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• house of représentatives take up my case anew, and as a supple'mentary punishment for this very act, report to the House a resolution, calling upon the President to dismiss me from the service of the United States !!'
Though certainly not very desirous of dwelling on this subject, still there is one branch of it--we mean the penal part of our military code—which may be supposed to render necessary a few additional remarks. In 1812, some amiable and ingenious men, under a belief, that hard labour, short allowance, black holes, solitary confinement and chains and balls—were less revolting to the feelings of soldiers, and more analogous to the spirit of free governments, than cobbing and lashes,—set themselves to work, to newmodel the existing rules and articles of war. Nor did they labour in vain :-all who believed, in the dignity and perfectability of man; in the steadiness and rapidity of his march from vice to virtue; from ignorance to knowledge ; from folly to wisdom; joined in the new creed ; and left, in the minority, only a few practical men who were not deceived themselves, and who would not deceive others;—but who, after all, were far from being disinclined to see the new doctrine subjected to the test of new experiments. The consequence was, that the flogging system, derived to us from our ancestors (and which had served their
purposes well, and had carried us successfully through the war of the revolution) was discarded, to make room for an enfant trouvé which, by its folly and feebleness and inapplication, has—as we are now told---made every officer in the army a violator of the law. It is to this degrading and dangerous state of things, we invite the attention of our rulers, and solicit from them a new and careful investigation of the subject.
For ourselves, we have no hesitation in believing, (with Solomon) that the rod has many and great virtues; and that, on children, on servants, on sailors and on soldiers, it ought not to be spared. In all these cases the reason is the same; it is applied, without difficulty or delay, and unless carried to an excess (which may be easily prevented) returns the culprit to his duty immediately, and in a condition as able to perform it, as though no punishment had been inflicted.
Of the many substitutes which have been imagined, none even approaches this character of singleness and efficiency; but on the other hand, all are slow of execution,-abstract the soldier from his duty,- lead to new and adverse habits, and some of them (as short allowance, hard labour and close confinement) tend, though perhaps not in an equal degree, to impair his physical powers. Such are the objections which exist against the present system.
Those made to the old one, may be brought under two headsVOL. II.
the moral degradation, supposed to be inflicted by lashes ; and the desolating effect that such a mode of punishment, if extended to the militia, would produce upon that body. Both appear to us to be emanations from the same cause-a Utopianism, unknown, or unacknowledged, by the men who achieved our independence, and utterly unworthy of ourselves. We employ this strong language, because we do most conscientiously believe, that the doctrines we combat, have not the slightest foundation in truth or experience. When, and where, and by whom, was the discovery made, which they proclaim ? Has this mortal degradation—this fatal poison, been seen operating on our own navy, or on that of Great Britain ? - Was it felt in the victory of Leipsic, --in the storm of St. Sebastian,-or at the battle of Waterloo ? Far from it-in these, as in all other combats of the war, of which they make a part, whether fought by Prussian, Russian, Austrian, or British armies, no trace of this pretended degradation is to be found yet is the cord or the cane, the talisman by which all these mighty machines are kept in a state of order, activity and efficiency !
If to this be objected, the example of the French army-it will avail nothing, unless it could also be shown, that the materials of that army (like our own) are gathered from the brothels and dram shops and jails of their cities and villages. But to our present purpose, even this argument is unnecessary; for, if any inquirer will take the trouble of examining Gromoard, (on the duties of the Staff,) he will find,- that although it is not the fashion to strip French soldiers and whip them at the head of their regiment, yet it every day happens, that they are sent to the Prevòt, where an officer of Police-without other guide than his own discretionpunishes a whole class of offences, with the bâton.
We do not mean, by these last remarks, to be understood as saying—that there may not be one state of national manners, less favourable to flogging as a military punishment, than another; or that this mode, even at present, agrees as well with French constitutions, as with Irish, English, and German ;—but what we do mean most distinctly to assert, is—that in no country, with which we are acquainted, has this supposed sublimated state of society been yet attained—and that until We have attained it, true wisdom bids us strictly to follow the old and approved recipe for making heroes" Clothe well— feed well-pay well and flog well.”
AKT. V.-Yamoyden, a Tale of the Wars of King Philip, in Six
Cantos. By the late Rev. JAMES Wallis EASTBURN, A. M. and his Friend. 12mo. pp. xii. 339. Published by James Eastburn. New-York, 1820.
It is curious to observe, with what facility the vehicles of public opinion, when they find its current too strongly set in a particular direction for them to attempt to control it, can submissively conform to what they would feign consider themselves entitled to direct. This would be less remarkable, were it not, that the establishment of public journals, conducted in the main for years by the same leaders, and supplied by the same contributors, seems to imply consistency of sentiment, at least, at different periods of the existence of an individual work. But such perinanence of opinion, which would give to works of this description a high claim to the confidence of the community, whose sentiments they attempt to lead, is sought in vain, even in the best of them. On every important question, whether of religion or politics, of science or of literature, they are split into opposite parties; and each defends its own side, with a zeal that appears to spring from a hearty conviction of the soundness of the opinions it advocates, and of the strength of the cause to which it is attached. In the same journal too, an invidious memory might adduce conspicuous instances of the oracle having been forced, in the very temple, to declare those invincible,' against whom it had previously pronounced an evil omen; or towards whom it had resolved to preserve a damnatory silence. But, “life runs whirling like a chariot wheel,' a and opinions of men and of things are as mutable as events : even in the immaterial world of intellect, there is nothing stable ; and the incessant fluctuations and oppositions of sentiment, which every day's experience exhibits, carry with them to each individual the salutary privilege of giving himself the casting vote, on any subject which falls under his particular examination.
