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Ir is refreshing, after so long and profound a silence in that quarter, to obtain a declaration of opinion on national politics from a leading Democrat. So great has been the demand and so limited the supply of late, that it is not surprising that there should be some inquiry for the political opinions of the lesser lights that shine only in the absence of stars of the first magnitude. Verily it is in the sphere of mind as in that of material things: when genius, the divine luminary, shines not forth, the illuminating qualities of gas provide a pale and wan substitute.

Such are the reflections awakened by a perusal of the letter recently addressed by the Hon. George M. Dallas, through the Hon. Guy M. Bryan, of Texas, to twenty odd millions of glorious republicans. Mountain scenery is supposed to exert an enlarg ing influence upon the ideas. Its images of grandeur awaken all that is sublime in thought; its grand elevations are suggestive of dignity and power; and its pure atmosphere removes far into the obscure distance the intellectual horizon. Who will doubt the verity of this influence after listening to the Delphic voice which has been uttered from Schooley's Mountain? Hear and judge :


NEW-JERSEY, July 25, 1851. "MY DEAR SIR:-Having escaped the heats of the city, I am almost inclined, amid the beauties of nature which surround me here,-the high hills, VOL. VIII. NO. VI. NEW SERIES.

the pure, cool air, the fragrant forests, and the ripening harvests,-to postpone, until my return to arid streets and studies, the attention to which your request is entitled. I cannot, however, feel at rest while imagining that my silence may possibly be misinterpreted, and therefore hasten to send you the views which you are kind enough to wish repeated.

"Of the topics of your letter, dated the 4th inst., from Peach Point, Brazoria county, Texas, I have long entertained definite and decided opinions. As they are somewhat different from any avowed by public men in this quarter, I should feel diffident in holding or confessing them, were it not that every day's progress in our great federal experiment confirms to me their soundness, indeed their absolute necessity. I cannot work out the safety of the Union in their absence. That union was designed and is fitted to be the best and most permanent security for as much of combined freedom and happiness as societies are permitted to enjoy; and it has always seemed to me not merely rash and irrational, but grossly illosprings of vitality. Union, in its political sense, is gical, to disclaim or doubt any of its essential the opposite of consolidation. The elements necessary to a bare idea of a union are antagonistic to those of a consolidation; and yet I cannot help thinking that all the mistakes and mischiefs to which we have been subjected, found an origin in the habitual tendency of many very able statesmen to import from old consolidated empires their products of legislation and government, and to fasten them upon the new American condition of mere federal union. How often do we hear and see the strictly deconstitutionalized term 'nation' substituted for that of 'union !'-a substitute plausible and innocent in the sphere of foreign nations, but full of insinuating and pernicious encroachment wherever the domestic limits, reservations and guaranties are involved. It found no place in the structure framed by the Convention of 1787. Were I not at this moment away from home, more


in search of health than disposed to labor, I should, be tempted to note, from Congressional and Executive records, some of the errors apparently run into, both of reasoning and of policy, under the seductive influence of round language. No stronger illustrations could be given of Mirabeau's assertion that words are things,' (ay, and fatally serious things, too,) than the extent to which, with such aids, the meaning of our Constitution, if not the nature of our government, has been affected. I am not so unjust as to question the motives of those who have thus deviated; they must rather be regarded as misled by a sort of ambitious patriotism, so intently aiming to augment the greatness, wealth and power of their country, as unguardedly to overlook the peculiar complications and nice adjustment of its political system.

ton, Madison, Franklin and Hamilton. Are they not wise enough, then, to apply a single and simple cure for a disease which, after many years of latent torpor, has suddenly alarmingly developed? With me there is no doubt that if my countrymen be given the legitimate opportunity, they will expressly and unqualifiedly prohibit, sooner or later, what I have heretofore humbly believed they had by the strongest implication already prohibited. They will prohibit from being forced by the sophistries of zealots to enact the part of consolidation; they will place the constitutional canon too palpably for misconstruction against the self-slaughter of intermeddling with institutions and rights exclusively of State creation, State responsibility, and State control; they will render it impossible, by any process short of treason or revolution, to convert the confederacy into the means of destroying the equality of its own members, or to direct its energies to fulfil the behests of some higher law starting up from the ever-ranging and incalculable phantasies of the inner man.

