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(Aug. 5, Dec. 24, 1861, July 14, 1862, Mar. 3, 1863), together with the curiously elaborate and most successful Internal Revenue Act (July 1, 1862),— measures which have so challenged the ill-will and belied the predictions of European economists; the issue of treasury notes, in all to the amount of $350,000,000, fifty millions payable in coin (July 17, 1861), and the remainder convertible into public stocks, and made a legal tender for all dues except customs (February 25, 1862),
a strongly contested but necessary measure of finance, compelled by the absolute disappearance of gold from current use, and signally successful, hitherto, in saving us from the Scylla of inflation and the Charybdis of repudiation ;* the authorizing of a series of loans (July 17, 1861, February 25, 1862, March 3, 1863), amounting in all to $1,650,000,000, of which $ 300,000,000 have been taken up by the public, without having been once offered in any foreign market; and, finally, the Currency and Banking Act (February 25, 1863) at present coming into operation, which promises, as one fruit of this war, a stable and uniform currency, to supplant the heterogeneous issue of more than sixteen hundred (1,645) local banks. Thus the government is provided in advance with means to carry on this struggle until the end of June, 1864. It is a striking evidence of the confidence inspired by the two classes of measures just recited, that, in about three weeks from the adjournment of Congress, the public stocks had overtaken rather more than half the interval between their market value and that of gold.t
Of other principles of public law, none occurs to us as of
* The war has doubtless had a considerable direct effect on many classes of values, from the destruction of crops, the waste and consumption of the army, the diversion of labor, and the laying on of taxes. But its indirect effect, so much dreaded, through inflation of the currency, is as yet almost nothing. A comparison of price-lists, will show that the purchasing power of money, where not affected by the above causes, is not perceptibly affected. Indeed, we can scarcely yet be said, in home transactions, to have reached the line of high prices, such as prevail in all seasons of speculation. The balance-wheel of the present financial system is the provision that Customs-duties and interest on the public debt shall be paid coin.
The actual amount of public indebtedness (April 22, 1863) is $ 929,186,148 (including funded debt, $ 295,068,256 ; certificates, $ 241,917,776 ; requisitions, $ 46,646,616; circulation, $ 345,553,500) at an average interest of 33 per cent. † March 3. Gold, 171}; U. S. 6 per cents, 100. 27.
equal importance with the foregoing, except the writ of Habeas Corpus, so carefully guarded in our Constitution. Previously, our chief immediate danger had been the evident weakness of the Executive. Any act was welcomed which showed courage to assume a great risk for the sake of a great necessity. The argument seemed even plausible, that to the Executive it belonged of right to suspend that writ at his own judgment of the need, and commit men to confinement, absolutely without accountability, save to the thin phantom of a possible impeachment. It was not until the very last day of its existence (March 3, 1863) that the limits of his responsibility were clearly defined by act of Congress, or the needful yet dangerous exercise of power was put on a legal foundation. The final decision suspends the privilege of that writ only
during the present rebellion,” and establishes the principle that the Executive is truly accountable to the Legislature.
The acts to which we have now referred all have a bearing, more or less direct, on the immediate needs and exigencies of a state of war. It is with pride and satisfaction that we have seen how promptly, how wisely, how patriotically, in the main, these needs have been provided for by our national legislature. But it is with a higher pride and a deeper thankfulness that we have seen the noblest works of peace not suspended, but rather invigorated and renewed, amidst the shock of arms. It is a significant fact, typical of what has the best promise for our future, that during these two years, even when the government was literally in a state of siege, when on two different occasions the national armies were driven back almost in the sight, and the noise of hostile cannon echoed in the very ears of Congress, the work of extension and decoration of the Capitol has not been suspended for a single day. In fact, a standing menace has been removed — a sullen hostility and distrust — which in former days checked much of the best projected legislation. That magnificent work of peace, the Pacific Railroad, authorized July 1, 1862, long forbidden by the same jealousy that affected in 1848 to fear the centralizing despotism of a “ Home Department"; the Homestead Act (May 20),- so often defeated by the fear of creating too powerful a class of independent colonists; Public and Reform
Schools in the District of Columbia, not forgetting the rights of colored children (May 20, 21, July 1); the protection of overland emigrants; improvement of the Post-Office system (March 3, 1863); the enlarged jurisdiction of the Court of Claims; reform of the District Judiciary, and reorganization of the Supreme Judicial Court; the encouragement given to State Colleges of Agriculture; the establishment of an Agricultural Bureau; the Metropolitan Police Act; the admission of West Virginia (December 31, 1862) on conditions insuring the extinction of slavery there ; – these acts indicate the character, but by no means the extent, of the beneficial legislation of this Congress. They present a record, a very small portion of which would give eminence to the sittings of any legislative body, in any period of peace. It is the crowning glory of the Thirty-Seventh Congress that such a series of public measures, together with those on slavery, before referred to, were matured and carried out amidst all the embarrassments and alarms of war.
The faults of the late Congress were the relic of a long period of profligacy and shame, whose bitter harvest we are gathering now. We believe the men who have represented us during these two momentous years have been, not worse, but better than the average of those brought up in the wretched school that has controlled our politics and perverted our public morals since the first truce was made with treason in 1832. We hold that it is right to judge men, not only by what they do in times of violent passion and strong temptation, but also by what they believe and wish and endeavor to do. Judged by this test, the work of our Congress has been honorable and glorious, and our political future is full of hope. We confidently trust that it is to be controlled by a stronger and nobler class of minds, called to their task by the summons and fitted for it by the discipline of great events. The ThirtySeventh Congress, made up largely of average men, fallible men, trained in that worst political school of insolent domineering, personal profligacy, and timid compromise, has left a record honorable to itself in the main, most honorable to the people of the loyal States which it had the glory to represent.
