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>y the Congress of Vienna, composed of denipotentiaries of the governments of all he States, and which, for thirty-two years, nis been the grand agent of the Metternich solicy in restricting the freedom of the jress, and checking the progress of constiutional liberty, ceased from its labors, day it rest in peace.
The Parliament is proceeding slowly in lie formation of a national constitution, ollowing out the plan, and generally .dopting the provisions, recommended by he provisional assembly. It is also about o make large additions to the numbers of he federal army, and has voted six millons of dollars for laying the foundations >f a national navy. It is not improbable, rom present appearances, that all the orces and money which can be obtained vill be needed in the settlement of the 5chleswig-Holstein difficulty. General Vrangel, commander of the Prussian
army, having refused to sign the articles of truce adopted by the governments of Denmark and Prussia, declaring them to be inconsistent with the honor of Germany, and alleging his subjection to the Vicar of the Empire, it will devolve on the federal power at Frankfort to carry on the war. What will be its issue, it is impossible even to conjecture, so complicated have become the relations sustaiued to each other by the parties immediately or remotely interested. It appears as if nothing, except a war with some of the great European powers, could occur to prevent the consummation of the great work of union commenced at Frankfort. If such a calamity can be avoided by a timely adjustment of the quarrel with the Danes, the Germans will soon present to the world the august spectacle of a united Empire of Free States.
Some remarks were not long since offerid to the public in the National Gazelle, ipon the comparative dispatch of business -i the British Parliament and the American Congress; and the editor decided, upon ery just grounds, we think, in favor of the uperior method, order and industry of he English Legislature.* He proposed, .s one means of inducing a greater atten
* He had scarcely ever heard any (speech) for ,'hich one hour would not have been sufficient, if ] 1 Had been omitted which ought not to have been elivered. He had listened also to the debates i the French Chambers, and the British Houses i Xords and Commons. He had heard the peechea of Sir Robert Peel, Lord Stanley, the 5arl Grey, and other distinguished statesmen, on ery important subjects; and there, in the Legisuture of a nation having its armies and territoiea in every part of the globe, in the course of tt-o years, he rarely ever heard a speech exceed urty or fifty minutes. But here, every subject, ,ii every occasion, must be discussed at immodeut*s length, and a morbid taste was generated ljroughout the land.—Mr. Thompsmis Speech, >,lst December, 1847.
VOL. II. NO. IV. SEW SERIES. 24
tion to their duties on the part of our Representatives, that the desks at present attached to their seats in Congress should be removed, or disallowed; as it is well known that they contrive to transact at these very convenient bureaus nearly as much private* as public business, in the
* This hall is a great business room, a place to write letters to their constituents, to draw bills of exchange, to settle accounts, and to do business. He proposed that the desks be all removed. —Ibid.
I have seriously reflected on this subject I could not consent to abolish the hour rule without removing these desks. As a matter of economy it is a great reform; and I tell the gentleman from North Carolina, who is always in favor of economical reform, remove the desks and you shorten the session two months, and save twenty thousand dollars of the public money.—Ibid.
"As a mere sanitiry regulation, to prevent members who desire to speak from bringing upon themselves, by too long continued exertion of the organs of the voice, that prevalent disease, the bronchitis, he was strongly in favor of the measure."—Mr. Pollock's Speech, 2lst December, 1847. course of a session. The measure thus suggested appears to us peculiarly recommendable and expedient, and promises some advantages which the editor has not adverted to, and which render its adoption not only highly desirable, but, as we conceive, absolutely necessary. The public, we believe, are well aware that whenever a member has the intention, and has "bent up his faculties" to the terrible feat of making a set-speech, this may generally be ascertained, and is in a manner announced beforehand to the House, by certain preparations and prognostics with which it is but too fatally familiar—such as an unusual accumulation of notes, books, documents, &c, upon the desk of the orator; a frequent and ominous hem, or clearing of the throat; and lastly, by the appearance of a copious supply of the true pabulum of debate, in the shape of a vessel of water, brought in by the door-keeper of the House, and placed at his side. These formal and formidable preparations never fail to be followed by a regularly arranged harangue, or composed speech, of interminable prolixity, volume and verbosity, of many hours' and often of many days' duration. The desks of the House, therefore, form, as will be seen, an important part of the machinery employed in the speech-grinding process, now brought to such dread perfection by our orators, or serve as a species of conduits, for conveying to the exhausted receiver, or fainting speaker, an inopportune supply of that deleterious and washy fluid which has been noted through all time for its specific action upon the loquacious faculties, and above all, for its tendency to provoke constradiction, to promote intemperance in debate, and weaken the judgment of the deliberate body. This noxious article of furniture, then, which thus forms so important a spoke (a word which we unwillingly use from the unpleasant associations which it calls up) in the orator's wheel, or which may be variously likened to a fountain playing through a leaden spout; a reservoir of gas; or lastly, a spinning-jenny, by the aid of which the practised debatoris enabled to draw out a yarn of endless length and tenuity. This Pandora's box, we say, ought therefore, without any ceremony or delay, to be eliminated from the House, and cast into tho Tiber creek—as by an ancient law of |
