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Great Britain, have already been, in part, shall be said of the incredible and inexposed in the pages of this Review. corrigible stupidity of a late British reThey are not lapses of inadvertence, but viewer, who, after the facts have repeatsins of sheer ignorance. He evidently edly been set forth before the world with knew no better than to call New England statistical fullness, showing the falsity of one of the States of the
Union by the side almost every word of Alison's statement, of Massachusetts and Connecticut! Yet (for excepting the clause—"sometimes Alison is probably the most praised and for six years ”-every word of it is prominent British historian of the present literally false,) has been guilty of regeneration. His is no light, ephemeral iterating the stale slander in the following production, but most grave and elaborate. form, intended to express substantially He lays extraordinary claims to accuracy the same thing, though in more guarded and fairness; and no historian, since language : Gibbon, has made so much pretension in “The superiority of judges who are the way of rhetoric and philosophy. But appointed by the President and for life, in writing about this country, he seems over the State judges, most of whom are to have thought it unnecessary to possess elected by the people, and many hold for himself of the merest outline of its short terms, or at will, occasions a gengeography. The English may think us eral wish to resort to the national courts."* not worth knowing much about; but a Now the facts in the case, as nearly as well-informed man ought to know more we have the means of ascertaining them of Abyssinia or Greenland, especially if at the moment of writing this, are, 1st. he undertook to publish a map of it, or in respect to the term of office: the judges write its history.
of the Supreme Courts—and in reference What but the unconscious effrontery to any other than the Supreme Courts, of the purest ignorance can account for the statement of the reviewer has no Alison's gravely stating and publishing pertinency,) the judges of the Supreme before the whole world, in a history Courts, in fifteen out of twenty-seven which was to be the great work of his States, hold their office during good life; “that one of the last acts of Wash- behavior; with the additional limitation, ington's life was to carry, by his casting in some instances, of a certain age; vary. vote in Congress, a commercial treaty ing from seventy to sixty-five years, and, with Great Britain ?” This is not merely in one instance, being set as low as sixty. a downright falsehood in point of fact, Here are a majority of the States, containbut shows either that the author had ing about eleven-seventeenths of the never read the Constitution of the United population of the whole Union. In eight States, or that he had been too dull to of the remaining twelve States, the term comprehend its simplest provisions. Yet of office of the highest judges varies from this man-professing great scrupulous- seven to twelve years ; in two States it ness as to the exactness of his informa- is six years, in one it is five years, and tion in his statements about countries in one it is one year. 2d. In respect to has had the audacity to sit in judgment the mode of appointment; the judges of on our institutions, and visit them with the Supreme Courts, in fourteen of the the most absolute and withering con- States, are appointed by the Legislature; demnation. If it should be said that the in twelve of the States, by the Governor blunder above referred to is unimportant with the advice of a Senate or Council ; in itself, and furnishes no argument either and, in one solitary State, they are elected for or against our institutions, we admit by the people. In no case can they be the extenuation though it does not cut off removed by the direct action of the our inferences. But what shall be said people. of expressly basing an argument much to Are all these facts Americanisms; which our disadvantage upon the assumed fact, simply mean, when expressed in the that “all the State Judges, from the high- King's English—“ most of the State est to the lowest, are elected by the people, judges are elected by the people, and many and are liable to be displaced by them- hold for short terms, or at will?". Does their tenure of office is sometimes for the reviewer, peradventure, intend to say three, sometimes for four, sometimes for that, inasmuch as the Legislature are six years, but never for life.” And what elected by the people, the judges appoint
* Edinburgh Review, Jan. 1816, p. 193.
