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rights in doing it. As a matter of fact, however, their actual intervention was in accordance with, if not indeed in virtne of, all the historical rights subsisting in the nation at the time, and was less to found or institute government, than to supply the defects in the already existing government occasioned by the lapse of the crown of Great Britain. But be this as it may, nobody questions, not even the allied sovereigns of Europe themselves question, the natural right of a people who find themselves without government, since government is a prime necessity of society, as society is of man, to assemble in convention and institute a government. This right is universally conceded. But the moment the government is instituted, the moment it can be said to exist, its historical right commences, and the right of the people to found or institute government ceases. This, whatever may be the theory of our unfledged politicians, is the principle of our institutions, sustained by all our law's, as no man knows better than the eminent lawyer now secretary of state. The people here have not one particle of power, except by virtue of historical right. The law admits them to a large share in the administration through the elective franchise, it is true, but that franchise is a trust, not a natural right, and is possessed only by those to whom the law grants it, and can be exercised only in the form and manner the law prescribes. The people may be legally assembled in convention, to amend the constitution, but they can assemble only by virtue of the law, and when so asseinbled are as much a legal assembly holding under law as any one of our ordinary legislatures. Is it not so? Try the experiment; let the people assemble without being legally convened, let them, on the simple ground of popular sovereignty, form a new constitution, and institute a new government, as they did in Rhode Island, and will it be held to have the right to govern? Not at all, and any act of it to supplant forcibly historical right, or to compel itself to be obeyed as the government, will be by the laws of every state in the Union an act of treason, and punishable as such. The case is not an imaginary one; it has already occurred in our brief history, has been fully argued on both sides, and finally settled by the highest tribunals known to our laws, and settled in favor of the old government, on the ground that it has the historical right, and is the only government historically known. The fact, then, of the intervention of the people here in the formation of the govern
ment, of their large share through the elective franchise in its administration, and of their right, when legally convened, to amend the constitution or the fundamental law, makes no difference, in so far as government, between our governments and the governments of Europe. It has the same rights and duties that they have, and holds its powers under the same divine law under which they hold theirs. It has the same historical rights that they have, the same right that they have, and no other than they have, to protect itself, and to suppress all rebellions against it. Without asserting the sacredness and inviolability of historical rights, of its right to be and to govern because it has been and is the government, and no other has been or is the government, it could not sustain itself a single moment, for it could not rightfully put down a single rebellion against it, or attempt to enforce a single one of its laws. If we must assume historical rights to be sacred and inviolable, as the only condition of sustaining our government, what is more absurd than to maintain, that to assert these rights against the rebels in arms, madmen conspiring everywhere against them, is to deny the lawfulness of our own constitution and forms of government? No government is more interested in sustaining those rights than our own, and it is with no little regret we hear the government itself renouncing its own legality, and every principle on which its lawfulness can be defended, telling us that our sympathy is due, not to those who labor to protect those rights, but to those who scorn them, trample them under their feet, and are everywhere confederated, and about again to take up arms, to render them of no avail.
It is true, Mr. Webster tells us that the American people though they everywhere sympathize with rebels and the sworn enemies of all historical rights, do not propose to take up arms to assist them. “The United States have abstained at all times from acts of interference with the political changes of Europe. They cannot, however, fail to cherish always a lively interest in the fortunes of nations struggling for institutions like our own.
But this sympathy, so far from being necessarily a hostile feeling towards any of these parties, is qnite consistent with amicable relations with both.” Will Mr. Webster explain how we can maintain arnicable relations with the sovereign, while we have amicable relations with his rebellious subjects? But this is not the point now under consideration. We do not
believe that as long as Mr. Webster is in the cabinet our government will take any very active measures of interference in behalf of rebels in Europe or elsewhere, but he defends principles which permit such interference whenever we choose. In assuming that our government by its origin and principles denies, with the European rebels, all historical rights, and authorizes and sympathizes with their movements, he denies that so to interfere would be any violation of public right. The rights of nations are all historical, and if we deny them, there is nothing to hinder us from accepting the doctrine of FRATERNITY preached by Mr. Webster's European friends, and then we should have the same right to engage in a struggle for democracy anywhere that the revolutionists themselves have. Nay, Mr. Webster's own assertion, by authority of the president of the United States, of our sympathy with these revolutionists, and his identification of their principles and cause with our own, can be vindicated only on a principle that would allow interference in their behalf to any extent we chose, or thought it prudent for our own sake, to carry it.