Athens, every stone, stick, or brkkt which had been the means of injure;. citizen in life, limb or property, was fast ly tried, condemned, and hurled fortl beyond the limits of the republic. The <& or of the National Gazette propwes a fs ther measure of replacing the desb fcy; tribune or rostrum, similar to the srangement adopted in the French Chaste of Deputies—as the speaker, by tbism*a» would not only be cut off from his Ejs zine of documents, notes, etc., bat be >!■ jected to an insulation and exposure i person that could not but tend gTeatht check the loquacious, and restrain the hcursive propensities of even the mes:: veterate prosers. This measure B li* worthy of consideration in an Ccodoeei point of view, (the only one likely to »' tract Jonathan's attention.) by subsunaar one rostrum or stand for the one himW and fifty at present so constantly in req» sition, or by the saving both of money «e time, by which it would be attended. Tuspecies of retrenchment would, we art siisfied, have a salutary effect upon thoo* tory of the House, and tend to abate lit disputation and evil speaking to which a members are now so terribly given: «k* it might produce incidentally a farther benefit to the public, by operating as J dcouragement to Cabinet-making, an art a^ craft for which Congressmen evince :'* same childish predilection as a cvrt-s sovereign of Europe did for the lofty employment of moulding sealing-wai,* o which he is said to have arrived at a bi:^ degree of proficiency and perfection, fi* water itself, which the desks thus cornice. to every seat, being emphatically the beverage of debate, and a necessary refreshnitat to the public speaker, its total ablation. >"t a rigid denial of its use, to the mcmt<^« the House—by which they would be I* dry, and in a manner run aground—»J
* The late Emperor of Austria, Frani1 4* Second, is said to have been skillful in $**** facturc of this article. When about sign"* * treaty of Campo Formio. he was oh-tripi » pause, from a natural reluctance, as was rapp""* to alienate, as ho was obliged to do K** treaty, a large portion of his hereditary dawn" The "cause of bis delay, however, wa« «<» * plained by his inquiring rho malt rt» »"*'*f war with which the in.-trumentTras sealed «« happened to be of a remarkably fine qualitr
considered as a somewhat harsh, if not nerciful measure, while it might otherc diminish, rather too suddenly perhaps, t tide of eloquence which at stated pels (viz., those fixed by the Constitui, for it has no other limits,) overflows i capital, inundates the newspapers, and eads far and wide over the land. We st nevertheless say, that our aversion to * element, merely as a part of speech, 1 from the unpleasant associations which inherent fluency and expansive tendency naturally suggest, amounts to an unnpromising hostility, which we should jpose must be participated in, to a de:e little short of hydrophobia, by every e who ever had the misfortune of listen■ to or reading a Congressional debate, who has any regard for his suffering untry, or for the peace of the world. A >scription of this thin potation seems, ined, to be otherwise called for from its ident effect, not only on the quantity but ; quality of our Congressional eloquence, rich both in poverty and abundance bears close an analogy or resemblance to this ttcst and most insipid of fluids, that raething like a connection of cause and ect in the case seems but too probable, d is, in fact, plainly traceable. The itor of the Gazette complains of members ten absenting themselves during debate, o wonder,) and this even when questions the greatest moment are under discussion, pending before the House. We are it ourselves, however, much inclined to insider this as an evil, or a practice very hemently to be depreciated, as it unfornately happens that but too large a pro)rtion of oar enlightened Representatives e much more out of place in the Mouse tan anywhere else; the absence of the >dy being a much less evil than the asencc of mind, or want of talent, which ley so often exhibit when at their posts; hich they much more generally run their eads against than fill with honor to them;lves, or advantage to their country. As ie idle are apt to busy themselves about M concerns of others, and are particulari prone to take the public interests and cneral welfare under their especial care nd protection, we have propounded the •>regoing views, in the hope that they uay meet with attention in the proper |uarters, and lead to the adoption of some
stringent measure or effective plan for reforming the oratory of the great council of the nation, and correcting the prosing habits of its members—whose services, whatever estimate they may themselves put upon them, are not, we apprehend, of such unspeakable importance as to render an interference with their privileges, or with that wide license of debate in which they at present indulge, either treason to the people, or an invasion of their imprescriptable rights. The custom that prevails in the British Parliament of coughing down those speakers who unnecessarily consume the public time by protracted harangues, appears to be approved of by the editor of the Gazette, while it is seriously reprehended by the editor of the National Intelligencer, as savoring too much of boisterousness and indecorum. We confess we are rather inclined to think with Mr. Gales, that coughing and scraping, as parliamentary methods for restraining loquacious speakers*, would