ed by them are really though indirectly much more literally true in respect to the elected by the people also? So is the fears of corruption from the popular President of the United States virtually dependence of some of our State courts. and practically elected by the people, Where are the cases of corrupt or unfor the reviewer himself says truly that reasonable decisions to be traced to such the College of Presidential Electors have a dependence? Have any such been no more discretion than an English Dean alleged? Not one. Only this dependence and Chapter under a congé d'élire. They is extremely bad in theory. We think are chosen as mere instruments, pledged so too ; and where the judges hold their to nominate a given candidate.” They office during good behavior we should are a mere form of returning the popular desire no change; though it is very vote. But what then becomes of the con- possible our feeling in this particular rests trast between the State and the national upon prejudice rather than facts. There courts? And who constitute the remain- are certainly some advantages in judges' der to the “most ?” In a popular govern- holding office for definite terms, provided ment how else could the judges be ap- those terms are not too short; and the so pointed, but directly or indirectly by the much dreaded and deprecated dangers of people? Would the Reviewer have the such an arrangement will rarely be Legislature or the Executive hereditary, realized as long as the mass of the comin order to make the appointment of munity are intelligent and virtuous. They judges independent of the people? Why are not to be for one moment compared not make the judges themselves hereditary with the evils actually arising from the at once ? This would seem to be the delays of justice which have made the shorter and better way. We believe highest courts of England a hy-word. most of the arguments in favor of a That the judges of the Supreme Court hereditary executive and hereditary legis- of the United States are, as a body, sulators will apply with equal, and many perior to those of any State court in the of them with greater, weight in favor of Union—if not to those of any court in the hereditary judges. Would the Reviewer world—we suppose is a fact. We should think the establishment of a hereditary think it strange, and much to be deplored, bench an improvement on the system of if it were not a fact. That prosecuting the English judiciary? Or, on the other parties often (not generally) prefer the hand, would he think it an improvement national to the State courts, we suppose, on ours, to leave the Chief Justice of the is also a fact. But that the reasons for United States, like the Lord High Chan- this preference, implied in the statements cellor of England, to be changed with of the Edinburgh Review, are rarely, if every change in the political administra
the true reasons, we are assured tion? Or, would he think it a “con not being of the legal profession ourservative ” innovation in our political selves—by those who are intimately acsystem to abolish our glorious and vene- quainted with the facts of the case. Inrable Constitution, and make our Con- deed, we should seem to be driven to gress, like the Parliament of England, this inference, unless it is found that the theoretically omnipotent; superior to all disposition to resort to the national courts law, courts and constitutions whatever; is greater in the State where the judges with power “ to bind our judges at plea- are appointed annually, or in the State sure, and teach our counsellors wisdom?” where they are chosen by the people, As long ago as the time of Oliver Crom- than in those States where the judges are well, the English ielt that an omnipotent appointed by the Governors and hold ofParliament, unrestrained by any constitu. fice for life. We have never learned that tion or “instrument of government,” any such diversity exists. might be arbitrary and tyrannical as well We have purposely dwelt the longer i as any autocratic monarch.* If it be said on this point; not only because of its inthat such fears are imaginary, that they trinsic importance, but in order, by the are not sustained by facts; we admit it, very course of the argument, by the view to some extent, in the case of the British of the multiplicity of considerations, and Parliament; but a similar statement is facts, and principles, pertaining to a full
* See Cromwell's speech to the first Parliament under the Protectorate. “The liberties, and interests and lives of people not judged by any certain known laws and power, but by an Arbitrary Power, which is incident and necessary to Parliaments."
comprehension of the subject, to show our about which all this hue and cry has Transatlantic brethren that there are more been raised, amounts to this : that, in one things in the character and working of or two States, a certain portion of the American institutions than are dreamt of debt-less, we believe, than $10,000,000 in their every-day philosophy. They in all-has been declared fraudulent, and must be content to take for granted, once payment refused. Let shame rest on for all, that the American Union is a phe- those who have perpetrated such an act nomenon of some importance in the of baseness and dishonor! And “shame · world—deserving and demanding to be on them” is echoed from one end of the patiently and thoroughly studied; and country to the other. God forbid we that, too, with a spirit of docility and earn- should utter one word in extenuation of estness. The time is past when their the deed. We all feel disgraced by itone-sided, off-hand, flippant judgments not that we are in any wise responsible can longer pass current in the world, or for it, but that we must go by the same quiet their own consciences as men of name with its authors. But the British sense and intelligence. If they would invite a comparison with themselves, as learn what the character and working of showing their vast superiority to us in our institutions are, they must condescend point of general civilization. They pay to go to school to us and study them. their enormous debt, they say, or the inEven could they get the principles, they terest of it, which is the same thing. But cannot get the facts, by instinct. We who pay it, and who receive the payearnestly advise English writers and ment? Who have the most commanding critics as they value their own reputa- influence in the English Government, the tion and characters-to take this subject payers or the payees? They vote, with into serious consideration.*
