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which it was formed; so long as the results are produced, which were guaranteed and pledged by the compact,-s0 long are the several parties bound, by the principles of moral obligation, to maintain the Union. The statement of this thesis, affirms the equal truth of the opposite thesis, in case the premises be changed. It consequently follows, that, if the Constitution fail to fulfil what it was stipulated to perform, a State can, in perfect consistency with the principles of moral obligation, secede. We will not raise the question, Who is to be the judge to decide that the Constitution has failed, in the case of any particular State, or States, to achieve what it has stipulated to do: it would be, virtually, an attempt to cut down the prerogatives of sovereignty. Each State knows, and it only, what is, and what is not, its welfare, and each State knows, and it only, when the Constitution has failed to promote this welfare. It is sovereign within its own domain ; and where is the
power which can rise up, within the limits of that domain, and gainsay its decrees? Foreign power may, to be sure, draw the sword; but that sword has a tongue which can speak only to citizens or governments. Can sovereign power be coerced? Slaughter may drive its scythed chariots over a nation; conflagration sweep away all that smiles of domestic comfort or embellished art; havoc and ruthless barbarity stamp a living paradise with all the features of a black and cheerless desolation ; but, can the immortal principle of the soul of liberty be touched? Away, then, with all such thoughts, whose very enunciation, in this age of reason, and in this land of western freedom, is parricidal calumny against the genius of liberty and popular sovereignty.
The moral obligation which binds a State to adhere to the Union is, then, that the objects which that State had in view, when it entered into the compact, are attained: these objects are expressed in the compact. The moment that these objects, or any of them, cease to be attained, the obligation ceases to be binding. If this be true of a mere failure, or coming short, of the compact, to fulfil the objects of its formation, how much more so is it, if these objects be circumvented, frustrated, annihilated !
ART. VII.-- America, Historical, Statistic and Descriptive. By J. S. Buckingham, Esq. In 2 vols.
NewYork: Harper & Brothers, 82 Cliff-street. 1841.
The title of Mr. Buckingham's book is more sonorous than apt. We
may concede, that it is statistic and descriptive,'—since the author is anxious to have it so regarded, but it certainly can lay little or no claim to the dignity of history. It consists of the author's notes or observations upon persons, places and things, as they appeared to him, on his recent visit to the United States, in his
capacity of lecturer. We cannot award him the praise of having been a very philosophical observer; and his remarks are, upon the whole, trite and common-place. His egotism and self-esteem,—qualities which he shares largely, in common with other British travellers in America,—are every where apparent. We look in vain for evidences of rare scholarship or uncommon attainments. The would be important personage,—the self-constituted Sir Oracle,-is continually looming up before us in large proportions. We hear the words of a master enunciating the law, but we do not find his title to authority, in the power of a superior mind, grappling with new subjects, and finding, in the elements of a new social organization, grounds of sympathy and hope, and topics of bold and original speculations. It certainly was necessary that Mr. Buckingham, having visited the United States, should write a book upon the country, because every British traveller who comes among us does so, and because it would not have answered for Mr. Buckingham to be singular. In a pecuniary point of view, too, and this we presume, from our knowledge of the gentleman, was a main consideration with him,-it may have been profitable for him to write such a work. money in thy purse," is a maxim, the purport of which Mr. Buckingham, we are well assured, fully understands, and he is, in this respect, wiser in his generation than some individuals, who, endowed with greater genius, manifest less economy and good husbandry. Books on America, from the lucubrations of Parson Fidler down to those of Captain Marryatt, sell well in England, and the viler the materials, and the grosser the misrepresentations,
with which they abound, the better is the market which the mother country affords for them. Nothing pleases British lords and ladies so much, as to learn, that their Yankee brethren, on the other side of the water, are not getting on quite so well with their new institutions as they could wish, and any author who ministers to their jealousy, envy, or other bad passions, by depreciating Americans, is hailed by them with pleasure. Mr. Buckingham thinks, and justly, that we are particularly sensitive under this kind of censure. “One of the most striking features," he says, “ of the American character, is the extreme sensitiveness of all classes to the opinions of_foreigners.” If, instead of a foreigners," he had said Englishmen, the language would have been more correct. English travellers are those, of whose abuse and misrepresentations we have most reason to complain. Other foreigners, who visit us, are ready to do us justice, and to treat those, whose hospitality they have enjoyed, with becoming courtesy.
