Imágenes de páginas

start from its chamber at every noise, but waits till its presence is desired-cannot, indeed, garnish the house, but can sweep it clean. Were there enough of such wise criticism, there would be ten times the study of the best writers of the past, and perhaps one-tenth of the admiration for the ephemeral productions of the day. A gathered mountain of misplaced worships would be swept into the sea by the study of one good book; and while what was good in an inferior book would still be admired, the relative position of the book would be altered and its influence lessened.

Speaking of true learning, Lord Bacon says: “It taketh away vain admiration of anything, which is the root of all weakness.

The right teacher would have his pupil easy to please, but ill to satisfy ; ready to enjoy, unready to embrace; keen to discover beauty, slow to say, "Here I will dwell.”

, “ But he will not confine his instructions to the region of art. He will encourage him to read history with an eye eager for the dawning figure of the past. He will especially show him that a great part of the Bible is only thus to be understood; and that the constant and consistent way of God, to be discovered in it, is in fact the key to all history.

In the history of individuals, as well, he will try to show him how to put sign and token together, constructing, not indeed a whole, but a probable suggestion of the whole.

And, again, while showing him the reflex of nature in the poets, he will not be satisfied without sending him to Nature herself; urging him in country rambles to keep open eyes for the sweet fashionings and blendings of her operation around him ; and in city walks to watch the “human face divine.”

Once more: he will point out to him the essential difference between reverie and thought; between dreaming and imagining. He will teach him not to mistake fancy, either in himself or in others, for imagination, and to beware of hunting after resemblances that carry with them no interpretation.

Such training is not solely fitted for the possible development of artistic faculty. Few, in this world, will ever be able to utter what they feel. Fewer still will be able to utter it in forms of their own.

Nor is it necessary that there should be many such. But it is necessary that all should feel. It is necessary that all should understand and imagine the good; that all should begin, at least, to follow and find out God.

“ The glory of God is to conceal a thing, but the glory of the king is to find it out,” says Solomon. “As if,” remarks Bacon on the passage, “ according to the innocent play of children, the Divine Majesty took delight to hide his works, to the end to have them found out; and as if kings could not obtain a greater honour than to be God's playfellows in that game.”

[ocr errors]

One more quotation from the book of Ecclesiastes, setting forth both the necessity we are under to imagine, and the comfort that our imagining cannot outstrip God's making.

“ I have seen the travail which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it. He hath made everything beautiful in his time ; also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end."

Thus to be playfellows with God in this game, the little ones may gather their daisies and follow their painted moths; the child of the kingdom may pore upon the lilies of the field, and gather faith as the birds of the air their food from the leafless hawthorn, ruddy with the stores God has laid up for them; and the man of science

may sit and rightly spell
Of every star that heaven doth shew,
And every herb that sips the dew;
Till old experience do attain
To something like prophetic strain.”

British Quarterly Review.

[ocr errors]


the IN year 1790 Washington, the first President of the United

States, had just been unanimously elected to guide and work the new federal constitution. That constitution had been carefully framed by a convention comprising all the wisest and purest patriots of the country, and had, in the judgment of every one, been rendered pecessary by the confusion and almost anarchy into which the liberated provinces had fallen for the want of some strong government and some adequate bond of union, very shortly after the acknowledgment of their independence in 1783. At this period the Confederate States were thirteen in number; their aggregate populetion was as nearly as possible four, millions; and of this amount 700,000 were African slaves. All the states held slaves, with the single exception of Massachusetts; but all regarded slavery as an institution full of danger and discredit, sincerely to be deprecated and quietly to be got rid of, as soon as circumstances should permit. The

constitution was, to all appearance, as sagacious a one as could have been devised. Its framers foresaw most of the political dangers to which the State would be exposed, and guarded against them with great anxiety, and apparently with great skill. They endeavoured

to secure the supremacy of law and purity in the administration of justice by the extraordinary and paramount powers conferred on the Supreme Court, and by ordaining the irremovability of the judges both in that and in all inferior tribunals. They hoped to provide against the consequence of too sudden and simultaneous a change in the governing body, by appointing the election of the chief of the executive and the members of the legislative assemblies for different terms and at different epochs. They provided a legitimate time and means for the introduction of such changes as experience might show to be desirable in the constitution, or as altered circumstances might necessitate, by enacting the assembling of a Convention for the purpose of revision, at certain distant intervals and under certain specified formalities. They fancied they had secured the choice of the President by the wisest heads of the nation and in the most dispassionate manner, by arranging a system of double election, in virtue of which the nation's decision as to its ruling head was vested in a small body of men chosen ad hoc by the whole mass of the enfranchised people. They endeavoured to give as much strength to the federal executive as the jealous susceptibilities of democratic temper in the several states would permit,--well aware that herein lay the real weakness and the chief danger of the new organization, -by making the President supreme over all appointments, and able to select and to retain his ministers in defiance of hostile majorities in Congress. Finally, they attempted to supply such barriers as seemed feasible under republican institutions against the excessive preponderance of the democratic element, by the adoption of those electoral qualifications which existed at the time in the several states, which in some of them were stringent enough, and in all were a very decided and effectual negation of universal suffrage. A property qualification, or the payment of direct taxes, and usually a certain length of residence, were necessary to constitute a man an elector either for the Presidential Colleges, or for the Congress, or for the State Legislature. In every state, with three exceptions, these sagacious provisions and securities have been swept away, so that of the constitution framed by Washington, Franklin, Adams, Jefferson, Hamilton, and Randolph, little remains except the shell,

