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son, while his knowledge of their have a place in the cabinet; but capacities and dispositions is con- we do mean that it is a serious fessedly too scanty to warrant any calamity to any country that its such confidence. Still less can he great interests should be swayed be supposed to act generally from chiefly by the impulses of any parhis own convictions; for many of ty, and that they who are least comthe political questions on which he petent to understand those interests puts forth such influence as belongs should give heat and bulk, where to him, are beyond his reach. Some they can give nothing more, to the of the subjects now agitated be- faction that may happen to control tween the contending parties in this those interests. It is to be lamented country, are in themselves difficult that men who individually, to say of investigation, presenting exceed the least, might do no harm, should ingly intricate questions, questions band themselves together and plunge indeed which no man is competent beyond their depth into those trouto settle who has not given time bled waters which they can not puand attention to them, and made rify nor calm. them in some measure a part of his As an effect still worse, it corbusiness. Almost every individual rupts moral habits. We have all will confess himself perplexed by observed that men will do as partithem. The tendencies of banking sans what they would be ashamed systems, the fluctuations of curren- to do as men. The trickery of cy, the exact ultimate operation of politicians and the profligacy of free trade or a protective policy- party presses, are among the comthese are really profound subjects, monest subjects of complaint on and we would be all ready to say, every hand. The saying, all is if questioned individually, that we fair in politics,' is understood to be need information and reflection be. a common principle with the ac fore we can speak positively on tors in them. The very name of many of the questions they involve; politics has an ill odor with upwe have more to learn than to teach right men generally. Every diliupon them. Yet what confidence, gent observer of these times learns what vehemence, do we witness to put very little confidence, on among all sorts of men, on the one subjects of this nature, in the canside and on the other of these same dor of men, whose honesty in other questions ? The men who would things he would not think of dislook about modestly for advice, if trusting. An editor who does not there were the same perplexity in misrepresent nor discolor facts, for their personal affairs, are as noisy or against any party, is either reck. declaimers as any others on our oned a singular man, or reviled by national embarrassments. Every every party. In political move. newspaper writer presumes to dis. ments, whether on a great or small course of them as readily as if the scale, what deceptions, what per: whole domain of political economy versions of facts, what misconstrucwere mapped out under his feet, tion of motives, what lies, what and he could correct every blunder virulent contentions and reproaches, of every administration. Surely what base intrigues, what miserathere is some evil in all this. It is ble counterfeits of patriotism ! And not right that the zeal of a partisan these things are witnessed, not in should so far outrun the judgment those persons who quietly entertain of the man. Of course we do not and modestly express their own mean that we ought not to entertain opinions on proper occasions, but in any opinion on questions of national such as are pledged to a party, policy, until we are wise enough to and always keep pace with its march, never stepping out of its lar presidents came into office, and rank and file unless on a new ma- in the early part of his administraneuver. Now in all the prejudice, tion, besides the common assaults malignity, deceit and heartlessness, which he might have expected, the thus fostered, we need not say there retirement of his family was invaded is incalculable evil. Not to speak by the lowest ribaldry, and the reof the time thus wasted, and the puted piety of his wife was made a energy thus diverted from more mark for public jesting, and this too salutary pursuits, there is a wear by cherished organs of the party and tear of moral feeling, a corrup- that boasted of their superior regard tion of popular sentiment, which to truth and decency. And on the are more to be lamented than the other hand, one of the most promi. heaviest external calamities. The nent members of the government, worst public embarrassment is the under a subsequent administration, too just suspicion that possesses the has found it necessary to defend him. public mind; the bankruptcy that self by oath against the groundless is most to be dreaded, is that of imputation of gross immorality. Still moral worth in the conflict of ser. more common is the injustice done vile factions.
