« ZurückWeiter »
INTRODUCTORY. In presenting to the public the first on these matters is a necessary result, number of "The American Review,” it aside from the inducements to division will not be inappropriate to set forth the arising from personal ambition, cupidity, reasons that have led to its establish- and love of place and power, which are ment. This is not because custom has found mixed up with all human affairs. made it proper, or that the public have a Of such organizations, numerously existright to expect from each new actor a ing or constantly springing up, the greater preliminary bow; but mainly because the part are indeed of a local nature, or grow reasons themselves are of weighty and out of temporary excitements : two, howearnest import. They arise on different ever, embrace nearly all the rest, and grounds, and present their appeal by dif- mainly divide the commonwealth. ferent considerations; but the result from These great organizations are horn them all is a united voice that speaks to of different elements, exist by different the American people.
means and in a different atmosphere. In The predominant interests of our coun- every thing of vital concern, their relatrymen are involved in the issue of great tion, by principles, policy, practice, is and often-recurring political contests. that of natural, unavoidable opposition. These contests are always of prevailing The one is in all things essentially concern, at times all-absorbing; and the conservative, and at the same time is the leading intellects of the country, so long real party of progress and improvement. as our institutions shall happily remain It commends itself to the people, and is free, must be largely devoted to the dis- supported by them, not less for its rigid cussion of questions pertaining to the adherence to the Republican creed-for management of the national government. its unwavering support of constitutional As the country progresses in extent and and established rights, and its endeavors increases in population and wealth, these to preserve law, liberty, and order invioquestions are becoming more varied and late-than for the ameliorating and lib. complicated. The necessity for new eralizing tendency of its principles and measures, and for the enlarged applica- policy. Such is that portion of the comtion of established principles to meet the munity who have justly adopted from the exigencies of the times, demands con men of the Revolution the ever-honored stant action on the part of those to title of Whics. In all that tends to give whom the people have committed their strength to the confederacy, and knit tomost sacred interests; and the formation gether its various sections by the indisof parties taking antagonistical positions soluble bands of a common interest and
The Review is intended to date from the beginning of the year 1845; though the first number, as advertised, has been issued preliminarily in the autumn.
affection, the Whig party occupy the ad- professions. But whatever the pretenvance ground. Protection to the laborer sions of their leaders may be, they are and the producer, to the merchant and practically working to destroy the prosmanufacturer ; integrity and economy in perity of the nation, to corrupt the morthe discharge of official trusts; the vigi- als of the people, to weaken the authorlant defence, as against the world, of na- ity of law, and utterly to change the tional dignity and honor; the observance primitive elements of the government. of honor and good faith in all our deal. We know that these are grave charges : ings with and treatment of other nations ; we believe that they can be substantiated. the establishment and maintenance of a A portion of the evidence lies in actual sound currency; an enlargement of the results. It is an unhappy and imperishmeans of revenue, and a proper provision able part of the national history. Profor its safe-keeping; an extension of the fessing an exclusively democratic creed, resources of the country by the construc and a desire to advance the “ greatest tion of harbors, roads, and canals, as the good of the greatest number," the period wants of the people demand them; a vig- of the dominancy of this party in the orous administration of the laws; the government has been signalized by wideseparation of the seats of justice, by all spread ruin and distress, as plainly as the possible barriers, from popular impres- smouldering pile and the ravaged field sion; the adoption, by constitutional ever marked the course of an invading means, of such regulations as shall con- army. A profligate waste of the nationfine the exercise of Executive power al treasures ; a general depression in all within due bounds; the general promo- the various branches of business and ention of knowledge, and an enlargement terprise; the country without a currency of the means of education ;-these form at all equal to its wants; the checking, an outline of the distinctive principles of at a vast loss, the progress of internal the Whig party, and by these and other improvements; a depreciation of nearly cognate sentiments and measures it will every species of property; a denial to be known to posterity. When the per- the people of their only means of secursonal rivalries and partisan asperities ing an adequate market for the products of the day shall have been forgotten, and of the soil, cheating honest industry of the mellowing hand of Time shall have its rewards; a dishonorable feeling with consigned to the Future only the virtues respect to public debts ; a blind obeof the Present, the positions and aims of dience to party dictation, in which the the Whig party will stand out like watch- voice of conscience is stifled and patowers and beacon-lights on the moun' triotism and the eternal rules of justice tain side, and be referred to and quoted thrown aside as worthless considerations; as monuments to inspire, as precedents a corruption of the elective franchise; to guide, another race of statesmen and the civil power set at defiance ; countepatriots; and whatever it may now do, the nance and support given to organized reworld will then acknowledge the moral volutionary parties acting in direct hosheroism of those who, doubtless with some tility to the laws, and in subversion of defects and some temporary mistakes, all government; the basest perfidy toyet withstood in their day, the tide of wards an unoffending nation proposed corruption, the insidious arts of dema- and upheld, and a candidate for the diggogues, and the clamors of faction, and nities of the chief magistracy selected taking their stand on the platform of the on account of his willingness to carry Constitution, defended the honor and in- out the foul design ;these acts and contegrity of their country from open and sequences have attached themselves to secret assault, and preserved to their and distinguished the party which has countrymen the inestimable blessings of strangely arrogated to itself the title of a good government.
