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President represents the people, and becomes solely accountable to them for his conduct, and the legislature and the judiciary play very secondary and insignificant parts.
It cannot be denied that Congress has been of late years doing something to hasten this state of things, by the turbulence, disorder, and uselessness of its proceedings. The Senate has more than once become a nursery of faction, and the House of Representatives a scene for the lowest and most disgraceful brawling. Such things cannot long happen in any country with impunity, much less in ours, where the cui bono is constantly upon every tongue. Already has the constitution of the Senate been well nigh overturned by the establishment of the right of instruction. And nothing further remains but to settle the practice of universal resigning whenever public servants follow the dictates of their own judgment in opposition to the popular voice, and the Constitution, from being the complicated republican form which its framers designed to make it, will be a simple machine of more unmixed democracy than was even the government of Athens.
There is, however, a recuperative energy in the breasts of the American people, which may save them from long suffering under any evil which they themselves create. However gloomy the prospect may sometimes be to the true patriots of the land, they should never lose sight of the fact that there was one moment in our history, when it looked a great deal worse than we now see it, and yet all was not lost. The hour of darkness was but the foreshadowing of a bright and glorious dawn, when, under the superintending guidance of wisdom and integrity, the people enjoyed the full harvest of their industry, and the banner of the Union became the symbol of honor and of strength. We have not yet quite parted from those brilliant days ; but it cannot and ought not to be concealed that our progress of late years has been somewhat downward, and that a new system of political morals is in the course of adoption throughout the extent of the United States, which threatens to drown all the landmarks of our ancient faith in the one great ocean of expediency. We trust there are young minds which are in secret working themselves free from the dross of this corruption, and young hearts practised to beat not merely with the casual impulse of an honest patriotism, but also with the regular vibrations of an unconquerable principle ; a principle not more to be shaken by the io civium ardor prava jubentium,” than if it was called to resist the “ vultus instantis tyranni.” To such, if such there are, we bid God speed, for we fear that it is no ordinary trial which awaits them.
Art. III. - The Life of Commodore Oliver Hazard Per
ry. By ALEXANDER SLIDELL MACKENZIE, U. S. N. New York: Harper & Brothers. 2 vols. 18mo. pp. 322 and 270.
We have seen it asserted in the public prints, that an order has been issued by the Lords of the Admiralty to print in a cheap form, for distribution amongst the seamen of the Royal Navy, those time-honored sea songs of Dibdin and others, by which the heart of the mariner is stirred as with the sound of a trumpet. The wisdom of this measure can only be fully appreciated by those who have watched a group on board of a man-of-war, listening with open mouths to the sonorous voice of some favorite captain of the forecastle or main-top, as he gives forth in a kind of chant (all sea tunes resemble each other) the fervid national song, whose spirit nerves the saintest heart, and makes the stoutest trernble with eagerness ; - the pet boys, or chickens as they are affectionately termed, nestled, each one under the wing of his guardian, the landsmen forming a respectful outline to the group, and some officers mounted on a convenient gun, or a topgallant forecastle, partaking in the pleasure and excitement of the scene.
This is a favorite amusement of a pleasant evening on board a vessel of war at sea, and no one will doubt that the guns of a ship will be better served whilst the effect of such a celebration of former victories still lingers in the hearts of those who have heard it.
What these songs of the sea are to the untutored tar, wellwritten biographies of distinguished naval men are to the educated officer. Such an one is that before us, and Mr. Mackenzie has rendered an essential benefit to the navy and country, by holding up to her young aspirants the example of one of the nation's most gallant sons, stimulating them by the most powerful of all influences to the high duties of patriotism, valor, and self-devotion. Mr. Mackenzie has enhanced the merit of his service by the fidelity and elegance of its execution.
This tribute to the memory of a man who did the profession so much honor, comes very appropriately from one of its distinguished members. The task of writing the life of Commodore Perry is attended with some painful difficulties. Mr. Mackenzie has met them in the true spirit of his calling, — bravely, and honorably. It is sufficient praise to say of the literary merit of the work, that it comports well with the dignity of the subject, and answers the high expectation raised by the skill and success with which Mr. Mackenzie has frequently exercised his pen on subjects of naval and general interest.
