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Legitimacy and Revolutionism,--Conservatism and Reform

Art. II. — Legitimacy and Revolutionism,— Conservatism and Reform.

We have taken, in our political essays, unwearied pains to make ourselves understood, and to guard against being misapprehended; but, through our own fault or that of our readers, our success has rarely corresponded to our efforts. On all sides, from all quarters, we are charged with being hostile to liberty and favorable to despotism, — the enemy of the people, and the friend of their oppressors. We could smile at this ridiculous charge, were it not that some honest souls are found who appear to believe it, and some moon-struck scribblers make it the occasion of exciting unjust prejudices against our friends, and of placing them, as well as ourselves, in a false position before the public. Injustice to us personally is of no moment, and demands of us no attention; but when,, owing to our peculiar position, it can hardly fail to work injustice to others, we are bound to notice and to repel it.          

The age in which we live is an age of theoretical, and, to a great extent, of practical anarchy. Its ideas and movements are marked by impatience of restraint, denial of law, and contempt of authority. We have seen this, and have felt it our duty to protest against it, and to do what we could, in our limited sphere, to recall men to a sense of the necessity of government, and to the fact of their moral obligation to uphold the supremacy of law. This is our offence. Yet one would naturally suppose that people of ordinary intelligence, somewhat acquainted with our past history, might, without much difficulty, believe that in this our motive has been to serve the cause of freedom, not that of despotism. We, in fact, have done it, because liberty is impossible without order, order is impossible without government, and government in any worthy sense of the term is impossible without a settled conviction on the part of the people of its legitimacy, and of their obligation in conscience to obey it. Nothing deserving the name of government can be founded on the sense of the agreeable or of the useful. Governments, so called, which appeal to nothing higher, more catholic, and more stable, are mere creatures of passion or caprice, and must follow the lead of popular folly and excess, instead of restraining them, and directing the general activity to the public good. They are not governments, but mere instruments for the private gain or aggrandizement of the adroit and scheming few who contrive to possess themselves of their management. It is philosophically and historically demonstrable, that the permanence and stability of government, and its wise and just administration for the common weal, — the only legitimate end of its institution, — are impracticable, unless the government is held to rest on the universal and unalterable sense of duty, under the protection of religion.

This truth, though, in fact, a very commonplace truth, our age overlooks, or, if it does not overlook, it rejects. Hence the danger with which liberty in our times is threatened. We have believed it, therefore, not improper to guard against this danger, and in order to do so, we have traced government back to its source, and to the foundation of its authority. We have found its origin, not in the people, but in God, from whom is all power; and we have concluded from this its divine right, within its legitimate province, to our allegiance. It has, since it derives its authority from God, a divine right to command, and, if so, we must be bound in conscience to obey it. Then it rests, not on the sense of the agreeable or of the useful, to fluctuate as these fluctuate, but on the sense of duty, —and not merely duty to our country or to mankind, but duty to God, — a duty founded in the unalterable relations of man to his Maker. This raises political allegiance and obedience to the law to the rank of moral virtue, and declares their violation to be a sin against God, to whom we belong, all we have, and all we are. Hence, in its legitimate province, even civil government becomes sacred and inviolable; and therefore we assert, on the one hand, our duty to obey it, and, on the other, deny the right of revolution, what La Fayette calls "the sacred right of insurrection."

Here, in general terms, is the doctrine we have endeavoured to inculcate. That it is hostile to the political atheism now so rife, we concede. We are Christians, and do not understand the possibility of being Christians, and yet atheists in politics. We have but one set of principles, and these are determined by our religion. We cannot adopt one set of principles in our religion and a contradictory set in our politics, saying "Good Lord " in the one, and "Good Devil" in the other. We are too far behind the age for that. But that this doctrine is hostile to liberty or favorable to despotism, we do not concede, — nay, positively deny. In setting it forth, we have dwelt on that phase of it directly opposed to the dangerous tendencies of the age, because it was not necessary to guard against tendencies from which we have nothing to apprehend, and because we presumed that our readers would of themselves see that it had another phase equally opposed to the opposite class of tendencies. But for the hundredth time in our short life we have learned that the writer who presumes any thing on the intelligence or discrimination of the bulk of readers presumes too much, and will assuredly be disappointed. The doctrine protects the government against radicals, rebels, and revolutionists; but it protects, also, the people against tyrants and oppressors. The fears of our politicians on this last point, whether real or affected, do little credit to their sagacity. The monsters which affright them a little more light would enable them to see are as harmless as the charred stump or decaying log which the benighted traveller mistakes for bear or panther.

When we assert the doctrine of legitimacy, we are understood to assert passive obedience and non-resistance to tyrants; but needs it any extraordinary intellectual power and cultivation to perceive that legitimacy, while it smites the rebel or the revolutionist, must equally smite the tyrant or usurper? If the doctrine asserts the right of legitimate, it must deny the right of illegitimate government; if it denies the right to disobey the legitimate authority, it must also deny the right of illegitimate authority to command; if it disarms the subject before the legal authority, it must equally disarm the illegal authority before the subject. How, then, from the fact that we are forbidden to resist or to subvert legitimate government, the legal constitution of the state, conclude that we are forbidden to resist or to depose the tyrant? Tyranny, oppression, is never legal, and therefore no tyrant or oppressor ever is or can be the legitimate sovereign. To resist him is not to resist the legitimate authority, and therefore demands for its justification no assertion of the revolutionary principle. How is it, then, that you do not see that the doctrine of legitimacy gives a legal right to resist whatever is illegal, and therefore lays a solid foundation for liberty? People, we know, are prejudiced against the doctrine which asserts the divine origin and right of government, but it is because they misapprehend the doctrine, and because they identify liberty with democracy. The doctrine, undoubtedly, does assert the sacredness, inviolability, and legitimacy of every actual political constitution, whatever its form, and that the monarchical or aristocratic order, where it is the established order, is as legitimate as the democratic. But, if liberty and democracy are one and the same thing, since the monarchical order is that which is actually the established order in most states, liberty in most states is precluded, and the people are and must be slaves. Yet is it true that liberty and democracy are identical or convertible terms? Democracy, whose expression is universal suffrage, intrusts every citizen with a share in the administration of the government, which is and can be done by no other political order. But the elective franchise is a trust, not a right, and therefore to withhold it is not to withhold freedom. Liberty is in the possession and exercise of our natural rights. We have none of us any natural right to govern; for under the law of nature all men are equals, and no one has the right to exercise authority over others. The franchise is a municipal grant, and depends on the will of the political sovereign. Liberty, unless the question be between nation and nation, is not a predicate of the government, but of the subject, and of the subject not in his quality of a constituent element of the sovereignty, but in his quality of subject. As subject he may be free, without being intrusted with authority to govern, and therefore may be free under other forms of government than the democratic.

In fact, democratic politicians never attain to the conception of liberty. The basis of their theory of government is despotism. They make the right to govern a natural right, and differ from the confessedly despotic politicians only in claiming for every man what these claim for only one. They make government a personal right, incident to manhood, inalienable, and inamissible, — not a solemn trust which the trustee is bound to hold and exercise according to law, and for which he is accountable. Hence it is that democracy always sooner or later terminates in despotism or autocracy. We deny that government is ever a personal right, whether of the one, the few or the many, and therefore deny that a man has a natural right to a share in the administration. He only has the right to whom the power is delegated by the competent authority, and he holds it, not as a personal right, but as a trust. Consequently, we do not concede that the establishment of the democratic regime is at all essential to the establishment or maintenance of liberty. He is free, enjoys his liberty, who is secured in the possession and enjoyment of all his natural rights; and this is done wherever the legitimate authority governs, and governs according to the principles of eternal justice. We are aware of no form of government that cannot so govern, or which cannot also govern otherwise, if it choose.

