Obrazy na stronie

surrounded by preposessions and hostili tendency to diffuseness, and a swelling, ties, and we are therefore aware that our and consequently, languid wordiness in his estimate of him may be influenced by hastier efforts which greatly debilitate current prejudices; but we have read his their strength. He expatiates too much, writings attentively, and are prepared to is too long in covering his ground, and give an honest judgment as to his merits. is apt to be tedious when he ought to be Most men, en

red in the actual contests concise. Had he compressed what he has of politics, are liable to be overrated by published into one-third the space, he might their friends, and underrated by their have said every thing that he has now enemies; but the peculiarity of Mr. Sew- said, and much better. Nor is it any ard's case has been that he has reversed excuse for this carelessness of composithe process, and, if not underrated by his tion, to say that his addresses and letters friends, is at least overrated by his ene were prepared in the midst of active occumies. In other words, the nature and pations, on the spur of the moment, and kind of opposition that he has encounter without time for that limae labor which ed, have given him a prestige beyond the gives the last finish to language. This might influence he is entitled to by his real have been an excuse for them, as origiabilities. The masses of the people hear nally uttered, but not for them as delibeing him decried so vehemently as a most rately collected and edited. Besides, it is dangerous fellow, the contriver of every not impossible to acquire a compact, precise nefarious plot, and the secret agent of and simple style, even in extemporaneous every disorganizing movement, are apt to effusions—to make compression the habit take his opponents at their word, and to of the mind and when we consider what believe that one who is so fertile in ex a lasting charm it lends to speech, the pedients and so hard to baffle, must be a neglect of it, especially by men who deprodigious worker, destined sooner or sire to be read widely, and in after times, later to the most commanding sway. seems a strange oversight. Men admire success, and even the reputa

There is another defect of his composition of it, and have a secret liking for tions, arising partly in the same causes those who are roundly abused ; a fact which which produce diffuseness, and partly in was evidenced in another case lately, that a limited range of cultivation, which is, of Martin Van Buren, who was indebted the use of worn and current metaphors, as much to the magical influence his foes or commonplace turns of expression. Not ascribed to him, as to the attachment of remarkably original in his views, he is his friends or his native sagacity, for any less so in his language. We miss that elevation that he attained. Give a man a nice choice of words, those racy, idiomatic name for miraculous shrewdness and phrases, those graceful or happy allusions, management, and you give him a host of those pregnant epithets, which condense a friends; in fact, open his way, without whole argument into a word, and those efforts of his own, to almost any

advance novel and picturesque suggestions, rement.

lieving the weight of argument, which The characteristics of Mr. Seward's proclaim a thorough master of his art. mind are clearness, activity and cunning, Yet Mr. Seward goes far towards supplyto use the term in its best sense. He ing the place of these finer strokes of grasps his subjects sharply, with pene- genius by his amiable and conciliating tration as well as power, manages them manner, a temper singularly free from with subtle and quick dexterity, and gall, his vivacious readiness, and his being of a sanguine temperament, never elastic, almost exuberant, vitality, anwearies of the labor of elucidation swering the purpose of a genuine enthuand display. His logic is not of the close siasm. If he does not produce deep and and compact sort which may be compared vivid impressions, he carries his readers to mailed armor, impregnable to all as with him by the lucidity of his state saults, for it is rather demonstrative than ment, the intrepid and manly spirit in convincing, and consists more in the

which he meets difficulties and announces adroit linking together of facts, than the principles, and his obvious command of rigid deduction of principles. But he has his position. Never impassioned, even in great facility of expression, both as a his most declamatory passages, he is yet writer and speaker; is always perspicuous, always animated and fresh, full of hope, generally pleasing, and sometimes elo and thoroughly American. quent; he has read considerably, and un It is no part of our duty, as reviewers, derstandingly; and his style, without being to question the sincerity of Mr. Seward's idiomatic or classical, is not offensively in convictions, as the politicians are prone to correct. He avoids, for the most part, do; the less so, as we find his opinions excessive ornament, that turgid floridity cohering in a very intelligent and consistso common to our orators; yet there is a ent system of political doctrine. Nor do