singular disinterestedness, that the money Even in regard to “repudiation,” shall be paid to whom? To themselves. which seems to have excited the ire of They take to themselves great credit for our English brethren almost to frenzy, voting money out of other people's pockthey betray at every step their profound ets into their own. Out of other people's ignorance. They talk and act as if the pockets, shall we say? The mass of those whole United States, individually and col. from whose sweat and toil the money (in lectively, had “ repudiated” their debts. the last analysis, as the politico-econoThey put us all alike under the ban, and mists would say) must come, are hardly treat the whole country as a brigand blessed with the luxury of pockets-or confederacy". one combined set of swin- of ever having anything in them. It is dlers and pickpockets. It is true, they taken out of their mouths, and the mouths are not bound to know anything of us if of their children-nay, torn from their they will say nothing about us. But very vitals. Let the money be paid, by before John Bull tosses us all quite over all means; but let the burthen fall, at the pale of civilization, it were well for least, as heavily on those who magnanihim to consider the premises. The in- mously vote the payment as on those who sinuated charge is indiscriminate, that have no voice in the matter—and then America “ repudiates” her debts. But let them boast. The British nation pays how stands the case? The gross amount ils debts. It is well. But at what rate, of the debts of the several States has think you, would consols be quoted tosomewhat exceeded 200,000,000 of dol. morrow, should it be announced that, lars. Aside from the unwise, and in some thirty days hence, the question would be sense dishonest delay, on the part of a submitted, directly or indirectly, to the few of the States, under the pressure, it universal suffrage of the people of must at the same time be admitted, of ex the British Empire-Rebeccaites, Charttraordinary disappointments and disasters, ists, Socialists, wild Irish, and allto pay the annual interest on their debts, whether they would bear their present the whole business of “ repudiation,” burdens, or, by one act of national bank
* Let us add here, that we should be sorry to seem uncourteous towards the Edinburgh Review. It is usually temperate in its language towards America; and deserves great credit for firmly resisting the general curreni among its neighbors against us. The very article in which the passage above objected to occurs, is, on the whole, a very candid, thorough and learned discussion of its subject matter.
ruptcy throw them off for ever?" This is highly desirable that the tendency of is the proper basis of comparison with the States to the contraction of debt us, as hearing upon the question of our should, in some way, be checked. We relative civilization. Who would trust doubt not they will ultimately pay their in a favorable result from such a vote? present debts, learn a lesson of economy On the other hand, if, when our national from experience, and if their credit abroad debt was at its maximum, or at any other should suffer, it will be an additional setime, such a question had been submitted curity against rash expenditure in future. to the universal suffrage of this whole The English also taunt us with the exUnion, who can doubt ihere would have istence of negro slavery in a portion of been an overwhelming majority in favor our country, as an evidence of our backof full and punctual payment? There is wardness in civilization. We will not abundant evidence that, at this moment, reply with Mr. McDuffie's paradox: that taking the country as a whole, the sen the slavery of one portion of the com. timents of the mass of our people on this munity is essential to the freedom and subject are sound, and their action, in civilization of the rest. It is indeed true, any possible event, would be honest and that the most perfect forms of ancient just; and not only so, but even the de- civilization existed in connection with a linquent States, we doubt not, will ere bloated system of slavery ; yet, if the long come to their senses and retrieve writer of this might be allowed to speak their charactersas, indeed, the greater for himself personally, he would say that part of them have already done. Now, he has far more sympathy even with the where is the country on the face of the professed abolitionists, than with their globe, the mass of whose population are professed opponents. But what has the so cultivated and virtuous, that, being Briton done, that he should constitute placed under similar circumstances, and himself the censor of all the world ? Afdivided into small, independent portions ter having grown rich by conquest and like our States, such a question could be extortion, by slavery and the slave-trade, submitted to them with consequences less he has indeed compelled his brethren in disastrous than those which are deplored the colonies to emancipate their negroes, in this country? If it be said that, though and given them money to pay their debts the general character of our people may to himself. be defended, still the fact of “ repudiation” That was Briton-like. But what has remains, and it is impossible to argue it he done at home? Are there really no away : that the fault of it must lie some slaves there, as Cowper sung? Accordwhere--if not on our people, then on our ing to recent developments, there has institutions--we answer, that we do con- been for many years more hard bondage, sider it a defect in our political system, more grinding servitude, more excruciatthat the individual States should be al- ing misery, in the southern half of the lowed to contract debts without control Island of Great Britain—to say nothing and without responsibility. And, as we of poor, plundered Ireland—than there believe that the constitution, properly in.. ever was (we were about to say in the terpreted, prohibits it, so we could wish whole West Indies, certainly we may that instrument had been more explicit say) in the whole United States, at any in its prohibitions ; yet we are by no period in the history of Negro Slavery. means willing to give up the right of self- Let the oligarchy that govern England government in order to avoid or remedy take care of the millions that are toiling such evils as have resulted from this ac- and gnashing their teeth, and pining away cidental defect in our institutions. Those around them. evils will eventually remedy themselves, The number of the Edinburgh Review and be productive of permanent good. It to which we have already referred, con
* Mr. Lyell-whose book on America, by the way, forms an honorable exception to the general tone of British travelers in this country-admits and maintains that it would be certain ruin to submit the question of paying the English debt to the decision of universal suffrage ; and even deprecatingly urges ihis fact, presumed to be undeniable, as a decisive answer to those friends of liberty who inquire why the right of suffrage should not be extended in Great Britain as it is in this country. Such a fact speaks volumes.
