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great body of the people which the would be exceedingly puzzled, either righteousness of its principles so richly to give the why and the wherefore, or merits ? How happens it that the to advance a rational opinion as to the false and mischievous doctrines of Whig- proper character with which a free gery are yet able to maintain so pow. government should be invested. In erful an antagonism to the party of such cases free suffrage loses half its truth and justice? How happens it virtue; and its continued exercise fails that Democracy still requires so much to produce that improvement in the legislation, so frequent a remodelling of service of self-government, which we constitutions ?
have a right to expect at the hands of The truth is, that superior as we are intelligent freemen. to all other nations, ancient or modern, The annual legislators in all the states in our political institutions, and emi- have had too much power, and most of pently excellent as they indisputably their time has ever been occupied in are in themselves, yet nevertheless, dispensing favors to the few. If we we hesitate not to say, that from the look over the ponderous tomes that are adoption of our coustitution to the pre- the result of every session of the legislasent day, froin Washington to Polk, tures, through all the gradations of the principles of genuine democracy towns, cities, territories, states and the have never yet been carried into com- federal government, we are struck with plete practice in this country. We the large portion applicable to individuhave been most egregiously deceiving als only, and the small attention that ourselves io mistaking words for things, the public good has received. In ansound for substance, shadows for reali- alyzing their acts, we find nothing of ties. In some instances we have mis- positive good effected, but what a fundaapprehended if not perverted the mental law in convention might not meaning of terms. The word " free- have permanently produced. During dom," for example, so constantly upon the last twenty years that the Newthe lips of all, we suspect, is seldom York constitution of 1825 has been in correctly understood. Unless we great- operation, a large portion of the public ly err. independence of foreign power, attention, and a very large proportion and the rejection in our governments of of the labor of annual legislatures, has regal and aristocratical institutions, been occupied with corporations, which comprise the idea generally attached have been called into existence, not to that word. That, to be sure, is a only in accordance with the constitution great deal, but after all it is but half of 1825, but in some cases in defiance the truth. True political “freedom"- of its express terms. The abuses that freedom which at once affords us which grow out of the powers, real and the greatest security with the greatest usurped, of the state legislatures, have liberty, is what we have never yet been been a constant source of contention; fully blessed with. That we have the and more than one election has turned ability as well as the right to " govern upon their validity, and the people have ourselves,” without the oppressive in- condemned them. Twelve years ago, cumbrances of kings and lords, is a the gubernatorial election turned altruth palpable to the miod of every most exclusively upon the question of individual in the country. The quo modo monopolies of every kind and degree ; and the quantum are, however, questions and the term monopoly was applied in -especially the latter-rarely taken into its broadest sense to all acts of incorporconsideration, and still more rarely ation. The triumph of Gov. Marcy over correctly answered; yet how abso- Mr. Seward, in 1€34, was clearly owlutely necessary it is that they should ing to the belief that all exclusive and be perfectly comprehended-for what partial legislation would cease. There is more absurd, and at the same time can be no question but those acts which more hazardous to the prosperity of create monopolies are of unmixed evil; the country, than that men should take that they are suiversive of the sacred upon themselves the vast responsibility rights of men ; are calculated to create of depouncing or championing meas- artificial inequality in human conditions ; ures of government and political par. toelevate the few and depress the many; ties, and of summarily pronouncing and their final operation is to build upon their fate, when they themselves up a powerful aristocracy, and strike at
democratic government. Notwithstand- the very contemplation, the bare idea ing that that opinion of the people was of the huge, chaotic and monstrous so clearly expressed in 1834, subsequent mass, is getting to be positively frightlegislators did create monopolies, and in ful. violation of the terms of the constitu What, then, is the remedy? As we tion, did squander the public money upon have already hinted, the chief cause of those monopolies; and direct state taxa- all our national difficulties arises from tion, in spite of the princely revenues the unaccountable ignorance which so of the canals, necessarily resulted from generally exists on the subject of what that treasonable violation of the funda- should constitute the legitimate funcmental law of the state. The lesson tions, the precise duties, the true chaand experience growing out of those racter of a free government. This being mal-practices of annual legislatures, has the main obstacle to our greater prosmade the prohibition of all corporations perity, the remedy is obvious
Just so by legislative enactments, necessary in soon as the great majority of the people the new constitution. Instead of allow- shall once have a correct understanding ing the legislature to pass general laws of this matter, the Democratic Party, by which all persons may become asso or in other words, political truth and ciated for any purpose, by complying justice, will become immovably and for with its provision, the constitution itself ever established. The true theory of should specify the conditions, and place the whole subject lies in a nutshell. the whole above the caprice of annual It has been often very clearly shown assemblies. The details of the public by able writers, and every man's comservice may, with less dauger, be en mon sense, on due reflection, will contrusted to temporary law makers, gov- firm the correctness of the reasoning, erned by local interest and individual at- that when government secures to the tachments, when the people have placed citizen bis "natural rights," "life, libeyond their reach those great princi- berty, and the pursuit of happiness," it ples of public economy, the truth of performs its whole duty; that to whatwbich is readily recognised by the sa ever degree it transcends that plain gacity of the people.