his volumes furnish us any occasion for unworthy motive. Of course that suspidoubting the perfectly unaffected nature cion is often misplaced, but the general of his popular tendencies, because he eve prevalence of it cannot be denied. Only ry where expresses his opinions frankly, a man of Washington's continence, or of even in the face of a known hostile senti Hampden's integrity, could escape the ment. At the same time, we must say taint of the imputation; and Mr. Seward that we often rise from reading him with therefore, who has long been active in a stronger impression of his adroitness pushing projects of one-sided benefit, than of his soundness. We do not detect should not complain if the public, in spite him in any of the meaner arts of the of his nobler and liberal performances, demagogue, cannot lay our hands upon in the cause of universal human freeany single act of political trimming, but, dom, should confound his motives with on the contrary, note an unusual persist those of his sordid clients. The whole ence, or unity of purpose, and a manly system of special legislation and patronassertion often of generous though unac age, in our view, is deplorably wrong, and cepted doctrines; and yet we fear the those who dabble in it can hardly avoid while that his virtue is not of that incor defilement. rigible and losing sort, which would pre We think this idea of the sphere of govfer, with old Andrew Marvell, “ to scrape ernment is deplorably wrong, and yet we a blade bone of cold mutton" in a garret, are not prepared to state with any precito faring sumptuously in the palace of the sion where the limit of its action properly king.

begins or ends. How much should be Our utter disagreement with the school left to the individual, and how much of statesmen to which Mr. Seward belongs, the state may legitimately do, is the great may doubtless account for this uneasy unadjusted question of political science. feeling, as one is ever inclined to distrust If we adopt the extreme democratic thcthe men whose principles he rejects. The ory, which confines the state to the simschool we allude to is that which tends to ple protection of person and property, or aggrandize government at the expense of those objects which are common to the spontaneous action of the people, and every member of society, we deprive ourmake the state a sort of omnipotent and selves of an important means of advancomnipresent, and consequently omnivor ing individual and social welfare, which ous power in society-a Jack-of-all-trades, could not be so well advanced in any other a beneficent Providence, a Lady Bounti way; whilst, on the other hand, if we asful of the parish, a supreme moralist, a sume the unlimited authority of governuniversal pedagogue, and a high Justice ment to interpose in every subject of public Rotulorum as well as a low catchpole. In concern, we cannot stop short either of other words, it comprises within the sphere gross despotism or gross corruption. The of government, every function almost of liberty of the citizen to achieve his own society and of individuals, causing it to fortune in his own way, provided he does build railroads and canals, regulate com not infringe on the same right in others, merce, encourage trade, equip steamships, ought to be sacred under all circumstanpromote agriculture, educate children, and, ces; yet, who will deny that there are we suppose, support the poor,--and all in objects of vast general utility, “enteraddition to its ordinary and more legiti prises of pith and moment,” which mate duties of protecting, on terms of per cannot or will not be accomplished, if fect equality and right, the persons and abandoned to the voluntary efforts of inproperty of its citizens! Now, is it not dividuals. Take a case in point, of immense obvious at a glance, that this theory of interest just now,-the railroad to the the objects of legislation, whatever ad Pacific! Ought it to be undertaken by vantages it may have in other respects, the government, or 'by individuals ? if opens the way to enormous abuses, in you say by individuals, the reply is that viting the assaults of schemers and profli it would require an outlay of labor and gates, and inflaming while it debases the capital to which no private company could contests of parties ? Wherever it is be competent, even were such a prodigious adopted, a state must come to be looked company itself not a dangerous thing to creupon, not as the arbiter of an absolute ate. Again, if you say by the government, justice between man and man, but as the you must see that it would inevitably dispenser of corrupt and mercenary favors; lead to a most pernicious concentration of and those statesmen, who make them patronage, to a wholesale jobbing in the selves conspicuous in bending legislation Legislature, and to acts of aggravated injusfrom its lofty, important and true ends, tice in respect to different localities. Who to the advancement of local and individual will draw the line, therefore, between what privileges, must inevitably excite against the state ought to do, and what it ought themselves the suspicion of a sinister and not? Who will tell us how far the indi