scarcely answer in so pugnacious an Assembly, or in the case of so irritable and important a busy Body as Congress. Our orators, besides, 80 far surpass those of England in wind, or as jockies phrase it, bottom, that much disorder and confusion would probably be occasioned by any attempt to introduce a check of this kind, or to naturalize this strangulatory and arbitrary custom among us. If, as we have seen to be the case, from the statement of Dr. Ware,* referred to at the commencement of these remarks, there are those who will even go the length of talking themselves into a consumption, and speak until they spit blood, and bring on asthma and hcemoptesis, as if resolved to spend their last breath in the public service; we much fear that the coughing of others would be but little efficacious towards restraining such desperately disposed prosers within the limits of a reasonable brevity. In the first place, those who might endeavor to effect this purpose would probably have to cough themselves into a consumption before they could succeed in attaining the desired object; and
* The paragraph here referred to has been omitted. It merely contained the statement that public speakers are more frequently attacked with hcemoptesis, or bleeding of the lungs, than any other persons, or class of patients.
in the next, an abuse of the privilege would undoubtedly be the result, that might lead to the mutilation, if not to the destruction, of man)' a fair column of debate, though it might greatly abridge the trouble and perplexity of the editors of the Union and National Intelligencer, on whom the mechanical labor devolves of setting up (to use the printing phrase) these massy supports and ornaments of the elephantine temple of American eloquence, which in their flatness and length, and the strange writing which they exhibit, bear, it must be confessed, a much nearer resemblance to the Egyptian obelisk, than the Corinthian column. In the army of the great Frederic, a certain standard of height was established, so that no soldier was enlisted or admitted into its ranks who fell even a line below this fixed measure. It appears to us that a similar principle might be introduced with great advantage into Congress and our other legislative bodies, only with this reversal of its application, that the shorter the orator, or in other words, the more brief his style and habit of expression, the more welcome should be his reception, and the more ready his introduction into the ranks of the great representative army which the people find it necessary to keep on foot for the protection of their rights, and the defence of their liberties. An advantage attending this gage of speech would be, that members instead of peragrating, as they are now in the habit of doing, when once upon their legs, "from China to Peru," would more frequently confine themselves to the matter in hand, and come out in solid column, and gain in strength exactly in proportion as they lost in bulk; or would find that their harangues, like the books of the Sybil, would rise in value as they diminish in volume, and be prized exactly in the ratio of their scarceness and brevity. We cannot but think it also advisable that the term question should be banished from the technical language of the House, as it seems evidently to be always taken in a literal sense by its members, as challenging a reply from some one or other, whatever ma}-be the nature of the subject to which it may be applied; so that it is not uncommon for the proposer of a measure to find himself answered when he had neither intended to do nor assert anything cal- j oulated to elicit controversy. An unoffend
ing member, therefore, is not nnfreqar:\ placed in the predicament of the vsl^s nate French writer, who, having thoar it wisest to pass over an attack msdt ato him by an empty and impertinent serikWa as the only mode of avoiding a coouwr; with an antagonist whom he deemed o worthy of his notice, was not s little fc mayed and flabbergasted by the sppr ance, soon after, of another brorknn ** tied "An Answer to the Si/eiiceofMe Le Blanc ;" his persevering assailant !•»■ \ chosen to interpret his forbearaw :: enforced reserve in various perverse rr\ to his no small mortification and rec-*-: annoyance. Another cardinal regalia-" which seems called for by every Coosatition of economy and convenience, is th«<i assigning some definite limit to the re* of discussion, either by a positive es*i ment on the subject, or by reqnirmgtis every member who shall trespass oea> time of the House, beyond the periodslowed him by law, shall be subject I" • fine of such an amount as shall be takslated to restrain him within reasonabi-1~its, or in other words, shall speak at his on expense, instead of being paid, as he * « is, for holding forth with an empty kai to empty stomachs and thinning beacha and "rending the region" with false r>.'.oric, inconclusive reasoning, and wild it clamation. It. will be admitted, as ag** ral rule, that one of the readiest meat- •' influencing the minds of men is to addr* ourselves directly to their pockets,* or th* /ions of self-interest. If, then, as we ve suggested, every member, after being uwed a reasonable and sufficient time to press himself upon a question, were made pay for everything he said, beyond the ascribed limits, there can be little beity, we think, as to the effect which ch a rule of speech would have upon his :ws of economy, and habits of calculation habits so peculiar to the American 3per* as to have rendered hira, along th his scheming disposition, at once keen
* The speeches made here were not int«M?operate upon the House, but upon the eou<7 When gentlemen got up and addressw V: Speaker," they did not speak to tlie Speak" « the House, but to their constituent? at tuae. m that not by means of a powerful voice, hoi * the aid of those powerful instruments, ta*p» and the press.—Ibid.
