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States guarantee to every State in the Union a Republican form of government, and on the other hand protection against domestic violence; and again, by sections 9 and 10 of Article I., which prohibit the United States and the several States from granting titles of nobility. No man can mistake the importance of the portions of the First Article which forbid the several States to enter into any treaty, alliance or confederation, to make anything but gold or silver coin a tender in payment of debts, and (without the consent of Congress) to keep troops or ships of war in time of peace. But a hasty reader might underestimate the practical effects of the provisions in Article I. which empower the United States 'to promote the progress of science and the useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries; and, again, of the parts of the same Article which prohibit the United States and the several States from laying any tax or duty on articles exported from any State; and, lastly, of the remarkable provision which forbids a State to pass any law impairing the obligation of contracts. The power to grant patents by Federal authority has, however, made the American people the first in the world for the number and ingenuity of the inventions by which it has promoted the 'useful arts; while, on the other hand, the neglect to exercise this power for the advantage of foreign writers has condemned the whole American community to a literary servitude unparalleled in the history of thought. The prohibtion against levying duties on commodities passing from State to State is again the secret both of American Free-trade and of American Protection. It secures to the producer the command of a free market over an enormous territory of vast natural wealth, and thus it secondarily reconciles the American people to a tariff on foreign importations as oppressive as ever a nation has submitted to. We have seen the rule which denies to the several States the power to make any laws impairing the obligation of contracts criticized as if it were a mere politico-economical flourish; but in point of fact there is no more important provision in the whole Constitution. principle was much extended by a decision of the Supreme Court, which ought now to interest a large number of Englishmen, since it is the basis of the credit of many of the great American Railway Incorporations. But it is this prohibition which has in reality secured full play to the economical forces by which the achievement of cultivating the soil of the North
* In Dartmouth College v. Woodward, a case argued by Daniel Webster in 1818.
American Continent has been performed; it is the bulwark of American individualism against democratic impatience and Socialistic fantasy. We may usefully bear in mind that, until this prohibition, as interpreted by the Federal Courts, is got rid of, certain communistic schemes of American origin, which are said to have become attractive to the English labouring classes because they are supposed to proceed from the bosom of a democratic community, have about as much prospect of obtaining practical realization in the United States as the vision of a Cloud-Cuckoo-borough to be built by the birds between earth and sky.
It was not to be expected that all the hopes of the founders of the American Constitution would be fulfilled. They do not seem to have been prepared for the rapid development of party, chiefly under the influence of Thomas Jefferson, nor for the thorough organization with which the American parties before long provided themselves. They may have expected the House of Representatives, which is directly elected by the people, to fall under the dominion of faction, but the failure of their mechanism for the choice of a President was a serious disappointment. We need hardly say that the body intended to be a true Electoral College has come to consist of mere deputies of the two great contending parties, and that a Presidential Elector has no more active part in choosing a President than has a balloting paper. The miscarriage has told upon the qualities of American Presidents. An Electoral College may commit a blunder, but a candidate for the Presidency, nominated for election by the whole people, will, as a rule, be a man selected because he is not open to obvious criticism, and will therefore in all probability be a mediocrity. But, although the President of the United States has not been all which Washington and Hamilton, Madison and Jay, intended him to be, nothing has occurred in America to be compared with the distortion which the Presidency has suffered at the hands of its copyists on the European Continent. It is probable that no foreigner but an Englishman can fully understand the Constitution of the United States, though even an Englishman is apt to assume it to have been much more of a new political departure than it really was, and to forget to compare it with the English institutions of a century since. But, while it has made the deepest possible impression on Continental European opinion, it has been hardly ever comprehended. Its imitators have sometimes made the historical mistake, of confounding the later working of some of its parts with that originally intended by its founders. And sometimes they have fallen into the practical error, of attempting to combine its characteristics with some of
the modern characteristics of the British Constitution. The President of the Second French Republic was directly elected by the French people in conformity with the modern practice of the Americans, and the result was that, confident in the personal authority witnessed to by the number of his supporters, he overthrew the Republic and established a military despotism. The President of the Third French Republic is elected in a different and a safer way; but his Ministers mix in the debates of the French Legislature and are responsible to it, like an English Cabinet. The effect is that there is no living functionary who occupies a more pitiable position than President Grévy. The old Kings of France reigned and governed. The Constitutional King, according to M. Thiers, reigns, but does not govern. The President of the United States governs, but he does not reign. It has been reserved for the President of the French Republic neither to reign nor yet to govern.