boundary, to such a degree it usurps It is a very common error, (mistak- power and becomes oppressive and uning the means for the end) that politics, just. That is the simple solution of the like divinity, is, and necessarily must entire mystery. be, a permanent profession-a trade Let that idea be strictly acted upon to be followed as a regular employment, in this country, and a greater revoluand that the country, to keep up the tion in the actual working of our gornecessary quantum of government, is ernment would be immediatelywrought, for ever destined, periodically, to under- than that which was produced by the go universal and violent convulsions, de- establishment of American Independmoralizing and brutalizing as they are ence. Such an “Iliad of evils," moral to the popular mind. Indeed, the notion and physical, would be put to instant seems to be very prevalent that the flight, and a change so wholesome and physical prosperity of the country would renovating effected, as would appear be arrested, that is to say, that our absolutely magical, and such as would crops would cease to grow, the winds deprive our " Transcendental Reformof heaven refuse to waft our ships from ers” of half their arguments, if not their port to port, our merchants be deprived flippancy. But we will illustrate this of the means of selling or exchanging by a recurrence to first principles. their goods, our mechanics fail to ob Let a colony of a thousand families tain employment, the rapid march of be selected from all classes of our citiscience be abruptly stayed; in short, zens, and established in some unapprothat all the various wants of man would priated country, in independence of all at once and for ever go altogether un the world, having at the outset no laws supplied, unless, forsooth, at an annual nor government whatever, except the expense of scores of millions, we conti- recognition and acknowledgment of nue to keep up a system of perpetual private property; now, if they were legislation, “never-ending, still begin- all peaceable and honest members of ning," piling up, year after year, laws society, they would require no other upon laws, Pelion upon Ossa, until restraints whatever than public opinion
and the action of their own consciences. manded. It could confer no further For “government like dress," as bas favor ; it could bestow no especial benbeen happily remarked, " is the badge efit upon one individual only by the of lost innocence."
especial robbing of another. Should After selecting their various occupa- the organs of government, therefore, tions, the farmers would dispose of their in an evil hour, so far forget the nacrops where they could sell, or barter ture of their duties as to attempt to them to the best advantage; the me- "encourage" a particular branch of chanics would dispose of their skill in trade by bounties, restrictive or prothe saine manner; and every individual tective” laws, or to confer favors by acts and class of society would so conduct of special incorporation, it would not their business and callings, as would only be a most unwarrantable travelling seem to them the most profitable and out of the sphere of the proper funcagreeable. But it is not at present very tions of government, but it would be a probable that so numerous a communi- tolal and most atrocious perversion of ty will ever be found, at least before the its essential nature. The whole end millenium, whose members will all be and aim of its establishment would be either peaceable or honest. The fairest lost sight of, and its power for good flower is attended with the sharpest very greatly diminished. Instead of thorn. Virtue must be contrasted with maintaining the character of a pallavice in order to display its full value and dium of the liberties of the people, it beauty. All such herdings of frail hu- would at once become their betrayer manity will inevitably afford examples and destroyer. It could therefore have of each, under every variety of aspect. nothing whatever to do with any such There will be found uprightness and re
Should the wants of such a finement, as well as knavery and bru- community, however, require works of tality among the poor ; and unobtrusive internal improvement, private enterbenevolence, as well as oppression and prise would supply them, and on the repulsive arrogance among the rich. safest and best possible terms ; but There will be found the dexterous government must not, ought not, and sharper, and the easy dupe ; specious we repeat, could not, in any way interimposture in contact with blind creduli- fere with the private occupations of the ty ; feebleness struggling against power; people. integrity and innocence against treache What folly it would be, then, in the ry and fraud in every form.
