« ForrigeFortsett »
Basis of Representation.
taken off and put on without any essential injury The motion was agreed to.
to the substance itself. The Convention accordingly went into
Now, Sir, the relations of the towns towards
the Commonwealth are not unlike the relations of COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE,
individuals towards the community. It is someMr. Wilson, of Natick, in the Chair.
times said that men in entering society give up a The CHAIRMAN stated the question to be part of their natural rights in exchange for the upon the Majority Report from the Committee on protection which society extends to such as are the House of Representatives.
retained. But it seems to me that this is what Mr. HILLARD, of Boston. I should hardly | grammarians would call a hysteron proteron, or in have taken part in the discussion, had not the common language, "putting the cart before the chairman of the Committee which reported the horse.” There are, strictly speaking, no rights in resolves under consideration, (Mr. Griswold,) a state of nature-if such a state can be conceived done me the honor of fortifying some of his posi- of. Rights are the children of society-the creations by my authority. Had I remained silent, tures of relation. Robinson Crusoe, while alone there might have been a touch of disingenuous- on his desolate island, could have no rights, ness in this course, as I might have thereby seemed strictly speaking, because in that condition there to assent to a direction given to my language to was no possibility of wrongs; but when his man which I am not prepared to yield an entire assent. Friday made his appearance upon the stage, the
It is true that after the measure of my abilities union of the two generated a whole offspring of and opportunities, I have read and thought upon rights and duties. Now, the whole framework the subject of town organization, and I yield to of society, with all the cumbrous and expensive no man in this Convention or out of it in respect machinery of government, is nothing more or less, for that organization, and no man is more pre- than an adjustment of individual rights and genpared to make efforts or sacrifices to keep it in all eral rights-a settlement of the conflicting claims its purity and all its efficiency.
of the individual and the community. The idea But the local independence of towns is one of a free government is, that each individual shall thing, and their relative weight in the central retain so much of his own rights as is consistent government is another. Because it is important with the common welfare—the general safety of that town-meetings should retain their adminis- the people always being the supreme law. Mr. trative functions unimpaired, it by no means fol- Burke says, “To form a free government—that lows that they should have the lion's share in the is, to temper together the opposite elements of central legislature. Because the voters in a town liberty and restraint in one consistent work-reof five hundred inhabitants have as perfect a right quires much thought, deep reflection, a sagacious, to manage the internal affairs of that town, as powerful and combining mind." Society is, inhave the voters in a town with five thousand in- deed, an aggregate of the most delicate and comhabitants, it by no means follows that they shall plex machinery, where the rights of individuals have an equal voice in determining matters in and society cross each other at every step; and it which they have a common interest, in direct is one of the most difficult problems to solve, how proportion to those numbers. In short, local au- to apportion the rights of individuals on the one thority, or sovereignty, if you will, is one thing, side and of society on the other. This may be and combined action is another. Between the
illustrated in a thousand ways. We allow, for two, there is a chasm which my sympathies can
instance, every man the right to worship God not overleap, which my understanding cannot according to the dictates of his own conscienceoverbridge. It is true that all the towns in the
and it is a sacred right; but we should not allow State are partners in the common weal, but it by a company of Shakers to perform their saltatory no means follows that they are equal partners. devotions upon Boston Common. Every father Nor does it seem to me, as has been remarked in has the right to govern his own family, but if he this hall, that if you take away from the towns
treats his children with excessive cruelty, society the right to elect representatives, as such, you de- interferes. Every man has the right to deal with prive them of the brightest jewel in their crown. his own property as he pleases, but if he erects a On the contrary, it seems to me that the right to nuisance on his land, society comes in and remanage their internal affairs is their most essential moves it. A man has the right to publish his right. The right to choose a representative is an
opinions, but if he libel his neighbor, he must accidental right. One is a right hand or a right answer for it. eye. The other is a garment, graceful and becom- Now the problem before us is, how to reconcile ing it may be, but a mere garment, which may be the rights of the individual towns of the Com
monwealth with the rights of the whole people of stances. It is equally true as a general maxim or the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth is an axiom, in all progressive and representative govaggregate of individual communities, it is true; ernments, that the state of representation must but all these individual communities have their change with the change of circumstances. This rights, and the fact that all have rights sets a great struggle came to a head about twenty years limitation to the rights of each one. We have since. It led to a conflict in England unparalleled to solve this problem, and in order to do it cor- both for the ability which was infused into it, rectly we must give to each one of the towns of and for the passions which were called into birth the Commonwealth just so much of their primi- on both sides, for the whole interests of England tive, original, individual rights as is consistent with were suspended and concentrated upon that one the welfare of the whole, and especially must we point. There was but one thought in the minds do it in such a manner as to work no injustice in of the people, and but one throb in that vast any quarter.
