صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

The long winters of the north are the parents of its mechanics, its inventors, its artists, its literati, and its philosophers. With time in abundance to devote to thought, with à mind energized by the cold winds, with the activity inspired by the demands made upon the ingenuity during the summer in order that complete protection against the effects of winter might be secured, and with no opportunity to consume the time in frivolous out-door amusements, each intellect was engaged in active labor. The mass of men devoted their attention to devising plans for their material comforts, which they put in execution in the summer months, and thus gave rise to material prosperity ; while not a few directed their minds to the cultivation of literature, art, science, and philosophy; and thus an intellectual civilization was developed, of a character entirely different from that which resulted in the south, from almost purely physical agencies ; and which is, we believe, destined to be permanent, and to yet regenerate and intellectualize society within the tropics. If the development of mind is sufficiently great to enable it to control the forces of nature, by counteracting the deleterious, and stimulating the beneficial forces, then we may yet expect the regeneration of the countries which were seats of ancient civilization, and may confidently look to such a reorganization of the social system of the people, as will give them, if not their former splendor, far more than their former usefulness and solidity.

But climate and soil are not the only physical influences which aid in shaping a primitive civilization, and, of course, giving direction to the expanding intellect. The destinies of a people are often decided by locality ; and between two families of the same race there exists a wide diversity, as early as the second and third generations, after a dispersion, if their new homes invite different modes of life.

To almost every pursuit there are certain peculiarities attaching themselves. Where occupations are varied and the people mingle freely these peculiarities are little marked ; but, as is generally the case, yet nearly all, or a vast majority, in one particular locality, adopt a single pursuit, and these will be at once apparent and permanent; and this remark obtains greater force where we find a nation with one predominating interest. It can be observed readily even in the idiomatic language of a people, which naturally derives phrases and illustrations from the techvical terms of the dominant occupations, and it is still more readily seen in the prevailing architecture, tastes, and habits.

Commercial cities, manufacturing towns, villages of fishermen, and rural districts, each possess certain characteristics not found in the others; in a word, each have a civilization of their own, and while this is in some measure the result of intellectual development, that received its direction from physical causes, from the fact that there were fine harbors, waterfalls, schools of fish, or a fertile soil, gave the original direction to the pursuits in which men were engaged.

The more primitive the race at the period of dispersion, the more rapidly will this diversity manifest itself, because the physical forces lose power as the mental are developed. The tendency of intellect is towards unity in end, but variety in means; it possesses the power, when developed, to supply deficiencies, which nature can never do; therefore, wherever it prevails, the same ultimate end, self-elevation, is sought, while it resorts to every conceivable artifice within the limits of any one particular locality. Nevertheless, the constant action of physical causes will leave many traces of their effects. This can readily be illustrated in the case of a body put in motion by a single force; if on the way it encounters another coming at an angle, it will deviate from a straight line, and the deviation will be in proportion to the relative momentum of the two bodies. The mental forces are moving in a direct line onwards, while the physical are perpetually compelling a deviation from that direct course.

History is replete with illustrations of the effect of locality upon a people. The inhabitants of all the peninsulas, and those on the shores of the Mediterranean, where there were excellent harbors, and where the interior produced a liberal supply of articles demanded at a distance, were adventurers on the sea. The Danes and the Norwegians, on the inlets of the North Sea, were pirates from time immemorial, till their profession was superseded by peaceful commerce, in which they engaged with ardor. The narrow limits which circumscribed the Dutch, sent them to the seas early, and for a long time they held a commercial supremacy. The narrow policy of British monarchs for a period kept England a purely agricultural country ; but centuries have intervened since the demands of the people compelled a change, and Great Britain, possessing every advantage of locality, and all the material for carrying on manufactories successfully, became the mistress of the ocean, and the chief of commercial nations.


[ocr errors]

In a word, obtsland is such barren; and h

We have an example in our own country. The New England States abounded in harbors and waterfalls, and hence commercial cities and manufacturing towns have sprung up in quick succession, though a region whose climate is in hospitable, and whose soil is chiefly barren; and hence the civilizațion of New England is such as follows the pursuits indicated, in a word, obtains its direction from its physical surroundings. But the civilization of that section is preponderatingly intellectual, and therefore does not possess peculiarities so distinct as would have followed had intellectual culture been exclusively the property of the few, as is the case in the manufacturing districts of Europe.

To pursue the subject further would be to extend this article to too great a length. Yet the reader will perceive that but one branch of the subject, the effect of physical causes, has been touched. The counteraction of the mental forces, and how they have affected the destiny of man, open a still wider theme than the one here discussed ; therefore it would be impossible to broach the subject in this article. We have already shown how certain climates and localities are adapted to the development of the intellectual forces ; but these developments introduced a new power into the arena, which reacts on nature. Whether it will be able to ultimately overcome all the physical causes which operate deleteriously upon civilization, is a problem for the distant future.

