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which they spring. It needs no great philosophy to know this, and still less, one would suppose, to perceive that you neither remove nor subdue the causes by employing them and providing for their universal activity.
Your modern reformers, socialists, communists, Red Republicans, and radical democrats, are a stupid race of mortals, and as blind as they are destructive. They all undertake to obtain from upmitigated selfishness the results, which, in the nalure of things, can be obtained only from the severest and most self-denying virtue. All their schemes are based on the principle, that selfishness is to be made to produce the results of the most perfect disinterestedness, or that pure selfishness, having a perfectly open field and fair play, is the equivalent of pure disinterested affection. What falsehood! What nonsense ! Yet these men call themselves philosophers, — the great lights of our age! Alas! “if the light that is in you be darkness, how great is that darkness ! ”
As long as ignorance and sin remain, as long as men retain their vicious propensities and passions, there will be evil in the world, and there is not a more consummate fool than he who looks for a perfect civil polity, or a perfect state of society. Something to mitigate, even to ameliorate, no doubt, may be done, but can be done in no merely outward way. Nothing can be done further than you can reach the individual mind and heart, and bring them into harmony with the will of God, as he has revealed it in his word, and proclaims it through the voice of his Church Men will never succeed in ameliorating their earthly condition till they learn to live for heaven alone, till they see all things in the light of God as their supreme good, and seek to modify them only at the bidding of divine charity.
You young men, even some of you who call yourselves Catholics, forget this. You have suffered yourselves to be seduced by the tempter.
Protestantism and infidelity have no power over you, when they attack directly your Church or her dogmas ; there you are on your guard and are firm ; but you have not been equally on your guard against their indirect attacks, their attacks through your social affections and sentiments, your love of political liberty, - intensified by long ages of Protestant misrule and oppression in the countries of your birth or descent, — and your desire of worldly prosperity and social position. Through these the tempter assails you ; through these he whispers to you honeyed words, makes you sweet promises, and excites brilliant hopes, only to undermine your faith, to entangle you in his snares, and to drag you down to hell, — to hell both here and hereafter. Here is your danger ; here is your weak side. You listen with the open hearts of generous youth, with the confidence of unsuspecting innocence, to the soft words of the betrayer, as to an angel of light. You are caught, you are led on from step to step, till you find yourselves far from the home of your fathers, far from the affectionate embrace of your mother, in arms against your Church, false to all your vows to God, false to yourselves, a grief to all good men and angels, and a joy only to the enemies of religion, who, while accepting the treason, despise the traitor. The very devils despise those they are able to seduce, and so do their children and servants, infidels, heretics, and schismatics.
Nay, my young friends, if you would be free and noble, and honored even, listen never to the siren voice of the charmer. The entrance of the career into which she would seduce you may be bright and flowery, but its progress grows darker and rougher at every step, till it finally ends abruptly in the blackness of eternal despair. I know that career which you tempted to believe opens into life. I entered it as innocent and as full of hope as yourselves, and, as I fondly trusted, with motives pure and holy. Alas ! how was I deceived ! I lost my innocence, my virtue, every thing that a man should hold dear and sacred, found myself the companion of scoffers and blasphemers, a chief among the revilers of God's truth and God's law, and have gained only a stock of bitter experience, source of continual regret.
Fear God, my young friends, and keep his commandments, for this is the whole of man. Be true to God, and he will never abandon you; serve him as he commands, with promptitude and fidelity, and fear nothing for your earthly prosperity, or for the spread and maintenance of liberty.
ART. V. - The Plan of the American Union, and the Struc
ture of its Government explained and defended. By James A. WILLIAMS. Baltimore : Sherwood & Co. 1848. 12mo. pp. 168.
[This article was originally prepared for the American Review, at the request of the talented and accomplished editor of that highly
respectable journal, and in great part appeared in its number for August last. But as the editor omitted certain portions, and as his printers greatly disfigured, by serious typographical errors, the portions accepted, the writer of the article wishes us to insert it as it was originally prepared; which we do without any hesitation, for its views are our own. - Ed. B. Q. Review.]
This work appears to have been written with an honest intention, and it bears evident marks of talent and serious study. It contains many just views on the Constitution of the United States, clearly, though not very vividly, expressed, but appears to us to err in its general theory of government, by overlooking the fact, that the necessity of government does not grow wholly out of the depravity of human nature, and that government itself is not restricted in its functions merely to the repression of violence, or the unjust encroachment of one man upon the rights of another. The maintenance
The maintenance of justice, or the repression and redress of injustice, is, no doubt, a chief function of government ; but government has beyond this a positive mission to perform, positive benefits to conser or secure, which in no sense grow out of the wickedness of man, and which would be the same whatever the intelligence and virtue of individuals. Man is by his essential nature a social being, and demands society; and society demands social as well as individual labors. These labors have for their end, not merely the negative, but the positive, benefit of the whole community, and cannot be performed without government, by which society is made a corporation, capable of acting as an individual person.
