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The Diplomatic and Official Papers of Daniel Webster, while Secretary of State. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1848.
This volume contains the papers comprising the history of the North-eastern Boundary Treaty of 1842; correspondence with Lord Ashburton, relative to Maritime Rights, Impressment, Inviolability of National Territory, case of the Caroline, etc.; the case of McLeod; letters with Mr. Everett and Lord Aberdeen relative to the Right of Search; correspondence with Mr. Cass previous and subsequent to his retirement from France; the Boundary Treaty and Mr. Webster's great speech in defence thereof; papers concerning our relations with Mexico, Spain, etc. etc.—the whole being prefaced by an Introduction giving a full account of the settlement of the Treaty.
At the conclusion of the introduction, it is very justly remarked, that "although the papers contained in the present volume probably form but a small portion of the official correspondence of the Department of State for the period during which it was filled by Mr. Webster, they constitute, nevertheless, the most important part of the documentary record of a period of official service, brief, indeed, but as beneficial to the country as any of which the memory is preserved in her annals." Respecting the settlement of the boundary Treaty, to which the most important papers in the volume chiefly refer, the writer also adds: "Much is due to the wise and amiable negotiator who was dispatched on the holy errand of peace; much to the patriotism of the Senate of the United States, who confirmed the treaty by a larger majority than ever before sustained a measure of tins kind which divided public opinion; but the first meed of praise is unquestionably due to the negotiator. Let the just measure of that praise be estimated by reflecting what would be our condition at the present day, if instead of or in addition to the war with Mexico, we were involved in a war with Great Britain."
One of the most interesting documents in the collection is the elaborate and severe, yet well merited rebuke of Mr. Cass, for writing from Paris a letter expressing dissatisfaction with the Treaty, after it had been concluded, and after he had demanded his recall. Mr. Cass took the liberty of informing the Department of State that no one rejoiced " more sincerely than he at the termination of our difficulties with Great Britain, so far as thy were
terminated." But—" Our past history, is
ever, will be unprofitable if it do not teaci ■ that unjust pretensions, affecting our rigtau honor, arc best met by being promptly repA when first urged, and by being received is I spirit of resistance wtrrthy the character«' ( people and of the great trust confided toiai<> depositories of the freest system ofgoarmi which the world has yet witnessed." He !f* goes into his view of the question of the lip of Search, and concludes by stating in » stance his reason for having demanded lit .i call:—" I now find a treaty has been eonrhfc between Great Britain and the United S*f which provides for the co-operation of the U ter in efforts to abolish the slave tnde, h which contains no renunciation by the ksf. of the extraordinary pretension, resoling' she said, from the exigencies of these ve.7 forts; and which pretension 1 felt it mj fe to denounce to the French Government." F- • this it is very clear that had Mr Cass oSctat that time as negotiator, the " pretenskfc of Great Britain would have been met br' spirit of resistance worthy, etc. f and tin!» should before this time have been, very p*J bly, involved in a war considerably more rt pensive and perhaps less glorious than ocr' cent struggle to protect the national hone '.' < the insults of the haughty Mexicans!