ART. VIII. – REVIEW OF CURRENT LITERATURE.
The outward aspect of Mr. Stanley's new volume on the Jewish Church * is very prepossessing. Its large, fair type, its ample, generous page, its sumptuous thickness of leaf and width of margin, its illustrations, neat, original, and not too many, make it, perhaps, the most imposing reprint that has done honor to the taste of American publishers and the skill of the American press.
In all the popular and superficial qualities, too, which we seek in such a book, it well sustains the fame won by the showy and eloquent historian of the Eastern Church. From Preface to Index, Mr. Stanley never lets us forget his signal advantage in writing as a traveller in the Holy Land. The local descriptions, illustrating the Hebrew narrative, are the most picturesque and brilliant that have been woven into Biblical comment or essay. They are fresh and first-hand, — not the hard mosaic-work we find in Conybeare's St. Paul. In several instances, – particularly, the account of the Samaritan passover-rite, and the visit to the sacred sepulchres at Hebron, — they have the merit, such as it is, of genuine discoveries, and give a value to these Lectures unique and untransferable, - a value less than historic, but more than antiquarian, and of a sort to be appreciated by readers even least interested in sacred lore.
Where, also, the Old Testament narrative can find fit illustration in picturesque words and phrases, it has it in perfection, perhaps, in these handsome pages. Take, for instance, what is said of the “outward conformity of Abraham and his immediate descendants to the godless, grasping, foul-mouthed Arabs of the modern desert,” (p. 13,) with the brilliant brief recurring phrases in which the comparison is again and again suggested; the very full references to Egyptian customs and monumental records; the lively hints of landscape, portraying the plain of Esdraelon, the mountains of Moab, and the valley of the Jordan ; the sketch given of Edessa, the supposed “Ur of the Chaldees," cradle of the patriarchal family; the more labored and vivid description of the mountain ranges of Sinai ; the following up of the train of Scripture associations with the land of Gilead ; the portrait of Jacob as the “ Hebrew Ulysses,” and of the Philistines as of something the rude type of the Homeric Cyclops; the picture, equally striking, of Samuel and the prophetic school ; these are instances of what we find, on almost every page, of that careful studying, both of artistic and popular effect, which is sure to have its reward.
Furthermore, the view which is implied rather than expressed, as to the true character of the record, is, on the whole, enlightened and fair. We are warned at the outset that we have to do with, “ not an inspired
* Lectures on the History of the Jewish Church. Part I. Abraham to Samuel. By Arthur PENRHYN STANLEY. With Maps and Plans. New York : D. Appleton & Co. 8vo. pp. 572
book, but an inspired people,” — a phrase which is made to bear a very liberal interpretation. In arguing for the general truth of the narrative, it is only claimed that we have “the refraction of the history, if not the history itself; the echo of the words, if not the actual words.” A special critical value is given to many parts, by the practice of setting the Septuagint reading in direct comparison with the Hebrew, the preference, in some instances, being frankly given to the former. Some hard points of literalism are blandly evaded with a “ we know not and we need not know”; the view is significantly hinted, that the walls of Jericho were overthrown by an earthquake ; the miracle of Ajalon leads to a very interesting and full gathering up of historic parallels; the chosen people, we are -told, were not so strictly guided but that they rather“ stumbled into perfection,” and their passionate vows were characteristic but “spasmodic efforts after self-restraint.” All these are indications of a free handling of the subject-matter, too rare with commentators and historians; and they are further borne out by the unqualified terms of admiration and honor in which Ewald is declared first of critics and scholars in this field, the consummate and unrivalled historian of Israel.
Our chief point of literary criticism would be the immense exaggeration and expansion of those popular qualities of style we have recognized,- the rhetorician's vast amplification,- the traveller's assiduous seeking of opportunities to display himself in local scene-painting, - the novelist's description of things which might have been seen," - the antiquarian's zeal of petty and insignificant research, — the preacher's diffuse fervor, — the lecturer's propensity to drag in historical parallels, by main force,* wherever a dull ear can be pricked or a sentence neatly turned. So, too, there is something of the professor " in orders,” in the ex cathedra quasi-justification of the horrors of the Conquest. And many a time when we look for clear and vigorous statement, we find ourselves lost in a cloud of pompous words. It would have been a great mercy to the reader, if a hundred and fifty pages of this portly book had been winnowed from its bulk.
But this is not the real and serious disappointment we have found in a volume so liberal in its promise and so showy in its execution. Mr. Stanley has given in his Preface the name of Ewald as the eminent representative of that order of learning, if not of that precise school of criticism, whose results he would have it understood that he is prepared to make known to the English public. What else, in fact, can he mean by his twenty years of preparation for his task? No doubt the unsuspecting reader thinks that he has at last, in fluent and readable English, the ripe fruit of that remarkable school of Continental scholarship to which Mr. Stanley so freely confesses his obligation; and, possibly, wonders how little it amounts to, after all. Now we do not blame Mr. Stanley in the least for not choosing to enter into questions of literary criticism, or the polemics of religious archæology. These questions it was modest and right in him, no doubt, to leave to be handled by his
* For instance, Pharaoh and Charlemagne.