We are republicans, because republicanism is here the established order, but we confess that we do not embrace, and never / have embraced, as essential to liberty, or even as compatible with liberty, the popular democratic doctrine of the country. We beg leave to introduce here some remarks on Democracy which we wrote in 1837, and published in the first number of The Boston Quarterly Review, January, 1838.

" sometimes asserted to be the sovereignty of the people. If this be a true account of it, it is indefensible. The sovereignty of the people is not a truth. Sovereignty is that which is highest, ultimate; which has not only the physical force to make itself obeyed, but the moral right to command whatever it pleases. The right to command involves the corresponding duty of obedience. What the sovereign may command, it is the duty of the subject to obey [to do].

"Are the people the highest? Are they ultimate? And are we bound in conscience to obey whatever it may be their good pleasure to ordain? If so, where is individual liberty? If so, the people, taken collectively, are the absolute master of every man taken individually. Every man, as a man, then, is an absolute slave. Whatever the people, in their collective capacity, may demand of him, he must feel himself bound in conscience to give. No matter how intolerable the burdens imposed, painful and needless the sacrifices required, he cannot refuse obedience without incurring the guilt of disloyalty; and he must submit in quiet, in silence, without even the moral right to feel that he is wronged.

" Now this, in theory at least, is absolutism. Whether it be a democracy, or any other form of government, if it be absolute, there is and there can be no individual liberty. Under a monarchy, the monarch is the state. ' VEtat c'est moi,' said Louis the Fourteenth, and he expressed the whole monarchical theory. The state being absolute, and the monarch being the state, the monarch has the right to command what he will, and exact obedience in the name of duty, loyalty. Hence absolutism, despotism. Under an aristocracy, the nobility are the state, and consequently, as the state is absolute, the nobility are also absolute. Whatever they command is binding. If they require the many to be 'hewers of wood and drawers of water' to them, then 'hewers of wood and drawers of water' to them the many must feel it their duty to be. Here, for the many, is absolutism as much as under a monarchy. Every body sees this.

"Well, is it less so under a democracy, where the people, in their associated capacity, are held to be absolute? The people are the state, and the state is absolute; the people may therefore do whatever they please. Is not this freedom? Yes, for the state; but what is it for the individual? There are no kings, no nobilities, it is true; but the people may exercise all the power over the individual that kings or nobilities may; and consequently every man, taken singly, is, under a democracy, if the stale be absolute, as much the slave of the slate, as under the most absolute monarchy or aristocracy.

"But this is not the end of the chapter. Under a democratic form of government, all questions which come up for the decision of authority must be decided by a majority of voices. The sovereignty which is asserted for the people must, then, be transferred to the ruling majority. If the people are sovereign, then the majority are sovereign; and if sovereign, the majority have, as Miss Martineau lays it down, the absolute right to govern. If the majority have the absolute right to govern, it is the absolute duty of the minority to obey. We who chance to be in the minority are then completely disfranchised. We are wholly at the mercy of the majority. We hold our property, our wives and children, and our lives even, at its sovereign will and pleasure. It may do by us and ours as it pleases. If it take it into its head to make a new and arbitrary division of property, however unjust it may seem, we shall not only be impotent to resist, but we shall not even have the right of the wretched to complain. Conscience will be no shield. The authority of the absolute sovereign extends to spiritual matters, as well as to temporal. The creed the majority is pleased to impose, the minority must in all meekness and submission receive; and the form of religious worship the majority is good enough to prescribe, the minority must make it a matter of conscience to observe. Whatever has been done under the most absolute monarchy or the most lawless aristocracy may be reenacted under a pure democracy, and what is worse, legitimately too, if it be once laid down in principle that the majority has the absolute right to govern.

" The majority will always have the physical power to coerce the minority into submission; but this is a matter of no moment, in comparison with the doctrine which gives them the right to do it. We have very little fear of the physical force of numbers, when we can oppose to it the moral force of right. The doctrine in question deprives us of this moral force. By giving absolute sovereignty to the majority, it declares whatever the majority does is right, that the majority can do no wrong. It legitimates every possible act for which the sanction of a majority of voices can be obtained. Whatever the majority may exact it is just to give. Truth, justice, wisdom, virtue, can erect no barriers to stay its progress; for these are the creations of its will, and may be made or unmade by its breath. Justice is obedience to its decrees, and injustice is resistance to its commands. Resistance is not crime be-fore the civil tribunal only, but also in foro conscientiae. Now this is what we protest against. It is not the physical force of the majority that we dread, but the doctrine that legitimates each and every act the majority may choose to perform; and therefore teaches them to look for no standard of right and wrong beyond their own will......

" The effects of this doctrine, so far as believed and acted on, cannot be too earnestly deprecated. It creates a multitude of demagogues, pretending a world of love for the dear people, lauding the people's virtues, magnifying their sovereignty, and with mock humility professing their readiness ever to bow to the will of the majority. It tends to make public men lax in their morals, hypocritical in their conduct; and it paves the way for gross bribery and corruption. It generates a habit of appealing, on nearly all occasions, from truth and justice, wisdom and virtue, to the force of numbers, and virtually sinks the man in the brute. It destroys manliness of character, independence of thought and action, and makes one weak, vacillating, — a timeserver and a coward. It perverts inquiry from its legitimate objects, and asks, when it concerns a candidate for office, not, Who is the most honest, the most capable? but, Who will command the most votes? and when it concerns a measure of policy, not, What is just? What is for the public good? but, What can the majority be induced to support?

"Now, as men, as friends to good morals, we cannot assent to a doctrine which not only has this tendency, but which declares this tendency legitimate. That it does have this tendency needs not to be proved. Every body knows it, and not a few lament it. Not long since it was gravely argued by a leading politician, in a Fourth of July oration, that Massachusetts ought to give Mr. Van Buren her votes for the Presidency, because, if she did not, she would array herself against her sister States, and be compelled to stand alone, as the orator said with a sneer, ' in solitary grandeur.' In the access of his party fever, it did not occur to him that Massachusetts was in duty bound, whether her sister States were with her or against her, to oppose Mr. Van Buren, if she disliked him as a man, or distrusted his principles as a politician or a statesman. Many good reasons, doubtless, might have been alleged why Massachusetts ought to have voted for Mr. Van Buren, but the orator would have been puzzled to select one less conclusive, or more directly in the face and eyes of all sound morals, than the one he adduced. The man who deserves to be called a statesman never appeals to low or demoralizing motives, and he scorns to carry even a good measure by unworthy means. There is within every man, who can lay any claim to correct moral feeling, that which looks with contempt on the puny creature who makes the opinions of the majority his rule of action. He who wants the moral courage to stand up 'in solitary grandeur,' like Socrates in face of the Thirty Tyrants, and demand that right be respected, that justice be done, is unfit to be called a statesman, or even a man. A man has no business with what the majority think, will, say, do, or will approve; if he will be a man, and maintain the rights and dignity of manhood, his sole business is to inquire what truth and justice, wisdom and virtue, demand at his hands, and to do it, whether the world be with him or against him, — to do it, whether he stand alone 'in solitary grandeur,' or be huzzaed by the crowd, loaded with honors, held up as one whom the young must aspire to imitate, or be sneered at as singular, branded as a ' seditious fellow,' or crucified between two thieves. Away, then, with your demoralizing and debasing notion of appealing to a majority of voices! Dare be a man, dare be yourself, to speak and act according to your own solemn convictions, and in obedience to the voice of God calling out to you from the depths of your own being. Professions of freedom, of love of liberty, of devotion to her cause, are mere wind, when there wants the power to live and to die in defense of what one's own heart tells him is just and true. A free government is a mockery, a solemn farce, where every man feels himself bound to consult and to conform to the opinions and will of an irresponsible majority. Free minds, free hearts, free souls, are the materials, and the only materials, out of which free governments are constructed. And is he free in mind, heart, soul, body, or limb, he who feels himself bound to the triumphal car of the majority, to be dragged whither its drivers please? Is he the man to speak out the lessons of truth and wisdom when most they are needed, to stand by the right when all are gone out of the way, to plead for the wronged and downtrodden when all are dumb, he who owns the absolute right of the majority to govern?