We have been led to these remarks by a sudden, although perhaps anticipated change in the disposition displayed towards the literature of our country, by a work exercising, perhaps, an authority as unquestioned, as any that has ever swayed the understandings of the reading world. It is not long since we were teased with a set of triumphant interrogations, which were intended to convict our countrymen, not only of incapacity in every walk of genius and taste, but of utter helplessness, even in relation to the vulgar arts of life. The manufacture of comfortable blankets, ag well as of sensible books, was tauntingly declared to be beyond
(a) τροχος αρματος γαρ ομα, βιοσος τρέχει κυλισβεις, -θησε.
the stretch of American faculties; and we were advised to content ourselves with foreign warmth and imported wisdom. It was natural that we should rebel under such idle tyranny. It may be said, without unbecoming exultation, that a battery, full as well placed, and as well served, as that which had been so long pouring its unresisted strength upon us, has at last compelled our trans-atlantic brethren to do us hearty, though procrastinated justice. It would be sullen in us, now, not to forget the past; especially, since, in the opinions lately pronounced of American works, (we allude particularly to the North-American Review and the Sketch Book,) they have given us practical testimonies of their repentance and reform.
It would, however, be well worth our while to consider, whether the barbarous nakedness of literature, with which they have charged us, and which is in some respects undeniable, be not owing rather to fastidiousness of taste, than to paucity of talent among us; whether, being without the advantages of the institutions and the associations, by which foreign talent has been developed, we have not affected the difficulty of being pleased, which belongs to palates already satiated with literary luxuries; whether we have not aped the airs of the connoisseur, rather than imitated the productions of the artist :-if this be so, we have the faults of our own style of criticism to correct, as well as to resist the prejudice and the injustice of foreign literary tribunals.
It is our business to nourish the stem, rather than to prune the tree; and instead of taking for ourselves the severe and haughty maxim, that “when the criminal is acquitted the judge is condemned,” we ought to say, that numberless offences should escape unwhipt from literary justice, rather than that one instance of native genius should pass from before us, without the praise for which it has toiled. If we could be brought to put the stamp of our own approbation upon our literary coin, without waiting for the image and superscription of the foreign potentates of taste, there would be more of it in the market; and we should grow richer by the liberality of our policy. If the productions of our country were cherished by ourselves, with an interest more nearly proportioned to the benefits we may derive from them, as well as to their deserts, it would oftener be in our power to silence the taunting question, "Who reads an American poem ?' A question, to which, it will be our own fault if the work before us does not furnish many a triumphant answer.
The circumstances attending the composition of the poem • Yamoyden,' are of unusual interest. One of its authors has gone to an early grave. The other has brought the best of offerings to the memory of his friend, by ushering into the world their joint production, and asserting his own and his friend's claim to be re
membered among those who have deserved well of the republic of letters. The history of the plan and progress of this poem, is succinctly related in the preface ;a and the proem and conclusion are in a style of sentiment, and expression, not nnworthy of one, who might have drunk deeply into the spirit, of the exquisite tribute of Milton to his loved Lycidas. The incidents are, as they should be, simple; although history has given a local habitation to the fictitious hero, the fancy of the authors has supplied him with his name.' The scene is Mount Haup; a spot to which its own romantic beauty, and the death of the warrior king, have given just celebrity. Setting aside the beautiful descriptions of scenery, with which the poem abounds, and the Indian superstitions which form its machinery, and are thoroughly wrought into its texture, the story is briefly told.—After the general defeat of the Pequots with other barbarous tribes, and the destruction of Narraganset Fort, Philip, with his followers, is lurking in the forests of Mount Haup.-He recounts to them their injuries in a powerful harangue, and rouses them to a general expression of revengeful determination, by their characteristic war-whoop ;-one of them, Agamoun, does not join the cry; and being sternly questioned by Philip, confesses that he considers all further attempts to resist
a The account prefixed to this poem, shows that it was written in separate portions, by the late Rev. Mr. Eastburn and his friend the Editor, during the winter of 1817–18, and the following spring. Mr. Eastburn was pursuing the study of divinity at Bristol, R. I. and mentioned to the Editor the project of a poetical romance, the theme of which should be the adventures of King Philip, the Sachem of Pokanoket : the plan was drawn up in conjunction. The poem was written according to the parts severally assigned ; and transmitted, reciprocally, to Bristol and New-York, in the course of correspondence. Mr. Eastburn was ordained in October, 1818 ;--- Between that time and the period of his going to Accomack county, in Virginia, whence he had received an invitation to take charge of a congregation, he transcribed the two first Cantos of this Poem, with but few material variations, from the first collating copy. The labours of his ministry left him no time, even for his most delightful amusement. He had made no further progress in the correction of the work, when he returned to this city, in July, 1819. His health was then so much impaired, that writing of any kind was too great a labour. He had packed up the manuscripts, and intended to finish his second copy in Santa Cruz, whither it was recommended to him to go, as the last resource, to recruit his exhausted constitution. He died on the fourth day of bis passage, Dec. 2d, 1819.
“He left among his papers a great quantity of poetry, of which his part of Yamoyden' forms but a small proportion. His friends may think proper, at some future period, to make selections from his miscellaneous remains, and arrange them for publication.” p. vi.