But our present purpose is not to criticize this little work itself; we have introduced it simply as an occasion for offering some remarks on the subject of the presidential or executive veto, - a subject which we should be happy to see discussed more generally than it has been, in a calm, philosophic spirit, from the point of view of the statesman, rather than from that of the demagogue or the partisan.
There is, and, as long as human nature remains as it is, will be, under popular governments, a strong tendency in the party that has succeeded to exaggerate the intrinsic importance of the constitutional provisions to which it owes its success, and also in the party frequently unsuccessful, to depreciate or unreasonably oppose those provisions, which, in their operations, have thwarted its wishes. We like that which aids us ; we are hostile to that which defeats us. The men who can look be
yond the passions of the moment, and judge of the merits of an institution by its average results, are, always and everywhere, comparatively few; the great majority look neither before nor after; they fix their eyes on the present ; what favors that is for them good, — good in all times and places, and under all circumstances ; what here and now impedes or thwarts them is bad, never be of service to them, must always work against them, and should nowhere, and under no circumstances, be tolerated for a moment. Constitutions are designed to maintain a fixed and permanent rule, and, if they answer their purpose, must not unfrequently control popular wishes and tendencies, and often restrain the majority, and prevent them, for a time at least, from adopting measures which they may be persuaded are for the interests of the country. Hence we must always expect under popular governments a party that will be dissatisfied with the constitution, now with this provision and now with that, and ready to agitate for its amendment, alteration, or total suppression.
It can bardly, as yet, have been forgotten, that, under the administration of General Jackson, the constitution of the Senate of the United States was the object of virulent attacks from the Democratic Party of the time. That party denounced the Senate, as the aristocratic branch of the government, as repugnant to the genius of free institutions, and demanded its essential modification, because, just then, it happened not to be in their favor. Yet that party to-day find the Senate a purely democratic institution, and their chief reliance to prevent the administration from adopting a policy to which they are opposed; for they happen to have just now a majority of Senators on their side. They no longer denounce it as aristocratic, and no longer demand that its constitution be modified. On the other hand, it is remembered, that, in consequence of the use or abuse of the executive veto by General Jackson and Mr. Tyler, to defeat important measures which had received the sanction of a majority of Congress, many in the Whig party who were strongly in favor of those measures, believing them really demanded by the industry and business of the country, took up the notion that the veto power is antirepublican, exceedingly liable to be abused, and in its abuse throwing such undue influence into the hands of the executive as to endanger our free institutions, and therefore a constitutional provision that should be either abolished or essentially modified. Yet who is prepared to say that the time may not even soon come when these same politicians will find the executive veto their best, perhaps their only, safeguard against measures which in their judgment would be ruinous to the country?
The tendency, when we are disappointed or defeated by some constitutional provision, to complain of the constitution itself, and to propose its amendment to suit our wishes for the moment, is strengthened and apparently justified by certain false notions as to the origin of constitutions and as to the rights of majorities, which have become, or are becoming, quite prevalent in our country, as well as in some others. It was pretended by some men in the last century, who then passed for philosophers, that to make a constitution is the easiest thing in the world ; that nothing is simpler or more feasible than for a people, without government, or irrespective of it, acting as if in a state of nature, to come together in person or by their delegates in convention, and give themselves any constitution they please, and provide for its wise and beneficent practical operation. They put forth the most extravagant follies on the excellence and perfectibility of human nature, and virtually deified the people. They disdained, indeed, to believe in God, blasphemously alleging that they “had never seen him at the end of their telescopes”; but they did not hesitate to transfer to the people all the essential attributes of the Deity, and to fall down and worship them as a divinity. The people could remedy all evils; the people could make no mistake; the people could do no wrong; and we had only to clear the way for the free, full, and immediate expression of the popular will, in order to have a perfect civil constitution, and a wise and just administration. Hence there need be no hesitancy to overthrow existing institutions, to break up established order, or to trust to the unchecked will of the people for a wise remodelling of the state, or the reconstruction of society. In consequence of the prevalence of such a pleasant theory, all fear of change was removed, all prudence in experimenting or in introducing innovations rendered superfluous, and all attachment to old institutions or to a long-existing established order foolish, if not wicked. Nothing in heaven or on earth was to be henceforth sacred or inviolable, but the will of the people, - that is, the will of the demagogues who could contrive to speak for the people, — and we were to surrender ourselves to that will with as much confidence, and with as little reserve, as the Saint surrenders himself to the will of God.
Into this silly and impious doctrine the fathers of our repub