صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

aware

being laughed to scorn, at home as well as abroad, for its ignorance and imbecility. Every intelligent person one meets is quit how grateful our government ought to feel to the New York Herald, · Times, and Tribune—especially the two former—for bolstering up or explaining away its innumerable blunders, including the violence which it is constantly doing the English language in its public documents." *

Referring to the press leads us naturally to consider the nomination of Mr. Greeley. Before doing so, however, we again distinctly disclaim any wish to deprive General Grant of an iota of the credit justly due to him for his success as a general in crushing the rebellion. If the country were engaged in another war to-morrow, at home or abroad, there is no commander in whom we should have more confidence. War, at best, we can only regard as a system of organized human butchery. In this respect we fully adopt the sentiment of Homer :

“ Curs'd is the man, and void of law and right,
Unworthy property, unworthy light,
Unfit for public rule, or private care,

That wretch, that monster, who delights in war." + Unfortunately, however, the butchery is sometimes not only necessary but unavoidable. When this happens, then, all honor to the chief butcher who does his work faithfully and effectually. But that one may be an excellent butcher and yet prove an execrable statesman, is illustrated but too plainly in the present case. We regret to add that General Grant also furnishes a most painful illustration of the ancient precept that nothing is more demoralizing to minds of a certain calibre than the possession of supreme power.

We have the authority of Aristotle and Seneca, as well as that of Grotius, Locke, Vatel, and Bolingbroke, for the opinion that the individual who might continue honest and modest, frugal and faithful, all his life, in some position suited to his talents, is liable to become unscrupulous, vain, avaricious, insolent, and even tyrannical, on being invested with power, even if only for a single year.

* Visit to Europe—Some Things usually Overlooked.”. No. xli, June, 1870.

+ Iliad, xx, 87, 92. 8

VOL. XXV.-NO. XLIX.

But we find we have little space left to discuss the fitness, or unfitness of Mr. Greeley. It is a remarkable fact, that, while there is no country in the world in which the press exercises so powerful and all-pervading an influence as it does in the United States, there is no enlightened country in which its members are less honored. All ambitious to become public functionaries are ready enough to make the best use they can of newspaper editors; but while doing their utmost to secure their good-will, they affect to despise them as mere tools. Nor is it alone the office-seeking politicians—those that make politics their exclusive trade-who regard them in this light: a large proportion of the public bas the same feeling. But it is themselves the editors have chiefly to blame; they are too fond of vilifying each other. If they abused each other much less, the public at large, as well as the politicians, would respect and esteem them much more.

There is no good reason why American editors should not be placed in as high positions, as English, French, or German editors. None have filled higher offices in any of the chief countries of Europe than editors, or writers for the press; and it may be added, without fear of contradiction, that none have discharged the duties of those offices more ably or more faithfully. In illustration of this, we might mention a dozen of English newspaper and periodical writers who have attained the highest positions; but one will be sufficient. The highest functionary in England next to the sovereign is the lord chancellor, and it is universally admitted that there has been no English chancellor for at least a century who has performed his duties more ably or more faithfully than the late Lord Brougham, one of the founders, and for nearly a quarter of a century, one of the chief writers of the “Edinburgh Review." For many years M. Guizot was an editor and correspondent; and for many years he was prime minister of France, and confessedly one of the ablest that great country ever had. M. Thiers also has been a journalist for at least a decade, and in time he became prime minister. At the moment of his country's deepest adversity and humiliation, when she had most need for a statesman to lead her back into the path of prosperity and glory, he was chosen by common consent as the most competent in such a crisis ; and both Europe and America bear testimony to the wisdom, ability, and genuine patriotism which he has evinced, without ostentation, as president of the republic.

