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I. A MUCH-NEEDED REFORM
A Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Garden
ing, adapted to North America : with Remarks on Rural
Architecture. By A. J. Downing.
to North America. By A. J. Downing
TURES; Mr. Poe's LECTURE ON THE POETS; PLAGIARISM;
DEATH OF Rev. SYDNEY SMITH XVII. New York HISTORICAL SOCIETY
348 364 367 376 385 387 400 406 409
THIS NUMBER CONTAINS SEVEN SHEETS.
We wish to address a serious word least, all of our readers will heartily to thoughtful minds and patriotic hearts agree. among all our political parties,—though, But, how is the evil to be remedied ? indeed, it is chiefly from those of our is the next consideration ;-or, if not own, the party of Democratic freedom, susceptible of remedy, at least mitigatmovement and openness to sugges- ed ? Fewer elections-a longer tenure tions of reform, that we must expect of the Presidency,—will probably be the any favorable hearing for such sug- answer of most to whom the question gestion as we desire to make.
for the first time presents itself. The In the first place, all will agree with suggestion once thrown out by General us in one thing—that our Presidential Jackson, of six years and a single term, Elections have become tremendous nui- will doubtless occur to almost every sances. That they seem to be growing reader. Would that change mend the worse and worse every time, is equally matter? Far, indeed, from it; and clear. Only reflect upon the recollec- General Jackson never made a greater tions of 1840 and 1844. Is it not a mistake in his life. monstrous evil that the whole country For what is it that has swelled our Preshould be agitated with such a des- sidential elections into what we see them perate struggle of parties, as that now? What is it but the immense imwhich, in both those years, has raged portance already attaching to them-the over the whole length and breadth of the immense interests already involved in land, from centre to extremest circum- them? If the importance of the ofference? Are not these frequent shocks fice, from its controlling veto influtoo violent, too convulsing, too dislocat- ence on legislation for four years, is ing? Is it a trifling mischief, that our increased—if the interests involved in population, divided into two almost equal it, by converting the general tenure of numerical halves, should be every four all the benefits of its patronage from years thus precipitated against each four years to six, are magnified in the other, with all the animosity, bitterness, proportion of those figures—what other revilings, and resentments which now effect could be produced than to swell mingle all their bad elements to swell the very evil which is thus sought to be that huge evil of Party Spirit, which all remedied by a process akin, in wisdom, to deplore, yet all share, and all contribute that of extinguishing a fire by the addito stimulate? That so much time should tion of fuel ? be wasted, so much capital squandered, But it may be said, we should at so much energy misapplied, so much bad least have a long period of intermission. feeling mutually excited, so much Allow one or two years for the actual demoralization, public and private, en- contest, there would be at least four or gendered ? Surely, on this point, at five of something like repose. This is
a fallacy. Have we any intermission - who raise the clamors-organize and any repose-anything better than a work the machineries-govern the local slight, momentary lull, in the perpetual- political affairs—and direct, if they do ly raging storm ? And, surely, it would not create, a large part at least of the be proportionately worse, if the fary of public opinion. Shorten the Presidenthe storm were to be increased, by the iial tenure ; and reduce the Executive stimulation of the causes to which it is patronage. This is the only remedy, and chiefly to be ascribed. It is not every matters have reached such a pass that four years, that we hold a Presidential it must soon be applied, and all reflectElection now. It is every year; in ing men must soon admit into their some States, every half-year. Not only minds the truth of its necessity. every member of the federal legislature, For our own part, our preference is but, as a general rule, every officer of clear for an annual term, with unresevery State government, executive and tricted reëligibility; upon which, cuslegislative—nay, every town clerk and tom would soon fix the law of one or every village constable—is elected on two reëlections as the proper limit of Presidential principles, Presidential in- individual ambition. terests, Presidential tendencies. Whig What! A Presidential Election every songs for 1848 are already set to music year ? An earthquake annually ? A already sung by the roystering patri- political revolution with every revoluotism of bar-room politics. The echoes tion of the seasons ? of the shouts which greeted President Softly, softly, we reply-you forget Polk's inaugural are yet in one ear, that if we should have four times as while the other is already saluted with many Presidential Elections, they would party clamors and party discussions be in more than equivalent proportion rehaving reference to the formation of duced in importance and excitement. A issues and organizations for the election Presidential Election would then add of his successor, Gentlemen may cry little or nothing to the excitement of an peace,peace, but there is no peace!-rest, ordinary local election. These latter rest, but there is no rest! And all this, we have every year, and must continue ---or a large part of it-grows out of to have. Nay, no one of them would be the vast magnitude of the consequen- attended with half the excitement that ces of an election, on the present tenure now pervades them all. As before reof power by a victorious party. This marked, every one of them is already a is the great motive—this the perpetual Presidential Élection and an election stimulus. Hence the hope and the ef- having reference to a four-years' Presifort-hence the anger and the disap- dential tenure, with all its passions, its pointment--hence the strong excitement ambitions and its bitternesses. The of all the ambitions, interests, intrigues, Presidential question would no longer and passions which attend one of these be the Aaron's rod to swallow up all the great struggles of parties, and which be- rest. It would be, as it ought to be, subcome immediately transferred — with ordinate to the State and Municipal quesscarcely diminished violence, even tions upon which the State and Municithough the loudness of their expression pal elections ought to turn. It would may subside for a while-to the next then add nothing sensibly to their exciterenewal of the same still beginning, ment, while they would be relieved from never ending contest.
