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interests of man alone, that are here decided by the common voice;-such, for instance, as those pertaining to finance, revenue, the adjustment of the great economical interests of society, the rival claims between agriculture, commerce and manufactures, the partition and distribution of legislative, judicial and executive powers, with a long catalogue of others of a kindred nature; but also those more solemn questions which pervade the innermost sanctuary of domestic life, and, for worship or for sacrilege, enter the Holy of Holies in the ark of society :-these also are submitted to the general arbitrament. The haughty lordling, whose heart never felt one throb for the welfare of mankind, gives vote and verdict on the extent of popular rights; the libertine and debauchee give vote and verdict on the sanctity of the marriage covenant; the atheist on the definition of blasphemy. Nor is this great people invited merely to speculate, and frame abstract theories, on these momentous themes; to make picture models, on paper, in their closets; they are not invited to sketch Republics of Fancy only, but they are commissioned to make Republics of Fact; and in such Republics as they please to make, others, perforce, must please to live. If I do not like my minister, or my parish, I can sign off, (as we term it,) and connect myself with another; if I do not like my town, I can move out of it; but where shall a man sign to, or move to, out of a bad world? Nor do our people hold these powers, as an ornament merely, as some ostensiEle but useless badge of Freedom; but they keep them as instruments for use, and sometimes wield them as weapons of revenge. So closely indeed are we inwoven in the same web of fate, that a vote given on the banks of the Missouri or Arkansas, may shake every plantation and warehouse on the Atlantic, and, reaching seaward, overtake
and baffle enterprise, into whatever oceans it may have penetrated.
Such, then, is our condition. The minds that are to regulate all things and govern all things, in this country, are innately strong; they are intensely stimulated; they are supplied with the most formidable artillery of means; and each one is authorized to form its own working-plan, its own ground-scheme, according to which, when the social edifice has been taken to pieces, it is to be reconstructed;-some are for going back a thousand or two thousand years for their model; others, for introducing what they consider the millennium, at once, by force of law, or by force without law.
And now, my friends, I ask, with the deepest anxiety, what institutions exist amongst us, which at once possess the power and are administered with the efficiency, requisite to save us from the dangers that spring up in our own bosoms? That the propensities, which each generation brings into the world, possess terrific power, and are capable of inflicting the completest ruin, none can deny. Nor will it be questioned that amongst us, they have an open career, and a command of means, such as never before coëxisted. What antagonist power have we provided against them? By what exorcism can we lay the spirits we have raised? Once, brute force, directed by a few men, trampled upon the many. Here, the many are the possessors of that very force, and have almost abolished its use as a means of government. The French gendarmerie, the British horse-guards, the dreadful punishment of the Siberian mines, will never be copied here. Should the government resort to a standing army, that army would consist of the very forces they dread, organized, equipped and officered.
Can laws save us? With us, the very idea of legislation is reversed. Once, the law prescribed the actions and shaped the wills of the multitude; here, the wills of the multitude prescribe and shape the law. With us, legislators study the will of the multitude, just as natural philosophers study a volcano,-not with any expectation of doing aught to the volcano, but to see what the volcano is about to do to them. While the law was clothed with majesty and power, and the mind of the multitude was weak, then, as in all cases of a conflict between unequal forces, the law prevailed. But now, when the law is weak, and the passions of the multitude have gathered irresistible strength, it is fallacious and insane to look for security in the moral force of the law. As well might the man who has erected his dwelling upon the verge of a cliff overhanging the deep, when the equilibrium of the atmosphere is destroyed, and the elements are on fire, and every billow is excavating his foundations, expect to still the tempest by reading the Riot-act. Government and law, which ought to be the allies of justice and the everlasting foes of violence and wrong, will here be moulded into the similitude of the public mind, and will answer to it, as, in water, face answereth to face.
But, if arms themselves would be beaten in such a contest, if those who should propose the renewal of ancient severities in punishment, would themselves be punished, have we not some other resource for the security of moderation and self-denial, and for the supremacy of order and law? Have not the scholars who adorn the halls of learning, and woo almost a hallowed serenity to dwell in their academic shades,-have they not, amongst all the languages which they speak, some tongue by which they can charm and pacify the mighty spirits we have evoked into being?
Alas! while scholars and academists are earnestly debating such questions, as whether the name of error, shall or shall not be spelled with the letter u, the soul of error becomes incarnate, and starts up, as from the earth, myriad-formed and ubiquitous, and stands by the side of every man, and whispers transgression into his ear, and, like the first Tempter, entices him to pluck the beautiful, but fatal fruit of some forbidden tree. Our ancestors seem to have had great faith that the alumni of our colleges would diffuse a higher order of intelligence through the whole mass of the people, and would imbue them with a love of sobriety and a reverence for justice. But either the leaven has lost its virtue, or the lump has become too large; for, surely, in our day, the mass is not all leavened.
I speak with reverence of the labors of another profession, in their sacred calling. No other country in the world has ever been blessed with a body of clergymen, so learned, so faithful, so devout as ours. But by traditionary custom and the ingrained habits of the people, the efforts of the clergy are mainly expended upon those who have passed the forming state;-upon adults, whose characters, as we are accustomed to express it, have become fixed, which being interpreted, means, that they have passed from fluid into flint. Look at the ablest pastor, in the midst of an adult congregation whose early education has been neglected. Though he be consumed of zeal, and ready to die of toil, in their behalf, yet I seem to see him, expending his strength and his years amongst them, like one solitary arborist working, single-handed and alone, in a wide forest, where there are hundreds of stooping and contorted trees, and he, striving with tackle and guy-ropes to undouble their convolutions, and to straighten the flexures in trunks whose fibres
curled as they grew; and, with his naked hand, to coax out gnarls and nodosities hard enough to glance off lightning;-when, could he have guided and trained them while yet they were tender shoots and young saplings, he could have shaped them into beauty, a hundred in a day.
But perhaps others may look for security to the public Press, which has now taken its place amongst the organized forces of modern civilization. Probably its political department supplies more than half the reading of the mass of our people. But, bating the point, whether, in times of public excitement, when the sobriety and thoughtfulness of wisdom, when severe and exact truth are, more than ever else, necessary,whether, at such times, the press is not itself liable to be inflamed by the heats it should allay, and to be perverted by the obliquities it should rectify;-bating this point, it is still obvious that its principal efforts are expended upon one department only of all our social duties. The very existence of the newspaper press, for any useful purpose, presupposes that the people are already supplied with the elements of knowledge and inspired with the love of right; and are therefore prepared to decide, with intelligence and honesty, those complicated and conflicting claims, which the tide of events is constantly presenting, and which, by the myriad messengers of the press, are carried to every man's fireside for his adjudication. For, of what value is it, that we have the most wisely-framed government on earth; to what end is it, that the wisest schemes which a philanthropic statesmanship can devise, are propounded to the people, if this people has not the intelligence to understand, or the integrity to espouse them? Each of two things is equally necessary to our political prosperity; namely, just principles of government and administration, on one side, and a people able to understand and