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ticisms of Smith up to the Christian theism of Channing, for whom even the Roman Catholic chapels tolled their bells as his coffin passed to the grave.
In the Union, besides freedom and slavery, we have all stages and varieties of the social condition — the town life of Boston, the town life of New York and of New Orleans, and the town life of San Francisco,-rural life in the valley of the Connecticut, rural life in the valley of the Ohio, and rural life in the valley of the Sacramento, -and all in both kinds that lie between those extreme and intermediate points. We own that when we reflect upon such diversities of civilisation, all under high-pressure democracy, our admiration is great at the births of time which some seventy years have seen in the western continent, and our hopes no less of what the coming centuries will bring forth. There is a corresponding strength in the vices and virtues of freedom. No European moralist could inveigh with more severity against the corruption of opinion and practice in the United States than Dr. Channing in writing upon Texas and slavery. And touching the press, which indicates as accurately as anything the spirit of a reading democracy, hear Webster in the speech before referred to.
Again, sir, the violence of the press is complained of. The press violent! Why, sir, the press is violent everywhere. There are outrageous reproaches in the North against the South, and there are reproaches no better in the South against the North. The extremists in both parts of this country are violent; they mistake loud and violent talk for eloquence and for reason. They think that he who talks loudest reasons best. And this we must expect, when the press is free, as it is here, and I trust always will be; for, with all its licentiousness, and all its evil, the entire and absolute freedom of the press is essential to the preservation of government on the basis of a free constitution. Wherever it exists there will be foolish paragraphs and violent paragraphs in the press, as there are, I am sorry to say, foolish speeches and violent speeches in both Houses of Congress. In truth, I must say, that in my opinion, the vernacular tongue of the country has become greatly vitiated, depraved, and corrupted by the style of our congressional debates. And if it were possible for those debates to vitiate the principles of the people, as much as they have depraved their taste, I should cry out “ God save “the Republic."
This, from the mouth of the first orator of the Union, we take to be a wise and discriminating view of democracy, as it proclaims and asserts itself in speech: and applicable to many other of its phenomena, if not to the whole thing. Democracy is vehement, turbulent, overbearing, and often overreaches itself. It is, however, the toil and struggle of men engaged, with
Webster on the Duty of a Representative.
various fortune, in the battle of life; for the world is a warfare throughout, and the Church herself militant on earth.
Mr. Webster being now again in office, his sentiments have increased interest and significance ; and we think the following passage contains a most just estimate of the twofold duty of a representative in the united legislature of a federal government, and preserves the true balance between the independence of the component parts and the common rights of the whole:
• Complaint has been made against certain resolutions that emanate from legislatures at the North, and are sent here to us, not only on the subject of slavery in this district, but sometimes recommending Congress to consider the means of abolishing slavery in the States. I should be sorry to be called upon to present any resolutions here which could not be referable to any committee or any power in Congress; and therefore I should be unwilling to receive from the Legislature of Massachusetts any instructions to present resolutions expressive of any opinion whatever on the subject of slavery, as it exists at the present moment in the States, for two reasons: because, first, I do not consider that the legislature of Massachusetts has any thing to do with it; and, next, I do not consider that I, as her representative here, have any thing to do with it. It has become, in my opinion, quite too common, and if the legislatures of the States do not like that opinion, they have a great deal more power to put it down than I have to uphold it; it has become, in my opinion, quite too common a practice for the State Legislatures to present resolutions here on all subjects, and to instruct us on all subjects. There is no public man that requires instruction more than I do, or who requires information more than I do, or desires it more heartily; but I do not like to have it come in too imperative a shape. I took notice, with pleasure, of some remarks upon this subject made the other day in the Senate of Massachusetts by a young man of talent and character of whom the best hopes may be entertained. I mean Mr. Hillard. He told the Senate of Massachusetts that he would vote for no instructions whatever to be forwarded to members of Congress, nor for any resolutions to be offered, expressive of the sense of Massachusetts, as to what her members of Congress ought to do. He said that he saw no propriety in one set of public servants giving instructions and reading lectures to another set of public servants. To their own master all of them must stand or fall, and that master is their constituents. I wish these sentiments could become more common, a great deal more common. I have never entered into the question, and never shall, about the binding force of instructions. I will, however, simply say this: if there be any matter pending in this body while I am a member of it, in which Massachusetts has an interest of her own not adverse to the general interest of the country, I shall pursue her instructions with gladness of heart, and with all the efficiency which I can bring to the occasion. But if the question be one which affects her interest, and at the same time equally affects the interests of all the other States, I shall no more regard her particular wishes or instructions than I should regard the wishes of a man who might appoint me an arbitrator or referee, to decide some question of important private right between him and his neighbour, and then instruct me to decide in his favour. If ever there was a government upon earth, it is this government, if ever there was a body upon earth, it is this body, which should consider itself as composed by agreement of all ; each member appointed by some, but organised by the general consent of all, sitting here under the solemn obligations of oath and conscience, to do that which they think to be best for the good of the whole.'
If the statesman who spoke thus, and the colleagues who support him, and whom the death of the late president has restored to power, can maintain their ground and their principles, we too cry, God save the Republic, in confidence rather than in fear; for upon those conditions we think the Union will not split upon the rock of slavery, and will not be run down by the democracy of the backwoods.