"As a people, we are generally calm and conservative-perhaps more tamely so than is congenial with the spirit and anticipations of the Constitution. There is one provision of that instrument, which more strongly than any other marks its practical wisdom, and yet it is curious "I have dispassionately, but anxiously watched to see with what almost superstitious dread we the manifest of political sentiment in the North and shrink from bringing it into action. I refer to the East, since the adjournment of Congress, and shall power and process of amendment. Our organic be most happy to find my impression dispelled in law was put in writing, its delegations and re- the future. At first the movements of the masses strictions of jurisdiction were given express and were independent of leadership, and gave a noble visible certainty; but as all human fabrics are earnestness to indicate their good faith, and to confessedly imperfect, and should ever be adapt- maintain the institutions and harmony of the able to the times, the mode of peaceful change, Union; but-and I say it with reluctance-the hori correction or addition, was prescribed with equal zon was not long permitted to remain so flattering. exactness. Why is it that we endure years of The abolitionists beat again their barbaric gong; dangerous agitation, unsettling our sentiments as the love of representative assemblages, regular or fellow-citizens, and winding gradually up to a social casual, was again taunting and vindictive; paltry convulsion, rather than frankly resort to this prof- and personal ambition renewed the agitation by fered expedient! Certainly, the Constitution can- which alone its hopes are fed; Vermont, Massanot be touched with too much reverence; certainly, chusetts, Ohio, New-York, and even Pennsylvania, what is usually stigmatized as 'tinkering' at it exhibited in succession sad proof that their respectshould be resolutely avoided; but when it is plain ive portions of the great Whig party were unwil that the proper occasion has arisen, that nothing ling to forego the customary rallying outery against less solemn can be efficacious, and that the very the South. They affected not to know, to disbeUnion it creates and conservates is at risk, why lieve as fanciful, or to despise, if real, the dangers are we to recoil from the provided sanctuary of their course; the bold bully of Anti-slavery deOne of the authorized forms of amending is unac-fied to his face the eloquent apostle of Union, and companied by hazard of any kind-that of Congressional recommendation, to be followed by the approval of three fourths of the local Legislatures. Such a process seems just now to be unpromising, but it may, after candid and diffuse discussion, turn out otherwise. Surely the Union is valued sufficiently to rally for its risk and renovation twentyfour of the thirty-one States; or are we already prepared to admit that the American people have become incapable of self-government, incapable of appreciating the true sources of their wonderful progress, and incapable of discarding the blind though boisterous guides, ready to lead them, through disunion, into mu'ual and rancorous jealousies, into dependence on foreign guardianship, into civil and servile wars, and into the poor feuds of village trades and tariffs. I think it always a mistake to falter in reliance upon the shrewd and sober judgment of the great body of our fellowcitizens. They were wise enough to discern the untried excellence of the Constitution; they were "But what, you may ask, if this doubtful and wise enough to amend, ay, and most admirably, dilatory course should prove abortive? Much the work as it came from the hands of Washing-time and opportunity will have been afforded.

defied him with impunity. The newspaper editorials, with exceptions few and far between, merged in the common current; at last it has become quite manifest (has it not? and why repress our convictions?) that the expectation fondly indulged of tranquilizing the country by the leg 8lative measures, is delusive. The act for the extradition of fugitives is the pretext for protracted and persevering war upon the guaranties of the Constitution; and if we are to raise the siege to which that instrument is still subjected, can we do better than reinforce it from the arsenal, and with the orders of the people? I desire nothing so much as the safety of the Union. Place it beyond the striking distance of cunning, as well as mad fanaticism. Do this, if you can, without resorting to the final remedy; but if you cannot, then give to the Constitation an express, positive, prohibitory amendment, which shall for ever end the entanglements and pretexts of interpretation.