Democratic, as if democracy consisted The other great political division is not in levelling-up and preserving, but as essentially anarchical in its principles in reducing all things to an equality of and tendencies. In saying this, we degradation and ruin. would not be understood as denying to Yet these, however disastrous, are the body of its members their claims to less to be regarded. Practical errors of sincerity; for the mass of a people, individuals or of nations are comparawhatever may be their predilections, and tively of little consequence. They are however erroneous their views, are un of the present, and may be retrieved. questionably sincere and honest in their They belong soon to history, and their
effects become weaker with remoteness men, coeval with Eternal Justice, which in the past. It is the elements native to feeling alone can keep it from being the character, the ineradicable principles trampled under foot of the multitude and tendencies, that are of abiding con but as derived from, and existing by, the cern. And these, with the party of uncertain sanctions of the popular will. whom we speak, appear to us thoroughly And in all this they are not merely looswrong and pernicious. As we have said, ening the foundations of order and good the mass of them are doubtless sincere; government: they are paving the waybut they receive doctrines from designing first, indeed, to anarchy, but next to desleaders, of which they recognise neither potism. For while in the false idea of the nature nor the end. They are led liberty” and“ progress” they would deon they know not well to what; but dis- ny the existence or renounce the exercise cerning men in the Republic cannot fail of those large and beneficent constituto see that they are, in different ways, tional powers provided by the sages of according to different sections of the the Revolution, they permit their accommunity, practically working to relax knowledged exponents to usurp the most the whole spirit of law among us, to dis- extended and unlawful authority, and organize and change the original frame- would give to the Chief Executive a power work and proportions of our government, most liable to be abused, and greater than and, under the deceptive name of ad- is possessed by the crowned head of any vancement, insensibly descending in a ra constitutional monarchy in Christendom. pid progression to evil. There is scarcely To resist earnestly and unweariedly any dangerously radical opinion, any spe- these destructive measures and princicious, delusive theory, on social, political, ples, and, in so doing, to support freely or moral points, which does not, in some and openly the principles and measures part of the country, find its peculiar ali- of the Whig party, is one great object ment and growth among the elements of of this Review. Yet in this we claim that party. They are not content with that degree of independence which every sober improvement; they desire a free- right-minded man in the Republic should dom larger than the Constitution. They vindicate-liberty to judge for ourselves have a feeling, that the very fact that an as great interests change and new events institution has long existed, makes it in- arise. sufficient for the growth of the age-for The need of such a journal has long the wonderful demands of the latter-day been deeply and widely felt. The Whig developments. In a word, change with newspaper press is conducted with a dethem is progress; and whenever the gree of ability and address never perhaps maddened voice of faction, or the mer- excelled in any country ; but its expocenary designs of party leaders demand sitions and appeals are necessarily brief, a triumph over established institutions and but by few either remembered or and rightful authority, they rush blindly preserved beyond_the_occasion which but exultingly forward, and call it "ré- calls them forth. The Review will be a form." It is thus, that in some sections means of presenting more grave and of the Union they have sought to make extended discussions of measures and the judiciary, which of all elements in a events, and of better preserving them to government should be left free from ex- after times. But aside from