In the foregoing survey, we have endeavoured to follow the outlines of the subject rather than its subdivisions and details,because the difficulty of keeping such a field in sight betrays many judgments, otherwise fair and just, into narrow views and partial conclusions; and we believe these two books of Sir C. Lyell's and Mr. Mackay's to be the most comprehensive, as well as impartial, that have been published in England upon the United States. Sir C. Lyell is by nature and habit a searcher after truth,- and Mr. Mackay treats every subject in the spirit of a man intent upon conveying faithful and correct impressions to his readers. It is time,' he says, ' that caricature should
cease, and portraiture begin,' and we trust that future travellers will bear this rule in mind, and follow this good example.
There are many particular subjects of great interest connected with the internal polity of the United States into which we should be glad, if space permitted, to enter under the trusty guidance of our authors. In particular we are sorry not to follow Sir C. Lyell into the slave States of which he gives a more cheerful picture than we have been accustomed to, together with many proofs of the improveability of the negro race, and some physiological reasons for believing them capable, in successive generations, of unlimited development. Then there are Mr. Mackay’s statistics of agriculture, manufactures, and trade, —the increase and migrations of the people,—the foreign immigration, -- the chapter on California, and the international, commercial, and literary interests of the old and new world. It is altogether such a scene of political youth, strength, excite
British Museum Commission.
ment, inexperience, opportunity, enterprise, and hope, as the world presents nowhere else between the poles. To treat such a subject wisely is a task for the best faculties of the wisest men.
To treat it with supercilious dogmatism or with national ill feeling, must be discreditable to any writer of any country but most of all to any writer who speaks the English tongue.
Amid the difficulties which beset all governments, and the uncertainties that hang over the future of all nations, it would be rash and presumptuous to pronounce that the civilisation of America is doomed to no reverses, no revolutions or mediæval eclipses ; that democracy will commit no crimes or blunders entailing penalties upon unborn generations; that even under the best human guidance, the reclaiming of a moral, as well as material wilderness can be one march of victory and triumph. But this much we will venture to say, that, as the conditions of the problem manifest themselves at present, the United States have no greater lions in their path than the ignorance, misery, and depravity of the plebeian populations of Europe.
ART. III. – 1. Report from the Select Committee on Public
Libraries. July 23. 1849. 2. Report of the Commissioners appointed to inquire into the Con
stitution and Government of the British Museum. Presented to both Houses of Parliament by command of her Majesty.
April, 1850. With an Appendix. Our readers know Mr. Cooper's account of the bee-hunter,
who detects the hive by watching two insects on the wing and marking the place at which their tracks intersect. The two blue books above named have been used by us in a similar manner: but as we approached the hive, we heard a buzzing which apprised us that all was not peace; and we soon found that human bees were at war about the proper mode of storing the honey. The dispute upon the Catalogue of the British Museum Library has now reached a first stage of adjudication: and, while the parties who have encountered an adverse verdict are preparing for their appeal, there is a lull of which we may take advantage to present a few remarks upon the question.
We confine ourselves entirely to this matter of the Catalogue, because it occupies, as nearly as possible, the whole seat of war. As to other points, we content ourselves with echoing the opinion of the Commissioners and of the evidence, which awards to the trustees and to the officers employed by them, a large measure of public gratitude; and most particularly for the constant attention and courtesy with which the public are treated by them, as testified by the witnesses on every side of every controversy.
In 1819, the publication was completed of what is commonly known as the octavo catalogue (in eight volumes) of the printed books in the Museum. It is a catalogue of brief titles, prepared by Mr. (now Sir Henry) Ellis and Mr. Baber, without any assistance. The great absolute merit of this production appears in nothing so clearly as in the contest of evidence which has brought out its errors, its omissions, and its absurdities; but which at the same time has established the fact that a correct and consistent catalogue of a large library is a wonder which the world has not yet seen. This octavo catalogue, formed by two persons, beats many more elaborate performances. Even the grotesque blunder which will take a firm place in the history of bibliography, the entrance of Happy Struggle (Felix Ago) as an author instead of a subject, is matched, if not beaten, by what occurs in the deliberate publication of a time-honoured university. The above-mentioned catalogue, made folio by pasted margin, and interleaved for manuscript additions, is that which is in use at the Museum up to this day: and the evidence proves that, far as it is from perfection, there is nothing like it in any continental library for the free and sole use of the readers, who, indeed, but seldom have direct access to any catalogue at all. Its want of fulness, and consequent inaccuracy, were known and felt when a committee of the Commons inquired into the state of the Museum in 1835 and 1836: and the cry of the literary public, which determined the recommendation of that committee, was for full and accurate' catalogues in opposition to compen• dious' ones.
This cry is now reversed: that is to say, a majority (but by no means so large as asserted) of those who think themselves entitled to offer an opinion to the Commissioners demand short and rapidly constructed auction-lists, to give them their proper name. Within a period of twenty years, then, the majority have fronted two opposite ways, according to what they took for the emergency of the moment: under a compendious catalogue, they have raised their voices for the full and the accurate; under the delay which the full and the accurate require, they have clamoured for the compendious.
The trustees of the Museum, unfortunately, tried to reconcile incompatibilities. A certain D.D., a dry divine, found their requirements, he says, in an old manuscript, where indeed we have no doubt he did find every word of his list of the duties of a librarian, of which this is a part. Item, he shal make the - sayde kalendars and inventories with grete aduice, and moche