vidual ought to surrender to society, or general respect for his abilities as well as where its interference is an encroachment, his character. or where a right ? Every body admits that Henry Clay, whose works are the next society ought to punish crime, for without on our list, was by general consent, the such discipline, the continued existence of most finished and splendid orator of a nasociety would be impossible—but ought tion, prolific of orators. Versatile, adroit, it not then for a stronger reason, to institute bold, profound, pathetic and imperious:means for the prevention of crime, -to man of the noblest instincts, an able tacguarantee the poor against anxiety and de tician, a far-sighted statesman, a born pendence, the most prolific causes of crime ; leader of men, -his eloquence was of that to educate the ignorant; to remove the masterly order, which “ wielded at will means of temptation, and to encourage vir the fierce democratie” and commanded tue in every way? You answer yes! Then the selecter applause of listening senates. why not establish a religion which experi But great as was its influence on his conence has proved is a most efficient agent of temporaries, and intense and fervent the social regeneration ? But by establishing admiration which it excited, it will be pera religion you are a long way on towards petuated, we suspect, rather as a rememdespotism. Or to reverse the process of brance and a tradition, than as a still the argument, we may say, that if you living power. The volumes in which it is leave religion to the voluntary action of recorded convey some idea of its comthe people, why not the whole subject of bined fervor, grace, and force, but a most education; why not the support of the in inadequate one. It is true, they are not sane and poor; why not the organization of like those skeletons of Whitfield's serthe police; why not the line of coast de mons, which cause us to wonder how the fences; in short, why have any government man could have left such a reputationat all, why not surrender the care of every mere simulacra of the departed reality; interest of society to voluntary action ? for they contain his arguments, his facts, But this would be anarchy, and thus on his illustrations, his appeals; in short, either hypothesis we fluctuate from one some indications of the large make and extreme to the other, until our faith inovement of the man; but the charm and in the existence of any stable political the spirit are gone.

The flashing eye, science is quite lost.

the rich melodious voice, the commandIn reality there is no fixed political ing form," the snowy front, curled with science, no absolute and unchangeable golden hair," which gave them their origiprinciples, that have yet been discovered : nal life, are gone; and as we read them, men and parties attach themselves to one we feel like those who walk through the side or the other, according to their con cavern of some mighty magician—the stitutional tendencies, their education, or tools and instruments of his spells are their interests; and the violent contests about us, his gems, his treasures, his which rage among them are more about magic rings, his weird circles and diatraditions and expedients than great ques grams; in fine, all the evidences of his tions of right. Yet in the absence of a art—but the fire has gone out in his furreal and complete science, we think that nace, and he himself hath vanished into both reason and experience are bringing thin air. us in the direction in which it lies. Every American now doubts that the world is

Both roof and floor, and walls, are all of gold,

But overgrown with dust and old decay. governed too much; every day proves that the people are to be trusted with lar This is the disadvantage of the orator, ger measures of power, and a broader compared with the writer, that the best latitude of liberty, as they grow in intelli part of his performances escapes with the gence and virtue; while the entire tenden occasion; and if he be an active politician, cy of the age is towards the enfranchise he has no time to compensate, by the lament of society from old restrictive laws bors of the study, for the haste and imand fetters. The arrogant assumptions of maturity of his extemporaneous efforts. the Church have long since been toppled His words are given loosely to the wind. down; the pretensions of nobility and rank and the wind carries them, on its swift are crumbling away; and our faith as wellas wings, to the distant interlunar caves, to be aspiration is, that every other barrier, in returned to him no more for ever. But the the way of complete individual freedom, writer, ripened by nutritious culture, and will soon perish for ever.

purified from taint by the refining proBut this is a digression; and we return cesses of his art, commits his treasures to to Mr. Seward, to say that the publication the imperishable amber of books. Thus. of his book will materially advance his being dead, he yet speaks, and, in addition reputation ; it will correct many false ideas to the effects he wrought while living and that have gone abroad, and increase the the honors be enjoyed, both diffusion and

perpetuity are given to his influence and held its opponents in check; and after the his fame.