heart. Parliamentary reform was, in point of I have listened, Mr. Chairman, with much in fact, carried through a breach of the Constitution terest and with much profit to this debate. I of England. The constitutional function of the think the tone and temper of the discussion have House of Lords was paralyzed, and parliamentary been honorable to the Convention and honorable reform went through the House of Commons and to the State. And it has been interesting to me in over the House of Lords. The arguments with more points than one. In the course of the dis- which that battle was fought on the one side and cussion we have seen the civic and the rural | the other, are not identical with our own, because elements of society brought in collision, and an our towns are not boroughs, and they are not rotattempt at reconcilement and compromise. It is ten but sound. Not identical, I say, but similar. the renewal of a very old contest. This was the The parallel is not exact, but it is marked. But by ground of the antagonism between the Doric and some strange device, some conjuror's trick,although Ionian races in Greece, which found its last ex- the banners and symbols are the same, yet the compression in the civil war between Athens and batants seem to have changed sides. I find here the Sparta, which led to the final downfall of Greece. tory argument spoken from the lips of the progresIt is these two principles which have operated to sive party. The Democratic Sauls are now among bring about parliamentary reform in England, the conservative prophets, and Democracy itself which commenced as long ago as six hundred seems to have smoothed its rugged front, and years since, when Simon De Montfort summoned instead of sounding its trumpets and sharpening into parliament the representatives of the boroughs, its weapons, it capers nimbly in a lady's chamber the mechanics and the tradesmen. We may well to the seductive breathings of the conservative conceive of the indignation of the barons and lute. Here is my friend for Berlin, who made lords of England, when they learned that the a most able and weighty speech, which if it had delegates of clothiers and weavers were to take been delivered in the House of Lords in 1831, part in the government of the realm over which would have been pronounced a most excellent they had before exercised exclusive control.
tory argument. Lyndhurst would have cried This was the first attempt to take from landed “hear, hear,” Eldon would have cheered, and property its lion's share in the government of the iron duke himself would have stretched forth that country, and to transfer it to personal prop- a congratulatory hand. [Laughter.] Now the arerty. The same struggle has continued more or guments on both sides may teach us a lesson, that less down to the present time. It is not gener- we may greatly magnify and overstate both the ally known that Mr. Pitt—the younger Pitt-was prospective advantages and disadvantages of any a parliamentary reformer. In 1785 he proposed change to which our passions are strongly given. several changes in the representation, and in the That experiment has been under trial for course of his remarks upon that occasion he pro- twenty years, and I presume that the most bigoted mulgated one or two opinions which cannot be Tory in England would say, that the highest unprofitable for us to hear. He said that his
essential institutions of England are not weakened object was to make the House of Commons an by the change. But on the other hand, I believe assembly which should have the closest union and it will be generally admitted that the House of the most perfect sympathy with the mass of the Commons has not gained in point of ability, and people. I submit that this is as vital and preg- that the tone of debates, if anything, is somewhat nant a maxim to-day and here, as it was then lower than under the old system. and there. He also said, it is an incontestable I agree to much of what has been said in behalf doctrine of antiquity that the state of representa- of the Majority Report. I confess to a weakness, tion has changed with the change of circum- shall I call it, in favor of land and land owners. Thursday,]
I should be sorry that the time should ever come France, at that time, was a mosaic of diversity, for instance, when a plurality in the House of kept together by the strong compression of Representatives of Massachusetts should not be despotism. When that compression was removed composed of farmers. I think that that prejudice, by the Revolution, the only alternative was to if prejudice it may be called, which from the break up France into separate kingdoms, or to beginning of time seems to have gathered around reconstruct the whole system by means of departland and the possession of land, has its origin in ments. This latter they did. What was the some instinct of our nature, which is a true result: The affections of the people were divorced instinct. It is not easy to understand why our from the provinces around