« AnteriorContinuar »
however, we beg to remark, that in this, as in every part of the present review, we write from our own convictions alone, that we hold no communication with political leaders, and that we are far from being certain of the reception which our views will meet from our best friends. A purer party than that of the Federalists, we believe, never existed under any government. Like all other combinations it indeed contained weak and bad men. In its prosperity, it drew to itself seekers for office. Still when we consider that it enjoyed the confidence of Washington to his last hour; that its leaders were his chosen friends; that it supported and strengthened his whole administration; that it participated with him in the proclamation and system of neutrality, through which that great man served his country as effectually as during the revolutionary war; when we consider, that it contributed chiefly to the organization of the Federal Government in the civil, judicial, financial, military, and naval departments; that it carried the country safely and honourably through the most tempestuous days of the French Revolution ; that it withstood the frenzied tendencies of multitudes to alliance with that power, and that it averted war with Great Britain during a period, when such a war would have bowed us into ruinous subserviency to the despot of France; when we consider these things, we feel, that the debt of this country to the Federal party is never to be extinguished. Still we think that this party in some respects failed of its duty to the cause of the Union and of freedom. But it so failed, not through treachery; for truer spirits the world could not boast. It failed through despondence. Here was the rock on which Federalism split. Too many of its leading men wanted a just confidence in our free institutions and in the moral ability of the people to uphold them. Appalled by the excesses of the French Revolution, by the extinction of liberty in that republic, and by the fanaticism with which the cause of France was still espoused among ourselves, they began to despair of their own country. The sympathies of the majority of our people with the despotism of France, were indeed a fearful symptom. There seemed a fascination in that terrible power. An insane admiration for the sworn foe of freedom, joined with as deadly a hatred towards England, so far pervaded the country, that to the Federalists we seemed enlisted as a people on the side of despotism, and fated to sink under its yoke. That they had cause for fear, we think. That they were criminal in the despondence to which they yielded, we also believe. They forgot, that great perils call on us for renewed efforts, and for increased sacrifices in a good cause. That some of them considered the doom of the country as sealed, we have reason to believe. Some, disappointed and irritated, were accustomed to speak in bitter scorn of institutions, which, bearing the name of free, had proved unable to rescue us from base subserviency to an all-menacing despot. The Federalists as a body wanted a just confidence in our national institutions. They wanted that faith, which hopes against hope, and which freedom should inspire. Here was their sin, and it brought its benalty; for through this more than any cause, they were driven from power. By not confiding in the community, they lost its confidence. By the depressed tone with which they spoke of liberty, their attachment to it became suspected. The taint of anti-republican tendencies was fastened upon them by their opponents, and this reproach no party could survive. We know not in what manner we can better communicate our views of the Federal party, of its merits and defects, than by referring to that distinguished man, who was so long prominent in its ranks; we mean the late George Cabot. If any man in this region deserved to be called its leader, it was he, and a stronger proof of its political purity, cannot be imagined, than is found in the ascendency which this illustrious individual maintained over it. He was the last man to be charged with a criminal ambition. His mind rose far above office. The world had no station which would have tempted him from private life. But in private life, he exerted the sway which is the worthiest prize of a lofty ambition. He was consulted with something of the respect which was paid to an ancient oracle, and no mind among us contributed so much to the control of public affairs. It is interesting to inquire by what intellectual attributes he gained this influence ; and as his character now belongs to history, perhaps we may render no unacceptable service in delineating its leading features. We think, that he was distinguished by nothing so much as by the power of ascending to general principles, and by the reverence and constancy with which he adhered to them. The great truths of history and experience, the immutable laws of human nature, according to which all measures should be framed, shone on his intellectual eye with an unclouded brightness. No impatience of present evils, no eagerness for immediate good, ever tempted him to think, that these might be forsaken with impunity. To these he referred all questions on which he was called to judge, and accordingly his conversation had a character of comprehensive wisdom, which, joined with his urbanity, secured to him a singular sway over the minds of his hearers. With such a mind, he of course held in contempt the temporary expedients, and motley legislation of commonplace politicians. He looked with singular aversion on everything factitious, forced, and complicated in policy. We have understood, that by the native strength and sim: plicity of his mind, he anticipated the lights, which philosophy and experience have recently thrown on the importance of leaving enterprise, industry, and commerce free. He carried into politics the great axiom which the ancient sages carried into morals, “ Follow Nature.” In an age of reading, he leaned less than most men on books. A more independent mind our country perhaps has not produced. When we think of his whole character, when with the sagacity of his intellect we combine the integrity of his heart, the dignified grace of his manners, and the charm of his conversation, we hardly know the individual, with the exception of Washington, whom we should have offered more willingly to a foreigner as a specimen of the men whom America can produce. Still we think, that his fine qualities were shaded by what to us is a great