Mr. Webster asserts the prosperity of his own country as superinduced by her peculiar institutions, in the true spirit of a propagandist. "The power of this republic is at the present inoment spread over a region, one of the richest and most fertile on the globe, and of an extent in comparison with which the possessions of the house of Habsburg are but a patch on the earth's surface.” This probably was written with a view to the pit. Suppose this to be a fact, what relevancy has it to the matter in controversy? Does it prove us in the right by proving our dominions are larger than those of Anstria, or her in the wrong, because her farm is less than ours? Even supposing it proved the superiority of republican institutions over monarchical, what has that to do with the question ? Austria has not protested against our republicanism, or asserted the superiority of monarchy, and what right has Mr. Webster, if he recognizes the independence of Austria, and proposes to treat with her as a sovereign state, to bring in question the relative superiority or inferiority of the respective forms of the two governments? Why does he travel out of the record, and give vent to a very silly boast? Do his best, he cannot claim for his country any superiority over Austria, except in vain and undignified boasting But how, in fact, stands the question with regard to this vast extent of territory of the Union ?
Of the territory of the old thirteen states, we say nothing; but of the rest, which far exceeds it, will Mr. Webster seriously set its acquisition down to the credit of our political principles and institutions ? The Louisiana purchase he cannot, for Mr. Jefferson, who purchased the territory from France, confessed that he did it in violation of the constistitution he had sworn to observe and defend.
The acquisition of Texas he cannot; for he maintained in the senate that it could not be constitutionally annexed to the Union. and he opposed its annexation with all his energy, ability, and eloquence. The acquisition of New Mexico and California he cannot; for he opposed as unjust the war which led to their conquest, and also opposed to the last moment the treaty by which they were acquired, and even voted against its ratification. As to Oregon, we know not under what title we hold it, unless it be that one Captain Gray happened to approach very near to, perhaps entered, the mouth of the Columbia river, before anyone else was known to have done so. Now, we submit to Mr. Webster himself, if he has any right to consider this vast acquisition of territory, effected for the most part by open violation of the constitution, or by a war which he held at the time to be aggressive and uncalled for,—a war, as he pronounced it, " of pretexts," -as any thing honorable to the republic or republican institutions in general.
But we have extended our remarks much further than we intended, and we hasten to dismiss this painful subject, although we leave several points of some iinportance antouched. We need not add, that for Mr. Webster, both in consideration of his public services and of what we have seen of him in social intercourse, we have entertained a very great, indeed, a very profound respect; and we have looked to him as the leader of that true American party which, we trusted, would be formed out of the conservative elements of the two great parties which have hitherto divided the country. We have particularly approved his course iu regard to the so-called compromise measures," and we were exceedingly gratified when we heard that he had consented to accept the department of state in Mr. Fillmore's cabinet. It has therefore been with great disappointment, as well as unfeigned sorrow, that we have read the document on which we have commented. As a diplomatic document we shall not trust ourselves to characterize it, any further than to say that it is singularly irrelevant in several of its topics, inconclusive in its reasonings, and undignified in its tone. As a political document einbodying the views of the government and announcing American principles, it is in a high degree objectionable. In it Mr. Webster leaves the statesman for the demagogue, the conservative for the radical, and instead of availing himself of his position and the occasion to announce sound and salutary principles, he has assumed the bonnet rouge of the Jacobin, and descended to pander to the worse principles, the basest passions, and the most dangerous tendences of his countryinen. Little did we think that he who some years since applauded, and induced not a few others to applaud, our own indignant denunciation of these principles, passions, and tendencies, would himself one day need to be remonstrated with for proclaiming them, and proclaiming them as American, and inseparable from the American character, condition, and destiny. We hope his lapse will prove but momentary, that he will hasten to take back his defence of rebels everywhere, and assume his rightful and natural position once more on the side of authority, in defence of historical rights, and of liberty through law. This, with disunion preached throughout the land, and the laws openly resisted, in our cities, is no time to proclaim sympathy with rebels and rebellion.
THESE are two interesting and in various respects highly instructive volumes. The author is a native of Switzerland, and was formerly tutor to the young archdukes of Austria, and, we believe, to the present Emperor Francis Joseph. He is a man of learning and talents, of firm faith and sincere and tender piety. He travels as a Catholic and as an ecclesiastic, but as one who well knows the world, as a shrewd observer, and as an able and impartial commentator on
* Les Saints Lieux. Pélerinage à Jérusalem, en pressant par l' Autriche, la Hongrie, la Slavonie, les Provinces Danubiennes, Constantinople, l'Archivel, le Liban, la Syrie, Alexandrie, Malte, la Sicile, et Marseille. Par MGR. MISLIN, Abbé Mitré. Á Paris: 1851.