the importernal influences, subject to periodical tant field of national politics, there is yet revolution by the people, and have shown another, vaster and more varied, demandthemselves ready to set aside the most ing as constant and stern a conflict for solemn state covenants on a bare change the truth and the right, and making far of majorities. It is thus, that in other larger requisitions on the intellect and sections they have exhibited a marked attainments of whoever would earnestly hostility to useful corporations, even to work for the well-being of his country. the crying down of institutions of learn- We speak of the great field of literature, ing as aristocratic monopolies. It is thus philosophy, and morals. It is not to be that everywhere, and at all times, they doubted, indeed, that these, from the nahave been disposed to make the stability ture of things, are so closely blended of legislation dependent on the dominan- with all other elements that go to comcy of a party, and to consider the idea pose a state, as to make whatever influof law as having no majesty, no author. ences affect these vitally, affect also, for ity, no divine force inherent in itself— evil or for good, the entire political as not a great Idea enthroned among fabric. We have the voice of history
to this conclusion, since great govern- partial foundation—the growth of our naments have never fallen but by being first tional literature. For if tastes may change corrupted and undermined by the specu- and customs be laid aside with the hour, lations of ignorant, or fancy-ridden, or and opinions be held no longer than they designing men. But in relations of their are able to excite, and faith be considown-above the form politic-as affecting ered a matter of choice, it is obvious that those higher destinies of men, their so our literature must be forever unsubstancial, intellectual, spiritual existence, they tial and fugitive. It can have no digniare of importance never to be estimated. ty, because no consistency-little beauty And the aspect of the times reflects on as a whole, because little harmony of the them a yet more grave and serious im- parts-no great body of impression, from port. There has been no age of the the want of uniformity among its effective world in which the physical energies of elements. men have effected so rapid and wonder Our literature has never been suffiful achievements-no age in which their ciently earnest. It has been too much intellects have been sharpened to greater the product of light moments, of imacuteness and no age rifer with all pulsive efforts, of vacation from other and speculative errors, with the falsest prin- engrossing employments. There have ciples of taste in art and literature, with been many graceful and pleasing producsubtle delusions affecting the whole foun- tions, and some exhibiting a degree of dations of the social system. It becomes power that justifies the highest hopes of thus an age bearing in its bosom mighty what might be; but few great designs, and doubtful issues for the future. And long considered and carefully planned this, whether we look to the eastern or the out, have been entered upon with that se. western hemisphere. The institutions rious and stern determination with which of Europe seem rapidly verging to disso- Milton commenced a work "which poslution. "Old forins have passed away- terity should not willingly let die.” But old foundations have been broken up. surely, if literature has, what we know it Though the convulsions of a former age, has ever had, a forming influence on the which threw down many dynasties, and minds of those who form and rule the thrones, and ancient usages, appear now
minds of the multitude, it is not a light fully subsided, it is but a deceitful calm. thing, a thing to be played with at lanThere is yet a power abroad on the sur- guid intervals as one of life's ornaments, face of society, and a commotion in its but a matter to be borne in hand with lowest depths, fearfully ominous of some earnest and fixed resolves.
We are of those great events which change the speaking here of original works among face of the moral world, and shake it to its us; but what shall we say of the criticism centre.