glory of having founded our institutions, Mr. Clay, perhaps, less than most they share the next honor of having modiother orators, requires to be embalmed in fied and controlled our character and detype, because his services as a statesman, velopment. It was the superior fortune of though not always successful, were so Mr. Clay, however, to have lived to the largely beneficial, and actuated by such mellow fruitfulnes of his autumn: envibroad and ennobling views, that they have ous Death did not snatch him away unconnected his name with the history of his timely, while the glow of his young hopes country, and left an enduring mark upon was still fresh on his cheeks; but, full of its legislation. Yet, in spite of all this, we honors, full of years, the little enmities of cannot but think that the world has been partisan warfare softened by his venera loser by the liberal share of his time able age, as the fierce heats of the sun and talents which he allowed the cares are cooled by the coming nightof office, and the details of party manage * Life's blessings ail enjoyed, life's labor done, ment, to absorb. His endowments were Serenely to his final rest he passed." so generous that he needed only to have Mr. Calhoun, in respect to the preparanurtured and husbanded them, to have tion and finish of his works, enjoyed no raised himself to the loftiest niche of cos inconsiderable advantage over Mr. Clay. mopolitan greatness. The love and ad Engaged, like him, for the greater part of miration, which are now confined to his his life, in the arduous labors of leadership countrymen and his friends, would, in that and office, yet the peculiar habits of his case, have been expanded into the love mind enabled him to preserve more pure and admiration of mankind ; and no po and compact, and consequently more lastsition, in the universal respect, that it was ing qualities of style. The dissipations possible for penetration, sagacity, vigorous of debate never prevailed over his stern powers of reason, affluent imagination, ex intellectual integrity. He read little, but cellent sympathies and exalted aspirations reflected much, and when he spoke, which to attain, could have been too exalted or was not often, considering his multiplied permanent for his reach. Indeed, such opportunities, he spoke from a full mind, were the capabilities of his nature, that with extreme precision and directness, with ample cultivation and a less careless and always in view of some single and expenditure of his means, old Greece might important end. His speeches, therefore, have been revived on this western conti are models of chaste, severe, and cogent nent, in the person of a second Pericles, reasoning, and are no less complete as comaud Rome renewed her youth in the splen- positions than they are crowded as storedors of a greater Cicero. We are rightly houses of thought. The intense will that proud then, in thinking of what Mr. Clay pervades them, carrying the reader along was, but, as if no earthly excellence could with impetuous force, as if he were in the satisfy us, the heart swells and thrills hands of a giant, stamps them with an with an irrepressible emotion when it im individual and peculiar life. But Mr. agines what he might have been.

Calhoun was permitted also, in his latter Mr. Clay was the greatest of our post days, to embody in the permanent form revolutionary statesmen, and of those that of a treatise on government, the maturest went before, only Washington and Jeffer results of his lifelong studies. Those son, are likely to have secured a more im original views of politics, which are scatperishable renown. But the great man oftered in incomplete expositions, through our past whom he most nearly resembled his reports and addresses, were thus conin genius and character, was Hamilton, densed into an elaborate system, perfect whose work he may be said to have taken in its parts, and finished as a whole. We up where it was left, and to have carried see in it the mother-thoughts of all his on with even more indomitable purpose, political actions; it explains whatever and a more brilliant display of power. may have been supposed to be inconsistCherishing the same tendencies toward a ent in these; and exhibits him to us as strong and splendid government, gifted an acute and profound metaphysical philowith the same courteous and seductive sopher as well as an orator and statespersonal qualities, dividing opposition by the assiduity of their address, and rally The characteristics uniformly conceded ing support by their own exultant conti to Mr. Calhoun, by men of all shades of dence in success • alike bold, ambitious, opinion, were, a powerful and subtle anaand patriotic,—thcy identified their names lytical intellect, a subdued and chastened with every great question, both of domes but intense enthusiasm, fearless reliance tic administration and of foreign policy, upon the conclusions of his own mind, each in his day ; infused their own spirit chivalric honor, and an almost seraphic into a vast and powerful party, while they purity of personal character. Another


