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already intimated ; although, when the age of the world is recollected, together with its teeming population of immortal beings, their infrequency can scarcely fail to melt even Philosophy itself into tears. They form, indeed, the visible links of a chain, extending from the throne of God to the families of our species; which shines amidst a long night of darkness and corruption, as if to reassure us that His love is boundless and eternal,—and that better and brighter scenes are in store to be developed upon this very earth, and under these very heavens. Thus when the sparks of civilization were about to be trampled out by the foot of the proud Persian in Greece, a few republicans were providentially enabled to rescue the destinies of Europe on the field of Marathon. So also in the subsequent Sicilian and Roman annals, we perceive occasional operations of the popular principle emerging into light for the welfare of living myriads and succeeding millions. Even during the mediæval era, Arnold of Brescia, the consul Crescentius, and the tribune Rienzi, furnished similar examples. Switzerland followed in their train with better success : for heroism and patriotism breathed a purer atmosphere among the Alpine forests and lakes of the Oberland, than in the plains of Lombardy, or along the banks of the Tiber. Then ensued the contests of Holland with Spain; the commonwealth of Vane and Milton in England; the overthrow of feudalism in France; and, lastly, the Declaration of Independence in America. These, as well as several others, are allowed to have been exceptions to the wearisome and protracted farce, performed before the world by hereditary or tyrannical rulers, who in professing to labor for the benefit of their subjects, have in point of fact only lived for themselves. But marvellous changes are at hand. Where individuals, many years ago, exercised their natural rights and faculties either for action or speculation, enormous masses now do the same. Knowledge is everywhere breaking through the external surface of society, to make one universal protest against what Carlyle has designated as the Great Sham, in his History of the French Revolution. Democracy no longer looms in the distance, as an object important to the contemplations of the politician, yet unknown to the multitude. It stands out with gigantic proportions on the opposite shores of the Atlantic, whither the lapse of a fortnight is only now necessary to transport as many thousands as our Grand Westerns can carry, for personal examination of the phenomenon. The author of that remarkable work at the head of our article has not merely surveyed, -but investigated and analysed it. His translator has placed the book within the reach of those unaccustomed to a foreign language : and such has been the interest excited, that we feel happy to furnish our readers with the condensed essence of fourteen hundred pages ; to which it is our further intention to add some
remarks of our own, in order that the lucubrations of M. de Tocqueville may be brought more directly to bear upon the state of British society in the present day.
It would appear that during his residence in the United States he was struck with nothing so forcibly as with the general equality of conditions ; a fact extending far beyond the political character and laws of the country, and having no less an empire over civil society, than over the government itself. On looking back to Europe he seemed to discern a mighty movement tending towards some result analogous to that presented in the New World: in other words, he arrived at the conclusion that a revo. lution is going forward throughout the whole of Christendom. The various occurrences of national existence, he thinks, have everywhere turned to the advantage of democracy: the example of America having like the loadstone mountain, in the Arabian Nights' Entertainments, drawn all into the same track,-some unwillingly, and others unwittingly. He considers the gradual development of this equality in conditions as an evident providential fact,-as possessing all the characteristics of a divine decree,-as destined to become universal, durable, and eluding all human interference. The impulse, which is bearing us along, he imagines to be so strong that it cannot be stopped, whilst it is not yet so rapid but that it may possibly be guided. “The first duty imposed upon those who regulate our affairs, is to
educate the people,—to warm its faith,—to purify its morals, to direct its energies, – to substitute a knowledge of business for 'its inexperience, –and an acquaintance with its true interests for its blind propensities,– to adapt its government to time and ‘place,—and to modify it in compliance with the actors and occurrences of the age.' A new science of politics is thus indispensable. The spell of royalty has been broken. Subdivisions of property have diminished the distance which formerly separated the rich from the poor: though it nevertheless turns out, that the nearer our high and low classes in Europe draw to each other, the greater is their mutual hatred, and the more vehement has grown that envy and dread, with which each resists any claims of the other to power or authority. On this side the Atlantic, we are in a transitory state ; like a throng of countless persons passing out of one room into another through a very long, narrow, and intricate gallery: almost all are being pushed from our proper places, without having nearly arrived at the desired destination, where dishevelled hair and disconcerted garments may be suitably adjusted to the gravity of the occasion. But on the other side, there is a country, where this grand revolution may be imagined to have reached its natural limits. The democratic principle has there been allowed to spread and expatiate in perfect freedom, leaving out of sight for a moment the black spot of
negro-slavery. It has there put forth its consequences in the laws, by influencing manners. Not that it is to be concluded, , that though we shall experience some time or other analogous results, we shall be necessarily led to derive them from an exactly similar social organization. All that our author means is this : that the identity of the efficient cause of laws and manners 6 in the two countries is sufficient to account for the immense • interest we have in becoming acquainted with its effects in each • of them.'