of the times? We confess to an almost In our own country, likewise, the same total distrust of its judgments. Never restlessness is bearing vs hurriedly on- exhibiting great independence or powward, but we fear to worse ends. The er of discerning, it has grown of late nations of Europe are restless under the even more slavish, weak, and meaningburden of oppression; we are restless un- less. Foreign productions sent over, der the weight of mere duty and custom. ticketed and labelled, receive an imprim
We are a people eager for novelty ; we atur accordingly; the writings of our own .care more for the newness of a thing than countrymen, deserving of cordial and for its authority. This is a trait which, ready praise, must often wait for the dicwhile it opens the way to striking physi- ta of foreign judges; and a sea of trash cal improvement, has an unfavorable in- seems rapidly swallowing up the delicatë fluence upon us in many respects. It af- perceptions, and calm thought, both of fects our morals, since morality can have critics and people. no sober growth but on a ground of sta For these reasons also, in addition to bility and recognised truth. It affects those of a political nature, has it been deall our philosophy and speculative belief, termined, “quod bonum, felix, faustumque since old opinions, however well consid- sit,” to establish a national Review. Addered and just, are readily abandoned for ing only, that all sectarian discussions new ones. It affects all regular forma- and all sectional controversies will be tion of national custom and character, avoided, so that the work may be of equal because we suffer our tastes and habits acceptability in every part of the country, to be continually changing. It especially we ask for it a support according to the affects, what must have all these for a character it shall be found to bear.
THE POSITION OF PARTIES.
no new ones.
A STRANGER in the country, having lit- is peculiarly democratic in its nature; tle knowledge of our political divisions, what great doctrine he believes in ;would be greatly confused in his attempts briefly, what he is for.--Why, he is " for to ascertain the real meaning of the democracy!" He supports “ the rights terms “democracy” and “democratic." of the people !" He "believes in JetierHaving received from former free states son!” Sometimes the explanation would the impression that the word properly be varied to the negative form, by rerespects the power of the people, counting, which they are able to do more which it literally signifies, exercised by readily and at much greater length, what a majority of themselves for the people's they are against. The matter pressed good, he would naturally look around to still further, a labarynthine definition see if the modern multitude who employ would be the issue, garnished with such that ancient appellation are a sufficient a variety of prefixes, according to the part of the community for such a posses- locality of the speaker, as to render a sion, to what large measures of public consecutive series of ideas out of the policy they have given rise, and with question. Our friend, the stranger, what line of conduct they or their lead grows disturbed in mind. He has lost ers have, in general, pursued the inte his old ideas of the word, and gained rests of the commonwealth. To his sur
It has become to him a prise, unless he had made of dema- cabalistic phrase, equivalent to the term gogues and their arts a philosophic stu great medicine” among the Chippewas dy, he would find the term, in its better or Pottawatamies. But what is this to sense, peculiarly misapplied. He would the public ? The cloak is of use to the remark, on the one hand, that by far the party that wear it. They have given to greater and more intelligent portion of it a most ample latitude of comprehenthe people, and the portion from which sion, and have compelled it to cover, like nearly every measure which has in any charity, a multitude of sins. degree tended to the common benefit, We shall not quarrel with them, howtogether with each and all of those broad ever, for possession of the name. Durprinciples that can lead the nation stead- ing the few unfortunate years in which ily on to prosperity and true greatness, they have held the false tenure, they long since originated, make no use of have so encumbered the domain with that attractive title, but are content to useless and dangerous structures, so imconsider themselves abiders by the Con- bued it with unnatural, unconstitutional stitution, consistent supporters of the and destructive elements, so divided and Federal Republic.
undermined it with radical tendencies By an opposing minority on the other leading swiftly downwards to ruin, that side, he would hear the term vociferated we hardly know if any period of rightful with great zeal at all meetings in streets usage by the worth and patriotism of the and club-rooms, whatever might be the nation could restore it to a just and honoccasion of their assembling, and in orable significance. Nor is it, in truth, of whatever part of the Union he might much consequence. Names in themselves chance to be. Anxious to know, as hav- are nothing, principles and conduct everying the finest opportunity since the days thing ; and we are desirous rather, in of the Athenian democratie,' the exact this article, of setting before the public weight of the word, especially in their the two great antagonist parties in the own minds, and what amount of distilled country, as they actually stand. We think opinion has filtered down to them through this will be best effected by sketching, the ages intervening, the stranger re- briefly and clearly as may be, the former quests one of the more favorable speci- history up to this time-especially the mens to define his creed. He replies rise and progress, the early and the lat“I am a Democrat.” It is intimated to ter formation-of the Democratic party. him that principles and names are differ- Facts are substantial things : they cannot ent things, and he is pressed to state be lightly blown away by the breath that what particular measure he supports that utters the “euphonious name" so volubly.