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that the doctrine in question plainly involves. To us it seems most strange, that a man of sense and independence, can submit to this real degradation ; nor indeed can he do it till he has brought himself to renounce all independence of character. He is willing to keep back all his fair and expected contribution of talent and information—to sacrifice the general interest to local and partial interest—and to value his popularity at home, more than the good of the nation to which he belongs. How such a member can make pretension to political integrity or independence, while he condescends to renounce his own deliberate opinions in favour of the instructions of his half informed constituents, we are at a loss to conceive; unless indeed, he pursue the practice of John Wilkes, of well known celebrity, who always took care to draw up the instructions of his constituents in his own way, and to his own liking, beforehand.
But if the instructions of constituents be obligatory, let us consider when and how, and under what regulations, they are so.
Upon a point of such moment, is it not strange that the Constitution affords no support whatever to the popular doctrine? When the members of Congress meet, they meet from all parts of the Union, to consult for the general good. They are not Pennsylvania members, or Massachusetts, or Georgia members; they are members of Congress. What right can any section of the country have to dictate to a member of the Congress of the whole Union? To paralyse his faculties; to destroy his utility; to forbid the exercise of his talents for the common good, and to order him to vote blindfold, without debate, and possibly in utter defiance of the plainest fact and the most conclusive argument? Yet such not only may be, but has been the case in repeated instances, during the history of our national sessions.
When a member is called upon to vote, he is called upon to give his own vote, not the vote of other people whose slave he is, and who put yes or no upon his lips without his consent. But if he substitutes the vote of other people who are not members of Congress, in lieu of his own vote which is demanded of him, does not he commit a falsehood and a fraud? Certainly not, if he does it openly and declares the truth; but is such a vote valid? Is it such as the Constitution contemplates? As the house has a right to expect? Is it not provoking to other members to find that they have been anxiously labouring to convince a man whose understanding has neither eyes nor ears? a mere stock and a stone?
Then, again, what number of constituents meeting, would suffice to bind a member by their instructions; and upon what previous notice? Can the instructions of any thing less than a numerical majority be binding? And how is this to be ascertained? Who has a right to call the meeting? what obligation is
there upon the constituents to attend? How are those to be bound by the resolutions of such a meeting, who are in no wise
bound to attend it? A
Further, suppose that a number of constituents in Maine, or in Georgia, meet for the purpose of instructing a member how to vote on some subject of general interest; what right can they have to determine a national measure, without conference or consultation with other states, or other districts, or other constituents equally interested ? The member instructed is a component part of a body essentially deliberative; whose members are expressly appointed to confer and consult with each other upon every proposed measure, before it be adopted: what force ought the instructions of a partial body of electors to have on such a member? -instructions drawn up without conference or consultation with the rest of the people, whose interests and whose opinions are utterly disregarded ?
Suppose such a meeting of electors held at home. The member to be instructed is absent. The instructions are debated, resolved on, transmitted. The member is bound; he cannot open his mouth but in obedience to the orders he has received. That is, the citizen of the district, who is by common consent chosen as being best qualified to deliberate and decide, is the only inhabitant of the district who has had no opportunity of attending, deliberating, or deciding. He is ordered to have no voice, no sentiment of his own; his lips are closed; and he plays the automaton!
How easy is it moreover to get up a party meeting, on short notice, for party purposes, whose instructions are binding or not binding, as it may suit the cunning or obsequiousness of a member to consider them? Is not this a very obvious remark to those who have had an opportunity of observing the man@uvres practised on such occasions? The whole system is so manifestly open to party maneuvring, to interested bargaining, to popularity hunting, and all the low arts of electioneering, that in our opinion, a truly honest and independent man, will not degrade himself by submitting to it. That every honest member will
serious and deliberate attention to, and treat with unfeigned respect, the recommendations of a clear majority of his constituents, no one can doubt; and the more, in proportion to the validity of the arguments, and the cogency of the facts advanced in support of them. Nor is it likely, that a decided majority of constituents can be brought to act in the way of instructions, unless in cases where strong reasons and circumstances of great interest urge them to the measure.
But the member instructed is the member of the nation. He is sent to deliberate and to act, not for his own locality, but for the nation. If in his deliberate opinion he cannot con: VOL. V. --XO. 9.
scientiously vote as his constituents require him, let him resign. He ought not to renounce his own independence, or accustom himself, from motives of mere expedience, to say yes, when honour and conscience say no.
The cases where a man of sense and integrity would be apt to differ with the great body of his constituents, are so few, and so unlikely to occur, that no great evil can reasonably be apprehended from the prevalence of the doctrine we have endeavoured to support. At any rate, it is a doctrine which men who are above all time-serving expedients, who would scorn to earn a short-lived popularity by unworthy concessions, and who value independence as the first of blessings, will not hastily reject.
Art. III.--Historia de la Revolucion de la Republica de Co
lombia, por JosE MANUEL RESTREPO, Secretario del Interior del Poder Ejecutivo de la misma Republica. Paris : 1827. 10 tom.
