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like him, they could not see the hole in Syria, through which Deucalion's deluge retired into the earth, in all its original proportions. Their powers of vision were unlimited. But they were more prone to narrate than to enquire, and it is astonishing what an amount of very conscientious absurdity may in that manner be produced. The man who merely glances at the landscape as he skims over the roads or sails along the rivers of a country, ought to beware how he reasons about soil and productions. He would probably very much mislead a settler. Yet is this very traveller the most dogmatical and opinionated person in the universe. He trusts exactly those impressions which, in all the ordinary affairs of life, are scrutinised with jealousy, and seldom acted upon without revision, by men of shrewdness and experience. They form his premises-false in fact, or so imperfectly apprehended as scarcely to exhibit one quality of truth; his results must of course be essentially false in doctrine. If he ever distrusts himself he is soon over-convinced by his own vehemency of assertion, as great liars are, by dint of repetition, compurgators to their own consciences. Such men, fresh from London and De Lolme, study no strange constitutions. If the institutions of a foreign country diverge from those of their own, by so much they set them down inferior. They pull out their guage and mark the difference. They carry the statutory standard in their pocket, and, like the inspector of weights and measures, will not hear an argument upon its correctness. It has the Tower stamp upon it, and that is enough for them.
America has had her share, and more than her share, of such supercilious visitants. Simple and unsuspecting as youth always is, in nations as well as in individuals, somewhat elated too, perchance, and vain with her recent acquisitions of the emblems of empire, with all the virtues and many of the weaknesses of a young heir just come to his estate, she received and welcomed them with open-hearted confidence and affection. She looked not for a spy upon the sanctity of her householdgods in the stranger that sat within her gates. She scarce supposed that the hand of a clumsy servant, like the claws of the harpies, could utterly mar and defile the feast which honest hospitality had provided. She lacked, as she well knew, the diadem and the mitre, the sumptuousness of crown and crosier, and the dim aisle of the lofty cathedral. But she had patriotic hearts, (one above all whose very ashes are holy,)-a history which, though brief, was not altogether ignoble, since it comprised the annals of self-denying virtue and of that courage which knew how to vanquish the intensity of human passion by the loftiness of the human will. She boasted not of her faith, since her faith forbade it; but she sprang from the
· loins of pilgrims, whose graves are still green in the land, and
for whose memories she brings an annual tribute of thanksgiving. Contented with her homely institutions, she determined to preserve them, because they were the firstlings of her heart, and endeared to her by the recollection of anxiety and danger. She valued them, moreover, as much in the light of reason as from the instinct of affection. They were, in her eyes, indispensable for the preservation of those principles on whose truth she had gaged her all. They were the leaden casket which concealed her jewel,—the shrine which contained her god.
These were the peculiar possessions which a young nation had, and still has to offer to the consideration of a stranger, whose desire to study for himself the polity of a distànt country may lead him hither. In our own view, they offer something not altogether contemptible to a liberal and investigating spirit, coupled, though they may be, with little of the physical grandeur which feudality and superstition have borrowed from art to deck the bosom of Europe,---little of the circumstance which royalty loves to dispense, and which loyalty is prone and proud to boast of,-little of the grace and elegance which are the best offspring of privilege and wealth. With a confidence, sometimes, no doubt, almost arrogant, we overpraised (we could not over-value) our own institutions. We could not alogether appreciate our own defects. The tower which we aspired to build had its base on a site so lofty that its proportions were partially concealed, --its head was already among the clouds,-caput inter nubila condit. We had no eminence from which to overlook it. Yet might the grandeur of the design and the boldness of the execution have a little tempered the ridicule of critics whose taste had been formed on different models. They should not have forgotten that simplicity is the main element of beauty as well as of strength, and that the ornaments with which modern society is overlaid are not coeval with its structure, but superinduced as time or occasion produced or exhibited defects. When a nation is to be created and the fate of a long posterity to be settled, men breathe more freely after they have fixed its corner-stone upon some grand and comprehensive principle ;-—to do this is no child's play at card-houses, as some of us have seen, and our forefathers have told us,- it is the work of giants.
With us that principle was sought in the sovereignty of the people, as the source of power-in the empire of enlightened thought, expressed and recorded, as opposed to the fluctuating rule of force or prerogative, and in the dominion of laws emanating from the consent of the governed. Its enforcement and sanction are found in no romantic abstraction-neither in Plato, nor Harrington, nor Sidney-in no real example of
ancient or modern democracy (so miscalled); not in the volatile flexibility of Athens; nor in the political stoicism of Rome, great only in the poor security of human virtue ; nor in the stern rule of the laws of hate and fear and malignant jealousy which distinguished the Adriatic commonwealth, unnaturally strong in the still poorer security of human infirmity; nor yet in the turbulent liberty of the modern Free Towns--free only in their power to fight for the choice of a master, to part a livery, or espouse a faction, on scarcely more intelligible differences than the green or blue symbols of the champions and charioteers of the Byzantine circus; not in any nor in all these, nor in the polity of other cognate societies, but in the ethics of experience, and the lessons of history, which teach that to reconcile the interest and the duty of men, to make the passions subservient to the reason, to reduce the evil principle to a subordinate instead of an antagonist power to the goodco-working instead of counterworking-is to solve the great problem in the philosophy of politics, and to establish a rule of dominion whose duration can only cease with the structure of our humanity.