"Sovereignty is not in the will of the people, nor in the will of the majority. Every man feels that the people are not ultimate, are not the highest, that they do not make the right or the wrong, and that the people as a state, as well as the people as individuals, are under law, accountable to a higher authority than theirs. What is this Higher than the people? The king? Not he whom men dignify with the royal title. Every man, by the fact that he is a man, is an accountable being. Every man feels that he owes allegiance to some authority above him. The man whom men call a king is a man, and, inasmuch as he is a man, he must be an accountable being, must himself be under law, and therefore cannot be the highest, the ultimate, and of course not the true sovereign. His will is not in itself law. Then he is not in himself a sovereign. Whatever authority he may possess is derived, and that from which he derives his authority, and not he, in the last analysis, is the true sovereign. If he derive it from the people, then the people, not he, is the sovereign; if from God, then God, not he, is the sovereign. Are the aristocracy the sovereign? If so, annihilate the aristocracy, and men will be loosed from all restraint, released from all obligation, and there will be for them neither right nor wrong. Nobody can admit that right and wrong owe their existence to the aristocracy. Moreover, the aristocracy are men, and, as men, they are in the same predicament with all other men. They are themselves under law, accountable, and therefore not sovereign in their own right. If we say they are above the people, they are placed there by some power which is also above them, and that, not they, is the sovereign.

"But if neither people, nor kings, nor aristocracy are sovereign, who or what is? What is the answer which every man, when he reflects as a moralist, gives to the question, Why ought 1 to do this or that particular thing? Does he say, Because the king commands it, — the aristocracy enjoin it, —the people ordain it, — the majority wills it? No. He says, if he be true to his higher convictions, Because it is right, because it is just. Every man feels that he has a right to do whatever is just, and that it is his duty to do it. Whatever he feels to be just he feels to be legitimate, to be law, to be morally obligatory. Whatever is unjust he feels to be illegitimate, to be without obligation, and to be that which it is not disloyalty to resist. The absolutist, he who contends for unqualified submission on the part of the people to the monarch, thunders, therefore, in the ears of the absolute monarch himself, that he is bound to be just; and the aristocrat assures his order that its highest nobility is derived from its obedience to justice; and does not the democrat, too, even while he proclaims the sovereignty of the people, tell this same sovereign people to be just? In all this, witness is borne to an authority above the individual, above kings, nobilities, and people, and to the fact, too, that the absolute sovereign is justice. Justice is, then, the sovereign, the sovereign of sovereigns, the king of kings, lord of lords, the supreme law of the people, and of the individual.

"This doctrine teaches that the people, as a state, are as much bound to be just as is the individual. By bounding the state by justice, we declare it limited, we deny its absolute sovereignty, and therefore save the individual from absolute slavery. The individual may on this ground arrest the action of the state, by alleging that it is proceeding unjustly; and the minority has a moral force with which to oppose the physical force of the majority. By this there is laid in the state the foundation of liberty; liberty is acknowledged as a right, whether it be possessed as a fact or not.

" A more formal refutation of the sovereignty of the people, or vindication of the sovereignty of justice, is not needed. In point of fact, there are none who mean to set up the sovereignty of the people above the sovereignty of justice. All, we believe, when the question is presented as we have presented it, will and do admit that justice is supreme, though very few seem to have been aware of the consequences which result from such an admission. The sovereignty of justice, in all cases whatsoever, is what we understand by the doctrine of democracy. True democracy is not merely the denial of the absolute sovereignty of the king, and that of the nobility, and the assertion of that of the people; but it is properly the denial of the absolute sovereignty of the state, whatever the form of government adopted as the agent of the state, and the assertion of the absolute sovereignty of justice......

"Sovereignty may be taken either absolutely or relatively. When taken absolutely, as we have thus far taken it, and as it ought always to be taken, especially in a free government, it means, as we have defined it, the highest, that which is ultimate, which has the right to command what it will, and which to resist is crime. Thus defined, it is certain that neither people, nor kings, nor aristocracies, are sovereign, for they are all under law, and accountable to an authority which is not theirs, but which is above them and independent of them.

"When taken relatively, as it usually is by writers on government, it means the state, or the highest civil or political power of the state. The state, we have seen, is not absolute. It is not an independent sovereign. It is not, then, in strictness, a sovereign at all. Its enactments are not in and of themselves laws, and cannot be laws, unless they receive the signature of absolute justice. If that signature be withheld, they are null and void from the beginning. Nevertheless, social order, which is the indispensable condition of the very existence of the community, demands the creation of a government, and that the government should be clothed with the authority necessary for the maintenance of order. That portion of sovereignty necessary for this end, and, if you please, for the promotion of the common weal, justice delegates to the state. This portion of delegated sovereignty is what is commonly meant by sovereignty. This sovereignty is necessarily limited to certain specific objects, and can be no greater than is needed for those objects. If the state stretch its authority beyond those objects, it becomes a usurper, and the individual is not bound to obey, but may lawfully resist it, as he may lawfully resist any species of injustice, — taking care, however, that the manner of his resistance be neither unjust in itself, nor inconsistent with social order. For instance, the state assumes the authority to allow a man to be seized and held as property; the man may undoubtedly assert his liberty, his rights as a man, and endeavour to regain them; but he may not, in doing this, deny or infringe any of the just rights of him who may have deemed himself his master or owner." — pp. 37 - 45.

When we wrote this, we enjoyed the reputation of being one of the stanchest friends of liberty and the most ultra radicals in the country, — a fact which we commend to those of our former friends who are now so ready to represent us as having gone over to the side of despotism. We should not now call the doctrine of the extract Democracy, as we did when we wrote it, nor should we use certain locutions, to be detected here and there in the extract, dictated by an erroneous theology; but the doctrine itself is our present doctrine, as clearly and as energetically expressed as we could now express it. It seems to us to contain an unanswerable refutation of the popular democratic principle, and a triumphant vindication of the sovereignty of justice, — therefore, of the divine origin and right of government; for justice, in the sense the writer uses it, is identical with God, who alone is absolute, immutable, eternal, and sovereign Justice.