In Washington's hands the new political organisation worked well, and the executive seemed almost strong enough. Such difficulties as arose even at that early stage of the experiment were easily surmounted by his promptitude, resolution, and prestige. But Washington was a man in a million. He achieved success in the two most arduous enterprises which can try the faculties of statesmen : he conducted a revolutionary war to a triumphant issue, with the smallest conceivable means and against the most powerful nation in the world; and he inaugurated and administered for eight years a constitution peculiar, unprecedented, and in some points unavoidably and incurably defective from its origin. His embarrassments, and the scantiness of his resources as a revolutionary chief, have seldom been done justice to. Wellington's difficulties in the early days of his Peninsular campaigns, though analagous in some respects and formidable enough, were trivial in comparison. The American Revolution presented many features which distinguished it from most other movements of a similar nature, and added enormously to the obstacles and complications with which its leaders had to contend. In the first place, during all its earlier stages, it was not a revolution at all, or even a rebellion. It was merely a resistance in the name of law and constitutional right to an illegal exercise of power. For many years the colonists had no idea of assailing, much less of overthrowing, the king's authority: they merely aimed at confining it within legitimate bounds. There was, in consequence, every degree of difference of opinion as to the extent to which resistance should be pushed, and the means by which it was to be carried on. The great majority of the colonists were sincerely attached to the mother country, were even ardent in their loyalty, and were shocked at the bare notion of rebellion or separation ; and these sentiments continued to animate them up to a very late period of the contest. Thus the chiefs of the movement had to guide and to act for a people who were anything but united in their sentiments and purposes, and whose views, moreover, were in a constant state of fluctuation and of progressive development.

Then, again, when resistance had become general and resolute, when all word of compromise or submission was over, and when ulterior plans and hopes began to present themselves to a few of the more advanced and excited spirits, the very simplicity and purity of the motives which led to the rebellion placed serious barriers in the way of its success. It was resistance in the name of a sacred principle, not revolt against cruel and unendurable oppression. It was carried on to assert a constitutional right, not to escape

from or resent a hideous wrong. The tax to which the colonists refused to submit was a mere trifle: no one would have felt its pressure ; no one would have refused or grudged its payment had it but been legitimately levied. The colonists had no atrocious tyranny to escape from ; justice was purely administered; their property was secure; their personal liberty was never menaced; their religion and their claims of conscience never came in question. They had



everything they could wish for, as far as practical freedom and the daily enjoyments of life were concerned; but they would not be taxed without their own consent, even to the extent of a few shillings per head; and for this they went to war. Now it is evident that a motive of this sort, honourable and defensive as it may be, is very inferior in stimulating and sustaining power to those barbarous and unjust tyrannies, and that burning passion for emancipation and revenge, which have usually caused nations to rise in armed rebellion against their rulers. It may suffice to make men vote, harangue, combine, go to prison for a while, perhaps seldom to make them, seldomer still to make them cheerfullyendure severe privations, or encounter with unflinching spirit the sacrifices and hardships inseparable from a prolonged and dubious strife. The origin of the rebellion thus goes far to explain the general backwardness and lukewarmness of which Washington bad so frequently occasion to complain. Had the colonists suffered more, and had more reason for resistance, their emancipation would have been incomparably easier.

But, besides all this, Washington, properly speaking, had no army, no authority, no means, no government. He had literally to make bricks without straw. The colonies hitherto had been entirely distinct and unconnected with each other; they were unaccustomed to combined action; and the assembly of delegates improvised for the occasion was without constituted authority, and therefore without power. They could appoint Washington their commander-in-chief, but that was about all. They could not

, compel his officers to obey him; they could not compel soldiers to flock to his standard ; they could not compel citizens to administer to the necessities of his army. They could authorise him to make requisitions, but they could not empower bim to enforce them, nor oblige the several states to recognise them. They could not legally contract loans nor levy taxes. They could only decide what contributions should be called for, and recommend and urge the people of each state to give their quota cheerfully. Persuasion, both at

, the seat of government and at the head-quarters of the army, had to do thework of authority. Washington himself, as well as the civil leaders, had to raise the sinews of war by argument, by entreaty, by remonstrance, by personal influence, in short. Merchants, planters, magistrates, officers, sent in loans and contributions as they could or as they felt moved to do. The contest was, in fact, very much carried on by subscription; and this had to be done for years. In the army itself nearly the same state of affairs prevailed. The soldiers were in a manner volunteers. They enlisted only for a time; desertion seemed almost legal, since it was only desertion from a rebel force; they felt themselves in a manner at liberty to disband when they were weary, or had fought through


« AnteriorContinuar »