The important work, of which these volumes form a part, contains the only digested and authentic account of the revolution of Colombia, within our knowledge. Its author was an advocate of the province of Antioquia, at the commencement of the war of independence, and has uniformly acted an honourable and distinguished part in the cause of his country. In 1814, being then secretary of the government of Antioquia, he was elected, without having been previously consulted, to be one of three persons, intrusted with the executive authority of the United Provinces of New-Granada; but declined accepting the trust. * He reversed Morillo's proscription of the prominent patriots; and, in 1821, we find him a member of the constituent congress of Colombia, assembled at Rosario de Cúcuta, and chairman of the committee which reported the present constitution. For several years past, he has been secretary of the interior, in the government of Colombia, in which capacity he has served the republic with great, and doubtless well deserved reputation. From these circumstances, it is apparent, that he must possess the requisite qualifications for composing the history of his country's independence; and that he enjoys the best possible opportunity for obtaining correct knowledge of the events which he undertakes to relate. Whether, in his actual situation, he would exercise the independence and the impartiality due to his subject
Histor. de la Rev. y. 89.
+ Colombia (London 1822) 11. 505.
and to himself, has been a matter of some question, which nothing but the publication of the work could determine. His countrymen, therefore, and that portion of the reading public abroad, who take an interest in the subject, have anticipated the appearance of Mr. Restrepo's history, with no small solicitude ; and we apprehend that their favourable expectations will not be disappointed on perusing it. Our present object is to make our readers acquainted with the merits of the work, by such occasional observations as an examination of it suggests, and by translating some characteristic passages, in illustration of its spirit, and of the nature of its contents.
Of the volumes before us, the first consists of introductory matter, including a view of the general causes of the revolution, a sketch of the geography and present political condition of Colombia, and a comparative view of the statistics of the country, since it has acquired independence, and while it was under the Spanish dominion. The three last volumes consist of documents, many of them curious and rare, appertaining to the topics treated in the work. The intermediate volumes comprise the history of the revolution in New-Granada, until the beginning of 1819. It is intended, in a second part, to give the history of Venezuela, down to 1820; and, in a third, to continue that of the two countries, united as the republic of Colombia. Of course, what is now published, affords but an imperfect account of the Colombian revolution, as one entire subject; although very complete, and full of instruction and interest, so far as New-Granada is concerned.
It is reasonable to look with distrust upon cotemporary history, especially when written by one who was a conspicuous actor in the events described. We naturally fear, lest feeling, prejudice, or passion, should direct the thoughts, or colour the language of the writer, and impair his veracity as an historian. National and individual prepossessions, may produce an effect unfavourable to the credit of history, either by leading to statements false in fact, to fabrications, and the addition or suppression of material circumstances; or by imparting a false colouring to the opinions expressed, and the conclusions maintained. Where an author of distinction and honourable character, compiles a narrative of recent facts, from sources notorious to the world, and sends it forth to meet the penetrating scrutiny of the literary criticism of the present day, there is little hazard of his venturing upon any intentional misstatement of material facts. It is not so easy to assure his work against the influence of strong national feelings, the bias communicated by education, acquired habits of thought, and principles of action, frequently among the most noble and praiseworthy belonging to the nature of man.
If the presence of such feelings is openly displayed, or frankly admitted by the
historian, they cease to afford just ground of reproach. We do not esteem Clarendon the less, that we know him to be animated with the liveliest interest in the cause of his king, and perceive his sentiments of loyalty pervading the admirable legacy which his genius has bequeathed to posterity. It is natural that the actor in great events, should impress upon his description of them, some portions of the high passions and sentiments, which alone could have incited and sustained him in the hour of trial. There is no deception, no misrepresentation in this; it is what the reader is prepared and expects to meet, and what he continually finds, in many of the purest and finest productions of the human mind.
It is not, therefore, any cause of surprise, that Mr. Restrepo should exhibit feelings, and uphold doctrines, proper to his position and to the situation of Colombia. We can sympathize with the manly indignation of the suffering patriot, when depicting the wrongs inflicted on his country by its relentless oppressors; when relating the story of its abject colonial bondage, of its desperate struggle for deliverance, of the fiery ordeal through which it passed before it attained the condition of an independent republic. Of Spain and the Spaniards, in their treatment of NewGranada and Venezuela, it is natural that he should speak in the language of a Colombian who witnessed Morillo's proscriptive and judicial murder of the best and wisest of his countrymen, and lives to record their virtues. But, except in this respect alone, we apprehend that Mr. Restrepo's impartiality as an historian is not likely to be impeached. He discusses the motives and conduct of the leading men of the revolution with freedom and candour; maintaining a uniform spirit of moderation, which commends the correctness of his views, while it must protect him from any resentment on the part of those among
copatriots, whom he may have had occasion to censure. His style is clear, plain, and easy; and his language, especially when contrasted with the turgid character of much that comes to us from the prominent men in South America, is remarkable for its purity and simplicity. He makes no pretensions, indeed, to profound or novel views of men or events; nor to any elaborate elegance of diction; seeming to aim at perspicuity and truth, rather than to be ambitious of effect.
In Venezuela and New-Granada, the revolution was precipitated by particular circumstances, to which we shall advert in the sequel; but there, as in other portions of Spanish America, general causes existed, of a nature to alienate the feelings of the people from Spain, and to bring on that separation between the metropolis and its colony, which seems to be as much in the ordinary course of events, as the regular growth of a new settlement from infancy to maturity. Mr. Restrepo presents his ideas