which they had clung, confidence seems to go out towards the men who and not having had time to entwine themselves are possessed of acres, but the fact is and ever has around the departments, were transferred to Paris been so. Take the English House of Commons and the central power. Two generations have and the French Chamber of Deputies. In the grown up since that time, the people have become French Chamber of Deputies the majority, is attached to the departments, and the consequence made up of men of talent, clever men, brilliant is, if I mistake not, that Paris by no means wields writers, intellectual adventurers, who come up to proportionately the same power which she did Paris with tongues and pens, set up to be bought sixty years ago. At any rate, no administration by the highest bidder. In the House of Commons, has changed that division into departments, and on the other hand, there is a considerable propor- therefore it cannot be an unmingled evil. tion of what are called country gentlemen, men The gentleman for Manchester, (Mr. Dana,) in who are sent there because they possess landed the course of his remarks, let fall a drop or two of property. They are not generelly held to be very blistering dew upon the city of Boston. I winced wise or brilliant men, but I contend that they a little at that portion of his speech. As Mr. make a far better legislative body than the same Pepys, the diarist, in the time of Charles the Secnumber of brilliant Frenchmen; and, paradoxical ond, said of a rent in his new camlet cloak, “it as it may seem, I contend that too much talent, was a trifle, but it troubled me." I wish the too much oratorical power, if you will, in any Committee had heard from other lips than his that deliberative assembly, is an evil, as well as too stupid sarcasm of John Randolph's, which, like little. I think one reason why the House of all the good things of that distinguished Virginian Commons is a better legislative body than any
I have had the fortune to hear, owes its preservaFrench Chamber of Deputies, is because there is tion not to the salt of its wit, but the vinegar of the plain homely element of good sense lying at its malice. The same John Randolph said of the the bottom of its deliberations—because there are secret ballot, that if it did not find the people that so many men there whose minds and characters adopted it a nation of scoundrels, it would soon have been trained under the responsibility of make them so. That sally does not seem to be landed property
received with quite so much favor as the fling at Many things have been said in the course of Boston. In my opinion one is worth about as this debate, to which I cannot agree. I listened much as the other. For one, I do not shrink from with much admiration to the speech of my friend, a comparison between Boston and Athens. For the delegate for Manchester, (Mr. Dana,) but not one, I am thankful that I do not live in a city throughout with uniform assent. I trust he will where three men out of four are slaves as well as permit me to discuss some points of difference, foreigners. I am thankful that my life and forwith a candor which is perfectly consistent with tunes are not at the mercy of that fierce and cruel the spirit of friendship. He and I have sat at the democracy which banished Aristides, poisoned feet of the same political Gamaliels. We cannot Phocion and Socrates. I will set the trial by jury widely differ as to principles, but only as to the against the Parthenon, habeas corpus against the application of them. He laments the downfall temple of Theseus, constitutional law, regulated for instance of the provinces of France, and wishes liberty, free schools and charitable institutions that they could be restored, but it is as impossible, against poetry, art and philosophy; and in sumof course, as he well knows, to restore the ming up, I will find a balance to the credit of provinces of France, as it is to ingraft the colors Boston. I regret that my friend for Manchester, of sunrise upon the light of noon-day. What (Mr. Dana,) should have felt himself called was the fact: The kingdom of France before the upon to add even one jot or tittle to a sentiment Revolution was an aggregate of several provinces towards Boston which has increased, is increasdiffering in institutions, laws, customs, origin, ing, and ought to be diminished. I am sorry that and in language even. Brittany differed from he should have cast one stick upon a fire, out of Navarre more than Massachusetts from Louisiana. | whose heat none but vipers can come. As the
