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and candor to acknowledge, that the Supreme Court of the United States has hitherto discharged its high duties with such ability, firmness, and moderation, as to command the respect, and retain the confidence of the nation. I have always been much impressed with the immensity of the weight and value of its trust, and with the severe and majestic simplicity of its character. It may be said of that court, and certainly with as much propriety as it has been said in reference to the Roman sages, that justice has there unveiled her mysteries and erected her temple.'
11. The Westminster Review.-A new quarterly publication with this title has been commenced in London. It comes out with a bold and spirited attack on the Edinburgh and Quarterly, charging them with having pursued a partial and narrow course, looking to certain ends not the most honorable, moved only by the interests of party, and having little sympathy with the spirit of the times, or regard for the literary wants of the people. In the introductory article, written with strength and in a high tone of liberal feeling, many deep reflections are made on the characteristics of the times, the changes now going on, the progress of national politics, new developments of the human powers, and the kind of writing, which the present state of inquiry and the present habits of thinking demand. Two declarations are set forth by the conductors of this Journal ; first, that they will be devoted to no party ; and secondly, that they will echo the public voice. We have the substance of their plan in the following words from their introductory article.
* That the spirit and manner, in which the leading reviews have been conducted, are susceptible of improvement, is implied in the present attempt to increase their number. Our hope of success is grounded on that greater conformity with the spirit of the times, in all its honorable peculiarities, which is allowed by our freedom from the trammels of party. Such a publication as we project, seems to us to be called for by the voice of the people ; of whom we are, from whom we have no separate interests or objects, and to whom, though we cannot sacrifice a single just principle or personal conviction, we heartily devote our efforts in the pages of the Westminster Review. Let us be tried by our country' p. 16.
Their political tone may be understood from the extract, which we are about to make. After a series of remarks on the influence of the press in diffusing knowledge, and exciting mind to act on mind, till the prodigiously increased importance of the people is recognised in the speeches of the statesman, the sermons of the divine, the lucubrations of the author, and the criticisms of the reviewer,' we are presented with these statements.
It could not be expected that political power should remain the exclusive and undisputed possession of the few, after the many had once begun to feel, and make felt, their importance. Nations and governments are just in the middle of a warm controversy on this point. The question is increasingly interesting to all rulers and all subjects, and the combined power of the former is marshalled against the combined intelligence of the laiter. The theory of despotism is more offensively stated, and more broadly asserted than ever. Despots have more than ever made a common cause of it. These facts are not so alarming as they have appeared to some friends of liberty. The principle of legitimacy was never so asserted before, because never before so controverted. The combination of despots was never before so complete, because their monstrous usurpations were never before in such peril. Their sole reliance is on the ignorant and the mercenary; and with such agents they may oppress and execute for a time, but can scarcely hope for ultimate success, The people are becoming aware that they too have a common cause. The world is divided into two great classes, the oppressors and the oppressed; and the members of both classes have their Holy Alliances. Any stretch of prerogative, in any country, is felt as a victory gained by every member of the great monarchical conspiracy. Any popular advantage is a triumph for all nations. There is less of that narrow and selfish patriotism, which used to exult in the slavish condition of other countries. It has given way to a nobler feeling—to sympathy with all who are struggling to be free. It begins to be reckoned as good a thing for the Greeks to win a battle, as for the Opposition to carry a motion. In either case, the common enemy is beaten. Foreign politics and home politics lose their distinction. At home or abroad, there is but one subject in them. The science is reduced to the solution of a single question —are kings to be everything, or shall the people have a voice in the direction of their own affairs ? Different answers make a divi. sion paramount to that of party or country. The cause of liberty is one and indivisible. The sympathy of its friends is characteristic of the present age. The consolidation of their union may emancipate a future generation.' p. 3.
It is a favorite topic with these Westminster reviewers, that everything is bending to utility, that the people are taking the lead, and the intellectual, as well as political world, is daily falling into their train. Certain kinds of studies are going out of use, like antiquated words, and must soon become obsolete.
"The intellect of the age, that portion of it, we mean, which is devoted to literary and scientific pursuits, is chiefly directed towards subjects which are generally interesting to a population thus advancing in knowledge. Our authors have a vivid and constant consciousness of belonging to a large community. The study is no longer a hermitage in a wilderness. Its tenant is no longer ab
stracted, even in his profoundest speculations, or wildest imaginings, from the society of his fellows. It is no longer a cell in the cloister of a monkish fraternity--the literary few, who were all the world to every individual of the brotherhood. He has now the “ kingdom for a stage ;" and there is a wider fame than their praise, and a louder peal than the anticipated echo of posterity to their voice, in the immediate and immense plaudits of the multitudes who constitute his auditory.'
