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results have undoubtedly followed from the successive European Congresses, we may rationally expect, under more favorable auspices, an augmentation of benefits; and that the record of history will run, not merely that such and such a war was terminated by a Congress, but that the Congress prevented the occurrence of the war.
CIRCUMSTANCES FAVORABLE TO AN INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS.
Ir must be obvious to every one, that the circumstances of the age, in which we live, are favorable to the projected Congress. Some of these favorable circumstances we will proceed to notice.
I, And one of the most striking, which arrests our attention, is the great advancement of the people in nearly all civilized nations in power. Hardly a century ago, and nearly all power, with the exception of a few unimportant republics, was lodged in the hands of the supreme executive, the prince, king, or emperor. It seems to have been a general sentiment, and to have been generally acted on, that the prince was born to rule, and that the people were created merely to obey. In the public and political measures, which were taken, whether for
good or for evil, the people but seldom came into the account, and were but little thought of. But an unexampled change has taken place in these respects. Within a century past there has been a most wonderful diffusion of general knowledge. In particular there has been a rapid progress in civil and political knowledge; and it is probably in this species of their advancement in knowledge, that we are to look for the explanation of the people's rapid advancement in political power. In the nature of things it seemed impossible, that they should understand the true foundation of civil and political rights, and not understand the secret of their own strength, They clearly saw, if thrones had any foundation at all, they were built upon the people's will. If principalities and dominions arose above them like mountains, they felt in their own bosoms the kindlings of the volcano, which could expand, and shake them to atoms. But the people, having come to a right understanding and full perception of their power, have seldom been disposed to exercise it in any exceptionable way, provided suitable and seasonable attention has been paid to their rights. Sometimes their strong desires for freedom and representative government have broken out in acts of violence, but generally they have preferred to wait with a patient, yet confident hope in the ultimate consummation of their wishes.-Sometimes their wishes have not only been acceded to, but their rights have been explicitly acknowledged in the concession. Sometimes constitutions have been given by the sovereign under the denomination of octroyees or grants; but the mere mode of the presentation is of but minor consequence, since such constitutions or grants are evidently extorted by the wants and desires of the people, and when carefully examined, they will be found to involve all the requisites of a contract between the sovereign and subject. In ma
ny other cases the people have had a direct agency in forming them. During the last half century, besides some temporary and abortive attempts, there have been more than eighty new written Constitutions established in Europe and America; and about one hundred millions of people are said to be ruled by them.
II,-Another favorable circumstance is the great progress, which has been made in the various departments of science and the arts. The situation of the world in this respect is very different from what it was a few centuries ago. If scientific knowledge is power in other respects, it is power also, (which is perhaps not quite so obvious at first,) in respect to the political movements of the world. The control, which man, in the exercise of the powers Providence has given him, has been able to obtain over the various forms and energies and processes of nature, has reacted upon himself, and accelerated his civilization. He has ascended rapidly in the scale of being, and with feelings of worthy pride looks downward on his former low estate.
In these remarks it will be observed, that we have not reference so much to the general spirit of inquiry and general diffusion of knowledge, which has already been spoken of, as to advancement in particular arts and sciences, and to discoveries in them of a marked and prominent character. We may perhaps illustrate what we mean by a reference to the discovery of the properties of steam, and the application of those properties to purposes of navigation. It must be obvious, that these discoveries and inventions have in effect brought provinces and nations much nearer to each other, than they ever were before; and while they have rendered much more rapid and easier the intercourse of men with each other, they have at the same time greatly increased that intercourse. By means of steamboats, canals, railroads, and
telegraphic communications, the transactions in one part of Europe are immediately made known in another, even those that are most distant; so that the different nations of Europe, for this as well as for other reasons, have begun to assume the appearance of a single and closely connected family.
But perhaps a more satisfactory illustration of the connection existing between improvements in the sciences and arts and political melioration, may be found in the invention and the progress of the art of printing. It is owing to this wonderful and blessed art, that whatever is said, beneficial in its consequences and worthy of being repeated, is immediately circulated through the world. The channel of communication, furnished by the press, has in fact become a great and curious ear of Dionysius, through which the conversations in the extremities of the world, and even the slightest whispers, are collected and rapidly reverberated to our own firesides and homes. In many respects England in particular, and France, and Italy, and the Germanic states have become a common country with ourselves. In consequence of the increased facilities for printing and for the circulation of what is printed, we are enabled to listen to their debates, to take an interest in their discussions, to become acquainted with their discoveries, and to examine their plans for the promotion of the public good. In these respects, and in others, we are beginning to be one. The separating tendencies of a difference in clime and in language are yielding to the affinities of intellect and the gentle attractions of the heart, which have resumed, in some degree, their natural and appropriate influence in consequence of the intercommunications of the press. And it must be evident on the very slightest reflection, that such a state of things is exceedingly favorable to the proposed Congress of nations. Their
power, supposing such a body to be constituted, will be essentially of a moral kind; moral power depends upon the communication of truth; and this communication depends upon the press.
III,--A third favorable circumstance is the extension of the representative principle and the establishment of representative governments. This favorable circumstance has already been incidentally alluded to, in the remarks on the increased power of the people at the present day. In a large majority of the written Constitutions which have been recently established, the representative principle is recognized, although it is sometimes subjected to unnecessary restrictions. The principle of representation, as it is put in practice in France, and Great Britain, and particularly in the United States and the other American republics, may politically be regarded as the grand discovery and the prominent characteristic of these later times. When it shall become a little more extended and be more fully brought into action, it seems destined to operate a change in the policy of nations, in the highest degree favorable to the welfare of the people. That part of the representation, which is drawn directly from the people, will feel it a duty to become acquainted with their wants, sufferings, prejudices, and just claims. Operating in this way, and virtually introducing the people themselves to a direct share in the government, the right of representation will prove of vast benefit. The policy of nations has hitherto been essentially belligerent; but popular representation will be adverse to this policy, and in the same proportion will be propitious to the great objects which, a Congress of nations proposes to secure. It is not true and it cannot be satisfactorily shown, that the great mass of mankind are at all disposed to promote those ruinous contests, which have blighted and cursed the earth. They have the feelings of men,