The purpose of the writer was evidently to obtain a solid foundation for individual freedom. If he, in order to do this, found and proved it necessary to assert the divine origin and right of government, to rise above the sovereignty of kings, of nobles, and even of the people, to the eternal and underived sovereignty of God, King of kings, and Lord of lords, how should we suspect ourselves of being hostile to liberty, when asserting the same doctrine in defense of the rights of government? Having for years proved the doctrine to be favorable to liberty, how could we believe the public would be so unjust to us as to accuse us of favoring despotism, because we undertook to prove it equally favorable to civil government? Why are we to be classed as hostile to freedom, because we defend in the interests of authority the doctrine which we have uniformly asserted as the only solid foundation of freedom? Whether we are right or wrong in the doctrine itself, or in its application, would it be any remarkable stretch of charity to give us credit for believing ourselves no less favorable to liberty in bringing the doctrine out in defense of authority, than we were in bringing it out in defense of the rights of the subject? Are liberty and authority necessarily incompatible one with the other? Or is it a blunder to derive both from the same source, and to suppose that what establishes the legitimacy of authority must needs establish also the legitimacy of liberty?

But is the doctrine of the divine origin and right of government hostile to liberty? If government derives its existence and its right from God, it can have no power but such as God delegates to it. But God is just, justice itself, and therefore can delegate to the government no power to do what is not just. Consequently, whenever a government exercises an unjust power, or its powers unjustly, it exceeds its delegated powers, and is a usurper, a tyrant, and as such forfeits its right to command. Its acts are lawless, because contrary to justice, and do not bind the subject, because he can be bound only by the law. If they do not bind, they are null, and the attempt to enforce obedience to them may be resisted. Is it difficult, then, to understand, that, while the doctrine asserts the obligation in conscience of obedience to legitimate authority, to the government as long as it does not command any thing unjust, it condemns all illegal authority, and deprives the government of its right to exact obedience the moment it ceases to be just? What is there in this hostile to liberty? Is my liberty abridged when I am required to obey justice? If so, be good enough to tell me whence I obtain the right to do wrong.

Modern politicians assert, in opposition to the sovereignty of God, the sovereignty of the people. The will of the people is with them the ultimate authority. Is it they or we who are the truest friends of liberty? Liberty cannot be conceived without justice, and wherever there is justice there is liberty. Liberty, then, must be secured just in proportion as we secure the reign of justice. This is done in proportion to the guaranties we have that the will which rules shall be a just will. Is there any one who will venture to institute a comparison between the will of the people and the will of God? No one? Then who can pretend that the doctrine which makes the will of the people the sovereign is as favorable to liberty as the doctrine which makes the will of God the sovereign? The will of God is always just, because the Divine will is never separable from the Divine reason; but the will of the people may be, and often is, unjust, for it is separable from that reason, the only fountain of justice. We make the government a government of law, because we found it on will and reason; these modern politicians make it one of mere will, for they have no assurance that the will of the people will always be informed by reason. By what right, then, do they who maintain the very essence of despotism charge us with being hostile to liberty? Wherefore should we not, as we do, denounce them as the enemies, nay, the assassins of liberty,— men who salute her, and at the same instant smite her under the fifth rib?

But, it is gravely argued, if you deny the popular origin and right of government, you are a monarchist or an aristocrat. We deny the conclusion. If people would pay a little attention to what we actually say, before conjuring up their objections, they would, perhaps, reason less illogically. We raise no question between the sovereignty of kings and nobles and that of the people. What we deny is the human origin and right of government. We deny all undelegated sovereignty on earth, whether predicated of the king, the nobility, or the people. The question we are discussing lies a little deeper and a little farther back than our modern politicians are aware. They are political atheists, and recognize for the state no power above the people; we are Christians, and hold that all power, that is, all legal authority, is from God; therefore we deny that kings, nobilities, or the people have any authority in their own right, and maintain that the state itself, however constituted, has only a delegated authority, and no underived sovereignty. They place the people back of the state, and maintain that it derives all its powers from the people, and is therefore bound to do their will ; we tell them that the people themselves are not ultimate, — have no power to delegate, except the power which Almighty God delegates to them, and this power they, as trustees, are bound to exercise according to his will, and are, therefore, not free to exercise it according to their own. They are desirous mainly of getting rid of kings and nobles, and, to do so, they assert the sovereignty of the popular will; we wish to get rid of despotism and to guard against all unjust government, and we assert the sovereignty of God over kings, nobles, and people, as well as over simple private consciences. Is this unintelligible? Who, then, is the party hostile to liberty?

But, reply these same politicians, we do not mean to deny the sovereignty of God; we only mean that the authority he delegates is delegated to the people, and not to the king or the nobility. If by people you understand the people as the nation with its political faculties and organs, and not the people as mere isolated individuals, who disputes you? Who denies that kings and nobilities hold their powers, if not from, at least for, the people, and forfeit them the moment they refuse to exercise them for the common good of the people? What are you dreaming of? Do you suppose all men have lost their senses because you have lost yours? Who born and brought up under a republic, who acquainted with and embracing the teachings of Catholic theologians, is likely to hold the slavish doctrine, that the people are for the government, not the government for the people? Do you suppose that the republican and Catholic advocate the divine right of kings, and passive obedience, — the invention of Protestant divines, set forth and defended by that pedantic Scotchman, the so-called English Solomon? Who that has meditated on the saying of our Blessed Lord, "Let him that would be greatest among you be your servant," can hold that a prince receives power, or has any right to power, but for the public good? We do not deny the responsibility of kings and nobles to the nation, or that the nation may, under certain circumstances, and observing certain forms, call them to an account of their stewardship. But if this removes your objections to our doctrine, it by no means removes ours to yours. We complain of you, not because you make princes responsible to the people, that is, to the nation, but because you leave the people irresponsible, and make them subject to no law but their own will. You simply transfer the despotism from the one or the few to the many, and deny liberty by resting in the arbitrary will of the people. You stop with the people, and, if you do not deny, you at least fail to assert, the sovereignty of God; you tell them their will is sovereign, without adding that they have only a delegated sovereignty, and are bound to exercise it in strict accordance with and obedience to the will of God. Here is your original sin. On your ground, no provision is made for liberty, none for resistance to tyranny, without resorting to the revolutionary principle, the pretended right to resist legitimate government, a contradiction in terms, and alike hostile to liberty and to authority. On our ground, the right to resist tyranny or oppression is secured without detriment to legitimate government; because the prince who transgresses his authority and betrays his trust forfeits his rights, and having lost his rights, he ceases to be sacred and inviolable.

But we are told, once more, that practically it can make no difference whether we say the will of God is sovereign, or the will of the people; for the will of the people is the true expression of the will of God, according to the maxim, Vox populi, vox Dei. We deny it. The will of God is eternal and immutable justice, which the will of the people is not. The people may and do often actually do wrong. We have no more confidence in the assertion, "The people can do no wrong," than we have in its brother fiction, "The king can do no wrong." The people must be taken either as individuals or as the state. As individuals, they certainly are neither infallible nor impeccable. As the state, they are only the aggregate of individuals. And are we to be told, that from an aggregation of fallibles we can obtain infallibility? Show us a promise from Almighty God, made to the people in one capacity or the other, that he will preserve them from error and injustice, before you talk to us of their infallibility. The people in their collective capacity, that is, the state popularly constituted, never surpass the general average of the wisdom and virtue of the same people taken individually; and as this falls infinitely below infallibility, let us hear no more of the infallibility of the people. For very shame's sake, after denying, as most of you do, the possibility of an infallible Church immediately constituted and assisted by Infinite Wisdom, do not stultify yourselves by coming forward now to assert the infallibility of the people. If the people are infallible, what need of constitutions to protect minorities, and of contrivances for the security of individual liberty, which even we in our land of universal suffrage find to be indispensable?

