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of the poet.
otherwise, it must be either from a sense of duty, or from the hope of gaining public applause or support. In the first case, the example, in times like ours, of a president of the United States hazarding his popularity, staking his reputation, at the demand of honest conviction, or a conscientious regard to his oath of office, would, of itself, be a moral benefit to the country equal to any injury that could result from the temporary loss of the most important public measure he is likely to negative. Indeed, a few examples of the sort are much needed, to keep alive among us the memory of public virtue, and convince us that it is not entirely the dream of the romancer, or the fiction
If we suppose the executive by his veto seeks popularity, we must suppose there is a strong probability, at least, that his act will be sustained by the country, and therefore that there is not a clear, decided, and reliable majority in the country in favor of the measures negatived. If such be the fact, the measures, if of any great importance, ought not to pass; if of no great importance, it is of no great importance that they are defeated, and the matter is not worth quarrelling about. Measures of great importance, such as relate to finance, trade, and industry, and seriously affect the whole business and industrial interests of the country, in order to be beneficial must be permanent, and should never be adopted in the face of a minority which may be the majority to-morrow and repeal them. They should never be pressed, unless there is a reasonable prospect that they will so far meet the approbation of the couniry, ihat no party, on coming into power, will think of disturbing them). All measures of this sort produce an evil on their first adoption of no small magnitude ; for they affect the standard of value, the relation of debtor and creditor, and operate, in some measure, as agrarian laws, though indirectly, and without its being perceived by every one. The oftener they are changed, the more insecure do they render property, and the more frequently do they take money from one man's pocket and put it into another's. We boast of the security of property in this country, and it is secure so far as direct attacks on it are concerned ; but the fluctuations in the policy of the government for the last twenty years have really made it more insecure here than in any other civilized country, as we may see in the immense number of fortunes made, and a nearly equal number lost. The policy of the government will continue to be thus Auctuating as long as there is an attempt to fasten upon the country any policy which has the support of only an accidental or temporary majority, a policy in which, when once adopted, all parties will not generally acquiesce. A measure, the repeal of which the opposition shall attempt as soon as passed, should never pass at all ; because it can never work well, and will tend only to exasperate party spirit, to convulse the country, to corrupt the purity of elections, and by heated and violent contests destroy public virtue, and consolidate the despotism of party, as our experience too conclusively proves. To what else is due the party discipline and machinery now so ruinous ? We say, then, if the executive is right in supposing the country will sustain him, and that the application of his negative will be popular, the application of it is not an evil ; for it is better for the country that, under such circumstances, the measure, though good in itself, should be defeated, than that it should be suffered to pass. If the executive is wrong in his supposition, if the country does really demand the measure, or is prepared to sustain it, all the harm done is a little delay. Things are made no worse than they were before, and all that can be said is, that a good hoped to be realized is put off for a short period. This delay will, after all, be rather a benefit, for it will give time to consolidate public opinion, and to secure for the measure a greater likelihood of being permanent, when the new elections shall have prepared the way for its adoption. Taking this view of the question, and checking that impatience of our country which needs some checking in regard to legislation, as well as to other matters, we confess that we can see no serious evil that can result from the employment of the executive veto against even such measures of public policy as, if they could be adopted with the general approbation of the country, and with a reasonable prospect of being permanent, would be of great public utility, – the only case in which it can ever be pretended that the exercise of the veto power can do harm.
It should be borne in mind, that the veto power is purely negative. It gives to the executive no positive power of legislation, enables him to fasten no objectionable policy on the country, but merely gives him a conservative power, - a power to preserve to some extent laws already in force, and to prevent or delay the adoption of new measures and a new line of policy. It is a power perfectly in accordance with conservative principles of government, and is repugnant to Democratic, but not to Whig doctrines. Opposition to it could come consistently enough from the Democratic party; from the Whig party, it strikes us, not without some inconsistency. True, it has been used to defeat favorite measures of the Wbig party ; but it is no Whig doctrine to seek to carry measures in spite of the Constitution, or to attack the Constitution when it operates against us. We are sworn to the Constitution " for better or for worse," and we trust we are prepared to forego every public good not to be attained under it, and in accordance with its provisions.
It is said by some, that the executive veto cannot be legitimately employed except on the ground of the unconstitutionality of the measure negatived. This, we apprehend, is a mistake. No restriction of this sort, or of any sort, is to be found in the Constitution itself. The power to negative extends to all acts of Congress, and nothing is said as to the grounds on which it is to be applied. The executive is left sole arbiter of his reasons for applying his negative, save that he is to communicate them to Congress. Congress may judge of their sufficiency; and if by a majority of two thirds they judge them insufficient, they count for nothing, and the measure becomes a law in spite of them. It is clear, from the debates of the Convention, that the Convention did not intend to restrict the power to the simple constitutionality of the acts of Congress ; that power is in the judiciary, and the executive veto, if so restricted, would have been superfluous. The Convention believed that acts might be passed, not absolutely unconstitutional, which, nevertheless, would tend to impair the independence of the executive, or would be impolitic or unjust, and it was to provide a negative on such acts, which the judiciary could not reach, that they gave the executive his qualified negative. The policy and justice, as well as the constitutionality, of acts of Congress are, then, we must believe, proper subjects for the executive to consider; and since to confine him to the question of constitutionality alone would deprive him of the power to maintain the independence of the executive department of government, we must hold that he not only is not, but ought not to be, so confined in the employment of his negative.