He first touches on the geographical platform where these phenomena of equality in conditions are now being exhibited on their largest scale, and in their most complete development. We are introduced to North America, as divided into a couple of vast regions, one inclining towards the pole, and the other towards the equator. The valley of the Mississippi is unveiled in all its variety and vastness, as the most magnificent abode ever prepared by God for man, at present scarcely more than a mighty desert, in comparison of what it will one day be, when a hundred millions will live and prosper in it, from the Canadas to Mexico. America, as the single territory in which the starting-point of a great people has been clearly observable, the more excites our curiosity from that very circumstance. The earlier as well as the later emigrants differed amongst themselves in many respects, yet had certain features in common, and were placed in an analogous situation. Their language for the most part, was, or became one and the same. The parochial system was deeply rooted in the habits of the English as a fruitful germ of liberal institutions, carrying with itself in fact the doctrine of the sovereignty of the people. Such exiles, as these were, could have had in general no notion of superiority over one another. Their freedom was of that sort which is rocked in the cradle of the middle and lower classes : yet two distinct branches may be distinguished in the Anglo-American nation, which have hitherto grown up without altogether commingling. The Southerns, or Virginia settlers, were seekers of gold, with a plentiful admixture amongst them of aristocratic debauchees, fraudulent bankrupts, and discharged menials; they felt and recognized their equality of condition in having had to leave their native land; but an enervating climate prostrated any rising aspirations after true greatness; and we are not surprised to find slavery established amongst them even in the first quarter of the seventeenth century. Hence white labor in the presence of sable servitude became dishonorable. The Northerns, or New-Englanders, on the other hand, had set their foot on the rock at Plymouth, as pilgrims in the best sense of the word. Their eyes were fixed on heaven rather than earth. Their hearts had chosen the wilderness with a view not for time alone, but eternity. They possessed in proportion to their num
ber,' greater intelligence than is to be discovered in any Eu
pean nation of our own time.' Their wives and children accompanied them.--those true Penates of domestic religion, where the face of God has smiled upon the soul, with his throne established in the affections. They had property also,-but they honored every species of manual'industry. Their best treasures lay in the elements of order, morality, good sense, and social liberty, which they brought with them. The call, which summoned them from their British homes might not have been without some touch of enthusiasm, but it was religiously intellectual; "and in ' facing the inevitable sufferings of exile, their object was the triumph of an idea !' Hence the difference between the northern and southern states. The former sprang from an immeasurably higher motive, or set of motives, than their fellows : but they now extend an influence over the entire Confederation.
The civilization of New England has been like a beacon lit upon the • hills, which after it has diffused its warmth around, tinges even
the distant horizon with its glow. Patriotism owes more to puritanism than a proud and selfish world will ever be brought to acknowledge. These colonists borrowed their penal code from Hebrew legislation, and doubtless erred in doing so: but their early laws,--their social contract-their genuine fervor of spirituality, their so intimately yet naturally uniting vital religion with political liberalism-rendered them benefactors to their race, and instructors for all posterity.
Should any one hesitate for an instant to admit this, let the preamble to their law for public education be cited from the code of 1650 : 'It being one chief project of Satan to keep men from the knowledge of the Scripture by dissuading from the use of tongues, and to the end that learning may not be buried in the 'graves of our forefathers, in church and commonwealth, the • Lord assisting our endeavors,' - there then follow clauses establishing good common schools in every township, as well as superior seminaries in the principal places of populous districts. Let these obscure legislators in Massachusetts be just contrasted with certain honorable, or right honorable, or even right reverend senators, whom one could easily name. Our philosopher nobly points out how religion perceives that civil liberty affords “a magnificent exercise to the faculties of man, and that the political world is a field prepared by the Creator for the efforts of intelligence. Contented with the freedom and powers which it enjoys in its own sphere, its empire is never more surely established than when it reigns in the hearts of men, unsupported by aught besides its native strength. It is no less the companion of liberty in all its battles, and its triumphs. It 'forms the cradle of its infancy, and the divine source of its claims. The safeguard of morality is religion, and morality is
the best security of law, as well as the surest pledge of freedom.' So have the New Englanders concluded, the more deeply they have thought about the matter. Some remains indeed of contrary systems lingered long amongst them, nor are yet entirely obliterated. But we must sever what is puritanical, from what was merely of British origin in order to account for such anomalies. In portraying the social condition of America, much may be attributed to an alteration of the laws of inheritance. Our readers will do us the justice of remembering that we have asserted this again and again. De Tocqueville goes so far as to affirm, that when once the matter of descent has been settled, the legislator may rest from his labors! We have always felt that entails and primogeniture constitute the real roots of aristocracy: and that here the axe of our reformers must be aimed when public opinion shall execrate the Upas Tree, destroy its trunk, cut off its branches, shake off its leaves, and scatter its fruit. Our transatlantic brethren, however, have but slightly suffered from it. They from the very first unfeudalized their institutions. They apprehended rightly enough that nobility was incompatible with popular sovereignty. The Revolution only enfoliated what had been for centuries in the bud of promise. Townships, counties, and states, expanded into blossom upon no other principle. Their municipal institutions were to liberty what primary schools are to science. It was conceived that every one is the best judge of his own interests; and that society has no right to control private actions, unless as they get involved in the common welfare. Hence townships in America all govern themselves. There are nineteen chief officers in each, appointed directly both by and from its own community ; so that upon an average, every two thousand persons, within well-understood limits, manage their affairs as a large family might do, of brothers and sisters, basking at their firesides! Such townships are to all intents and purposes little states; except so far, as that with a view to security, they have surrendered such a portion of their independence as may be necessary to knead them into the body politic of some one member of the Confederation; or as on a still larger scale, each member of that Confederation has surrendered a share of its independence to form the mighty Union! The states, in fact, form a fasciculus of townships, as the confederation forms a fasciculus of states. Townships are merely subordinate to the state in those interests, which may be termed social, as being common to all American citizens from Penobscot down to Pensacola. But they necessarily win the affections of their inhabitants, having about them nothing beyond the most touching characteristics of home! Authority wears no frown in its administration, except towards vice or impiety. The counties have considerable analogy with the arrondissements of France. They possess each