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separated from the aristocratic circle, which it cannot afford to do without. Were the breach complete, and the circles entirely distinct—which there is no reason to believe is the ease in New York society—the literary circles would, from the number of professed literary people they contain, acquire an unpleasant professional literary tone. The satires of New York society seem merely the effort of the literary element to improve the fashionable and aristocratic element. And, apparently, the fashionable element in New York society is not composed even of the best material this country affords for such a purpose. New York is too much a city of commercial speculation for that. Some people stay there to enjoy fortunes, but many others go off into the country, and not many go there for that purpose. Its fashionable society is doubtless, however, much benefitted by the ascendancy of its literary and artistic society.
Southern character and pursuits, as we have shown, are peculiarly calculated to form a fine prescriptive element in society. We have shown the disadvantageous circumstances which affect Southern society. In the only points where it is at all permanent, it occupies an unfortunately isolated position, and is permanent almost to stagnation. The danger is that, at the South, our society may become a mere dead level of aristocratic refinement. GEORGIA.
E. A. B.
Art. V.-POLITICAL ELEMENTS. 1. Du Contrat Social, ou Principes du Droit Politique. Par
J. J. ROUSSEAU. 2. Political Elements, or the Progress of Modern Legislation.
By Joseph MOSLEY. 3. Representative Government. By M. Guizor. 4. An Examination of the Declaration of the Rights of Man.
By JEREMY BENTHAM. 5. Luther vs. Borden Dorr's Rhode Island Case, 7 Howard
United States Report. In all English dictionaries, and in all European authors who wrote prior to the French Revolution, with the notable exception of J. J. Rousseau, the word Sovereignty had a definite, fixed meaning. Everywhere, from the days of Aristotle, it meant “ The Supreme Power—the possession of the highest powersupremus-superus. In some instances it meant the first magistrate of a nation, as a King, an Emperor, but in all cases, that supreme power which gave, or pretended to give laws unto a people. These, says Dr. Johnson, are the true marks of sovereignty. And it has always been held in the American States that the prerogatives of sovereignty are vested in our State Legislatures, except where modified, restrained or prohibited by the Constitution of the State, or of the United States. Government constitutes supreme power. We do not mean absolute power, because in a government, representative in all its parts, power must be limited; for it is always responsible. No matter what is the form of Government, says De Real, the Law is the State. (La Science du Gouvernment.) It is necessary, says the Encyclopedie Francaise v. Soverains, it is absolutely necessary, that in all governments, there should be a Supreme Power, the nature of the thing requires it, and it cannot subsist otherwise, for as it is impossible to multiply power to an indefinite extent, it is necessary to confine it to some degree of authority superior to all others; and whatever may be the form of government, monarchic, aristocratic, democratic or mixed, we must submit to some sovereign authority, or commit the solecism of supposing the governed to be above the governors. This sovereignty is the right to command. The people are the source of power in a republic, and sovereignty is the re-union of the rights of all its members in the government; and this sovereignty can decide on whatever concerns the safety and advantage of society. In a state of nature man knows no sovereignty. Government is necessary to society, and such is the origin of sovereignty; and the right to make laws is the sovereign or legislative power. Such are the correct views of the Encyclopedists.
Rousseau was the first writer who assumes that sovereignty resides in the people. The first who speaks of the sovereign people. It is wonderful and mortifying to trace the influence of this madman's writings. His opinions are diffused through all literature and all society. Every extreme divergence from sound and orthodox
opinions, in religion, politics, or moral philosophy, more or less, partake of the disorganising principles of this author. We asked a friend lately why it was so ? He said it was because there was a proclivity in these principles towards everything that was base, vulgar and wicked, and that they pandered to the natural taste of man. That mankind, naturally wicked and depraved, felt itself flattered and countenanced by the bold and skilful manner with which Rousseau has preferred the bad to the good, and has soiled and bedaubed all the higher qualities of Social Life. The Declaration of Rights in the French Revolution, and all the innumerable constitutions of France since, that have invariably failed, have been imbodiments of the principles of Rousseau. And “such," says Jeremy Bentham, “is the morality of this celebrated manifesto, rendered famous by the same qualities that gave celebrity to the incendiary of the Elysian Temple! The logic is of a piece with its morality-a perpetual vein of nonsense flowing from a perpetual abuse of words—words having a variety of meanings where words with single meanings were equally at hand. In a body of laws—especially of laws given as constitutional and fundamental ones—an improper word may be a national calamity. “Look to the letter you find nonsense-look beyond the letter you find nothing." In the first article are contained four distinguishable propositions, all of them false—all of them notoriously and undeniably false. 1st. That all men are born free. 2d. That all men remain free. 3d. That all men are born equal in rights. 4th. That all men remain equal in rights. All men born free! All men remain free! No, not a single man, not a single man that ever was, or is, or will be. All men, on the contrary, are born in subjection, &c. If these rights bear reference to a state of things prior to the existence of government what would the existence of such rights as these be to the purpose, even if true, in any country where there is such a thing as government. All men born free ? Absurd and miserable nonsense! Slaves and free at the same time-free in respect of the laws of natureslaves in respect of the pretended human laws, which, though called laws, are no laws at all, as being contrary to the laws of nature. The anarchist, trampling on truth and decency, denies the validity of a law he disapproves of-denies the existence of it in the character of a law, and calls upon all mankind to rise up in mass and resist the execution of it.