impression, however, was no less univer he relaxed into some lambent play of sal, that he carried his logical processes the affections, but we who saw him only to an impracticable degree of refinement, wrapped in his Senatorial robes, like a allowing mere abstract speculations to stern old Roman, must regard the report override his more practical conclusions, as a Straussian myth. while the earnestness of his convictions, The second peculiarity of Mr. Calhoun hurrying him into local prejudices, war consisted in this ;—that he, the only one rowed his sympathies and blinded him to of our statesmen who defended the social the broader interests of humanity. His anomaly of slavery, not as a political Book strongly confirms, while it slightly expedient or a necessity of circumstance, relieves, this general estimate. It deepens but as an intrinsic and actual good, yet our sense of his abilities, and also of the passed his life in the elaboration of a dangers they were exposed to from his me scheme of government which should give taphysics; at the same time it raises his the amplest security to individual freedom. extreme Southernism, from all suspicion A republican by conviction, as well as a of a mere sectional bias, into a systematic democrat by party classification, he was principle. It is seen that a singular unity so dissatisfied with that democracy which pervaded his opinions, which were legiti allows the majority of the people to rule, mate outgrowths of his fundamental that he contrived an ingenious system of ideas, and in no sense transient or tempo checks and negatives for protecting mirary feelings. He was the fanatic, -using norities against its unlimited and oppresthe word in no offensive sense, -of his sive action. His posthumous treatise on reason, and wherever that led him, he Government has for its principal object pursued it, regardless of the consequence. a demonstration of the despotism of the

Two curious inconsistencies strike us many, and the absolute need of a constiin the intellectual constitution of Mr. tution of society in which every interest, Calhoun. Born in a region where the and as near as possible every man, should tropical sun is apt to ripen human passion be represented. All the acumen of his into the rank luxuriance which it imparts analysis, all the craft and vigor of his to physical nature, he was yet the severest logic, all his experience of affairs, and the dialectician and the least ornamental writer untaxed energy of his imperious will, were among all our distinguished men. His turned to the elucidation and enforcement style, though intense, was rigidly intel of these views, in the hope of restraining lectual,-plain, direct, cogent, sinewy, and power and enlarging liberty. No man unyielding. No flowers of fancy ever ever inveighed more vehemently than he bloomed along its path; it never wan against the encroachments of the State dered into rich meads or leafy woods; upon the rights of the citizen, except that but, arid and hot, like a way across the when he depicted the blessings of slavery, desert, it bore along its burdens of thought, he was equally vehement. He thus without one cooling oasis, or a single exhibited to the world the spectacle of refreshing shade. The voluptuous life, a democrat who resisted the organized the magnificence and pomp, the exuber expression of the will of the majority, ant fulness and deep-toned harmonies of and a republican who consecrated his days the Southern zones, seem not to have to the support and extension of a state moved the springs of his being, -never of society founded on the subjugation of made his brain delirious or kindled his one race by another. Nor was it less heart into poetry. As well might he have worthy of note, that his countrymen, conbeen born in Nova Zembla, or any where vinced of his thorough simplicity and above the line of perpetual snow, as in truthfulness, forgot the inconsistency of the South, for any effect that it produced his opinions in their admiration of his upon his imagination and fancy. On the character. contrary, the sobriquet given to him, of Mr. Calhoun's theory of government "the cast-iron man," would show rather was simply this: That as society is the that he came out of the bowels of our rug natural state man, and man prefers ged northern mountains; for like iron he his own interests to the well-being of was capable of intense heat and a slight others, government is necessary to proglow, but of no brilliancy or sparkle. Stern, tect the social from the selfish propensity. dignified, and upright, he was at all times But as its powers must be lodged in the neither more nor less than the great Sen hands of individuals who are equally prone ator. A witticism, proceeding from his to prefer their own interests to the general mouth, would have seemed a moral suicide; good, a constitution is necessary to reand a capricious, fantastic, or grotesque strain the government. How, then, is that conceit, the beginning of mental aberration. constitution to be framed ? We see that it It is said that in the bosom of his family, can only be administered by men; and we among his friends, neighbors, and servants, see too, that those men will be tempted by

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