, pur. ponents of a new and original school of porting to come from the human mind, poetry, whose genius required interpreare heterogeneous, not homogeneous; tation. Now the test to be applied to a mechanical, not organic ;-the works of critic, under such circumstances, is plain. what Fichte calls the hodmen of letters - Was his taste catholic ? Did he perceive the course pursued by the critic, at least' and elucidate excellence, as well as deexposes deception. But the process by tect and punish pretension ? Did he see which įm posture may be exposed, is not the dawn on the mountain tops, as well necessarily that by which truth can be as the will-o'-the-wisps, in the bogs beevolved. A life spent in merely examin. neath? Did he have any principles on ing deceptions and quackeries, produces which to ground his judgments, apart little fruit. A well-trained power to dis- from the impertinences of his personality? cern excellence, would include all the We think not. Not in his writings are negative advantages of the other, and end we to look for a philosophy of criticism. also in the positive benefit of mental en. He could see that the consumptive hectic largement and elevation. Reading and on the cheek of mediocrity was not the judgment result in nothing but barrenness, ruddy glow of genius. He could torture when they simply confirm the critic's feebleness and folly on the rack of his opinion of himself. Themind is enriched ridicule. He could demonstrate that Mr. only by assimilation, and true intellectual William Hayley and Mr. Robert Merry independence comes not from the compla. were poor successors of Pope and Drycent dullness of the egotist. The mind den. But when he came to consider men that would be monarchial should not be like Wordsworth and Coleridge, we find content with a petty domain, but have the nimble-witted critic to be, after all, whole provinces of thought for its depend- blind in one eye. Here were authors encies. To comprehend another mind, destined to work a great poetical revoluwe must first be tolerant to its peculiari- tion, to give a peculiar character to the ties, and place ourselves in the attitude literature of a generation, to have fol. of learners. After that our judgment will lowers even among men of genius. In be of value. The thing itself must be their earlier efforts, doubtless grave faults known, before its excellence can be esti- might have been discovered. Their mated, and it must be reproduced before thoughts were often vitiated by mental it can be known. By contemplation rather bombast; their expression, by simplicity than analysis, by self-forgetfulness rather that bordered on silliness, by obscurity than self-confidence, does the elusive and that sometimes tumbled into the void ethereal life of genius yield itself to the inane. But amidst all their errors, indimind of the critic.

cations were continually given of the If we examine the writings of some of vital powers of genius; of minds which, the most popular critics of the present to the mere forms and colors of nature, century, we shall find continual proofs could of the narrowness to which we have referred. In a vast majority of cases, the

“Add the gleam, criticism is merely the grating of one in. The light that never was on sea or land, dividual mind against another. The The consecration and the poet's dream."

« ElőzőTovább »