Art. III,-Reports of the Supreme Court, and other Public Docu

ments, &c. WASHINGTON, 1836-1864.

The Supreme Court of the United States may well be proud of its chief-justices. All of them were eminent, and three were distinguished. Jay, doubtless, had less legal learning than Marshall or Taney. Coming into public life in 1774, at the age of twenty-nine, and being engaged almost constantly, from that time up to the adoption of the Constitution, in the most important public employments at home and abroad, he had less opportunity for legal studies and pursuits than the others, at the same period of their lives. Nevertheless he was unquestionably the most suitable man in the country to be the first Chief Justice. His great abilities, his calm temper, his love of justice, his immaculate purity, and the universal confidence of the country in him

all conspired to designate him as the fittest occupant of that high position. Ellsworth, his immediate successor, was an able and suitable man for the station; but he filled it at an early and comparatively unimportant epoch, and for a short period only. He had no opportunity of gaining any special distinction as a judge.

Next came Marshall, the very impersonation of law and logic. He was the best man who could have succeeded to that place. He laid broad and deep the foundations of our national legal system ; he was the early and the greatest expounder of the Constitution. During an eventful period of thirty-four years, he reared a splendid structure of American public law. When Taney succeeded to that fabric, it was in a somewhat finished condition. If he only kept good the old homestead, he performed a memorable work. If he added anything of grace, beauty, or substance to the structure, his fame rises all the higher in the scale of greatness. No country in any period of the world's history—not France or England in their greatest days—could boast a judicial name superior to that of the great architect of our constitutional law. No country was ever more fortunate in having the mantle of a great chief fall upon a worthy successor. Marshall was clear, simple, exact, acute, comprehensive, logical, original, and profound. Taney was, perhaps, second to Marshall in some, if not in all, these points; and yet he was a great judge and a great man.

He has now gone where neither praise nor blame can reach him; yet he may properly be brought before the tribunal of public judgment for his administration of his great trust. At the bar, on the presentation of resolutions of condolence and respect, no rigorous criticism of merit or demerit is expected. It is true that good taste would recommend such treatment; but custom has established a law of eulogy in such cases, from which it is perhaps too late to expect a departure. The newspaper press indulges in unstinted laudation, or unmeasured abuse, according as party prejudice leads. Popular judgment must necessarily be somewhat divided and somewhat unsound. Professional opinion, too, partakes of the popular fever. But a calmer judgment and a more thoughtful review are demanded in these pages. A brief outline of his life, an examination of his public career-free from the taint of politics on either side—and an attempt at a critical analysis of his mental constitution, are no more than justice to the memory of the great magistrate.


two Taney with Harper and second to noor in his 8

Roger B. Taney was a native of Calvert county, Maryland. He was born March 17th, 1777. His ancestry need not be traced ; and his life, although an active and illustrious one, affords few incidents of remarkable adventure for extensive biography. He was educated at Dickinson College, and graduated in 1795. He commenced legal practice in his native place in 1799 ; but in 1801 removed to Frederic. He was early a member of the lower house of the state legislature, and state senator from 1816 to 1922. In 1822 he removed to Baltimore. He was appointed State Attorney-General in 1827, and held the station until March, 1831, when he was made United States Attorney-General. This place he held until September, 1833, when he was transferred to the Treasury Department, which he held until he was created Chief Justice, in March, 1836. He died in office on the 12th October, 1864, at the city of Washington.

As a lawyer at the bar, Taney was not eloquent, nor impassioned ; but he was solid, strong, and persuasive. As long since as 1825, he was the first lawyer in his state ; and the bar of that state was second to none in the country. Robert Goodloe Harper and William Pinkney had died, leaving Taney without a peer. In 1829, William Wirt, after twelve years of brilliant service as attorney-general of the United States, removed to Baltimore, and became the rival of Taney. The contest was a spirited, but a decisive one. Wirt was the more polished, eloquent, and scholarly man ; but Taney brought the logic of a giant to bear upon the beautiful creations of the rhetorical artist. He more than sustained himself in the conflict; he brought out of it a reputation increased, rather than diminished.

Among the more prominent men with whom he came in contact in professional life, were Winder, Harper, Martin, Pinkney, and Wirt. He was equal to any one of them, though differing in the leading traits of his mind from each. Winder was a very superior lawyer. Taney was a man of more ability and culture than Goodloe Harper. He himself was accustomed to speak of Luther Martin as the ablest of the men of his professional days. The chief-justice was, however, so averse to speaking of himself, that he seldom, even to his most intimate friends, indulged in reminiscences of his earlier life. Pinkney was the superior of Martin in elegance, polish, and eloquence; also in knowledge of political law; but in all other respects, the chief-justice always spoke of Martin as the abler and more learned man.

« السابقةمتابعة »