In contemplating the entire life and character of Commodore Perry, we are struck with its harmonious consistency and completeness. It is a tale well told. His early pursuits, studies, and amusements were suited to qualily him for his future profession, for which he was led by the example of his father, a distinguished naval character in the war of the Revolution, and subsequently in the French disturbances, - to entertain a youthful predilection. He received his warrant as a midshipman at the age of fourteen, and commenced his career of duty under the command of his father, who thus enjoys the double honor of giving such a son to his country, and of training him in the path of his future usefulness, to be a worthy stamp and representative of his own merit. Young Perry passed through the various grades, up to the period of his command on Lake Erie, with great credit, creating in the minds of all who were associated with him the exalted expectations, which were so fully realized, and even surpassed, on that field of true glory. He died of a terrible malady, under the most painful circumstances, away from his family and the comforts of home, lying in that “worst of all dungeons, the truck-cabin of a schooner,” Jonely, cheerless, doubly cheerless for the thought of the absent wife, the object of his first and only passion, hitherto happy, now to be heart-broken. Full of moral beauly as was the scene, how different from the death of the warrior, amid the high and thrilling excitements of battle, the " gaudia certaminis," when the tension of the mind deadens the body to the sense of pain, was the doom of our hero in the deathlike, panting stillness of that stagnant climate, subdued by enervating disease. But his spirit was equal to the occa
In the language of his physician, “during his whole illness he showed every characteristic that could be exhibited by a great man, and a Christian." We trust his dying hour was cheered by the thought of the tears and love which atlend his memory. We cannot do our readers a greater favor than to transfer to our pages his biographer's eloquent and discriminating sketch of his character.
“ The scenes through which we have carried him render it unnecessary to say, that Perry united immovable firmness to the highest and most chivalrous courage, and a calmness and self-possession that never forsook him. Danger, instead of disturbing the ordinary exercise of his faculties, seemed but to stimulate and develope them. Prompt to decide, immovable in his decisions, energetic in carrying them into effect, - to these valuable qualities he added an untiring industry and enterprise, which rose at the prospect of labor and difficulty. He did not rush impetuously at an undertaking, and afterwards falter and become discouraged at the prospect of unexpected obstacles, but, commencing with calm earnestness, never paused short of complete fulfilment. He had the rare faculty of seeing things as they were, undisturbed by the mist of feeling, hopes, or prejudices. His mind was strong, and well poised ; not imaginative, perhaps, or fanciful, but characterized by sound sense, enlightening an unbiassed judgment which was rarely at fault. To this was added a correct taste, regulating his words and actions, and rendering them consistent and becoming.
“A mind thus naturally vigorous and discriminating, had been much enriched by extensive reading among choice and well selected books, particularly in ancient history, and the biography of the illustrious dead. For amusement he turned with greatest pleasure to the older dramatists, and Shakspeare was his fast favorite. He was not only thoroughly familiar with the text of this author, which he studied with school-boy earnestness, but had read all the most approved commentaries; he had, moreover, opinions of his own with regard to the various prominent characters of these dramas, which he is said, by one who knew him intimately, to have discussed in a masterly manner, unfolding their beauties with rare discrimination and taste. He had, indeed, on all subjects, a happy faculty of using and imparting the information he had obtained ; and his judicious remarks were always enhanced by the absence of pedantry and pretension, and by his pervading modesty. He also wrote with facility and correctness. His extreme aversion to the use of the pen probably led him to that conciseness and force which is conVOL. LIII. - No. 112.
spicuous in his letters. He never dwelt over any composition, and not more than two draughts of important letters in his own hand are to be found among his papers. He had not the common affectation of the great, and often the little great, of writing unintelligibly. His handwriting, like his style, was rapid, easy, and elegant ; a picture in some sort, of the fairness and simplicity of his character.
“Envy, hatred, malice, and uncharitableness found no restingplace in the heart of Perry. There was no room there for any but the noblest feelings and affections. He was not disturbed by petty irritability on trifling occasions, though his temper was violent, and easily roused by injustice towards others and himself. It was his pride down to a certain period of his life, that he had his temper under perfect control, until a personal insult, from which his guarded and dignified manners had ever before protected him, by producing a fit of ungovernable passion, convinced him that his command of himself was less perfect than he had supposed. The active benevolence and overflowing humanity of Perry exhibited itself as often as sickness, misfortune, or misery presented itself for his commiseration. A few anecdotes of this striking characteristic of him have been recorded ; of how many must he have carried his knowledge with him to the grave ? For, in acts like these, and in his efforts in behalf of his friends, it was eminently his custom to do good by stealth.
Perry was discriminating in the choice of his friends, and warm and constant in his attachment to them ; never permitting an opportunity to pass unimproved to do them kindness, or to advance their interest. He possessed eminently the faculty of creating strong affection for his person in those who were intimate with him. With regard to those who were accidentally associated with him, and for whom he had no previous or particular regard, he was rather disposed to discover their good qualities than to be censorious of their faults. He was unsuspicious in his temper, and gives himself the character of being credulous ; the fault of a noble mind, conscious of no evil itself, and suspecting none in others. His magnanimity was conspicuous, and betrayed him into some indiscretions. He had a chivalrous sense of the courtesy that is due to woman, and the most enthusiastic admiration of the female character. He was remarkable for his aversion for all grovelling, vulgar, and sensual propensities, amounting to positive detestation.
“ As a naval commander he was sensitively alive to the appearance, order, and efficiency of his vessel ; every thing connected with the management of the sails, and a skilful performance of every duty connected with the fighting department, received his zealous and unwearied attention. As an officer,