Under the rules as existing at Uir last t* gTess, a gentleman presents one of two vie-■»' ing his hour; another has an insulated ncrr—» travels over all the ground before he gel-'"'' B so the ground is goue over and over, and ti* ^ * arguments presented, perhaps in little oSfe* forms, by gentleman after gentlemaa BTM" your debates under the hour rule. and *> '■[ * is not the case. In the discussion of tie I*"Bill of 1n42 seventy -five or ripkly tpttA* is» delivered, and see how the same ideas wen i** seated over and over in them.—Mr. Hnlf- *** debate.
Mr. C. J. fngersoll, (in his scat) There «m nincty-tvx> tpeecha on the Oregon <ju*stu€L
dealing, and rash in speculation, alike "ish and grasping, matter-of-fact and iionary, and in a word a compound of ntrarieties, and nearly as great a fumble inconsistencies, of base and brilliant lalities, as was the great Bacon, whose aracter has been so satirically and graphilly hit off by the little Wasp of TwickAiam. For we are satisfied, as respects e rather stringent regulation which we have ;re proposed, that there are few among ir time-wasting, but penny-wise, legislar.% who would not, with the fear of such rule before their eyes, become proficients
at least one branch of political economy, id who would not willingly forego a dislay, and suppress a thousand fine flourhes, rather than lose a hundred dollars on speech, or even the one half of that sum. he notions, however, of the members lemselves, we are well aware, lean rather ) an increase of their compensation, as a leasure due to their merits and service*. ut though the burning desire which usuIIV actuates a Representative, to show to ie world that he is not a mere wooden lember of the House, but that he has, as be common phrase goes, something to say or himself, is perhaps both allowable and iraiseworthy. This soaring ambition was arried, as it appears to us, a little too far
If gentlemen of reputation think they cannot alk less than an hour and a half, every other :entleman who rises would feel under the necesity of consuming the same time, for fear his *m-tituents might think he was not able to make o long a speech as the chairman of the Conimitee on Foreign Relations, or Ways and Means.— Iff. Mome's speech, same debate.
* As distinguished from the floods of foreigners md animals from all lands with whom he is mix*! UP. and to whom, whether paupers, felons, or weak-jails, he extends a cordial hand, and hays, as the Psalmist does to the worm, "Thou art my
by those who, not a great many sessions back, both spoke and voted in favor of a bill to raise their own daily pay. This, however, they no doubt considered themselves as clearly entitled to do, as having given the world sufficient evidence of their zeal for retrenchment, and love of economy, by always cutting down, whenever the opportunity offered, the compensation of others, particularly the extravagant allowances made to the officers of the army and navy, whose services are so easy, trivial and unimportant, when compared with those rendered by the members of tlio House, in walking in all weathers to and from the Capitol, on the public business— in folding up and dispatching communications to their constituents—and waking and thinking* of the concerns of the nation. Their labors in this way are, indeed, of so arduous and constant a character as to compel them, occasionally, to relax their minds by playing and drinking for nights together, at their lodgings, by attending private parties and official dinners, and giving in to other amusements and excesses, by which both their tempers and stomachs are often seriously deranged and injured, and their nervous systems made so irritable as to render them unnaturally prone to contradict, abuse, and commit assaults on each other—so that their personal concerns, quarrels, and grievances generally occupy much of the time of the House, and oflen occasion their final adjustment to form one of the chief achievements of a session. With respect to the oratorical standard, or gage of speech, which we consider it expedient to establish, it appears to us, that a column of the Union, or of the official paper of the day, would afford a space amply sufficient for all the purposes of legislation, or of debate and free discussion. We would therefore recommend that this measure be forthwith adopted, and authoritatively prescribed for the observance of members. With respect to the disposition of the fines which might be levied for the infractions of this rule, (for there is no doubt that there would still be many who would willfully endanger their estates, and incur even death and bankruptcy, sooner than
* Vfe here allude to the anecdote of the lawyer who charged his client, among other items, "for waking in the night, and thinking of his butinest.'