But we return to our original position. All power is of God. By him kings reign and princes decree just things. Government is a sacred trust from him, to be exercised according to his will, for the public good. The government which he in his providence has instituted for a people, and which confines itself to its delegated powers, for the true end of government, is legitimate government, whatever its form, and cannot be resisted without sin. But the government which is arbitrarily imposed upon a people, or which betrays its trust, or usurps powers seriously to the injury of its subjects, is illegitimate, and has no claim to our allegiance. Such a government may be lawfully resisted, and sometimes to resist it becomes an imperative duty.

But who is to decide whether the actual government has transcended its powers, and whether the case has occurred when we are permitted or bound to resist it? This is a grave question, because, if the fact of illegitimacy be not established by some competent authority, they who resist run the hazard of resisting legitimate government, and of ruining both their own souls and their country. Evidently the individual is not to decide for himself by his own private judgment; for that would leave every one free to resist the government whenever he should choose, which would be whenever it should command any thing not to his liking. If he had the right thus to resist, the government would have no right to coerce his obedience, and there would be an end of all government. Evidently, again, not the people, for we must take the people either as the state, or as outside of the state. Outside of the stale they are simple individuals, and, as we have seen, have not, and cannot have, the right to decide. As the state, they have no faculties and no organs but the government which is to be judged, and therefore can neither form nor express a judgment. Who, then? Evidently the power whose function it is to declare the law of God. Since the government derives its authority from God, and is amenable to his law, evidently it can be tried only under that law, and before a court which has authority to declare it, and to pronounce judgment accordingly.

But what shall be done in case there be no such court of competent jurisdiction? We reject the supposition. Almighty God could never give a law without instituting a court to declare it, and to judge of its infractions. We, as Catholics, know what and where that court is, and therefore cannot be embarrassed by the question. If there are nations who have no such court, or who refuse to recognize the one Almighty God has established, that is their affair, not ours, and they, not we, are responsible for the embarrassments to which they are subjected. They, undoubtedly, are obliged either to assert passive obedience and non-resistance, or to deny the legitimacy of any government by asserting the right of revolution; that is, they have no alternative but anarchy or despotism, as their history proves. But this is not our fault. We are not aware that we are obliged to exclude God and his Church from our politics in order to accommodate ourselves to those who blaspheme the one and revile the other. We are not aware that we are obliged to renounce our reason, and reject the lessons of experience, because, if we admit them, they prove that Almighty God has made his Church essential to the maintenance of civil authority on the one hand, and of civil liberty on the other, — because they prove that the state can succeed no better than the individual, without religion. We have never supposed that a man could be a Christian and exclude God from the state, and we have no disposition to concede, or to undertake to prove, that he can be. If the Church is necessary as a teacher of piety and morals, she must be necessary to decide the moral questions which arise between prince and prince, and between prince and subject, and to maintain the contrary is only to contradict one's self. Politics are nothing but a branch of general ethics, and ethics are simply practical theology. If there is any recognized authority in theology, that authority must have jurisdiction of every ethical question, that is, every question which involves considerations of right and wrong, in whatever department of life they may arise. You may fight against this as you please, but you cannot change the unalterable nature of things. It is useless as well as hard to kick against the pricks. The question of resistance, as we have shown in the preceding article, presents a case of conscience, a moral question, and as such belongs by its very nature to the spiritual order, and then necessarily falls under the jurisdiction of the legitimate representative of that order. All the great principles of politics and law are ethical, and treated as such by both Catholic and Protestant theologians. How, then, can we dispense with the agency of the Church in politics, any more than in private morals or in faith itself? And are we to forego civil government, are we to submit passively to tyrants, or to rush into anarchy, because the madness or blindness of others leaves them no other alternative? Must we reject or refrain from using the infallible means which we possess for determining what is the law of God, because others discard them and attempt to get on without them? Must we strip ourselves and run naked through the streets, because some of our brethren obstinately persist in being Adamites? Really, this were asking too much of us.

But let no one be frightened out of his propriety, for we really say no more for our Church than every sectarian claims for his sect, —no more in principle than was claimed last year by the Presbyterians, when they officially condemned the Mexican war, or by the Unitarians, when, as officially as was possible with their organization, or want of organization, they did the same. The Church, in the case we have supposed, decides only the morality or immorality of the act done or proposed to be done. And is there a Protestant who belongs to what is called a church who does not take his church as his moral teacher? When Philip of Hesse found his wife unsatisfactory to him, and wished to take unto himself another, did he not submit the question to Luther and the pastors of he new religion? What are your Protestant ministers, if not, in your estimation, among other things, teachers of morals? And in case of doubt, to whom would you apply for its resolution but to your church, such as it is? Do you say you would not? To whom, then? To your politicians? What! do you regard politicians as safer moral guides than your pastors? To the state? So you hold the state more competent to decide questions of morals than your church ! But the state is the party accused; would you suffer it to be judge in its own cause? Then you are at its mercy, and are a slave. Trust your own judgment? But you are a party interested, and what right have you to be judge in your own cause?

The fact is, every man who admits religion at all must admit its jurisdiction over all moral questions, whether in their individual or in their social application, and therefore does and must defer in them to that authority which represents for him the spiritual order. The state has no commission as a teacher of morals or as a director of consciences, and unless you blend church and state, and absorb the spiritual in the temporal, you cannot claim authority for the state in any strictly moral question. The theory of our own institutions is the utter incompetency of the state in spirituals. But spirituals include necessarily every question of right and wrong, whether under the natural law or the revealed law, —a fact too often overlooked, and not sufficiently considered by some even of our nominally Catholic politicians and newspaper-writers and editors. If this be so, the legitimate province of the state is restricted to matters which pertain to human prudence and social economy. Within the limits of the law of God, that is, providing it violate no precept of the natural or revealed law, it is, as we have said in our reply to Mr. Thornwell, independent and free to pursue the policy which human wisdom and prudence suggest as best adapted to secure the public good. To give it a wider province would be to claim for it a portion at least of that very authority which Protestants make it an offence in us to claim even for the Church of God. We claim here no temporal authority for the Church, but we do claim, and shall, as long as we retain our reason, continue to claim for her, under God, supreme and exclusive jurisdiction over all questions which pertain to the spiritual order.

The conservative doctrine which we have contended for, and which does not happen to please some of our readers, follows necessarily from this doctrine of the divine origin and right of government. No one particular form of government exists by divine right for every people, but every form so exists for the particular nation of which it is the established order. The established order, the constitution of the state, which God in his providence has given to a particular people, which is coeval with that people, has grown up with it, and is identified with its whole public life, is the legitimate order, the legal constitution, and therefore sacred and inviolable. If sacred and inviolable, it must be preserved, and no changes or innovations, under the name of progress or reform, that would abolish or essentially alter it, or that would in any degree impair its free, vigorous, and healthy action, can be tolerated.

This is the doctrine we have maintained, and this is asserted to be hostile to liberty and favorable to despotism. However this may be, the doctrine is not a recent doctrine with us, not one which we have embraced for the first time since our conversion to Catholicity. We held and publicly maintained it during that period of our life when we were regarded as a liberalist, and denounced by our countrymen as a radical, a leveller, and a disorganizer. Thus, in October, 1838, we oppose it to the mad proceedings of the Abolitionists, and maintain that it is a sufficient reason for condemning those proceedings, that they are unconstitutional and revolutionary.