Our readers will perceive that we have given ourselves a considerable latitude of discussion. Our object has, indeed, been to defend the veto power, but at the same time to draw attention to those general principles of our Constitution and government, which, in the democratic excitement of the times, and the bustle and confusion created by party struggles, we are in danger of forgetting. We have wished to point out the place
of the executive veto in our plan of government, and inci-dentally to lay open and defend that plan itself. The writer of this is no political theorist; he is an American, and an American conservative, both from principle and from inclination, and is opposed alike to innovations in the system of government established, and to the experimental legislation which has become so much the rage. He believes that the Constitution is too little studied, and that the real character of our institutions is too little understood and appreciated. If what he has said shall excite any of our gifted and learned young men to a more diligent study of the American Constitution, his
will have been answered, and he will not have written in vain.
· LITERARY NOTICES AND CRITICISMS.
– The History of the Old and New Testament, interspersed with Moral and Instructive Reflections, chiefly taken from the Holy Fathers. From the French. By Rev. J. REEVE. Bos- . ton : Donahoe. 1849. 12mo. pp. 478.
This work is too well known, and too highly appreciated by the Catholic public, to render any notice of it at our hands at all necessary. It is an admirable compend of sacred history, and compresses within a small compass a great amount of most useful and interesting information, together with highly important and edifying moral reflections. It should be in the hands of every Catholic family.
2, · Preparation for Death ; or Considerations on the Eternal
Marims. Useful for all as a Book of Meditations, fc. By St. AlphonSUS M. LIGUORI. Translated from the Italian, by a Catholic Clergyman. 2d Edition. Boston: Sweeney. 1850. 18mo. pp. 396.
This work is commended to the faithful by the Right Reverend the Bishop of Boston, and, like all the ascetic works of the illustrious St. Alphonsus, is a valuable aid to every one seeking Christian perfection. It is, no doubt, faithfully translated, but we cannot help feeling, as in the case of all the ascetic works of the same author translated into our language, that the translator has failed utterly to preserve any thing of ihe life and unction of the original. There is a coldness, an abruptness, a crispiness, in the translator's style, that belongs to the style of no Saint, and which is almost unpardonable NEW SERIES. - VOL. IV. NO. II.
in the translation of the works of such a Saint as St. Alphonsus de Liguori. Setting aside this consideration, this little work is most excellent, and if used daily as a book of meditations, can hardly fail to prove a real preparation for death."
3. — The Key of Heaven, or Manual of Prayer. By the Right
Reverend J. Milner, D. D. A new Edition, revised, corrected, and enlarged. By Rev. James Fitton. Boston : Sweeney. 1849. 32mo. pp. 422.
This is a very neat and convenient edition of a well-known manual of prayer. In addition to the devotions contained in other editions, the present contains an explanation of the priest's vestments, the ornaments and ceremonies used at Mass, an abridgment of Christian doctrine, a prayer for the souls in purgatory, another for one's confessor, Vespers for the Festival of the Blessed Virgin, Devotion for the Scapular, and several hymns. Among the hymns, we are sorry to see included some three or four from the heretical Watts.
4. — The Devout Manual : or a Collection of Prayers, tending to
direct and promote the Practice of Solid Piety. New York: Dunigan & Brother. 1850. 32mo. pp. 384.
This is, we believe, a new manual. It is published with the approbation of the Right Reverend the Bishop of New York, in the Messrs. Dunigan's best style, and is a very judicious collection of prayers. It will, no doubt, take a high rank among the many excellent manuals of devotion in circulation, and prove quite a favorite.
5. - The Spiritual Consoler, or Instructions to enlighten Pious
Souls in their Doubts, and to allay their Fears. Written originally in Italian. By FATHER QUADRUPANI, Barnabite. First American Edition. Boston: Joseph A. Copes. 1850. 18mo.
The fact that this little work is in great part made up of selections from the all but inspired writings of the illustrious Bishop of Geneva, St. Francis de Sales, is itself a sufficient guaranty of its excellence, and the following approbation by the Right Reverend the Bishop of Boston leaves nothing for us to say. "The English translation of Father Quadrupani's little work, entitled The Spirit. ual Consoler, has appeared to us, after due examination, sound in doctrine, and full of instruction and counsel, most useful to souls seeking advancement in piety and Christian perfection. We have,