It was, after all, a great attempt, to which some deference and toleration were due—some research to learn its principles --some patience to await its progress. That petty wall over which Remus leaped in wanton insolence, grew in time to be a lofty rampart, under whose arches kings marched in sad procession. Had the gibe, however, passed unpunished, the very hands that helped to raise it might have leveled it in despair. This is the reason we defend our institutions. We will not have them depreciated in our own eyes. The sensitiveness at which Europeans affect to wonder, is not the result of their disdain, but of our own self-respect. When they record the homeliness of our manners, and ridicule our primitive and straitened homes—when, in a country just redeemed froin the wilderness, they are disgusted at our rude fare and sordid pursuits, affecting to find in the absence of old association a fruitful source of disorder and disloyalty ; and when, speaking in authoritative language, they promulgate, in our own tongue, disparaging sentiments concerning our intellectual and religious condition, want of sensibility would indicate a fatal distrust of ourselves and of the wisdom of our ancestors. If (as they would intimate), for the sake of political institutions, all the social virtues and enjoyments—all the flower and perfume of life--all the dignity and ornament of public function--are to be destroyed ; if to preserve the code of Lycurgus we must, like the Spartans, sup black broth, send our boys to the revels of our slaves, or expose our virgins in promiscuous dances, better give over self-government than to
buy it so dearly. We protest still, as in America we always have protested, against the conversion of circumstances into consequences--against metamorphosing the incidents of the social relation into the results of a political system. We insist that ignorance, however ingeniously it may “assume facts in order to have the pleasure of censuring faults," shall be brought to answer, and stand exposed in all the plenitude and magnitude of its misrepresentations--that disappointed avarice, though it may redeem its unthrift at our cost, shall not belie the wisdom and the honour which it cannot comprehend, without being brought out, shorn and bound, to pay the penalty ; and that the smooth and polished man of mark, who slides into our families to sell us to his bookseller, shall not be sheltered by a sneer, because forsooth" he did but jest--poison in jest." Sensitive we certainly are; the lion may be roused by a gadily or a gnat, whose torture, while it stings him into madness, detracts not from the nobleness of his nature, nor reduces him to a level with the insect that molests him. Heaven forbid that we should ever become so passively lethargic as not to be roused by a sense of violated confidence and unjust aspersion ! The judgment in that cause shall never go against us by default.
If we are not mistaken, however, the day for small tourists has gone by. Their topics were so limited, that repetition has made them nauseous. They afforded but a paltry variety of slander ; and of late they have been eked out by some political lucubrations so puerile and absurd, that the medicine cannot be swallowed even with the aid of the confection. There are many intelligent persons in Europe, whose tendency is to examine for themselves a little more deeply than a flippant satirist can enable them to do, the spring and principle of institutions under which numerous communities live in harmony and prosperity, self-governed and self-balanced, notwithstanding the existence of modes of thought and theories of association unknown to older states. The progress of enquiry has reached à point from which it cannot retrograde. The science of politics is no longer a monopoly. The divinity that “doth hedge a king” has forsaken his tripod. Ordinances have ceased to be oracles. The fundamental law that Louis XVIII gave, Louis Philippe has accepted. What was once begged is now claimed. Parchment and prescription are no longer broad enough to cover abuse and anomaly. The Cornish freeholder comes to the polls without a charter from “Richard king of the Rornans,” or his lord paramount. The source of his right is higher up than Norman, or Saxon, or Dane; he derives it from the first Briton who struck his plough into the soil. Intelligent minds are fully awake to the knowledge that the spirit of government is changing, and even where old forms are
retained, that much of its ancient character is passing away. They are accordingly marking out and measuring the base of the pyramid, heretofore hidden in the sands or encumbered with rubbish. They will no longer believe those careless or prejudiced travellers who would convince them that it is shapeless and monstrous, since they have seen some of its proportions for themselves. They want its length and breadth, its figure, its material, and its construction ; its relation to the superstructure, its capacity to withstand the convulsions of nature, the corrosion of time, and the efforts of an enemy.
We shall owe much to the day which witnesses the satisfactory solution of this problem, or a closer approximation to it. It will change the minority into a majority, and we shall get the benefit of a division in which the strong side votes with us. Its arrival may be deferred, but the light which it throws forward is already reaching us. Nay it has reached, in times long past, every great spirit whom the truth has made free, and who, in daring to assert the prerogative of human thought, has done his part in the enfranchisement of his species. Our own country is an incident in the history of improvement, the sequel of which, if unfortunate, may influence, but cannot finally obstruct, the progress of knowledge. The heretic (as he was called) who fled into the desert to escape the fagot of his orthodox brethren, in the early days of the church, had the same cause with the pilgrims whom the Stuarts drove across the Atlantic. The one left a name, the other founded an empire, consecrated to human rights. Name and empire may both perish, still thought will not be enslaved; the veteris vestigia flammæ, the traces of that ancient fire, cannot be obliterated. We will no more stake the hopes of liberty upon the fate of one republic, than we would have done those of conscience upon the life of Wickliffe, or the progress of science upon the freedom of Galileo. We see them rather in the history of mankind, and in the exertions which every age renews with redoubled energy and effect. We see them in the increased and manifold strength with which, like Antæus, man rises from his successive prostrations upon the earth, in the calmer and more confident bearing of her advocates, and in the buoyant and persevering spirit of her cause. It is we who are dependent upon freedom, not freedom upon us.
These remarks have been irresistibly forced upon us by the recollection of the past-We trust they are not wholly foreign to the subject we have in hand, and towards which it is time that we should hasten.
M. de Tocqueville, the author of “ Democracy in America," is an unobtrusive and enlightened person who visited the United States a few years since, in pursuance of an important VOL. XIX.-NO. 37.