members of such a society to establish This community, then, correctly com- and keep up a system of perpetual prehending the exact measure of their legislation, to go through the expensive wants, will delegate honest, intelligent process of enacting every twelvemonth
men to a convention to form a simple à batch of laws, for which they could • constitution, establishing courts of judi- not only not have any possible hon
cature, through the agency of which est use, but the direct tendency of the injured citizen may obtain speedy which would be evil, and nothing but and just redress for his grievances. evil, and that too in superaddition to This done, the important question then the incalculable mischief that would arises—and this is the point to which necessarily ensue from the hordes of we wish to direct the particular atten- idle drones, voragious office-seekers, tion of the reader-what more in the and turbulent demagogues, which the way of government would such a com- system would incidentally, but inevitamunity require? What would be the bly produce ? necessity for additional law-making ? If our illustration and reasoning are And above all, what possible pretext not at fault, it is easy to see what could they have for anything like an- should be the character of our governdual legislation ? They are amply se ment. And by the simple comparison cured in the full possession of all their of what we have with what we ought rights; they are under no earthly re- to have, we are enabled to form some straint in acquiring wealth and happi- idea of the disastrous frequency and ness to their heart's content. What the flagrancy of the instances in which more, then, could they in any way de- our governments—state and nationalmand from the hands of government ? have passed beyond the limits of their But in truth government has nothing legitimate action. now to give, whatever might be de
THE ELEMENTS OF MORALITY; INCLUDING POLITY.*
From the acknowledged talent and moral science have been broken up and learning of Mr. Whewell
, as well as confounded, in order to prepare the way from some of his former publications, for the introduction of despotic princiwe were prepared to think well of the ples in both Church and State. This work before us. We took it up with is the one ruling spirit and design which the expectation that it would be our binds all its heterogeneous materials topleasure to speak in its praise; we did gether. Every thing which has seemnot expect, indeed, to find it character- ed capable of lending any support to ized by a very high order of philosoph- such an object, has been pressed into ical ability, but we had no doubt it the service, without regard to logical would be imbued with a spirit of pure consistency or scientific method. Hence devotion to the cause of science, and the Elements are made up of the odds and that its principles (being as we sup- ends of all schemes, whether ancient posed those of the great Butler) would or modern ; they embrace the germs be sound. Most sadly have we been of all systems, whether true or false, disappointed. Whether the author is while nothing is discussed, nothing is dea pensioned or unpensioned detender of veloped, nothing is illuminated. All is the Establishment; whether he has dark and confused; except the one clear been rewarded beforehand or only daz- and manifest design to uphold and supzled by the glittering prospects of a mi- port arbitrary and despotic principles, tre in expectancy, or whether he has in order to preserve and perpetuate spontaneously uttered his own senti- the union of Church and State. ments, the fact itself is abundantly If the work in question had proceeded clear, that he has betrayed as blind a from an obscure individual, we should devotion to party as we have over seen here dismiss it as unworthy of further manifested in a professedly scientific consideration ; but as it comes from one work. No one can read it carefully, who occupies a high position in the without being impressed with the con- world of letters, it calls for a more exviction, that it was written with the tended notice at our hands. This we special design to uphold the union of shall proceed to give it. We gladly Church and State, and to maintain all embrace the opportunity to vindicate established things. This is, incontro- the noble science, which has been so vertibly, its great scope and purpose. rudely invaded and laid waste, as well In order to accomplish this object, the to discuss some of the most promost odious dogmas of Hobbes, which foundly interesting problems in the sciwe had hoped were exploded forever, ence of morals. We would roll back, have been revived and sent forth to the if possible, the immense masses of unworld again. We wonder that a work digested learning, with which the aucontaining doctrines so servile, should thor has overlaid and oppressed the have been suftered to circulate among whole region of moral science, and enus, without meeting with the stern re deavor to restore some of its great buke and condemnation which it de- truths to their original form and beauty. serves, from every free people and every The first thing which strikes us, on free press in the world.
opening the book before us, is the bold The reader who fails to notice the attempt to deduce the elements of moparty object and bearing of the work, rality from certain axioms, according to will find himself involved in the most the beautiful method of geometry. He inextricable perplexity and confusion; evidently supposes that the truths of scifor the foundations and landmarks of ence are deduced from axioms or self
* The Elements of Morality; including Polity. By William Whewell, D. D., author of the History and