Congress, the Executive, and the people will have | ern; and the right not to be impressed by British perceived that the resources of the Constitution naval audacity was cherished alike in the fields of for the defense of the State rights were patiently Kentucky and on the Atlantic coast; and so I tell exhausted, and may become sensible that a single you that the right of each State to be accounted further step of invasion will, like the last feather an equal of every other State, and to secure, if she on the camel's back, break down the confederacy. so pleases, to her inhabitants the enjoyment of as At all events, the responsibility of pertinaciously ample and unrestricted a scope for the exercise of perverting, after reiterated warning, the functions their minds and means as can be secured elseof the Union, will, even more strongly than now, where, is not a sectional, not a Southern, but a rest with those who dare gravely claim to dom- common Union or constitutional right. Such, I ineer the condition and consciences of others. am sure, was the design of all those who, as master Instead of forbearing remonstrance, of reasoning, workmen, built on the basis of the confederation and of appeals to the bulwark of the fundamental the United States; such I believe to have been compact, the quick instinct of self-preservation will the sense of those who, after the most widely alone be left. Even at that crisis, when disunion, popular form of consultation, adopted the strucpartial or temporary, shall seem the alternative on ture, and entered upon its occupancy; and such which to shun consolidation, I shall not cease to must be-for the truth is mighty and will prevailhope that faction may yet be stunned into sobriety, the ultimate judgment even of those who, with the and that the confronting presence of liberty and bigoted frenzy of crusaders, would attain what usurpation may, in this western world of ours, ter- their delirium deceives them by depicting as the rify the latter into retreat. will of God."'"

"I do not think that I misjudge my countrymen in saying, that the party in the wrong must ultimately yield; but it is well to remember, that in order to retain the position of right, extreme forbearance is necessary, and that perhaps gross oppression may for a season be most honorably borne. In contests of speculative politics, a salutary something can always be anticipated from the soothing and truth-disclosing influence of time. To fling the gauntlet while yet the civil controversy is undecided; to mutiny from, and quit a garrison within which you may really have more friends than foes, is chivalry of the kind painted by Cervantes. Napoleon, the restive and intractable, owned and inculcated, as to all projects, the wisdom of waiting 'till the pear is ripe, and not imitate the savage who cuts down the tree to reach the fruit. Southern men whose faith wavers in the meaning and purpose of the Constitution, as to State equality and non-intervention, are naturally made testy and choleric by their own misgivings; but it is the province of conscious justice and perfection to be patient, and to abide the inevitable triumph of truth. Nor ought it to be forgotten, that however convenient and admissible in ordinary parlance the language is, there are, under the Constitution, no such separate realities as 'Southern rights; that an outrage upon reserved sovereignty, on any subject, is just as much an infringement of my right in Pennsylvania as of yours in Texas, and that a large proportion of the people on this side of Mason and Dixon's line have been taught by experience and reflection to know that their dangers, in peace or in war, have their sources in the North. A citizen who truly esti mates and loves the Union, who is capable of comprehending that to the domestic tranquillity and enduring freedom of the American people it is a political necessity, feels as sensitively a blow inflicted upon one great interest or region as upon another-upon the fisheries, the navigation of the Mississippi, the liberty of the seas, the freedom of the press, or the local sovereignty over soil and slavery. The right to fish is no more Northern than Southern; the right which was in momentary jeopardy at Ghent, of exclusive use of the waters of the Mississippi, is no more Western than East


Such are the opinions of a sometime Vice President upon the great topics that have agitated the Union. We propose briefly to review the opinions here presented, not as possessing any intrinsic merit, nor as likely to exercise any important influence upon thought or action in reference to any great interests, nor yet as emanating from a source likely to give weight to any opinion by the prestige of an established political leadership; but simply because the transparent Machiavelism of the distinguished writer has displayed, what his more adroit competitors for the Presidency would fain conceal, the aims and thoughts of the leaders of the Democratic party.

