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buy it so dearly. We protest still, as in America we always have protested, against the conversion of circumstances into consequences-against metamorphosing the incidents of the social relation into the results of a political system. We insist that ignorance, however ingeniously it may "assume facts in order to have the pleasure of censuring faults," shall be brought to answer, and stand exposed in' all the plenitude and magnitude of its misrepresentations--that disappointed avarice, though it may redeem its unthrift at our cost, shall not belie the wisdom and the honour which it cannot comprehend, without being brought out, shorn and bound, to pay the penalty; and that the smooth and polished man of mark, who slides into our families to sell us to his bookseller, shall not be sheltered by a sneer, because forsooth he did but jest--poison in jest." Sensitive we certainly are; the lion may be roused by a gadfly or a gnat, whose torture, while it stings him into madness, detracts not from the nobleness of his nature, nor reduces him to a level with the insect that molests him. Heaven forbid that we should ever become so passively lethargic as not to be roused by a sense of violated confidence and unjust aspersion! The judgment in that cause shall never go against us by default.
If we are not mistaken, however, the day for small tourists has gone by. Their topics were so limited, that repetition has made them nauseous. They afforded but a paltry variety of slander; and of late they have been eked out by some political lucubrations so puerile and absurd, that the medicine cannot be swallowed even with the aid of the confection. There are many intelligent persons in Europe, whose tendency is to examine for themselves a little more deeply than a flippant satirist can enable them to do, the spring and principle of institutions under which numerous communities live in harmony and prosperity, self-governed and self-balanced, notwithstanding the existence of modes of thought and theories of association unknown to older states. The progress of enquiry has reached a point from which it cannot retrograde. The science of politics is no longer a monopoly. The divinity that "doth hedge a king" has forsaken his tripod. Ordinances have ceased to be oracles. The fundamental law that Louis XVIII gave, Louis Philippe has accepted. What was once begged is now claimed. Parchment and prescription are no longer broad enough to cover abuse and anomaly. The Cornish freeholder comes to the polls without a charter from "Richard king of the Romans," or his lord paramount. The source of his right is higher up than Norman, or Saxon, or Dane; he derives it from the first Briton who struck his plough into the soil. Intelligent minds are fully awake to the knowledge that the spirit of government is changing, and even where old forms are
retained, that much of its ancient character is passing away. They are accordingly marking out and measuring the base of the pyramid, heretofore hidden in the sands or encumbered with rubbish. They will no longer believe those careless or prejudiced travellers who would convince them that it is shapeless and monstrous, since they have seen some of its proportions for themselves. They want its length and breadth, its figure, its material, and its construction; its relation to the superstructure, its capacity to withstand the convulsions of nature, the corrosion of time, and the efforts of an enemy.
We shall owe much to the day which witnesses the satisfactory solution of this problem, or a closer approximation to it. It will change the minority into a majority, and we shall get the benefit of a division in which the strong side votes with us. Its arrival may be deferred, but the light which it throws forward is already reaching us. Nay it has reached, in times long past, every great spirit whom the truth has made free, and who, in daring to assert the prerogative of human thought, has done his part in the enfranchisement of his species. Our own country is an incident in the history of improvement, the sequel of which, if unfortunate, may influence, but cannot finally obstruct, the progress of knowledge. The heretic (as he was called) who fled into the desert to escape the fagot of his orthodox brethren, in the early days of the church, had the same cause with the pilgrims whom the Stuarts drove across the Atlantic. The one left a name, the other founded an empire, consecrated to human rights. Name and empire may both perish, still thought will not be enslaved; the veteris vestigia flamma, the traces of that ancient fire, cannot be obliterated. We will no more stake the hopes of liberty upon the fate of one republic, than we would have done those of conscience upon the life of Wickliffe, or the progress of science upon the freedom of Galileo. We see them rather in the history of mankind, and in the exertions which every age renews with redoubled energy and effect. and effect. We see them in the increased and manifold strength with which, like Antæus, man rises from his successive prostrations upon the earth, in the calmer and more confident bearing of her advocates, and in the buoyant and persevering spirit of her cause. It is we who are dependent upon freedom, not freedom upon us.
