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should not be backward to instruct, or should exact some test of competency. It has been suggested, and it seems to us with much propriety, that the government should either establish schools for the education of engineers, or should appoint boards for the examination of candidates for the station, which no one should be allowed to fill without a certificate from such board of his possessing the suitable qualifications, both as to character and skill. We repeat it, however, that whatever laws are passed should be the result of deliberate investigation ; those passed like the one we have been examining, in haste, and under the influence of temporary excitement, must of course be crude and ill-digested, and may be mischievous.
But it must be evident, we think, to those who have watched the signs of the times, the progress of public improvement, — that a change is about to be wrought in the means of locomotion. The scene of danger and of risk to the traveller is about to be removed from the water to the land. The construction, rate of speed, and management of the steamboat will soon be a matter of as much indifference to the voyager, as the rate of sailing of a coasting sloop. It needs but the completion of the railroads already projected, to divert at once three fourths of the travel from the Ohio river. The rapidity, the ease, and we may add, the safety of railroad travelling (that is to say, upon substantially constructed railroads,) would instantaneously demolish all competition upon a river, where ice in winter, low water in summer, a circuitous and tedious route at all times, interfere inevitably with precision and accuracy of movement. Indeed, the prediction is hardly a rash one, that as much as the steamboat has done for the West, the railroad is destined to do more. So long and winding is the course of the rivers, that a journey from the East to the far West is now, even when performed in the fastest boats, an undertaking to be measured by weeks. A glance at the map will satisfy us, that the “ tireless speed ” of the locomotive engine may, and will, traverse the space from the Atlantic to the Mississippi in three days. The increased travel, the benefits that would result to both sections of the country from the enlarged intercourse, the additional bond it would be to the union of these States, it is no place to enlarge upon here. But, in view of these advantages, and of the diminution of accidents and suffering VOL, L. — No. 106.
of every kind, which must result from the substitution of this mode of travelling for all others now known, we may sigh that we are born fifty years too soon.
Some of the remarks of one of the Secretary's correspondents must, we think, have edified him, by their naïveté and piquancy; and as they cannot but amuse our readers, we will close with a few of them this article.
“Laws, to be of much public utility, must be based upon, and administered with, equal justice to all; to be generally known, they must be permanent ; and, to be respected, must be sure of enforcement.
“The great fault of the law-makers of our country, from highest to lowest, is too great a multiplication of laws and too little enforcement. They see a certain crime or species of injustice go unpunished, and straightway a law is passed against such crime or injustice, regardless of the laws already in existence against them ; whereas the cause why justice did not follow by the old law should have been the subject of action.
“In our peculiar form of government, where almost all officers are elective, even to the constable, no officer is willing to risk his own popularity by the enforcement of an unpopular law.” Thereby it is, that our laws are so little enforced ; that hundreds of our most valuable citizens are deprived of life against all law, because it would be against the interests of trade for an inquest to examine too closely into the causes of such fatal consequences, or to institute legal proceedings to bring the perpetrators to justice.” “ If half the citizens of this country should get blown up, and it should be likely to affect injuriously the trade and commerce of the other half by bringing to justice the guilty, no elective officer would risk his popularity by executing the law, without some alternative which should weigh stronger on his mind than the loss of office; and perhaps an appointed officer would find it rather dangerous business to execute an unpopular law during an excitement, unaided by numbers, which he seldom has at command.” - Letter, &c. p. 396.
Art. III. - View of the State of Europe during the Middle
Ages. In Three Volumes. By HENRY HALLAM, Esq.
Few spaces in the realms of memory are filled up by more highly interesting scenes than the long interval between ancient and modern civilization ; that period of darkness and violence, which historians have designated by the name of the Middle Ages. That epoch was to Europe, what, to the globe, was one of those great convulsions of which only imperfect traditions and vague conjectures reveal to us the ultimate effects. It fixed anew the boundaries of land and water, established in a general equilibrium the hostile elements, traced the course of the mountains and the beds of the rivers, and gave the surface of the earth its geological physiognomy. The Middle Ages are to us what the heroic times of her demigods were to Greece, fertile in scenes of peril and strife, among which the imagination loves to expatiale, but of which reason cannot desire the reproduction. The spirit of poetry and romance clings to those feudal memorials, as the domestic Genius does to the ruins of the ancient Gothic towers and mánsions, whose inmates had lived under his special protection. It seems as if those lofty piles of building could only have been raised by a generation of giants, and before them we feel disposed to look upon ourselves as a degenerate race. Those proud cathedrals and castles and abbeys give an indefinable charm to the scenery of the old world; and the traveller, returning from Europe, looks back to the venerable remains with a lingering regret, and is easily induced to account, by the lack of such legendary materials, for the comparative tardiness of America in works of fiction.