Mr. Dallas, in company with a few of the same sort, distinguished for the intensity of their partisan antipathies, regards consoldation as the especial evil genius of this Republic. The federal bond he regards as too strong, and likely to merge the separate sovereignties of the States into one vast, overshadowing empire. And while professing admiration and devoted attachment for the Union, he proposes to weaken its bond for the sake of enhancing the dignity of the State sovereignties. An occasion more op-portune than the present might have been selected for the promulgation of such denationalizing opinions; for if the destiny of the Union is likely to be affected in any way by the discussion of the great question of the day, it will inevitably arise from the preponderance of the centrifugal over the centralizing force. While the harmony of the States is disturbed by the conflict of a diversity of policy and interest, there is little

to fear from consolidation. At such times The author of the Schooley's Mountain our study should be to discover how we may letter has displayed presumption if not praisecement most firmly the Union, while the worthy ambition in attempting to mount discussion of such dangerous abstractions the rostrum so recently left by the great should be deferred to times when more is to master-spirit of discontent. He draws about be feared from apathy than from agitation. his meagre limbs the robe of his master, with That there exists no pressing and immedi- less dignity than self-satisfaction, and glances ate necessity for the discussion of this topic, with complacency at his admired proporis strikingly evinced by the fact that such tions, as he counterfeits the tone and manacute politicians as Mr. Dallas discover so ner of his ideal. We will listen to the strong an opposite tendency, that they are voice of the oracle. willing to hazard their expectations and reputations, if they have any, upon an effort to ride into place and power upon the current of State-right opinions.

If there ever arrives a time when the well-balanced structure of our Union will be in danger from consolidation, it will happen when some grand scheme of conquest, like that conceived for the administration of which Mr. Dallas was a member, shall absorb the thought and feeling of the nation. Such unholy bandings to pillage and annex territory exert the very influence which Mr. Dallas dreads. The strongest governments are those which exist among plundering hordes; while the peaceful pursuits of industry, intellectual and moral culture, the legitimate pursuits of civilized societies, have a tendency to distribute and equalize political powers. In ages widely separated by time, and under dissimilar conditions of social existence, the republics of Rome and France sank under the weight of an imperial ambition. The sentiments of Mr. Dallas call to mind the days of the Titans, when similar doctrines were propounded by a Calhoun. Mr. Calhoun impressed his age with a conviction of his earnestness. Those who differed from him saw more reason to regret the overwrought sensibility of his temperament than to censure his motives or doubt his power. He was Southern in heart and impulse, and actuated by a generous warmth, that ennobled the man, notwithstanding his errors of judgment. The prophetic warnings of such a mind challenge the attention, however they may fail to convince the reason, and become the rallying-cry of devoted partisans.

The great error of the day, reasons this first-born of wisdom's children, consists in a misapplication of the term "nation,” an “import from old consolidated empires," unsuited to the new American condition of mere federal union." We have been taught by the poets that there is but little in a name; but we venture to assert that a nation has not half the fragrance that invests a mere federal union for the delicate sense of the philosophic Pickwickian. It is left in uncertainty whether Mr. Dallas aims his critical thrust against those devoted self-laudators who delight to distinguish ourselves and our country as "a great nation," or whether the objects that excite his indignation are those inoffensive beings, the makers of dictionaries, whose single and humane effort is to rescue good English from the hands of murderers; but it is evident that Mr. Dallas is deeply concerned for the safety of our country, while there are those who are silly enough or wicked enough to call it a nation. If the stability of our institutions is endangered by it, however much we may regret the loss of a euphonious word from our language, interwoven as it is with not a few pleasant associations, we solemnly declare, and write it with a firm pen, that dangerous word, that emissary from old consolidated empires, must be forthwith banished from the dictionaries.

We cannot restrain an emotion of pity for one who sees air-drawn daggers in such minute and inoffensive objects; but as such hallucinations are confirmed by opposition, we will pass without disputing the reality of the phantom to graver topics suggested by this subject.

The history of the severest struggle It would have been gratifying to have through which our Union has yet been call-learned from Mr. Dallas the precise causes ed to pass, leaves little to fear from the same which in his judgment are productive of weapon in hands such as those of Mr. Dal- danger to the existence of the State soverlas. It is the club of Hercules in the hands eignties, and it would hardly be deemed unof Paris. reasonable to have required him to establish

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