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Government of the British States.
these queries seems to be, that the sovereignty resides where it is supposed by those who obey to reside; but this reduces the test of sovereignty from the fact of habitual obedience to an idea of the constitution which the bulk of subjects never entertain for a moment. And we can go no further than to insist, as we have intimated already, that where legal restraint can be found there is no sovereignty.
These difficulties embarrass still more the application of the theory to the government of the Trans-atlantic Republic. The constitution of the United States of America is discussed by Mr. Austin, as a specimen of a composite State. A composite State is one so compounded of several independent States, that their separate sovereignties are all transferred to a great council of them all. The constitution of the United States unquestionably limits the supremacy exercised by each State legislature: as unquestionably it confers on the central government only a limited authority. But it decrees a perpetual union; and, by the 5th Article, places in a majority of three-fourths of the States, assembled in Convention, the power of remodelling the constitution itself. If this power were unlimited, we should be disposed to agree with our author that the 5th Article transferred, once for all, the sovereignty of each State to such a convention as is there described. But the proviso which is appended to it, saving the right of equal suffrage in the Senate to every State, coupled with the restriction of the amending power to a majority of three-fourths, clearly imposes, even upon a Convention of States, certain limitations which negative its claim to supremacy. Where, then, does the supreme power lie? We can frame but one answer. No convention of the States has any authority, except under the limitations of the constitution. The constitution itself was understood to require, and actually received, the express sanction of each State which was to be bound by it. One principle of absolute sovereignty, and one only, is recognised throughout the state documents of the American people; and that is, the right of the Convention of each State to govern that State. That sovereignty has never been abdicated. The Federal Convention of States, the government of Washington, the State legislatures, hold but superior and inferior delegated powers from the several States which have granted them. The constitution is not the charter of a single nation, but the compact of a system of Con
federated States. The great republic is no unity, but an alliance. The laws of Congress, the very constitution itself, are positive law in such State only, because they exist by the authority of that State's own Convention; and if any State revoke its adhesion, and declare an absolute independence, the act must be visited, if at all, not as a violation of law, but as a breach of treaty, by war, and not by punishment. So that if Mr. Austin's view of a composite State be sound, the United States of America do not answer the description.
We need only add a few words, in order to guard ourselves against a probable mistake. The discussion in this place of the sovereignty of the United States has nothing whatever to do with the right of secession. We are treating of law, not of morals. Secession is a question of constitutional law, and constitutional law, as has been noticed above, consists principally of mere morality. Or, rather, secession is a question higher than all constitutional law, and owns no other considerations than those which are afforded by the highest expediency. States so closely confederated as the American States are, cannot but grow gradually into a single people; and one people must have one government. The union of nations is no temporary partnership, to be regulated by written articles, and dissolved by the will of either party, but a permanent and inviolable marriage. Constitutions or treaties may provide for their separation; but nature makes them one; and what God has once joined no man may put asunder. Divorce may become justifiable and necessary; but it is no subject for contract. Revolution is not a right to be bought and sold, but a desperate remedy against wrong. The secession of the Southern States must be looked upon either as a rebellion, or as a final struggle against a yet incomplete process of unification. In either view it may, perhaps, be fully justified by the circumstances of the contending parties; but in either view it is no question of paper constitutions, and still less of the abstract theory of sovereignty.
ART. VI.-1. The Life of Edward Irving, Minister of the National Scotch Church, London. Illustrated by his Journals and Correspondence. By MRS. OLIPHANT. In Two Vols. London: Hurst and Blackett. 1862.
JUDGED by any standard, Edward Irving was one of the most remarkable men of his time, and of all time. His splendid genius, his unparalleled rise, and his no less extraordinary fall, commend his life as worthy of close and thoughtful examination. The interest of the study is heightened by the fact, that he was so signally a representative man. Behind his age in many respects, borrowing his language, his tastes, and his very spirit from the past,-seeming always more like a reproduction of antiquity than a part of the life around him,-Irving was yet before his age. He represented almost every school of present religious thought. It is not difficult to discern in him the type of the highest sacramentarianism. His theories of the humanity and brotherhood of Christ are the principles of the Broad Church school. gelicalism may claim him as its pattern. And perhaps we may go so far as to say, that even Spiritualism, in some of its less revolting aspects, is not altogether without the sanction of his example.
reflected, at least, in The lowest Evan
This fulness and variety of his remarkable life complicates the difficulty of forming a correct estimate of him. Some unique men are scrutable by no age. The world cannot make up its mind about them. The more it knows of their history, the more it is puzzled. Cromwell, notwithstanding Carlyle's admirable and exhaustive apology, is yet a mystery; society cannot decide whether he was a sublime and godly patriot, or a ruthless hypocrite. Bacon wears yet the twofold character of uncompromising fidelity and unprincipled time-serving. William Penn enjoys the reputation both of a saint and of a rogue. And, while some exalt Edward Irving as the grandest and most apostolic man of his day, others denounce him as the veriest fanatic.
