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for the time delayed upon the statesman of ages long past and gone. The nations of the civilized world have been marching firmly and steadily toward that perfection in the economy of States, which has been set before their eyes in the bold conceptions of those who, Sidney like, have had the moral hardihood and daring to analyse the constituents of power, and work out upon the black board of history the great problem of man's mundane destiny. The influence of disseminated science has added increment after increment of impulse to the onward tendency, and results the most gratifying and extraordinary have been realized. Restrictions upon civil liberty have been and are yet being stricken off in most of the governments of the world; and the security for its long and uninterrupted enjoyment, which men call political liberty, is attracting the regard to which its importance is entitled, and which a wise God intended it should have. Enlightened policy has continually added her sanctions, until equality of rights and privileges is no longer ranked among the day dreams and visions of those who have speculated upon government, the Platos, Harringtons, Thomas Mores and David Humes.* An equality, not in the sense of the deluded votaries of the Agrarian school, but the far nobler one of enjoying “personal security, personal liberty, and private property," and of having a reciprocal obligation upon others to observe the three great principles of the Justinian code, honeste vivere, alterum non lædere, suum cuique tribuere.
“The complex nature of all free government,” says an eminent British writer, “is the natural product of liberty, property, civility, commerce, and extent of populous territory,* “which," he continues, "when we are willing to exchange for tyranny, poverty, barbarism, idleness, and a barren desert, we may enjoy the simplicity and despatch of foreign countries." And Montesquieu, whose writings have perhaps set in the clearest possible light every thing that pertains to this subject, has said, that the expense and delay of judicial proceedings, growing out of complex law, is the price that every man pays for his liberty; and that in all free governments, the formalities of law'increase in propor
Vide Respublica, Oceanica, Utopia, and "Idea of a perfect commonwealth.”. An edition of the Utopia, with notes, etc., by A. St. Jobn, Esq., 12mo., we see has been lately published.
tion to the value which is set upon the honor, the fortune, the liberty, the life of the subject. *
These facts premised, as we think they will be generally admitted to be such, who is there that shall succeed in adapting a statesman to them? We mean, who is there with so clear a perception and equipoise of mind, that it would be but a small matter for him to fashion, form and develope a man, (on paper, of course,) exactly suited to the occasion,-.a man, prepared to grapple with the elements as he finds them,--a man neither before the times, nor behind the times, but exactly suited to the times,-not a mere "Plato's man," an abstraction incapable of existence, but a man, in short, of flesh, blood and life, endowed with all the high attributes of excellence which his great work demands. Where is the man to sit for the portrait, and where is the great painter to seize the pencil?
* We confess that the celebrated Scotch metaphysician, Dugald Stuart, seemingly dissents from the doctrine here laid down, when he maintains "that as society advances to perfection, the science of legislation will be simplified." We say seemingly, for there is a sense in which the proposition so broadly stated may be taken, which will save the credit of its author, or rather our credit in presuming to controvert. If we understand the simplification to consist in the more ready apprehension and development of the duties of the governors, and rights of the governed, why, then, it is manifest enough that in the march to perfection, the science of legislation will be simplified. Nay, more, the proper and legitimate sources of legislation will be discovered and explored, and an hundred forms and restrictions, tending only to paralyze human effort, be thrown off. We have not to go far to see already this work in progress. We need only fix our eyes, for example, upon Political Economy, Public Law and the Criminal Code. Adam Smith was a burning light in his age, and is a light now; but Say, Ricardo, Malthus, Vethake and others, have carried on the torch far in advance. We hear less every day of "Navigation laws” to build up commerce, "Bounties,” “Balances of Trade,”. "Agricultural Systems,” etc.; and it is to be hoped that "Protection of Home Industry," "American Systems, and so forth, will soon be added to the category of middle age delusion. We have little now said about making war upon the infidels for propagating truth, as was once thought not unreasonable by such names as Grotius, Coke and Lord Bacon. Sir Mathew Hale issues no more the writ de comburendo heretico, or submits witchcraft to the fiery or watery ordeal. In this respect we concur in the deduction of Stuart, but at the same time maintain that, notwithstanding all this, legislation and law will have their profound learning, and the increasing wants and luxuries, the discoveries in arts and science, will continue to add to, and in no inconsiderable degree increase, the complexness of judicial systems. We wish we could, with any reasonable credulity, expect a modification and simplification, which is, in many respects, to be desired; but laws will increase, libraries accumulate, ponderous tomes be added to the jurist's shelves, to which in vain the torch of Omar, as Chancellor Kent characterizes the New York Revised Statutes, will be applied.
It is our part now to postpone the statesman in the abstract, for the statesman in the concrete, because the latter inquiry is a more useful, although, perhaps, a more difficult one; and we wish our remarks to have, as much as possible, a practical nature. Difficult, indeed, will be the task; to point out the new direction and peculiar turn the influence of our republican institutions must give to the character, “which never soars so high, or touches so potently, as when it grasps principles which fix the destinies of nations and strikes down to the root of civil polity.” He, indeed, must be a powerful limner, who could succeed in drawing a perfect picture of such a character; but he would never be, nor would he deserve to be that powerful limner, whose trembling hand shrunk from the responsibility of attempting the rude sketch.