"We would acquit the Abolitionists, also, of all wish to change fundamentally the character of our institutions. They are not, at least the honest part of them, politicians; but very simple-minded men and women, who crave excitement, and seek it in Abolition meetings, and in getting up Abolition societies and petitions, instead of seeking it in ball-rooms, theatres, or places of fashionable amusement or dissipation. Politics, properly speaking, they abominate, because politics would require them to think, and they wish only to feel. Doubtless some of them are moved by generous sympathies, and a real regard for the well-being of the Negro; but the principal moving cause of their proceedings, after the craving for excitement, and perhaps notoriety, is the feeling that slavery is a national disgrace. Now this feeling, as we have shown, proceeds from a misconception of the real character of our institutions. This feeling can be justified only on the supposition that we are a consolidated republic. Its existence is therefore a proof, that, whatever be the conscious motives in the main of the Abolitionists, their proceedings strike against our Federal system.

"Well, what if they do? replies the Abolitionist. If Federalism, or the doctrine of State sovereignty, which you say is the American system of politics, prohibits us from laboring to free the slave, then down with it. Any system of government, any political relations, which prevent me from laboring to break the yoke of the oppressor and to set the captive free, is a wicked system, and ought to be destroyed. God disowns it, Christ disowns it, and man ought to disown it. If consolidation, if centralization, be the order that enables us to free the slave, then give us consolidation, give us centralization. It is the true doctrine. It enables one to plead for the slave. The slave is crushed under his master's foot; the slave is dying; 1 see nothing but the slave; I hear nothing but the slave's cries for deliverance. Away with your paper barriers! away with your idle prating abont State rights ! clear the way! let me run to the slave! Any thing that frees the slave is right, is owned by God.

"We express here the sentiment and use very nearly the language of the Abolitionists. They have no respect for government as such. They, indeed, are fast adopting the ultra-radical doctrine, that all government is founded in usurpation, and is an evil which all true Christians must labor to abolish. They have, at least some of them, nominated Jesus Christ to be President of the United States; as much as to say, in the only practical sense to be given the nomination, that there shall be no President of the United States but an idea, and an idea without any visible embodiment; which is merely contending, in other words, that there shall be no visible government, no political institutions whatever. They have fixed their minds on a given object, and, finding that the political institutions of the country and the laws of the land are against them, they deny the legitimacy of all laws and of all political institutions. Let them carry their doctrines out, and it is easy to see that a most radical revolution in the institutions of the country must be the result.

"Now, we ask, has a revolution become necessary? Is it no longer possible to labor for the progress of Humanity in this country, without changing entirely the character of our political institutions? Must we change our Federal system, destroy the existing relations between the States and the Union and between the States themselves? Nay, must we destroy all outward, visible government, abolish all laws, and leave the community in the state in which the Jews were, when ' there was no king in Israel, and every man did that which was right in his own eyes '? We put these questions in soberness, and with a deep feeling of their magnitude. The Abolition ranks are full of insane dreamers, and fuller yet of men and women ready to undertake to realize any dream, however insane, and at any expense. We ask, therefore, these questions with solemnity, and with fearful forebodings for our country. We rarely fear, we rarely tremble at the prospect of evil to come. The habitual state of our own mind is that of serene trust in the future; and if in this respect we are thought to have a fault, it is in being too sanguine, in hoping too much. But we confess, the proceedings of the Abolitionists, coupled with their vague speculations and their crude notions, do fill us with lively alarm, and make us apprehend danger to our beloved country. We teg, in the name of God and of man, the Abolitionists to pause, and if they love liberty, ask themselves what liberty has, in the long run, to gain by overthrowing the system of government we have established, by effecting a revolution in the very foundation of our Federal system.

"For ourselves, we have accepted with our whole heart the political system adopted by our fathers......We take the American political system as our starting-point, as our primitive data, and we repulse whatever is repugnant to it, and accept, demand, whatever is essential to its preservation. We take our stand on the Idea of our institutions, and labor with all our soul to realize and develope it. As a lover of our race, as the devoted friend of liberty, of the progress of mankind, we feel that we must, in this country, be conservative, not radical. If we demand the elevation of labor and the laboring classes, we do it only in accordance with our institutions and for the purpose of preserving them, by removing all discrepancy between their spirit and the social habits and condition of the people on whom they are to act and to whose keeping they are intrusted. We demand reform only for the purpose of preserving American institutions in their real character; and we can tolerate no changes, no innovations, no alleged improvements, not introduced in strict accordance with the relations which do subsist between the States and the Union and between the States themselves. Here is our political creed. More power in the Federal government than was given it by the Convention which framed the Constitution would be dangerous to the States, and with less power the Federal government would not be able to subsist. We take it, then, as it is. The fact, that any given measure is necessary to preserve it as it is, is a sufficient reason for adopting that measure; the fact, that a given measure is opposed to it as it is, and has a tendency to increase or diminish its power, is a sufficient reason for rejecting that measure." — The Boston Quarterly Review, 1838, Vol. i. pp. 492-495.

The same doctrine we had inculcated in the Review for the previous July of the same year.

"Our government, in its measures and practical character, should conform as strictly as possible to the ideal or theory of our institutions. Nobody, we trust, is prepared for a revolution; nobody, we also trust, is bold enough to avow a wish to depart very widely from the fundamental principles of Our institutions; and everybody will admit that the statesman should study to preserve those institutions in their simplicity and integrity, and should seek, in every law or measure he proposes, merely to bring out their practical worth, and secure the ends for which they were established. Their spirit should dictate every legislative enactment, every judicial decision, and every executive measure. Any law not in harmony with their genius, any measure which would be likely to disturb the nicely adjusted balance of their respective powers, or that would give them, in their practical operation, a character essentially different from the one they were originally intended to have, should be discountenanced, and never for a single moment entertained.

"We would not be understood to be absolutely opposed to all innovations or changes, whatever their character. It is true, we can never consent to disturb the settled order of a state, without strong and urgent reasons; but we can conceive of cases in which we should deem it our duty to demand a revolution. When a government has outlived its idea, and the institutions of a country no longer bear any relation to the prevailing habits, thoughts, and sentiments of the people, and have become a mere dead carcass, an encumbrance, an offence, we can call loudly for a revolution, and behold with comparative coolness its terrible doings. But such a case does not as yet present itself here. Our institutions are all young, full of life and the future. Here, we cannot be revolutionists. Here, we can tolerate no innovations, no changes, which touch fundamental laws. None are admissible but such as are needed to preserve our institutions in their original character, to bring out their concealed beauty, to clear the field for their free operation, and to give more directness and force to their legitimate activity. Every measure must be in harmony with them, grow, as it were, out of them, and be but a development of their fundamental laws." — Vol. I. pp. 334, 335.