the factitious excitement which they The true remedy lies exactly in the now borrow from it. Of a verity, this opposite direction. Attack the effect in appears to us so plain, that we are only its causes. Do not dream of reducing astonished that it is not already an unithe former by magnifying the latter, but versal conviction, already ripe for immein proportion as you reduce the latter diate translation into action as a prac. the former will subside, if we may never tical constitutional reform. That it expect to see it wholly disappear. will, that it must, very soon be so, we Make a Presidential Election less im. cannot doubt. portant ; make the splendor of the Pre- But—(shall again exclaim the objectsidential prize less an object of tempta- or)—shall we have an annual sweep of tion to deep intrigue and desperate offices-a yearly rotation of the great struggle on the part of great politicians; vicissitude of In and Out! It is bad make its patronage less an object of enough as it is now-would you quaambition and cupidity to the masses of druple the evil already so pernicious ? minor ones who overspread the country No, certainly not. On the contrary, we would indeed apply an effectual cure altered state of things to which we reto this evil. It is now tolerated to some fer, as the certain result of the suggestextent every four years, because the ed reforms, would moreover generate public mind feels that even though an such a state of public feeling on the experienced incumbent may be super- subject, that the usage would soon, we seded by another who has yet to make are sure, grow up to be, to re-appoint himself familiar with his new duties, all faithful and serviceable officers, of the prospect of a four years tenure is long secondary grade, without reference to enough to make a few months of ineffi- their politics. cient experimental settling down in the Is not the simple suggestion of these office of little importance in comparison thoughts enough to carry home to every with the motives inclining a victorious mind an earnest desire to realize in party to this species of reward to its more practice the change that would then meritorious or more necessitous friends. come over the spirit of our politics ? This length of tenure is also sufficient To attempt to apply similar views to to constitute an attraction to the latter- the action of a party or an administrato tempt them from other modes of in- tion nou, is out of the question. No dustry--to lead them to hope for office, party coming into power, or already in aim for it, labor for it, and finally to it, will-or indeed, in reference to the press hard upon the central dispensing practical necessities of position, ought sources of patronage, with“ powers of to undertake such a suicidal quixotism. application" hard, hard indeed to be The existing evils are but the fruit and withstood. All this would be changed foliage produced by a necessity of naunder an annual tenure of the Presiden- ture from the deep root, and the vital cy. Neither would the public mind sap which it sends circulating through then tolerate unnecessary political the minutest ramifications of the strucchanges of office from year to year; ture. It is the system which is wrong; nor would a President, a candidate for but the system, as time and the proannual reëlection, then venture upon gress of events have developed it, has them ; nor would office thus fugitive to be administered on its own princiand slippery in the grasp be an object ples. To be in the system, and to atof pursuit or desire to any extent com- tempt, while in the system, to defy and parable with the present miserable state nullify its principles, is at once absurd of things in this respect. Even, there in theory and self-destructive in pracfore, without any restriction upon the tice. A President is more governed by power of official patronage, this one his party, than his party by its Presisimple change at the central main- dent. General Jackson could not carry spring of the general machinery, would out in practice many of the ideas which go far to apply the remedy so much he entered on the Presidency most honeeded throughout the now disordered nestly desirous of adhering to. Conaction of the farthest extremities. trast, too, General Harrison's undoubt
But we do not propose to stop here. edly sincere professions on this subject, We would in that case fix a regular with the performance of his one single term for all offices in their nature sus- month, and of the continued action of ceptible of such limitation, and deprive his Cabinet while it adhered to his sucthe Executive of the power of removal cessor, and constituted the administrawithout cause to be assigned to the tion unmitigatedly Whig. The system, Senate. Subject to the check of an the system, we repeat, tends to create a annual responsibility, the Executive necessity which an administration can would then take very good care that only modify and direct, but can neither those reasons should always be good resist nor evade. It comes into power, ones. The extent of the federal official for instance, with vast numbers of dispatronage would then be confined to tinguished and meritorious friends needthe offices falling, vacant irregularly ing office quite as much as existing infrom time to time, here and there. Tak cumbents--as well, or better qualified ing four or six years as the general for its duties-expecting it, desiring it, tenure, every year would witness the and supported by the general local feelexpiration of only one-fourth or one- ing of their party, which expects and sixth of the commissions of office, in- desires the proposed changes, and which stead of the whole being considered, as will be disappointed and displeased if now, subject to the action of the vast that expectation is not gratified. patronage power of the Executive. The And when it is then come in mind,