« AnkstesnisTęsti »
pared for him, — when it will be found that they can no longer oppose an available obstacle, and at last that the monster is not such a frightful creature after all as they imagined him to be. Democracy must come: until then, we look with complacency even on its opposers, though we must strive against them. There rises before the mind's eye a picture of strife, and by the mental ear sounds of anger and clamor are heard. It is the lumbering vehicle of Human Society. Mist and darkness surround it; before and behind, on the right and on the left, crowds of excited people are tugging it this way and that. Hardly any progress seems to be made: the different parties appear to be more engaged in quarrelling with, and throwing stones and dirt at each other, than in advancing on their common journey. Lament it not: there is a deep ravine in front, down which were the old omnibus to tumble, it would be dashed to pieces, and need re-construction. This would inevitably be its fate, could those ahead have their way; but those behind are so busily engaged in pelting those before, that the latter, from the necessity of self-defence, pull but little; and, meanwhile, how beautifully that ravine is filled up by the falling missiles which overshoot their mark! Do those before see this, and thank those behind ? Do those behind perceive that they are thus preparing the way of those before ? No, the success of Society depends upon their mutual ignorance and antagonism. Let the democrats cease their efforts, and the world will stand still, or retrograde. Let the aristocrats and monarchists suddenly join their efforts to those of the democrats, and the whole will rush together into the jaws of destruction.
Mr. Alison's picture of the “results of equality in America” is not, however, by any means appalling, although he does his best to make it so, by comparing some of these results with, nay, making them “ exceed, the savage atrocities of the French Revolution.” In his concluding paragraph, he can find nothing tangible to charge, as the "results" of democracy in America, more awful than, first, that we have not liberated our slaves; which fact, according to his principles, ought to redound wholly to our credit: secondly, that our Government did not re-charter the United States Bank: thirdly, that we talk of “abolishing the national debt;" a statement entirely untrue, and doubly so from the fact that we had no national debt, properly speaking, when Mr. Alison penned this passage: and, lastly, that “deeds, exceeding in cruelty the savage atrocity of the French Revolution, have been perpetrated in many parts of the United States ;” an assertion which must be taken with a few small grains of allowance. Now remove from this list those charges which might be made of any monarchy, and those which are entirely false, and what remains ? Nothing but the charge concerning slavery, which we should say was rather a "result,” and a continuation, of inequality. Quite as accurate is his statement that President Washington, in 1794, as “one of the last acts of his administration, by his casting vote in Congress," established a commercial treaty with England. Mr. Alison cannot have read, attentively, the Constitution of the United States ; and he appears to have adopted the most objectionable portions of the generally excellent works on America, to which he refers in his margin. He is too fond of declamation, and of generalization from insufficient data, to be a correct writer.
It seems to us that our author deals very fairly with Bonaparte; in fact, he palliates some of his crimes which appear to us to be worthy only of utter condemnation. He shows also much impartiality in criticising the faults of the Duke of Wellington, - evidently, however, in pretty much the same manner in which an astronomer would describe the exact size and number of the spots on the sun. He declares that “the Duke” was surprised and out-generalled by Napoleon previously to the battle of Waterloo ; which battle he won only by his indomitable perseverance, and orrents of British blood shed by others to expiate his fault. Thus only was the campaign redeemed. Wellington had a narrow escape; for had he been compelled to order a retreat, the defiles in his rear might have turned it into an entire overthrow; in which case the term “ Waterloo defeat” would have had a very different meaning, in France and England, from that which it now bears.
The sum and substance of all Mr. Alison's political philosophy are contained in the following sentence: -“No community need be afraid of going far astray which treads in the footsteps of Rome and England.” What the “footsteps" of Rome were, in which every nation should follow
that is desirous of not “going far astray,” Mr. Alison tells us on the very next page: “ To the surrounding nations Rome appeared a vast fountain of evil, always streaming over, yet always full, from which devastating floods incessantly issued to overwhelm and destroy mankind.
We may judge how far and wide it laid waste the neighboring States, from the nervous expression which Tacitus puts into the mouth of the Caledonian chief, ubi solitudinem fecerunt, pacem appellant!'"