It will be a long time, we fancy, before Great Britain forgets the relation which we once sustained towards her, and the sense of pride humbled, and of advantages lost, never to be regained, by a nation as grasping as she is haughty, will be accompanied, in the breasts of her sons, with feelings of resentment and bitterness, which no kindness can assuage, and which may be expected to exert their malign influence upon all the social relations of the two countries, for a long period to come. Her writers, scholars and travellers cannot look upon America with impartial eyes, but view every thing connected with her past progress and her present condition, through the jaundiced medium of prejudice and jealousy. If there are exceptions to this remark,—and we, with pleasure, mention the amiable Mr. Murray, as a distinguished one, whose course, in regard to America, was as praiseworthy as it is deserving of imitation,—yet the exceptions are extremly rare. We regret that we cannot place Mr. Buckingham among the number. His work on America,“ historical, statistic and descriptive," is certainly an improvement on most of those of his predecessors, in general fairness and accuracy, and as an experiment upon the reading public, it is got up with much caution, and with a due consideration to the probabilities of an extensive sale. It was written for two hemispheres, VOL. 1.—No. 1.
and for two classes of readers, differing not a little in their tastes and expectations, as to what a book of travels in America should be ; and the difficulty of pleasing both classes was great, as is evinced by the evident constraint under which every paragraph of the work is written. It was not quite enough to secure its popularity in England, that the work should have been dedicated to Prince Albert, though it was something secured to the quondam member of Parliament, that it should come forth under the ostensible patronage of so illustrious a personage. A work devoted exclusively to the ridicule and abuse of our countrymen, like Mrs. Trollope's “Domestic Manners,” would, doubtless, have had many readers in Great Britain, but the novelty and freshness of such a style are very much diminished by the multitude of works of that description with which the British public has been surfeited during the last quarter of a century; and they have nearly become tired, in that quarter of the world, of laughing, even at the Americans ; indeed, Mr. Marryatt's “ Diary” was quite enough thoroughly to satisfy their appetite for such kind of viands, for as long a time as has just been mentioned. Besides, as no people, however humble in their circumstances, like to be treated with utter contempt, such a style would not have been likely to secure any large amount of favor, for the maker of books, with his American readers. A different line of policy, though attended with its embarrassments, was, therefore, to be adopted by our author, and he has accommodated himself to the peculiar circumstances of his position, with a degree of shrewdness and circumspection, which would not have done discredit even to his Yankee patrons. It was necessary to find more or less fault with the Americans,—a necessity resulting from custom and prescription, but in order to maintain a character for candor and consistency, our author, after exercising his
powers of sarcasm, in reference to any matters that did not quite please him, during his visit, always succeeds in discovering and pointing out some analogous fault or error among his own countrymen, upon which to pass his comments, sagely concluding, that they wil not be very angry for receiving a few hard blows from so accomplished a pugilist, provided brother Jonathan comes in for a liberal share of the same kind of compliments.
Another mode of castigation, which, it must be admitted, he employs with considerable effect, is the quoting of American authors, who have become morbid and peevish, owing to personal disappointments or mishaps, and who have, consequently, been in the habit of venting their spleen in the abuse of their own countrymen.
Of this class is Mr. Cooper, who, proportionably with the decline of his fame and consequence with the American public, has become captious and querulous, and affords, accordingly, a pretty good authority to Mr. Buckingham, to say some hard things of us, and yet maintain his own reputation for great suavity of temper. With the like design, he quotes Mr. Nicholas Biddle, who has been rather severe in his strictures upon some American peculiarities, and who, having once been omnipotent as a financier, is regarded by our traveller as conclusive and unanswerable authority upon all subjects, even when he indulges in the most wholesale censures of his own countrymen. When Americans turn against Americans, and sympathise and take part with the enemies of our institutions, what can we say, by way of defence? You are estopped,' says Mr. Buckingham, by ‘your own witnesses. Out of your own mouths will I condemn you.' And it must be confessed, that, when individuals wish to depreciate others, there is no want of writers, either at home or abroad, who, influenced by a variety of motives, stand ready and willing to coöperate with them in the ungracious labor.
There is another fountain of rare and rich information, from which Mr. Buckingham draws largely, when he leaves the duty of self-contemplation, which engrosses so much of his zeal and his raptures, and turns to the less pleasing consideration of American manners and opinions; we mean, our party newspapers, or rather, those of them which, in the hands of indifferent editors, are employed, not in the discussion of principles, the maintenance of truth, liberty and the public welfare, but as the vehicles of party spleen, personal acrimony and unfounded rumor, which, by men not endowed with discrimination, are often mistaken for the voice of enlightened public opinion, or are fraudulently represented by them as such. No person knows better than Mr. Buckingham, that the newspaper press, in improper hands, may be grossly abused, and may be employ