bread that he and I both eat comes from the busi- | whom and what it may devour. My friend ness community of Boston ; from men, some of knows, to borrow an illustration from the elewhom are rich and all of whom hope to be rich, ment with which his genius is so indissolubly it does not become us, like froward children, to associated, that if you spread the canvas of the strike at the hand that feeds us. I recognize the ship, and take out the ballast and rudder, she will sentiment of local gratitude as well as of personal soon land at Davy Jones's locker. And does any gratitude, and I would not cast a stone at the tree man suppose that in this country we are in danwhose fruits I eat. Not that there was not much ger of suffering from want of liberty? Just as of truth in all that my friend has said. I admit much, Mr. Chairman, as the inmates of Noah's that the pursuit, as well as the possession of wealth, | Ark were of perishing with thirst in the middle spreads snares for the soul. I admit that the love of the deluge. of money is the root of much evil, but I respect- Perhaps this sentiment towards Boston is a fully submit, that a gentleman who addresses this contagious disease. My friend for Manchester Committee from the vantage ground of character sits near to my fervid young friend for Northand talent which that gentleman does, should boro', (Mr. Burlingame,) who charmed us a few speak with a moral responsibility attaching not days since with a very brilliant piece of declamaonly to his words, but to the inferences naturally tion, a specimen of scene-painting, in which to be drawn from his words. He will pardon me somewhat exaggerated forms were so commended for saying, if, as I was listening to his adroit and by the powerful gas-lights of passion and fancy, well considered language, I was reminded of some that if we began with criticism, we ended with lines of Pope, descriptive of the character of Addi- admiration. I think that gentleman, (Mr. Bur
lingame,) who represents a town which he has
not seen, misrepresents a city that he has seen. “Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer, And without sneering, teach the rest to sneer:
Not that what he said is not literally true; not Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike,
that he might not pick out a hundred men in Just hint a fault and hesitate dislike."
Boston, whom I should call rich, whom you He did not say in so many words that Boston might put under the sods at Mount Auburn, and was a mercenary encampment of selfish money- no great harm be done. But man is an inferenceseekers. He did not say that the spirit of liberty drawing animal, and I protest against the inferhad gone out in the spirit of trade, like the flame ence. If it be meant that such is the character of a candle in an exhausted receiver. But I sub- of the rich men of Boston, I beg leave to dissent mit that he opened the door, through which others from the conclusion. On the other hand, I think might pass to that conclusion. I have lived there is no community in which property is more longer in Boston than he. I know its people as administered with regard to its duties as well as well, and I do not think that the charge or insinu- its rights. I believe there is no place in which ation is, in point of fact, true. I think that, of all the wealth of the wealthy flows out more than in good things, there is as much in Boston now as Boston, not only in those broad streams of charity at any previous period. But it is unprofitable to upon which the great burdens of humanity rest, bandy judgments. His opinions are as good as but also in those rills of private benevolence mine anywhere; and doubtless better before this which betray the secret of their course only by body. But, supposing it to be true, that the pulse the livelier green of happiness which they diffuse. of liberty does not beat quite so fiercely in the The lines of that gentleman have fallen to him cities as in the country, my friend has read and nearer the wealth of Boston than my own. It is thought enough about politics to know that the my lot to gain a modest subsistence by modest prosperity of a State rests upon two elements, professional toils. I have no other thing to look the spirit of liberty and the spirit of law, the back upon in the past, and I have nothing else to principle of progress, and the principle of repose; look forward to in the future. Within the last that these must be combined like the nitrogen and year, three of these rich men have been gathered oxygen in the atmosphere, to give the greatest to their fathers. Their names are Amos Lawamount of vitality; and if you have too much of rence, Robert G. Shaw, and Thomas B. Wales. one, it is just as bad as to have too much of the If the men and women and children, who have other. Surely, that timid conservatism, which felt in the death of these men a substantial and comes either from the hope of obtaining property palpable loss, who have felt that, by their reor losing it, is not a thing that we can afford to moval, a portion of the daily sunshine on their throw away. It does offer some resistance, im- path had been taken away-I say if these men, perfect though it be, to that spirit of headlong women and children could come up here to teschange which goes roaring about the land seeking tify against the injustice of this charge, this hall Thursday,]
would not be sufficient to contain their
poverty whose roots are sin and whose fruit bers.