But the Middle Ages are fertile in more salutary lessons than can be derived from poetical or romantic inspiration. There is hardly in the existing order of society a single political, religious, commercial, or scientific system, not essentially dating, by its origin or by its reorganization, from the convulsions of that tempestuous era.
Hence the efforts of men of superior talents in Europe, as well as in this country, have for many years been chiefly directed to dispelling the clouds that had long settled upon those ages; nor is it likely, that their pursuits on so great a subject will cease, as long as there remain parchments to unroll, inscriptions to decipher, or ruins to unbury.
Hallam's Middle Ages is perhaps the most complete and highly finished among many valuable works on that epoch. It is series of finely drawn historical sketches of each of the nations, that played an eminent part in those times, and of wide general views on the progress of the great social edifice of modern civilization, and the developement of its most important elements. It leaves nothing to desire on the ground of evidence and precision, of accuracy of information, or of depth and maturity of reflection. There only perhaps remains the question, whether the subject may not be susceptible of more unity and system ; whether those partial events may not be referred to a common point of view; whether the relations between those different social elements cannot be presented under a closer bond of connexion. such a question could only be fairly answered by a new trial of the work, an attempt for which a competent mind is not easily to be found.
The object of this article, however, is not to give an accurate criticism of the noble persormance, whose tiile stands at its head, a task which has been long since most satisfactorily fulfilled. We propose only to write over again, and with somewhat different views, one chapter of that history ; that chapter which, perhaps, ought to take the lead of the rest of the work.
There was, in that period of general social dissolution, one country, in which the work of devastation commenced much later and ended much sooner. Italy in the Middle Ages was like Mount Ararat in the deluge; the last reached by the flood, and the first lest. The remains of the Roman social world, were either never utterly dispersed in that country, or far later than anywhere else ; and, if we are to date the close of the Middle Ages from the extinction of feudalism, that revolution was effected in Italy no less than three centuries before the time of Charles the Eighth, the epoch assumed by Hallam as the conclusion of his work. It would then, perhaps, be expedient to refer the history of Europe in the Middle Ages to İtaly, as the history of the ancient world has always been referred to Rome. The great ascendency of the papal power, and the influence of Italian genius on the literature and the fine arts of all cour ies, made Italy essentially the centre of light, the sovereign of thought, the capital of civilization, until her final downfall in the sixteenth century.
The history of Rome, and the history of modern Italy, are no more related to each other, than a tragedy is to the afterpiece. Not only the nations and their languages, not only manners and morals, laws and religion, have given place to others ; not only the monuments of men have been erased from the face of the land, but the land itself, its general aspect, and its very climate, are changed.
The fall of the Roman empire under the invasion of the northern nations, an event so deplorable in its immediate consequences, was not merely a necessary result of the ebbing and flowing of human things ; it was perhaps an event as desirable as it was inevitable. Rome and Roman Italy had ceased to live, long before any foreign nation even ventured across the Alps. It was a superannuated body, which in the last struggle against imminent death, by an animal instinct, summoned all its vital principles to the heart, only to witness the fate of its members and prepare for its own. Rome, as is related of few fortunate pirates and robbers, after escaping all the trials of a life of peril and violence, was consumed by inanition, and died of old age.
Long before Alaric and Attila laid waste the rich vale of the Po, that fair country was little better than a desert. The fertile colonies of Cisalpine Gaul, reclaimed by the sober Romans from the swamps of that unruly river, were abandoned by the same Romans, intoxicated by a long career of success. The right of citizenship, extended over all Italy, crowded in a few years the capital with some millions of inhabitants at the expense of the country. Her games and spectacles, her largesses and unbounded luxury, afforded a gay and easy style of living to the lazy populace, who flocked to her from all parts. Rome became a vast and active crucible, into which mankind, in all its varieties, flowed from all the provinces, and there, by a rapid process, melted and vanished.
To these physical causes of depopulation and moral debasement and corruption, celibacy, and its attendant vices, a general distaste for settled life, for domestic happiness, for all social ties and pure affections, (because all human affections form an uninterrupted chain, a single link of which cannot be broken or relaxed without the dissolution of the whole