Undoubtedly, we here recognize a case in which a revolution would be justifiable; but not a case in which it would be lawful to subvert the constitution; for the case supposed is one in which the constitution has already been subverted, —ceased to be living and operative. The doctrine is nowise different from our present doctrine on the subject, only what we called revolution then we should call by another name now. The movements of a people to depose the tyrant, to throw off the illegitimate and to restore the legitimate authority, are not a revolution in the sense in which we deny the right of revolution. It is essential to our idea of a revolution, that it should involve, in some respect, an effort or intention to subvert the legal authority of a state. If, for instance, it be conceded that Ireland is an integral part of the British empire, or rather, of the British state, an effort on the part of Irishmen to sever her from the British state, and erect her into an independent nation, would be revolutionary and unjustifiable. But if it be conceded that she is a separate state, that she has never been merged in the British state, and has been bound to it only by a mutual compact, and if it be conceded or established that England has broken the compact or not complied with its conditions, a like effort at separation and independence would involve no revolutionary principle, and, if prudent or expedient, would be justifiable, even though it should lead to a fearful and protracted war between the two nations.

It is clear, however, from these extracts, that, as long ago as 1838, we were, in relation to our own country, decidedly conservative. Here is another extract from the same Review, for October, 1841, which proves that we, while still regarded as a radical, generalized it and extended it to all countries.

"In this matter of world-reforming, it is our misfortune to disagree with our radical brethren. The reforms which can be introduced into any one country are predetermined by its geographical position, the productions of its soil, and the genius of its people and of its existing institutions. Any reform which requires the introduction or the destruction of a fundamental element is precluded. All reforms must consist in, and be restricted to, clearing away anomalies and developing already admitted principles." —Vol. iv. p. 532.

Here is the conservative doctrine stated as broadly and as distinctly as we state it now, and we could easily show that we entertained it at a much earlier date. Doubtless there are many things to be found in The Boston Quarterly Review not easily reconcilable with this doctrine; for we had not, at the time of conducting it, reduced all our ideas" to a systematic and harmonious whole. Moreover, we wrote with less care than we do now; for we wrote more for the purpose of exciting thought than of establishing conclusions. But the discrepancies to be detected are in general more apparent than real; for we, unhappily, adopted the practice of using popular terms in an unpopular sense, which often gave us the appearance of advocating doctrines we by no means intended. Thus, we adopted the word democracy, but defined it in a sense of our own, very different from the popular sense. We did the same with many other terms. There was in this no intention to deceive. But we had a theory, — for in those times we were addicted to theorizing, — that the people used terms in a loose and vague sense, and that the business of the writer was to seize and define it, — to give in its precision what the people really mean by the term, if they could but explain their meaning to themselves. But we found by experience that we could not make the people attend to our definitions, and that they would, in spite of them, continue to use the popular term in its popular sense, and that, if we wished to express another sense, or the same sense somewhat modified, we must select another term. The mistake we fell into is fallen into by many who are not so fortunate as to detect it. Some of our friends have tried to find fault with our views on liberty, when their own views were the same as ours. They use the word liberty in relations in which we avoid it; but they, in using it, fail to convey their real meaning. The popular mind understands by liberty something very different from what they do. It is necessary to select terms with a view of denying what we do not mean, as well as of expressing what we do mean. Many of the inconsistencies we have been charged with have grown out of our former neglect of this rule, and not a few of the changes we are supposed to have undergone are really nothing but changes in our terminology, made for the purpose of getting our real meaning out to public apprehension. But this by the way. Versatile as we may have been, we have always had certain fixed principles, and what they were may be known by noting what we have cast off in our advance towards manhood, and what we have retained and still retain. The conservative principle is evidently one of these, and as we undeniably held it when nobody dreamed of charging us with hostility to liberty, we cannot see why our holding it now should be construed into proof that we are on the side of despotism.

But let us look at the doctrine itself. People hold it objectionable, because they suppose it commands us to preserve old abuses and forbids us to labor for the progress of civilization. But in this they assume two things : — 1. That the legitimate constitution of a state is, or may be, an abuse; and, 2. That the progress of civilization is denied, if the right to subvert the constitution is denied.

The first involves a contradiction in terms. Nothing legal or legitimate is or can be an abuse. An abuse is a misuse of that which is legal. The abuse is always contrary to the constitution, or at least some departure from it; and consequently conservatism, or the preservation of the constitution, instead of requiring us to conserve the abuse, imperatively commands us to redress it; because, if not redressed, it may in time undermine and destroy the constitution itself.

The second is equally unfounded. The destruction of the constitution is the destruction of the state itself, its resolution into anarchy or despotism, either of which is fatal to civilization. What should we think of the physician who should undertake to restore a man to health, or to increase his soundness and vigor, by destroying his constitution? What we should think of him is precisely what we ought to think of the statesman who seeks to advance civilization by subverting the constitution of the state. The progress of civilization is inconceivable without the progress of the state, and the progress of the state is inconceivable without the existence of the state. How, then, can the subversion, that is, the destruction, of the state tend to advance civilization? If you will listen either to common sense or to the lessons of experience, you will grant that revolutions tend only to throw men into barbarism and savagism. The passions they call forth are the lowest, fiercest, and most brutal of our nature, and your patriot so called, he who seeks to advance his country by destroying its constitution, is usually a tiger for his ferocity.

But it is said that the existing constitution is destroyed only in order to make way for a new and better organization of the state. When you have shown us an instance, in the whole history of the world, in which the destruction of an existing constitution of a state has been followed by the introduction and adoption of a new and better one, — better for the particular nation, we mean, —we will give up the point, acknowledge that we have been in this whole matter consummate fools, and become as mad revolutionists as the best of you. But such an instance cannot be found. How often must we tell you that a constitution cannot be made as one makes a wheelbarrow or a steam-engine, —that of the constitution we must say, as we say of the poet, "Nascitur, non fit"? It is generated, not constructed, and no human wisdom can give to a state its constitution. The experiment has often been tried, and has just as often failed. Shaftesbury and Locke tried it for the Carolinas. They failed. France tried it in her old revolution; she is trying it again. Her former experiment resulted in anarchy, military despotism, and the restoration; her present experiment in four short months has reached the military despotism. England has tried it, and sent out from her mills at home, along with her other manufactures, a constitution cut and dried for each of her colonies, and in what instance has the constitution not proved a curse to the colony for which it was made and on which it has been imposed? Who are these men who now come forward and ask us to credit them in spite of philosophy, of common sense, uniform experience, and experiment? Surely they must be prodigies of modesty, or else count largely on our simplicity and credulity.

But we are referred to our own country, to the American Revolution. Be it so. In reply, we might refer to the Spanish American revolutions, as a case much more in point. But our own country is the case on which the modern revolutionists chiefly rely for their justification. We do not contest the right of the Anglo-American colonies to separate from the mother country; we are not the men to condemn the Congress of 1776; and we cheerfully concede the prosperity which has followed the separation. But what is called the American Revolution was no revolution in the sense in which we deny the right of revolution, and in it there was no subversion of the state, no destruction of the existing constitution, and no assertion of the right to destroy it. The colonies were held by compact to the crown of Great Britain. The tyranny of George the Third broke that compact, and absolved the colonies from their allegiance. Absolved from their allegiance to the crown, they were, ipso facto, sovereign states, and the war which followed was simply a war in defense of their independence as such states. No abuse of terms can convert such a war into a revolutionary war. Then there was no civil revolution. The internal state of the colonies was not dissolved, and there was no war on the constitution of the American states. They retained substantially the very political constitutions with which they commenced, and retain them up to this moment. We have never undergone a revolution in any sense like the European revolutions which have followed since the war of our independence. Slight alterations have from time to time been, wisely or unwisely, effected in the State constitutions, but none which have struck at essential principles.