Thus far, no three editors in America have been placed in positions in which they could be compared with Wolsey, Richelieu, and Mazarin, respectively, as the English and French journalists mentioned have most favorably been by those best versed in the science of government and jurisprudence. But several of our editors have been elected to the state and national legislatures; a few have been placed by their fellowcitizens in offices more or less important; and if either be compared with others occupying similar positions, it will be found that the editors have proved themselves at least as able, efficient, and faithful public servants as the lawyers, or those who devote themselves exclusively to office-seeking. Especially have they proved themselves superior to the tribe of majors, colonels, generals, etc. This is true, for example, of the late Mr. Raymond. It was generally admitted, even by his nents, that none of his predecessors had acquitted themselves more ably or more faithfully, either as lieutenant-governor or speaker. Philadelphia never had a better chief magistrate, in any sense of the term, or one that made a nearer approach to the character of a model mayor, than Mr. McMichael, of the “North American.” Erastus Brooks, of the “Express” compares favorably in ability and honesty, as well as intelligence, with the best of our congressional legislators ; and the same remark applies with equal force to Mr. Anthony, of the “Providence Journal."

But Horace Greeley has also had some experience as a legislator; and if he did not distinguish himself in congress

oppoby the eloquence or brilliancy of his speeches, he at least proved himself a faithful public serv.int, and fully maintained his well-earned prestige as the uncompromising friend of human freedom. It is needless for us either to discuss the character of Mr. Greeley as a man and a citizen, or to inquire what are his qualifications for the presidency of the United States. His failings, as well as his virtues, are familiar to all who read newspapers. Both are exaggerated in turn, according as those who describe them are friends or opponents ; for as to enemies, we do not believe Horace Greeley has any. At least, no one possessed of equal talent and ability as a writer, with equal opportunity of giving publicity to his views, has fewer enemies. We should wish, indeed, that Mr. Greeley were more liberally educated ; that he evinced better taste both in his language and in his apparel ; that he were more refined and dignified in his manners; that he were less vain and less credulous ; and that he were less disposed to adopt and advocate visionary theories.

But in the most essential of the requirements thus negatively indicated, Mr. Greeley is at least the equal of General Grant. In

In every other important particular, with one exception, the editor is vastly superior to the general. As a fighter, indeed, with any more destructive weapon than pen or tongue, Greeley is not equal to Grant. But if at any time the pen is not stronger than the sword at the present day, it is only during actual war. One represents the power of the mind, the other that of the body; and is it not as true to-day, as when Sallust wrote, that the former we possess in common with the gods, the latter in common with the lower animals.* In short, the man who has ideas on multifarious subjects—though some of those ideas may be erroneous, or even absurd—is certainly better qualified to be the chief magistrate of a great and enlightened nation, than the man who has no idea save on one subject-carnage and blood, and the demoralized habits resulting therefrom.

* Alterum nobis cum diis, alterum cum belluis commune est.-Bell. Cat.c.i.

As to the inconsistencies of Mr. Greeley's opinions-none of us should be ashamed to admit that we are wiser this year than we were last year, or several years ago. Especially ought we not to be ashamed if our altered views are in favor of humanity. None were more opposed to the rebellion than the writer of this article was from its commencement to its end—none were more in favor, as our pages show, of crushing it by every legitimate means. But once it was put down, none were more in favor of a general amnesty. We showed from ancient and modern authorities that it was the wisest as well as the most humane and generous course.* ,If, therefore, Mr. Greeley was reprehensible in this respect, so were we; so were many of our most patriotic citizens; nay, so was Seneca, so was Cicero, so was Livy, so was Grotius, so was Vatel, so was Montesquieu, etc., etc.

With regard to the nomination of General Grant by the Philadelphia convention—that we regard as a matter of course. The ample patronage at his disposal, and his well-known readiness to barter off public interests for personal services, place it beyond doubt. Is it not chiefly for his proneness to exercise this corrupt influence that so large a number of his former friends have deserted him? And is it not chiefly because Horace Greeley is regarded as incapable of exercising such corrupt influences that those friends of the former have nominated the latter, and pledged themselves to use every legitimate means in their power to secure his election 9. Besides, there are the various reasons which we have already mentioned, especially the difference between one who can think for himself and one who must employ others to think for him ;

the difference between intelligence and lack of intelligence; in short, almost the difference between mind and matter.

Thus it is that if we are allowed to choose between General

* Vide No. xxiv, March, 1866, Art. "The President's Veto-Rights of Conquered."

« السابقةمتابعة »