“Of course, in lists of new publications, the article “ Politics” always appears splendidly attended, and drags along an almost interminable train of titles. The character of the times, however, is not so distinctly marked in this as in the subjects, style, and size of the works announced. The writers are evidently pleading at the bar of the public, and not at that of the legislature or the aristocracy. They send forth pamphlets instead of volumes. They have descended from the high ground of theory into the broad field of practical utility. Or if they theorise, it is not on the origin of society and rights of man, but on the principles to which it is sought to reduce the multitudinous and seemingly conflicting facts of political economy. The degree of interest felt in them by the public is the great regulator of our studies. The abtruser branches of mathematical science are comparatively neglected. We care not to toil after truth for truth's sake; but must first know what use we shall make of it, and what get by it of fame or profit. The geometrical purists are making their parting bow, like other gentlemen of the old school. The short cut of analysis has superseded the circuitous route of strict geometrical demonstration. It is not Euclidian, but it solves the problem, and that's enough. The ancient method is said to have been a fine exercise of the intellectual facutties; but so, it is replied, was the length of the old road to church, three miles round, a fine exercise of the walking faculties, yet now every body goes the new path. Nor has the art of reasoning (especially if we are to judge by the works which some of the greatest mathematicians were so unfortunate as to publish in unscientific matters) suffered more by the change than the art of walking. Accordingly, propositions are established, and theories demonstrated,
problems solved, and questions answered, as Bonaparte took towns and destroyed armies, in the most expeditious and businesslike way, in defiance of old rules and old masters. The loves of the triangles have waxed cold. Their suitors affect them, not for themselves alone, but for their properties in navigation or mechanics.'
Having thus shown how the wisdom of the present age has found a more direct road to truth, than the old one through the dark re
New Series, No. 18. 54
gions of mathematics and geometry, the writer disposes of metaphysics in a similar manner.
Few persons study ontology. Little heed is given even to speculations on the nature of the human mind, and the origin of its faculties. They are too remote from public interest and public utility, to have many votaries. A supposed connexion with religious doctrine keeps some opinions on this subject a little in grace; and they have the additional recommendation of occasionally being instrumental to the raising of a clamour about materialism, atheism, and French principles, against some obnoxious geologist or anatomist; but this purpose answered, they go back to the armory of the friends of social order,” to accumulate rust for a future execution to rub off. Practical treatises on education succeed better. They harmonize with the spirit of the age. We take man as he is, and make the best we can of him, an read those who assist us in so doing. The rest is considered perhaps somewhat too exclusively, as not germane to the matter;" or if the relationship be made out, still it is a quarter from which there are no expectancies, and therefore no account is taken of it. This cui bono disposition makes terrible work with learning. It commits irreverence on the Greek metres, and has much reduced the number of classical quotations. Even Greek and Latin must be made subservient to some obviously useful purpose of history or science, or they are pushed from their stools. The wig that is stuffed with them must wear well, to win either praise or a purchaser. The multitude does not understand such matters; and the literary world only cares about what the multitude does understand.' p. 11.
Poetry, too, has been carried away in the tide, and swallowed up in this vortex of popular utility. The vox populi conquers all ; it has called the muses from their retreats, and compelled them to walk in the plain, rugged pathway of common life, to become familiar with rude and homely things, and to sacrifice the dignity of retiring greatness and unbending principle to a love for mingling in the crowd, and drinking the sweet sounds of vulgar applause. Such is the power with which the popular voice is armed.
All our great poets write for the people. Sir Walter Scott is the choicest specimen. Not that he is entitled to rank as the first living poet; but his productions exhibit many of the characteristic marks to which we refer, more glaringly than those of his contemporaries. His tales of war,
and chivalry, and love; the unelaborate and universally perceptible melody of his verse ; his resort to nursery tales and vulgar superstitions in preference to the stores of classic history and mythology; his recklessness of the charge of plagiarism, and free use of commonplace expression or description, whenever it serves his purpose ; his frequent disregard of the niceties of language and of rhyme ; and the bold outline by which he aims at effect ; these, if we add to them from Byron the Kean-like expression of the most violent passions, an occasional mixture of the vituperative and the burlesque, and ever recurring hits at the popular topics of the day, will furnish a pretty complete picture of a poet moulded by the spirit of the age, and bearing the image of his creator. The anxiety of Wordsworth to be the head of a school, or rather to be himself the whole school ; of Campbell to secure the suffrages of men of refined taste; of Moore to charm young ladies; and of Southey to promote the interests of his employers; -have modified this influence on them, which the structure of their minds seems also less calculated to receive; yet its impression is on them, broad and deep. They sing for the many; except that Wordsworth seems rather to chaunt a demonstration to the initiated few that the many should be sung to. Cowper was the herald of this revolution. He first disused the conventional phraseology which poetry had been schooled to use, and bade her “ speak right on” in the language of nature and simplicity. He was unconscious of what he did ; and wrote, not to please the people, but to please himself, one of the people. Pursuing the latter object he attained the former. Wordsworth aimed at the former, and succeeded in the latter. This reformation of the poetical dialect is a happy consummation; but whether the effects, taken altogether, which have resulted from the increased number and different character of the readers of poetry have made it of more intrinsic worth, is very questionable. It is not, however, for the present generation to quarrel with bards, who in their eagerness to secure its plaudits are ready to "jump the life to come” of posthumous reputation. Pp. 12, 13.
From these extracts we suppose our readers will have a pretty accurate understanding of the objects proposed in this new work, which comes forward with no humble pretensions, and which, if the first number may be taken as a sample of what is to follow, may justly assume a high tone, and speak at least with some show of authority. As to being of no party, a position in which the reviewers take pains to make it appear they stand, this is a very good string to strike in the beginning; it will vibrate with notes of melody to the people's ears; but the thing itself is plainly impossible, in the present state of politics in England. Whoever are not for the ministry are against them; ministerialism is party, and opposition is party; there may be different shades of opposition, and consequently different gradations of party ; but still, it is party, and nothing else. In the present number we have a eulogy on Cobbett, and one or two clever hits at the Holy Alliance. It is among the ingenious attempts of the reviewers to show,
that the present leading parties, the ministry and the opposition, both aim at a tyrannical aristocracy; each in its own way, to be sure,