Nor was the formation of our Federal Constitution any thing like what the French National Assembly are attempting. It was similar in its character to what the German Diet at Frankfort have just done, or are still engaged in doing. It was not making and giving a constitution to a people who had just overthrown an old government, destroyed the old constitution, and resolved the state into its original elements, but was the act of free, sovereign states, already constituted, and exercising all the faculties of sovereign states. Here are vast differences, which are too often overlooked, and which should prevent our conduct in throwing off the crown of Great Britain and forming the Federal Union from being regarded as a precedent for those who would destroy an existing constitution for the purpose of reorganizing the state. We never did any thing of the sort, and from the fact that the result of what we did do has been great national prosperity it cannot be inferred that such will be the result of revolutions in the European states. Revolutionists both at home and abroad, especially abroad, do not sufficiently consider the wide difference between colonies already existing as bodies politic, exercising nearly all the functions of government, separating themselves politically, under the authority of their local governments, from the mother country, and setting up for themselves, and the insurrection of the mob against the existing constitution, destroying it, and attempting to replace it by one of their own making. We were children come to our majority, leaving our father's house to become heads of establishments of our own; the revolutionists are parricides, who knock their aged parent in the head or cut his throat in order to possess themselves of the homestead.

But however this may be, it is clear that the doctrine we put forth is not favorable to despotism; for despotism is as destructive of the legitimate constitution as revolutionism in favor of what is called Liberalism. Radicalism and despotism are only two phases of one and the same thing. Despotism is radicalism in place; radicalism is despotism out of place. Both are unconstitutional, and to preserve the constitution requires us to oppose the one as much as the other. Liberty demands the supremacy of the law, and law is will regulated by reason, restrained by justice; and to preserve law in this sense, we must resist every attempt, come it from what quarter it may, to substitute for it the government of arbitrary will.

Nobody denies the right to correct abuses. The doctrine we set forth not only concedes our right to correct abuses, but makes it, as we have seen, our duty to correct them. All that it forbids is our right to correct them by illegal, and therefore unjustifiable means. We must obey the law in correcting the abuses of the law, the constitution in repelling its enemies. This restriction is just, and good ends are never attainable by unjust means. Needs it be said again and again, that iniquity can never lead to justice, tyranny to liberty? But observing this restriction, you may go as far as you please. The doctrine we contend for does not, indeed, allow you to change a legal monarchy into a democracy, nor a democracy, where it is the legal order, as with us, into a monarchy; but it does allow you to change the individuals intrusted with the administration of the government. Kings, as long as they reign justly, reign by divine right; and in this sense, and in no other, we accept the doctrine of the divine right of kings; but when they cease to reign justly, become tyrannical and oppressive, they forfeit their rights, and the authority reverts to the nation, to be exercised, however, in accordance with its fundamental constitution. The nation may depose the tyrant, even dispossess, for sufficient reasons, the reigning family, and call a new dynasty to the throne; for no nation can be rightfully the property of a prince, or of a family, or bound to submit to eternal slavery. Thus far we go; for we hold with the great Catholic authorities, that the king is not in reigning, but in reigning justly.

But we have said enough to vindicate our doctrine from the charge of being hostile to liberty and favorable to despotism. We yield to no man in our love of liberty, but we have always felt that just ends are more easily gained by just than by unjust means, and that the truth is much more effectually defended by arguments drawn from sound than from unsound principles. It is not that we are indifferent to liberty, but that we reject the grounds on which modern politicians defend it, and disapprove of the means by which they seek to secure it. We have shown that those grounds are untenable, and that those means are fitted only to defeat the end for which they are adopted. He who wants more than justice will give him wants what he cannot have without injustice to others. Our doctrine will satisfy no such man, and we should be satisfied with no doctrine that would. He who wishes for liberty without obedience to law wishes for what never has been and never can be. An authority which does not restrain, which is only an instrument to be used when it serves our purpose, and to be cast off the moment it can no longer serve it, is no legitimate authority, is not a government at all. If we have government, it must govern, and we must obey it, even when to obey it may be a restraint on our private feelings and passions, for it is only at this price that we can purchase immunity from the private feelings and passions of others. Nothing is, then, in reality more unwise than to cherish an impatience of restraint and a spirit of insubordination. The sooner we learn the difficult lesson of obedience, the better will it be for us. We cannot, if we would, have every thing our own way; and perhaps it would not be to our advantage, if we could. Life has, and as long as the world stands will have, its trials, and, however impatient we may be, there is and will be much which we can conquer only by learning to bear it. It is easy to stir up a revolution, to subvert a throne or a dynasty; but to reestablish order, to readjust the relations of man with man, of prince with subject and subject with prince, so as to remove all evils and satisfy every wish, — this is labor, this is work, which no mortal man has ever yet been equal to. A man could lose paradise, bring sin, death, and all our woe into the world ; only a God could repair the damage, and restore us to the heaven we had forfeited.

Our doctrine, just at this moment, may be unpopular, and we know it will put no money into our pocket, and bring us no applause; but this is not our fault, nor a reason why we should withhold it. Having never yet pandered to popular prejudices, or sought to derive profit from popular passions and fallacies, we shall not attempt to do it now. We love our country, perhaps, as much as some others who make much more parade of their patriotism; and we love liberty, it may be, as well, and are likely to serve it as effectually, as our young revolutionists in whom reason "sleeps and declamation roars." We have, indeed, a tolerable pair of lungs, and if not a musical, at least a strong voice ; we know and could use all the commonplaces of our young patriots and reformers, — nay, we think we could, if we were to try, beat them at their own trade, grave and staid as we have become; but we have no disposition to enter the lists with them. We have never seen any good come from the declamatory speeches and fiery patriotism of boys just escaped the ferule of the pedagogue, and who can give utterance to nothing but puerile rant about liberty and patriotism. We have never seen good come to a country whose counselors were young men with downy chins, and we set it down as a rule, that the country in which they can take the lead, whatever else it is fitted for, is not fitted for the liberty which comes through popular institutions.

We can weep as well as our juniors over a nation robbed of its rights, on whose palpitating heart is planted the iron heel of the conqueror, and have the will, if not the power, to strike, if we can but see a vulnerable spot, or a chance that the blow will tell upon the tyrant. But, as a general thing, we have a great distaste for the valor that evaporates in words, though they be great and high-sounding words, well chosen, skillfully arranged, and admirably pronounced; and an equal distaste even for deeds which recoil upon the actor, and aggravate his sufferings, already too afflicting to behold. We believe it wise to bide one's time, and to take counsel of prudence. In most cases, the sufferings of a people spring from moral causes beyond the reach of civil government, and they are rarely the best patriots who paint them in the most vivid colors, and rouse up popular indignation against the civil authorities. Much more effectual service could be rendered in a more quiet and peaceful way, by each one seeking, in his own immediate sphere, to remove the moral causes of the evils endured. St. Vincent of Paul was a far wiser and more successful patriot than the greatest of your popular orators, declaimers, and songsters. He, humble-minded priest, had no ambition to shine, no splendid scheme of world or state reform. He thought only of saving his own soul, by doing the work that lay next him; and he became the benefactor of his age and his country, and in his noble institutions of charity he still lives, and each year extends his influence and adds to the millions who are recipients of his bounty. O ye who would serve your country, relieve the suffering, solace the afflicted, and right the wronged, go imitate St. Vincent of Paul, and Heaven will own you and posterity revere you.