death. This is a poverty which is rebellious, deBut, Sir, it is not for me to pass encomiums structive, exterminating, hopeless, homeless, and upon Boston. She needs not that service at my Godless. This is the poverty which prow's hands. I am here to represent, and not to praise around our dwellings as wolves around a sheerher. She is here, in open court. Gibes and cote, seeking an unguarded point where they may sneers, and spurts of rhetoric and ejaculations of enter. It is a poverty embittered by the sight of prejudice, she disdains to respond to; but all enormous wealth—the luxuries of which it cannot charges, distinctly and articulately propounded, enjoy; it is a poverty which hardens and brutalshe is ready to meet. She is and has been “a city izes ; it suppresses the man and brings out the set upon a hill.” From her birth down to this tiger. This is the poverty that we have to fear. hour, her path has lain in light, and her works It is now a cloud no bigger thon a man's hand, have been done at noon-day. Study her history, but swelled as it is daily by foreign and domestic page by page, and period by period ; observe her accretions, who shall say whether, in the future, institutions for the relief of the sorrows of hu- we are to be as safe from it as we are now. manity; see her intelligent and enterprising pop- I have always felt, and I have sometimes said, ulation, and if you will find any community, far that in our great cities, the aggregation of immense or near, past or present, large or small, superior wealth at one end of the scale, and the increasing to Boston, in all that is honorable, excellent and amount of hopeless poverty at the other, did inof good report, in all that elevates and embel- volve an element of peril to wealth itself, and that lishes life, then, and not till then, will I confess the moment the rich men forget the duties of that I have loved her,
property, the moment that they cease to bridge this “Not wisely, but too well."
interval between themselves and the poor by the Now, I confess, Mr. Chairman, I am more perpetual exercise of sympathy, and by the conafraid of the poverty of Boston, than of its wealth. stant recognition of a common humanity and a Poverty is of kinds as well as degrees-and we common brotherhood, then their wealth would be have a poverty in Boston which wears a different in danger of falling upon the mercy of the meraspect from that in the country towns. In these ciless. And it is only in this--it is only in the last, it is painful but not hopeless-struggling, but moral element, flowing from Christianity and submissive; often sorely tried, but never utterly humanity, that a corrective is to be found to the cast down. It is a poverty friendly to virtue, danger which always threatens a country, in friendly to religion, friendly to the domestic affec- which, while the rich are growing richer, the poor tions; and in its sharp bracing air, strong minds are growing poorer. and vigorous characters are reared. In these Much has been said, in the course of this disrural towns the poor man's lot is not embittered cussion, about centralization. I think that word by the sight of great inequalities in fortune. He is often misunderstood. In order to get at its is poor, but his neighbors are not rich; he is true meaning we must distinguish between the not ashamed to cast his vote; he is not ashamed functions of government and the functions of to attend town-meetings; he is not ashamed to administration. They are very distinct though walk to the house of God in company with his often confounded. We may find an illustration friends. He has local attachments—a home and of the two in the relation of the father of a fama family; he is not a limb cut off from the com- ily to his household. Government corresponds munity in which he lives; he is bound to it by to the discipline which he exercises over his chilties of sympathy. His poverty is not degrading. dren and his servants, and administration corresIt is soothed and lightened by kind offices, neigh- ponds to the care he takes of his property. Now borly acts, and seasonable charities. The burden government must always be central, no matter of gratitude is so gently laid, that it is lightly where it may be, no matter of what institutions borne ; and when the last hour comes, he feels it may be compounded. The government of this that he is not to be thrust into some unseemly State is as much a unit as the government of Rushole like rubbish shot from a cart, but that his sia, but the difference is that ours is a plural unit; neighbors will bear him decently and reverently it is a unit compounded of several aggregates ; to the grave, and smooth the turf over his lifeless and therein we seek efficiency. But all governremains. But there is a poverty in Boston which ments that exist at all are central ; they are one is of another class. Boston, like all other large and indivisible. towns, is a city of refuge for those social outlaws But with regard to administration, there are and outcasts whom the country throws off from two systems; one, which we have, which deits green lap. It is a place of refuge for that volves upon the community that comes the near