These remarks have been irresistibly forced upon us by the recollection of the past-we trust they are not wholly foreign to the subject we have in hand, and towards which it is time that we should hasten.
M. de Tocqueville, the author of "Democracy in America," is an unobtrusive and enlightened person who visited the United States a few years since, in pursuance of an important VOL. XIX.-No. 37. 17
commission entrusted to him by the French government. He brought with him an enquiring spirit, a liberal and instructed mind, and a discriminating judgment. To such a man, in our country every source of information is accessible. That he availed himself of his means of ascertaining truth, is evident from the accuracy of his local knowledge, and his correct views of the theory of our somewhat complicated institutions. He has produced an original and philosophical disquisition upon the rise, progress, and present condition of the North American republics; enquired into their political history, and discussed their manners, religion, and laws, with a candour and propriety, a regard for truth and decency, and, at the same time, with a degree of research and intelligence, to which we have hitherto been strangers. If he is sometimes too bold a theorist, looking for rules where he should only see exceptions, we may pardon the fault, when we find it accompanied by a power of analysis which is the best characteristic of the mind of modern France, and which best exhibits truth by dividing it from error. It is so easy to take shelter behind a particular anomaly, that the traveller who honestly refuses to avail himself of that refuge, deserves our thanks. Besides, the most characteristic passages in the history of governments are frequently those in which right has been overlaid by prescription. If the process, as it frequently may be, is unintelligible to a stranger, it does not follow that it is therefore absurd. At all events, his best chance for comprehending it, is to class it with other similar facts, and to become familiar with its incidents and history. It is easier, we confess, to dismiss it with a sneer, and we are much accustomed to see some of our institutions treated after that method-institutions which, if not strictly the result of ancient prescription, have yet derived their value and authority from the circumstances of our early position. M. de Tocqueville is incapable of thus dodging the obstacles with which he meets, and which, as he is neither stupid nor shy, he finds, for the most part, little difficulty in surmounting. Being in pursuit of a great object-that of doing his share to enlighten his countrymen-having no prejudices. to subdue, and no antipathies to overcome, he reasons calmly upon the facts presented to him, forms his conclusions-which, right or wrong, are very plausible and consistent and gives them to the public for what they are worth. They may not be found in a single boudoir; for, instead of caricatures, they are illustrated by a map of the country; but, for good or evil, as their reader pleases, they will have a place in the library of every statesman and minister in Europe.
In saying this, we are not to be understood as adopting all the views of our author. He sometimes steps boldly into the
region of prophecy, whose misty and uncertain confines we cannot overpass. Tiresias himself was blind, as most prophets are. The accidents of history, are as numerous as its events; a straw or a sword turns the balance of an empire. What is called reasoning from the past, is nothing more than looking into a brook for an image which is distorted and broken by every breeze that blows over its surface, and every pebble that falls into the stream. Without making any regular analysis of his performance, we intend to treat M. de Tocqueville with the same impartiality with which he has treated us; to do justice, as far as in us lies, to a work of singular research and reasoning, which is frequently original, and sometimes profound. He can speak much for himself, without risking the indignation of the most prejudiced American; not because he always speaks favourably, but because, when he has occasion to differ from his reader, he does so with temperance and dignity. He is content to keep himself out of sight, well believing that individual sensations and experience have little to do with great political themes, and that a country may possess lofty destinies, though she furnishes indifferent entertainment. His journey from Dan to Beersheba, even though on a frontier mail-wagon, was in no part barren. Witness his picture (worthy of Chateaubriand) of a settler, and the moral light in which it is drawn. Captain Hall saw, in a similar being, nothing but the miserable victim of poverty and fever.