It appears to us, in our ignorance, that Mr. Alison is a sound military critic; and we also deem him a good financier, and a tolerably fair political partisan, as the world goes. Had he confined himself to these departments, we should never have been induced to review his “ History.” We like bis descriptions of battles, better than his sermons; he figures with much more credit in the former than in the latter, though he seems to consider preaching his especial forte. His father, as is well known, was a clergyman; which may serve to explain many of our author's inconsistencies concerning ethics and religion. May he not have obtained his really sound morals and religion from his father's fast-day sermons, and afterwards marred their beautiful proportions by placing in contact with them his own worldly morality and loose philosophical notions? It is this perpetual inconsistency, which renders Alison's History a work of peculiarly pernicious tendency. The apparently sound philosophical and religious views which it contains, serve to sweeten and disguise the poison with which they are mixed : the respect inspired by the former has induced many to take all the rest on trust. We cannot charge Mr. Alison with hypocrisy ; we believe him to be sincere, but not thorough. By his palliation of sin, and his support of established abuses, he spoils all his fine sermonizing. One of the deadliest thrusts ever made at true religion, is delivered by Mr. Alison in his constant attempt to hold it up as useful chiefly as an instrument of political government, - a very good thing to keep the people orderly and obedient. He has no faith in the vitality of religion unless she is fed from the government crib ; no trust in the voluntary system. The example of the Irish Catholics, who support their own Church-establishment voluntarily, and the intrusive Church of England by compulsion, and
the experiment of the Puritans in New England, have neither of them any weight with Mr. Alison. In truth, he denies the success of the latter experiment. With him, religion is a nonentity, unless it be Government religion. He is not at all particular as to its form. Let Government support the Establishment, and force one or more creeds on the people, and all is well. Government may support Heathenism in one part of the Empire, Episcopacy in another, and Presbyterianism in a third; or, like the Prussian Government, may cause to be taught under one roof both Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, the latter according to a creed altered and amended at the pleasure of the King.
Our author declares that “the popular and democratic party" “ in general evince the most deadly hostility to the tenets of Christianity," while “its principles form the corner-stone of the opposite body, who endeavor to maintain the ascendancy of property and education.” Suppose he had instanced the Puritans of England on one side, and the Court of Charles II. on the other; what would have become of his assertion? Where has property ever been more safe than in New England; and in what country has the education of the whole people been so long and so thoroughly provided for? Where are the common schools of Old England ? What has she done even for the liberal education of those who are able to pay for it? Why, shut them out from her Universities, unless they subscribe the “ thirty-nine Articles.” Does Mr. Alison mean that aristocratic religionists “maintain the ascendancy of education," by placing it on heights inaccessible to all but those who have full purses, and consciences cut according to the Government pattern? We presume he is a Protestant, but had he lived in the sixteenth century, where would his present principles have placed him? In his own country, he would, of course, have been on the side of Government, that is, Catholic and Protestant alternately; and when finally settled as a Protestant, it would have depended upon
his precise locality whether he had been a Presbyterian or an Episcopalian. Had he lived in Germany, Charles V. would have moulded his conscience according to the last Papal bull; and in Constantinople he would have been an excellent Mahommedan. This, too, from
choice, and political principle, not as a matter of birth, education and conscience.
No, religion does not depend on Government patronage for her existence and progress; and, in proof, Mr. Alison to the contrary notwithstanding, we adduce the example of the United States of America, on one side; and, on the other, the Spanish and Portuguese States of this continent. And furthermore, we quote Mr. Alison's own admission and lamentation of the fact that, even in Great Britain, “the National Church [has fallen) behind the wants of the inhabitants, and a mass of civilized Heathenism [arisen) in the very heart of a Christian land.”
Instances without number might be cited to prove that religion has only been polluted by the embraces of the State. A sovereign may do vast good in the cause of religion, but he must act as a munificent private individual, and his efforts must differ from those of such an individual only in degree, not in kind. Compulsion destroys the vitality of religion. Religion has lived in spite of governments, not by their help; and every step made in advance, has been made outside of, and in opposition to State-establishments. Were it not for this, the Christian religion never could have made any progress at all.
Mr. Alison praises the Emperor Alexander for his Christian virtues; and lauds, ad nauseam, the religious proclamations of the pious Emperor to his pious soldiers. Russia was sound at heart : religion reigned in the hearts of the Czar and his army. An excellent thing -a Statereligion! Through it the Emperor can so easily command the whole resources of the nation, moral and material! No matter, if he is, (as Mr. Alison coolly informs us Alexander was,) an habitual adulterer, and a “profound dissimulator;" no matter, if he does spend his life in adding to his territory “more by the arts of diplomacy than war,” that is, more by lying and cheating, than by robbing; no matter, if he does share with an enemy the spoils of a defeated ally ; no matter, if he is a perfidious enemy, a false neutral, and a faithless friend;- he is none the less an excellent Christian. Who can doubt that the interests of the Church are safe in such hands ? Not Mr. Alison. And the religious soldiers, too, to whom such excellent addresses were made, – it does seem to us that they might have been