Mrs. Oliphant has attempted to clear up the mystery, and to place Edward Irving before the world in his true and proper
character. She has made judicious use of her materials, and succeeded in drawing a very vivid picture, the few blemishes of which we can afford to forget in the presence of so many excellences. It is not our function to criticize the minor literary failings of works like this. But while giving Mrs. Oliphant all credit for her generous motives, we must record our judgment that she lacks one quality, which, above all others, the biographer of Edward Irving should possess,—she is a partisan, and not a historian. She never pretends to be dispassionate. She chooses a motto for her work which assumes for her hero the character of the purest and most entire devotion to God. She dedicates her volumes to all who love his memory. And it is almost impossible for one carried on by the impetuous tide of her eloquence and energy to resist the conclusion that Edward Irving belongs, by every right, to the lists of 'the noble army of martyrs.'
Nor can we altogether blame her. His was a beautiful life, -vague, dreamy, erratic, but beautiful. Clad in the antique and sombre grandeur of the past, and stretching forth ever into the august splendours of the future,-masculine to intensity, and yet gentle and womanlike,—daring to stand on the shores of eternal mystery, while at the same time humbly craving light and truth from the little children of God,-the idol of tens of thousands, and yet the outcast of the Churches,-Irving stands before us as a man whom it seems almost irreverent to criticize. In the study of his tragic history, (for it is no less,) the most stubborn prejudice wavers, and the calmest philosophy is melted to tears.
Edward Irving was born in a small house near the old town cross of Annan, in the autumn of the eventful year 1792. His father was a tanner,-a plain, sensible man, to whom leather was one of the great questions of life. Scarcely more noticeable was his mother. Her beauty, 'of dark and solemn type,' lived again in the face of her son; but she seems to have had little else to raise her above the general level than a certain energy of character, and a very respectable share of common sense. Irving, however, was always proud of his somewhat homely mother. Evangelicalism,' he said, 'has spoiled both the minds and bodies of the women of Scotland: there are no women now like my mother.' We have a glimpse of two
eccentric uncles, on the mother's side; but there is nothing further in the circle of Irving's kindred to account for the distinction of his after-life.
Nor do his school-days appear to have given promise of future renown. His education was intrusted first of all to one 'Peggy Paine,' a relation of Tom Paine, who was then in Paris. From the care of this spinster of evil name and kindred, he was transferred at an early age to the school of one Adam Hope, a man of very limited means, but of considerable literary attainments. Fifty years ago the humblest Scottish schoolmaster was generally a respectable scholar, and a graduate of the University. Mr. Hope's scholarship, however, seems to have somewhat overborne the gentler sympathies. His discipline was severe. The bleeding ears of the boys uttered often their silent protest against the theory that learning softens the asperities of nature. Young Irving, who was neither genius nor dunce, seems to have frequently fallen under the anger of his master. "The only real glimpse which is to be obtained of Edward in his school-days discloses the mournful picture of a boy "kept in," and comforted in the ignominious solitude of the school-room, by having his "piece" hoisted up to him by a cord through a broken window.'
But it is most probable that the sphere of Irving's real education was much wider than the area of school studies. He gloried in the open air. Possessing perfect health and a vigorous frame, the young athlete revelled in the sports of the inspiring dales. Walking, running, climbing, leaping, were all more to his mind than even mathematics, in which he was a proficient from boyhood. His friends still remember that he never went to Dornoch, the home of his uncles, without leaping every gate on the way. It is to be feared that the high-pressure systems of education pursued at the present day are fatal to mental elasticity and breadth. Boys have not enough fresh air and athletic exercise; and the result is a fevered tone of culture, from which it is almost vain to expect those masculine aud original developments which distinguished the men of the past generation.
While it is impossible to discover in the earlier age of Irving any indications of those qualities which afterwards distinguished him, it is not difficult to discern the process by which he was gradually moulded. The locality of his birth was itself strongly suggestive. Echoes of the Covenant rang through those old