defect, though to some it may appear aproof of his wisdom. He wanted a just faith in man's capacity of freedom, at least in that degree of it which our institutions suppose. He inclined to dark views of the condition and prospects of his country. He had too much the wisdom of experience. He wanted what may be called the wisdom of hope. In man's past history he read too much what is to come, and measured our present capacity of political good too much by the unsuccessful experiments of former times. We apprehend, that it is possible to make experience too much our guide; and such was the fault of this distinguished man. There are seasons, in human affairs, of inward and outward revolution, when new depths seem to be broken up in the soul, when new wants are unfolded in multitudes, and a new and undefined good is thirst for. These are periods, when the principles of experience need to be modified, when hope and trust and instinct claim a share with prudence in the guidance of affairs, when in truth to dare is the highest wisdom. Now, in the distinguished man of whom we speak, there was little or nothing of that enthusiasm. which, we confess, seems to us sometimes the surest light. Ho lived in the past, when the impulse of the age was towards the future. He was slow to promise himself any great melioration of human affairs; and whilst singularly successful in discerning the actual good, which results from the great laws of nature and Providence, he gave little hope that this good was to be essentially enlarged. To such a man, the issue of the French Revolution was a confirmation of the saddest lessons of history, and these lessons he applied too faithfully to his own country. His influence in communicating sceptical, disheartening views of human affairs, seems to us to have been so important as to form a part of our history, and it throws much light on what we deem the great political error of the Federalists. That the Federalists did at one period look with an unworthy despondence on our institutions, is true. Especially when they saw the country, by a declaration of war against England, virtually link itself with that despotism which menaced the whole civilised world, their hearts sunk within them, and we doubt not that in some cases, their mixed anger and gloom broke forth in reckless speeches, which, to those who are ignorant of the workings of the passions, might seem to argue a scorn for the confederation and for all its blessings. So far they failed of their duty, for a good citizen is never to despair of the republic, never to think freedom a lost cause. The political sin of the Federal party we have stated plainly. In the other great party, examples of unfaithfulness to the Union might also be produced. Whoever reverts to the language of Virginia on the subject of the alien and sedition laws, or to the more recent proceedings and declarations of Georgia in respect to the Indian territories within her jurisdiction, or to the debates and resolutions of the legislature of South Carolina at its last session, will learn, that a sense of the sacredness of the Union and of the greatness of its blessings, is but faintly apprehended, even by that party which boasts of unfaltering adherence to it. In closing this article, we are aware that we have said much, in which many of our fellow-citizens will not concur. Men of all parties will probably dissent from some of our positions. But has not the time come, when the vassalage of party may be thrown off? when we may speak of the past and present, without asking whether our opinion will be echoed by this or that class of politicians? when we may cease to condemn and justify in the mass? when a more liberal and elevated style of discussion may be introduced ? when we may open our eyes on the faults of our friends, and may look at subjects which involve our country's welfare, in the broad clear light of day ? This style of discussion, we are anxious to promote ; and we feel, that whoever may
REMARKS ON EDUCATION.
AMe Rican ANNALs of EDucation and InstaugTion. Edited by William C. Woodbridge. Boston. 8vo.
The work, of which we have placed the title at the head of this artilcle, is devoted to what is generally acknowledged to be the most important interest of families and of the State. It has, therefore, no ordinary claims to patronage, especially as it is the only work of the kind published in the country. We learn, however, that the support now given it, not only falls short of its just claims, but is so insufficient, that, unless its circulation can be extended, it must be abandoned. We are not only grieved at this, but somewhat disappointed ; for, although we know the ruling passion in the community for light and amusing reading, we did hope, that the acknowledged importance of education, and the necessity laid on every parent to watch over and guide the young, would overcome the repugnance to mental labour, and would communicate an interest to details, which, separate from their end, would be dry and repulsive. It seems, however, that the community are more disposed to talk of education in general than to enter patiently and minutely into its principles and methods, more disposed to laud it than to labour for it; and on this account we feel ourselves bound to say something, however briefly and rapidly, of the obligation of regarding it as the paramount object of society, and of giving encouragement to those, who make it their task or who devote themselves to its promotion. We know that we are repeating a thricetold tale, are inviting attention to principles which the multitude most courteously acknowledge, and as readily forget. But all great truths are apt to grow trite; and if the moral teacher should fail to enforce them, because they are worn by repetition, religious and moral teaching would well nigh cease.
One excellence of the periodical work before us is, that it is pledged to no particular system of education, but starts with the acknowledgment of the great defects of all systems, and with the disposition to receive new lights, come from what quarter they may. It is no partisan. It is the instrument of no sect. It is designed to improve our modes of training the young; to give more generous views of the objects of education and of the discipline by which they may be attained; to increase the efficiency of existing institutions, and to aid in forming new ones more suited to our age and country; to unfold and diffuse those great, universal principles in which men of all parties may be expected