But Mr. Cass was not aware that the wW question of the right of visit and of seiTtiil* been gone over in a letter from Mr. VHbsa to Mr. Everett, and discussed in so maSeA' manner that nothing of what Mr. C. w pk**1 to style " pretension " has been heard of :■■ that time to this or ever will be agi'C-' probable, so long as the world #hill e»'s" The silence of Lord Aberdeen, in refereW" that dispatch, is an admission of the legal'!; 3 Mr. Webster's views, which are, that ** by express treaty, no such tiling as 1 rigl'" visit, or search, exists between nations in & of peace; that such visit is therefore trap'' but yet that no flag can shield pirate?—*firmly declaring the ocean to be in law **' is often styled by a figure—the great higi*1 of nations—where all have free right of p» sage without let or molestation except tboa« whom it must be presumed that the part)-J' fering with them has perfect knowledge c they are felons or outlaws. That these *be regarded as now settled principle? of i« national intercourse, the agreement of tie" governments after so many years in which'-_ subject has been pending,—the fact that' ■ars have elapsed since they were laid before c British Ministry from our Department of ate, and that during this time they have been iffered to remain, although presented in the iivrse of a correspondence having special refence to the gubject, without confutation, must ; deemed conclusive evidence. Surely the lirit in which Mr. Webster so well laid down » law has proved more happy in its results lan that which Mr. Cass would have had our nvernment manifest on the occasion. Disctison and concession—a desire, to use a homely iirase, " to do what is right," are much better ilculated to promote those amicable relations a which depend the welfare of nations, than lat " spirit of resistance" which Mr. Cass rems " worthy the character of our people." The contrast between Mr. Cass's policy and le course of Mr. Webster is placed in strong ghts in the course of the correspondence here ublished. Mr. Cass writes from an impetuous nd choleric temper, that does not permit him ) see how often he commits himself. Under Ir. Webster's clear examination, all he adances resolves itself into mere presumptuous vrongheadedness. Thus, for example, in the cply to the letter from which we have above [uoted, Mr. Webster says:—
"Tour letter appears to be intended as a sort rf protest, a remonstrance, in the form of an offiaai dispatch, agaiast a transaction of the government to which you were not a party, in which •ou had no agency whatever, and for the results if which you were no way answerable. This rould seem an unusual and extraordinary proJoeding. In common with every other citizen of be republic you have an unquestionable right » form opinions upon public transactions, and -'ie conduct of public men; but it will hardly be ■bought to be among either the duties or the privieges of a minister abroad to make formal rent iwtrances and protests against proceedings of he various branches of the government at home, ipon subjects in relation to which he himself has "it been charged with any duty or partaken my responsibility." P. 196.
Mr. Cass, in reply, says that his letter is not 'a protest or remonstrance," and defends him«elf as follows :—
* Is it the duty of a diplomatic agent to receive ill the communications of his government, and to *rry into effect their instructions tub tilentio, rhatcver may be his own sentiments in relation lo them 1 Or, is he not bound, as a faithful nep(ewntative, to communicate freely, but respectnlly, his own views, that these may be coaiider<i and receive their due weight in that particular 8a«, or in other circumstances involving similar Boaiiderations I It seems to me that the bare enunciation of the principle is all tliat is ncccs•wy for my justification." P. 106. * * * "And 1 may express the conviction that there is no government—certainly none this side of Constanti
nople—which would not encourage, rather than rebuke, the free expression of the views of their representatives in foreign countries." P. 207.
To which Mr. Wesbter stri kingly and conclusively answers:—
"What other construction (than as a protest or remonstrance) your letter will bear, I cannot perceive. The transaction was finished. No letter or remarks of yourself, or any one else, could un do it, if desirable. Your opinions were unsolicited. If given as a citizen, then it was altogether unusual to address them to this Department in an official dispatch; if as a public functionary, the whole subject-matter was quite aside from the duties of your particular station. In your letter you did not propose anything to be done, but objected to what had been done." P. 214.
"* » » Like all citizens of the republic, you are quite at liberty to exercise your own judgment upon that as upon other transactions. But neither your observations nor this concession cover the case. They do not show that, as a public minister abroad, it is a part of your official functions, in a public dispatch, to remonstrate against the conduct of the government at home in relation to a transaction in which you bore no
Eart, and for which you were in no way answeralc. The President and Senate must be permitted to judge for themselves in a matter solely within their control. Nor do I know that, in complaining of your protest against their proceedings in a case of this kind, anything has been done to warrant, on your part, an invidious and unjust reference to Constantinople." P. 216.
In reading this passage, one cannot but be struck with the extreme propriety and elegance of Mr. Webster's diplomatic style. His mind seems to select from a hundred points of view the precise one which best illustrates a subject, and he gives it in language which, though careful, grave, and dignified, is yet natural. For this quality we admire these letters more than his early orations.
Angela. A Novel. By the Author of "Emilia Wtfiidham," " Two Old Men's Tales," etc. New York: Harper & Brothers. 1848.
In moral bearing, and so far as we have been able to examine it, in the conduct of the story, tiiis tale is unexceptionable. But the characters are elaborated with a minuteness that is not sustained by depth of thought, and in a style not poetic and elevating, but too intense, and too close an imitation of the language of real life. The tale is probably intended, and will be generally recommended for young lady readers. But we dislike to believe, either that it will be very popular with them, or that we have grown so old and wise as to be no longer able to judge of what interests them.