The first assumption we make in this department of our subject, cannot be deemed unwarranted, that without habits of deep, profound, continued reflection, generalization and abstraction, endowments so seldom combined, the high duties which the State demands from her honored son can never be performed with fidelity, nor redound to her lasting glory and perpetuity. The science of legislation embraces, perhaps, a more extensive range of objects than any other science in the world. It is a science that cannot be "learned in a day," but, on the contrary, the vigilantes annorum vigenti admits the devotee within the porch only of the temple, whose hidden and sacred places can only be gained by the assiduities and labors of a whole life-time. The mind of the statesman ought to be enlightened upon every subject, however remotely connected with the policy of government. His intellect should be the store house of that almost universal knowledge which Cicero attributes to his orator,* since the statesman, properly considered, should include even him. With the history of government he must necessarily have made the most extensive acquaintance, and be able at a glance to point out every mutation of consequence that has taken place in any age. This is his province, and is, to be sure, something, but very little. The most ordinary capacity and mechanical drudgery,-nay, the veriest dolt might have much of this lore beaten into his cranium,-might be able to point out the page in Livy, or Thucydides, or Herodotus, where such and such facts are narra
* Cic. de Oratore--passim.
ted, and with this second-hand information, and a few borrowed deductions, imagine himself a considerable character, endowed with a prescience quite extraordinary. But with such as this, the deep, penetrating, original mind of the statesman will not be satisfied; there is for him a deep and searching scrutiny which infinitely transcends it, and to his microscopic vision, mysteries and truths, relations and adaptations, buried in the deep womb of history, will be developed and brought to light. Such a mind cannot be content to string facts together chronologically and memorize them; facts form of themselves a natural concatenation,--they are linked together in sequences and antecedents,-an isolated fact is a moral impossibility. To know that Carthage, Greece, Rome, have fallen, is to know something, perhaps ; but to know why Carthage, Greece and Rome have fallen, is information of quite another stamp,-information to be obtained only by following out every link in a chain of ratiocination, embracing, perhaps, every noted fact in the history of these countries, following them with a single eye, an earnestness, a devotion, engendered only by that pure intelligence which, investigating truth, seizes upon it, and clings to it, simply because it is truth.
These, then, we propose as the first problems for the statesman to solve, constituting, as they do, history proper; the ultimatum of political knowledge. And what is it to be equal to these things? Is it a small matter, hardly without the range of the ordinary tether of the human mind. Is it to angle in the pool with thread and pin-hook, to bring out some paltry minnow from his native mud? Or is it to fathom the ocean and invade the caverns of the great deep ? How unfortunate, that error is so common upon this subject; how unfortunate that so few comprehend the proper mission of the statesman, whilst so many are pretenders to his political far-sightedness. In political affairs, more than in any thing else, does the principle of causation err, and is found forever at fault. The sequence or contemporaneous existence of events, is too often the ground for establishing the relation of cause and effect,-a principle is as often discovered to be fallacious as it is indiscriminately applied. In the complex machinery, the innermost springs are hidden,—the wheels within wheels, the thousand “petty annexments," are lost sight of in the contemplation of the great whole ; that which receives, is fixed upon as the originator of motion, the agent
is dignified into the principal; and under appearances so specious, a thousand errors are the natural and unavoidable result. * In the decision of Cæsar at the Rubicon, to “cast the die,” some,-in his “Et tu Brute" in the senate-house, others—fix the first great epoch of Rome's final overthrow; whilst, perhaps, the seeds of decay were so widely disseminated, that Cæsar himself was rather the fruit of their rapid germination.
Of course certainty, greater than to a common intent, in legal parlance, is demanded from and attainable by the great energies of the statesman, in these particulars. A false analysis may prove disastrous, when it produces a theory for experiment, as was seen in the far-famed system of Law, which, in promising to enrich Louis XIV. and France, carried rather in its flood of assignats ruin and desolation. Perhaps it is from gross and criminal neglect of the particulars above mentioned, that we progress so slowly in attaining practical wisdom, and over and over and over again tread in the devious and venerable ways of our good old ancestors. We think as our fathers thought before us, and they in turn as their fathers; and so it goes, until good fortune at last sends us an original thinker, who begins forthwith to clear away the cobwebs, and set all things in their proper places. This is the modus operandi of the world, yesterday, to-day and to-morrow. In revolutions and batiles, it is common to search for the destinies of nations ; these, to be sure, are imposing, and attract attention by their glare, but how often is it that in a single institution, a single maxim, a slight displacement of some petty little screw in the great machine, its 'whole parts tumble into pieces. An author, perhaps, or a book, is the hidden source of revolutions which shake kingdoms to their centres.t
* Let us take a home example. The United States Bank, during its short lived existence, what did it do? Ask a vast portion of the people, and they will tell you, it caused those revulsions in trade which prostrated the energies of the nation. Ask another portion, and what say they? why, if its existence had been continued, it would have prevented these evils. Querewhy this diversity ?
+ That it may be seen how great a conflagration a small matter kindleth, hear what Hume has to say: “What can be imagined more trivial than the difference between one color of livery and another in horse races, yet this difference begat'two most inveterate factions in the Greek empire, the Prasini and the Veneti, who never suspended their hostility until they ruined that unhappy government.”—1 Essays, viii. Really, what some one says