The Senate has proved a most successful institution except in one particular. Congress includes many honourable as well as very many able men, but it would be affectation to claim for the American Federal Legislature as a whole that its hands are quite clean. It is unnecessary to appeal on this point to satire or fiction, to such books as 'Democracy' and 'Through One Administration;' the truth is, that too many Englishmen have been of late years concerned with Congressional business for there to be any want of evidence that much money is spent in forwarding it which is not legitimately expended. One provision of the Constitution has here defeated another. One portion of the 6th section of the First Article provides securities against corruption on the part of Senators and Representatives, but the portion immediately preceding provides that' Senators and Representatives shall have a compensation for their services, to be ascertained by law and paid out of the Treasury of the United States.' This system of payment for the legislative services, which prevails throughout the whole of the Union, has produced a class of professional politicians, whose probity in some cases has proved unequal to the strain put upon it by the power of dealing with the public money and the public possessions of what will soon be the wealthiest community in the world. It is a point of marked inferiority to the British political system, even in its decline.
It may be thought that a great American institution failed on one occasion conspicuously and disastrously. The Supreme Court of the United States did not succeed in preventing by its mediation the War of Secession. But the inference is not just. The framers of the Constitution of the United States, like succeeding generations of American statesmen, deliberately thrust
the subject of Slavery as far as they could out of their own sight. It barely discloses itself in the method of counting population for the purpose of fixing the electoral basis of the House of Representatives, and in the subsequently famous provision of the Fourth Article, that persons bound to service or labour in one State' shall be delivered up if they escape into another. But, on the whole, the makers of the Constitution pass by on the other side. They have not the courage of their opinions, whatever they were. They neither guarantee Slavery on the one hand, nor attempt to regulate it on the other, or to provide for its gradual extinction. When then, about seventy years afterwards, the Supreme Court was asked to decide whether the owner of slaves taking them into one of the territories of the Union, not yet organized as a State, retained his right of ownership, it had not in reality sufficient materials for a decision. The grounds of its judgment in the Dred Scott case may have been perhaps satisfactory to lawyers, but in themselves they satisfied nobody else. It is extremely significant that, in the one instance in which the authors of the Constitution declined of set purpose to apply their political wisdom to a subject which they knew to be all-important, the result was the bloodiest and costliest war of modern times.
Let us repeat the points which we trust we have done something towards establishing. The Constitution of the United States is a modified version of the British Constitution; but the British Constitution which served as its original was that which was in existence between 1760 and 1787. The modifications introduced were those, and those only, which were suggested by the new circumstances of the American Colonies, now become independent. These circumstances excluded an hereditary king, and virtually excluded an hereditary nobility. When the American Constitution was framed, there was no such sacredness to be expected for it as before 1789 was supposed to attach to all parts of the British Constitution. There was every prospect of political mobility, if not of political disorder. The signal success of the Constitution of the United States in stemming these tendencies is, no doubt, owing in part to the great portion of the British institutions which were preserved in it; but it is also attributable to the sagacity with which the American statesmen filled up the interstices left by the inapplicability of certain of the then existing British institutions to the emancipated colonies. This sagacity stands out in every part of the Federalist,' and it may be tracked in every page of subsequent American history. It may well fill the Englishmen who now live in face Romuli with wonder and envy.
ART. II.-1.The English Church in the Eighteenth Century. By Charles J. Abbey, M.A., Rector of Checkenden, late Fellow of University College, Oxford; and John H. Overton, M.A., Vicar of Legbourne, late Scholar of Lincoln College, Oxford. 2 vols. London, 1878.
2. William Law; Nonjuror and Mystic. By John H. Overton, M.A. London, 1881.
3. The Student's English Church History. From the Accession of Henry VIII. to the Silencing of Convocation in the XVIIIth Century. By G. G. Perry, M.A., Canon of Lincoln and Rector of Waddington. Second edition. London, 1880.
N spite of the numerous books which have been written to illustrate its history, political, social, and intellectual; in spite also of its nearness to ourselves; it is perhaps true that the eighteenth century is less known to us than either of those immediately preceding it. There is no Revolution, Rebellion, or Reformation, to compel attention by the greatness of the issues involved. There are but few striking and commanding characters-but few incidents of absorbing interest. In short, there are wanting in the eighteenth century the elements of the romantic and the picturesque. Hence the view taken of that period is, for the most part, rapid and superficial. It is looked upon as a feeble duplicate of our own times, with the advantage all in favour of ourselves. Its literature is but little read. school of poetry has fallen into disrepute. Its essays are voted dry and jejune. Its architectural efforts are viewed with a shudder. Its philosophy is regarded as incipient and undeveloped.
But in no respect, perhaps, has the eighteenth century been so superficially and hastily judged as in the matter of religion, and in the estimate of the amount of earnestness to be found in the Church and the sects. The caricature types of Fielding and the novelists have furnished the ideas prevalent as to the social status of the clergy. Some stray volumes of dry sermons have suggested the estimate of pulpit oratory; and, for the rest,exaggerated and untruthful stories as to the Wesleys and the Revivalists have created the notion, that practical religion was scarcely to be found in the land before their appearance. This ignorance as to the conditions of religious life in the eighteenth century is in a great measure excusable. Until very recently no attempt had even been made to narrate the history of the Church of England during this period. Historians were content to write the history of the Reformation, or at any rate to break