In the first chapter we have a description of a young man reposing under "that wild, straggling hawthorn, where the huge twisted branches, hoary with age, have assumed almost the character of those of a forest tree." This is interrupted by an apostrophe to the " teens," from which we extract the following:—
"The teens! Oh what a gush of promise is there in that first burst of fervent life, into flower! But the wind of the desert has passed over the blossoms, and where arc they i
"What is the summer to this spring?
"Most deeply, deeply pathetic sight!
"He was like the rest of them, dear, earnest, delightful young creatures"
How much of such writing must a critic read in order to form a respectable opinion upon it? If twenty pages, there is one that must resign the profession.
On turning over the leaves we find that the whole book is paragraphed as in the extract above.
Whence has arisen this fashion of making each separate sentence stand by itself?
From imitating Tupper,cockney philosopher?
We do not know.
Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights are printed in this fashion also.
Was it invented by printers to save labor in the cArrecting of proof? They have lately taken in hand our orthography. A boy who, at school, should persist in spelling theatre "theater," as the Messrs. Harpers do now in their books, should be reprimanded, and if that did not suffice, chastised, until he amended.
Possibly this overmuch paragraphing was invented by the printers; but very plainly, however it came into use, it is only a new device of the enemy of souls, who wills not that men should love what is beautiful, but delights to have them running into all manner of foolishness.
Behold haw easy it is to follow his suggestions!
But let all earnest, delightful young gentlemen and ladies be watchful not to fall into vulgar and degrading affectation. It is the peculiar literary vice of our time. Often, when we consider how it infects and spoils our whole literature, we fancy that we have fallen upon dry days—days when the truly poetic is no longer sought for or felt when found.
One more paragraph has caught our eye, which is so nice it must be given :—
"He was a tall, ./in* young man—not very tall, neither, for he was beautifully proportioned—a very model—the very ideal of tie English youth. His eye so sweet, so ingenuous, so almost child-like in its truth and innocence, yet so deep, so thoughtful, so full of indistinct meaning and hidden melancholy (bad grammar); his mouth was rather full, and the soft, silken moustache just gave character to the upper lip."
What a love of an animal! How dehgbxid! But not half so poetic as Amanda Fitzalan it the Children of the Abbey.
"He lay—lounged, I Bhould say—under thi? old, twisted hawthorn tree, upon a bank Cototj with that green branching moss which is so *jft and so beautiful; and the harebell and it* lichens, and the little white starwort were growing, with a few lingering primroses and vidns in the shaw (how intensely Saxon!) whxi stretched behind and beside him. This hawtbora tree stood out by itself a little in front of tie shaw (0 pshatc.') which stretched along the field upon that side in front of a very high and thai hedge of hawthorn and maple, traveller's ji? (new plant) and brambles, honeysuckles aai eglantine, such as our youth loved in his heart'
The London Critic ranks this authoress " U the head of female novelists;" the London Spectator thinks her " Norman's Bridge surpasses everything" this writer or perhaps ens other writer has done, if we except Godwin i chef d'reuvre; the John Bull thinks her humor approaches that of Moliire and Addison.
The American Review begs to be excused from perusing this, her last work, and is reluctantly compelled to admit that the abov* specimens of puffing, bad as they are, cam** make it think more lightly of the opinion of the London press than it did already. The novel is well enough, perhaps, as a softly book—GoJ forbid we should be thought angry with it— but it is not to be compared with any of Mrs. Austen's or a hundred others.
The Seat of Government of the Uni&d Slates. By Joseph B. Varntjm, Jr. New York: Press of Hunt's Merchant's Magazine. 1S4&.
This is a full history of the City of Washington, and view of its present condition. 1; contains a review of the discussions in Congress and elsewhere on its site, and plans and minute descriptions of its public works, Aic_ including ft particular notice of the Smithsonian Institution, with a map. It is published in a pamphlet form, and must necessarily, from tbe interest of the subject and the industry a»i good sense which is manifest in the work, command a very extensive sale.
In the article on the "Adventures and Conquests of the Normans in Italy, during the Mhidl* Ages," in the June number, the following error? occurred, in consequence of inability to send a proof to the author:—
On p. 619, for Mons Fovis read Mons Juris
On p. 622, et seq, for Malfi read Melfi.
On p. 627, for Palermo read Paterno.
On pp. 629, 680, for Barajgoi read Bapiy-j-u.