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Yet the Church has its schisms and feuds when distraction vents itself in division; without superior authority to quell or regulate them, the church is as liable to commotions as the civil government. The most peculiar, if not the most peaceable of all governments, the Church is yet without any discipline beyond that of reason and of inward faith. Churches are every day in America raised and built by popular or polemical preachers. Eloquence is Capital as reliable as Orthodoxy. Not only clergymen, but many others of the devout of both sexes go, as it were, armed with controversial talent. Some sects, by printed homilies, war on others. Not one is passive, not one obedient to government. Many deem it a duty to denounce as sinful whatever political or social error they deem such. Thousands of popes excommunicate. The scaffold, stake, and incarceration are supplanted by anathemas which, with overwhelminginfluence, attack all backslidings doomed to reprobation. Freedom prevails in the Church, both as regards the press and speech ; and the results of the experiment are wonderfully working out.
This element of American political influence has been but little attended to. Politics, parties, government, society, manners, habits, education, feel the meddlesomeness of a voluntary Church, whose numberless creeds are propagated by innumerable enthusiasts, all in restless activity, at great expense and at every hazard.
The most frequent disparagement cast by Europeans on American republicanism, is its alleged tendency to degenerate; a downward tendency, which is to swallow up learning, wealth, liberty, and refinement, and establish a despotism of mere vulgarity; that public life is less sought by respectability than elsewhere, or formerly, and that talents avoid it. Whether this be so in America, is it more so than elsewhere? Great talents are the creations of great conjunctures ; and the tranquillity of the United States has been almost uniform under the present forms of government. In such circumstances, commercial, professional, and other lucrative pursuits are more attractive than politics ; and with the growth of luxury, which has been prodigious since the intro
duction of paper money, there will always be a large class preferring fashionable idleness to political notoriety. Mdme. de Staël says, in her considerations on the French Revolution, that many of the old nobility of Europe despised the Emperor Alexander as an upstart, not to be received into good society. Social and ancestral distinction, a strong desire, more prevalent in Europe, is not without acknowledgement in America. Descendants of celebrated Americans are often chosen into political life for that reason. Congress and the state legislatures abound with members boasting some family merit, such as kindred with soldiers of the Revolution, and it is common to meet with Americans who preserve their ancestors' certificates of service in the Revolutionary army, as if they were patents of nobility. Besides the merits of personal pedigree, Burke eloquently vindicates those of honourable national lineage. Yet the country attorneys, village lawyers, notaries, brokers, traders, and clowns whom he enumerates as the majority of the third estate of the French National Assembly, inferior, in his judgment, to the noblemen and gentry he extols
as hereditary legislators, enacted laws which reformed the crumbling basis of society, and reconstructed France so as to render that declining kingdom not only freer, but incomparably happier, richer, and greater than it was before the days of what Burke calls its downfall. If De Tocqueville's idea be true, that American democracy is irresistibly swallowing up everything else American, and such be the decline which Europe imputes to this country; at all events, Great Britain, France, and all the freer kingdoms of Europe, are passing down the same declivity with more violence and precipitation than this country, one of whose consolations is Jefferson's maxim, that government, at best, is but relative good, and that, with all the faults of which it is accused, democracy is at least a less injurious and more durable state than royalty, since one of the unquestionable consequences of the American Revolution is,—that revolutionary movements, with equality and liberty, have begun throughout the Old World.
MAJOR GENERAL EDMUND GAINES,
COMMANDER OF THE EASTERN DIVISION OF THE AMERICAN ARMY.
At New Orleans I became acquainted with General Gaines, who was then one of the notabilités of the celebrated St. Charles Hotel. Since I left the United States (in the ill fated Great Britain, on the 1st of August,) the General's name has frequently appeared in the public prints, in consequence of his being summoned to take his trial before a Court Martial, for raising Volunteers to serve in the Mexican War on his own responsibility. The veteran General received a slight reprimand, intended rather to act as a check on the impetuosity and unconstitutional assumption of military authority on the part of others, than as a serious reproof to one who had given nearly three parts of a century to the service of the Republic, and whose residue of life would cheerfully be yielded for her safety