“ The apprentice, then, is equal in rights to his master--he has the same right to command and to punish. The idiot has as much right to govern as anybody. So of the physician or nurse and patient, parent and child, and most of all, of husband and wife, for what is the subjection of a small and limited number of years, in comparison, of the subjection of a whole life ? Better a man should starve than hire himself; better half the species starve than hire itself out to service. For what is the compatibility between liberty and servitude ? How can liberty and servitude subsist in the same person? What good citizen is there that would hesitate to die for liberty.”
“Such are the notions implied in this, first part, of the article. How stands the truth of things ? That there are no such things as natural rightsno such things as rights anterior to the establishment of government-no such things as natural rights opposed to, in contradistinction to, legal; that the expression is merely figurative, that where used, in the moment you attempt to give it a literal meaning, it leads to error, and to that sort of error that leads to mischief-to the extremity of mischief.” We can only give these small specimens of Mr. Bentham's pamphlet. It is all equally sound and spirited.
When our States became independent and established legislatures of their own these legislatures were thereby and in their very natures vested with the supreme power of the several States. They confederated, carried on war and made treaties, and did whatever they thought necessary for the safety and welfare of the State. They were Sovereign States and sovereignty was vested in the State Governments; and in the articles of Confederation (13th) it is expressly said that Congress represents the Legislatures, whose hearts had been inclined by the Great Governor of the world to ratify them, and the sovereignty of the State is especially reserved, so far as not “expressly delegated” by the 2d Article. This part of sovereignty thus surrendered was a part of the powers of the State Legislatures. The State Legisla
tures established the Confederation and they were represented by the Congress as the articles declare. They were the constituents and the States the elements of the Confederation. As colonies the States had long been familiar with the institutions happily adapted to a free people, and they had only to make such changes as their situation indicated to the able men of that day. They did not believe as Rousseau thought, and most Frenchmen still think, “That the English people think themselves free, but greatly deceive themselves, for it was only during the election of members of Parliament—for so soon as they are elected they are slaves, they are nothing. In the short moments of their liberty, the usage they make of it, merits that they should lose it.” For themselves, our ancestors saw no necessity for ranks or privi. leges beyond what natural laws produce. It was not necessary that they should give themselves superiors in the persons of kings, princes or nobility ; but it was necessary that they should have legislatures with supreme powers, the element, the constituent element of their being. It was necessary not only for protection but existence. « Through the whole proceeding,” says Mr. Webster, “from 1776 to the latest period, the whole course of American public acts, the whole progress of this American system, was marked by a peculiar conservatism. The object was to do what was necessary and no more; and to do that with the utmost temperance and prudence.” A writer in the April No. of the London Quarterly is perfectly right in saying that the American Constitution never meant to give that preponderance to the numerical principle that has been vulgarly attributed to it; and that any opening, however small, however guarded to numerical preponderance is certain to enlarge itself like a rat-hole in a Dutch Dyke—to so irresistible and irremediable an extent as to spread devastation over all the interests that the Dyke had formerly protected.
At the formation of our Constitution the principles of Rosseau were but slightly felt in our country. To Mr. Jefferson and Tom Paine we are indebted for the first infusion. It first appears in the Declaration of Independence, when it declares, what was then, and ever has been false—that all men were created equal.