+ They have begun to come up to the work in their fashion. After having so ordered their legislation for centuries as to protect the rich and exhaust the poor, they have at length begun to provide for the latter when it has become no longer safe to neglect them. The English
tains an elaborate article on the subject To this we have only to add, by way of legislation for the working classes; of comment, that the free working classes the upshot of which is, that, in order to in this country, have already made that be treated as freemen, they must be left “ further progress in civilization” for to starve ;-for to talk to men about ex. which the Englishman and the European citing industry and economy by throw. can only sigh; that they already enjoy and ing them on their own resources, while have long enjoyed to the full, the posi. you allow them nothing to do, or do not tive as well as the negative benefits of pay them enough for their work to furn- freedom; so that they would feel indigish them a scanty subsistence from hand nant at the very thought of being comto mouth, is only adding insult to injury. pared with slaves and serfs. The Reviewer, after stating very impar It is charged upon us that we have tially the advantages and disadvantages of mobs in this country. It is also too the free working classes as compared true. But let it also be remembered, that with serfs and slaves, and showing how, we have scarcely any police and no in Europe, the former condition has standing armies to prevent or suppress gradually taken the place of the latter, them; while with all their regiments and adds the following paragraph which we systems of police, even the English have take the liberty to insert entire.
not got along without them. Can either
France or England point to tifty consecu. “When we contemplate the actual results tive years in her history during which she of the change in question, and compare the has been freer from mobs than the United state of the working classes in countries States have been for a half century, from where they are free, with the state of a slave the adoption of the Federal Constitution? class, we find that the only benefits of free. Moreover, it is not to be forgotten, that dom, which have been fully enjoyed by the we do not send our refuse population laboring classes, are the negative ones
abroad, but, from our liberal character (such as exemption from bodily inflictions and position, must receive the refuse tive benefits which they have hitherto de: population of other countries, and share rived from their social independence, have with them our rights and liberties. What, been less prominent. The positive benefits, then, must be the transforming character which are economical and domestic, which of our people and institutions, which can consist in the acquisition, enjoyment and so unfailingly and so speedily change transmission of wealth, and in the develop- such materials into good citizens, enjoy. ment of the family affections, are more re- ing all the positive as well as negative mote, and depend on numerous preliminary benefits of freedom-and can continue conditions which hitherto have rarely co such a process for so long a period with existed in any community. The entire har. vest of the change will not be reaped until
so very few miscarriages and disasters ? civilization has made further progress
Overweening self-conceit, repudiation, until the providence, industry, intelligence slavery, mobs—these evils, we grieve to and peaceableness of the working.man are
But the whole such as to render him altogether fit for self. 'country is not chargeable with any one support, and to protect society against the of them—they are not distinctive characshocks arising from his delusions and vio. teristics of our social condition. When lence."
the enemies of America and American
aristocracy can make a vritue of necessity with as good a grace as anybody we know of. It is stated on the authority of a writer in Blackwood's Magazine, that the number of paupers in Great Britain is four millions, or a seventh part of the population of the empire. At the same time there are 70,000 persons in England whose aggregate annual income is 200,000,000 of dollars. According to the Parliamentary Reports, the money expended for the relief of the poor in England alone, for the last thirty years, has averaged nearly 50,000,000 of dollars annually. Probably all the rest of the world put together, have not expended so great a sum for this purpose. (See Edinburgh Review, Jan., 1816.) Instead of wondering at the munificence of such an immense provision, we are led to reflect that the very necessity for it, proves that there is something rotten" either in the character of the people, or of the institutions under which they live. Are such multitudes of the free-born natives of England so lazy or so stupid that rather than earn their own living, as they might, they will submit to be fed as paupers ? Or, are the political and social conditions under which they live such, that after toiling with the best will, and straining every nerve, they cannot obtain the means of keeping body and soul together without the insulting aid of public charity? We do not see how the English can avoid accepting on this subject one horn or other of the same dilemma which they offer to us on the subject of “ repudiation."