"On the extreme verge of the Union, where society is bounded by the desert, may be found the settlements of those resolute adventurers who have fled from the narrowness of their paternal roof, and found a new country in the solitudes of America. A few trees, felled in haste, protect the cabin of the newcomer; nothing can have a more desolate appearance than his secluded abode. The traveller, approaching it towards evening, is guided by the light of the fire through its chinks, and on the rising of the wind at night, the noise of its thatch of leaves is heard even amidst that of the forest. Who would not suppose that this wretched hut was the asylum of coarseness and ignorance? Yet is the dwelling no true emblem of its inhabitant. All around him is savage and primeval, but he, so to speak, is the product of eighteen centuries of labour and experiment. He wears the costume of society, speaks its language, is acquainted with the past, curious about the future, reasons upon the present-a civilised being, who for a period consents to live in the woods, and who has buried himself in the wilderness of the new world, with his Bible, his axe, and his newspapers."
"I traversed," says M. de T., in a note to the above passage, a portion of the frontiers of the United States, in an open cart, called the mail. We proceeded, day and night, at a brisk pace, over roads scarcely broken, through immense living forests; when the darkness became intense, we continued cur route by the light of branches of larch, which the driver used instead of torches. At intervals, we arrived at a hut in the midst of forest; this was the post office-to the door of which the carrier threw a large bundle of letters, and, scarcely interrupting his gallop, left the treasure to be divided among the inhabitants of the district."
It is in the general equality of conditions, that M. de Tocqueville finds the clew to aid his investigations into the principles of society and government, the laws and social condition which distinguish the United States; it is the gradual approximation to the same equality, which he discovers in France, and throughout Christendom, that furnishes him with his most powerful motive for addressing the present work to his countrymen.
"It is evident," says he, "to all alike, that a great democratic revolution is going on amongst us; but there are two opinions as to its nature and consequences. To some, it appears to be a novel accident, which, as such, may still be checked; to others it seems irresistible, because it is the most uniform, the most ancient, and the most permanent tendency, which is to be found in history."
"As soon as land was held on any other than a feudal tenure, and personal property began in its turn to confer influence and power, every improvement which was introduced in commerce or manufacture was a fresh element of the equality of conditions." *** “From the time when the exercise of the intellect became the source of strength and of wealth, it is impossible not to consider every addition to science, every fresh truth, and every new idea, as a germ of power placed within the reach of the people. Poetry, eloquence, and memory; the grace of wit, the glow of imagination, the depth of thought, and all the gifts which are bestowed by Providence with an equal hand, turned to the advantage of the democracy." **"In perusing the pages of our history, we shall scarcely meet with a single great event, in the lapse of seven hundred years, which has not promoted the same end. The crusades, and the wars of the English, decimated the nobles, and divided their possessions; the erection of communities introduced an element of democratic liberty into the bosom of feudal monarchy; the invention of fire-arms equalised the villein and the noble on the field of battle; printing opened the same resources to the minds of all classes; the post was so organised as to bring the same information to the door of the poor man's cottage, and to the gate of the palace; and protestantism proclaimed that all men are alike able to find the way to heaven. The discovery of America offered a thousand new paths to fortune, and placed riches and power within the reach of the adventurous and obscure."***"Would it be wise to imagine that a social impulse, which dates from so far back, can be checked by the efforts of a generation? Is it credible, that the democracy which has annihilated the feudal system, and vanquished kings, will respect the citizen and the capitalist? Will it stop, now that it is grown so strong, and its adversaries so weak?"
"If the men of our time were led, by attentive observation and by sincere reflection, to acknowledge that the gradual and progressive development of social equality is at once the past and the future of their history, this solitary truth would confer the sacred character of a divine decree upon the change."
It may well be supposed, that with such views of the principle of society, the author comes to his task with no ordinary feelings. Indeed, he tells us that the whole work has been