to talent and patriotic worth in our The same spirit, as none can fail public men of all parties. Familiar to see, does injustice to public men. as we are with the power of prejuThe moral corruption that has just dice and partiality in blinding the been spoken of, shows itself in the judgments of mankind, it is yet rea spirit of censoriousness and defama ally surprising to see how incapable tion that pervades the political world, the great mass of one party are of as plainly as in any other fact. Par. appreciating the most splendid abiltisans will say that of each other, ities and most successful efforts which they would neither desire nor among their opponents. On one dare to say in private life. They side of the field of strife, you are will believe and circulate reports not suffered to believe there is a re. which have no foundation out of the ally great or honest man on the oth. newspaper in which they happen to er. In judging of opposite men and appear, without a moment's inquiry measures, no allowance is made for or a charitable doubt. For political human imperfection, nor for provi. purposes, the darts of calumny are dential contingencies. Really it is made to pierce the shelter of domes- impossible for us to know the worth tic life. The most eminent public of public men, unless we discard the services are disparaged; personal testimony both of their adherents worth is discredited ; an antagonist and antagonists, and suffer them to is not allowed to cherish the most represent themselves to us as if we common sentiments of patriotism; were foreign observers, uncommitthe richest gifts and acquisitions are ted and unbiased. It can not be virtually denied all merit. Too fear- doubted that the coarse abuse now ful a tax is imposed upon every man heaped upon them by the press and who would serve his country in her by political declaimers, is owing in distinguished offices, for he must a great measure to the spirit of par. consent to be traduced as if he were ty, without which there would hardly her worst enemy. For examples suf- be a motive for such systematic in. ficiently remote, and not now expos. justice, and few individuals, as such, ed to misconstruction,-examples in would take the responsibility of in. which readers of every party may ficting it. And plainly it is a great now feel the recoil of such abuse, evil, one that is complained of inlet it be remembered that in the con- deed in all quarters. There is al. test by which one of our most popu. ways evil in doing injustice, whether
it be fraud or defamation. Every of public treasure is the least evil libelous scribbler, every reckless par resulting from such proceedings. tisan, injures his own moral feelings; The dishonor brought upon the naand besides the pain endured by tion is worse, and still more serious those who fall under such asper- is the impossibility of prompt and sions while endeavoring in their salutary legislation in such circumsphere to.serve the community with stances. Political truth is not thus honor to themselves, no doubt the elicited, the nation can not thus be
prospect of such an ordeal repels wisely governed, whatever party - many men of the noblest powers and may happen to prevail. Now sev.
the finest sensibilities from all par. eral causes concur in this state of ticipation in political affairs, and thus things, but unquestionably the presrobs the country of services as val- ence of unrelenting party spirit is uable as any of her sons can render. one chief cause. They who should If many in every party may exemptact for the republic, act for a facthemselves from such a charge, cer- tion. Great principles of political tain it is that there are those who economy give place to the watchhave made themselves odious in this words of a party. Public measures thing before God and man, and who degenerate into factious maneuvers. must yet bitterly repent of their The governing influence is antagowrong, if they have any conscience nism between two sets of men, while left.
+ both profess to aim chiefly at the Another result is not less obvious,' common good. If the members of that it distracts public counsels. Congress would become so many in. That such distraction exists to a dividuals, each standing on the promost lamentable extent, cannot be per footing of a legislator, instead of denied. It is witnessed in every being arranged in opposing bands, state legislature, but most of all in under the spell of names and preposCongress, both under former admin. sessions, their heat would fast abate, istrations and under the present and they would seasonably do the So far as we know, there is not an. public business, and go home to their other legislative body in the world own. But so long as the same warfare whose deliberative character is so is waged throughout the land in popgrossly perverted. Nothing is done ular elections, it will penetrate and without intolerable delay and noise. pervade the halls of legislation, Some cry one thing, and some ano. transforming even honest and sagather, for the assembly is confused, cious counselors into pledged and and the greater part seem not to captious disputants. In those emerknow wherefore they have come to- gencies, such as we have seen, when gether.*
It is like the town-meet. care is most needed that the repubing in Ephesus, without the clerklic suffer no injury, she is left to who appeased the people. Measures bleed and languish, looking in vain and men are confused in angry war- for any prompt provision from those fare. The gravest debates are spun to whose counsels she has entrusted out to a length not known in the her affairs. British parliament, and they are We name one more evil, which turned into personal abuse and re- some will know how to appreciate, crimination, or at best unprofitable when we say that this spirit stands harangues for the country. It has in the way of desirable reformabeen very pertinently asked, “ Must tions. Our readers have observed some Cromwell go in and turn out the difficulty of carrying forward these eternal talkers ?” The waste public enterprises of a social or ci
vil nature, which at any stage may * Acts xix, 32.
need assistance from the laws of the Vol. I.
land, without what is called “mix. thing in numbers or position at their ing them with politics,” and the next contest. This is not the least danger arising from such a real or evil resulting from party spirit, as it supposed connection. Hence there has prevailed sometimes within our springs a formidable obstacle in the observation. There are other hin. way of enacting and of enforcing drances, too many and too great, in local regulations against demorali- the way of every benevolent rezing amusements, or the sale of in- formation, without such embarrass. toxicating liquors. In such an en- ments as this. A man's individual terprise we may have the individual responsibility is more than he is gesentiments of the majority of the nerally willing to meet for the sake community on our side, and go on of doing good, without an additional auspiciously for a while. But soon responsibility for any body of men we are cautioned against any politi. whatever. If it were not for the cal bearing that may be supposed sinister influence of partisanship, to lie in our movements, and at cer- there would be no such danger as is tain seasons of the year it is sug- apprehended of " mixing politics" gested that on that account another with every moral reformation that is time would be more favorable; and carried on by the aid of law, and the all this too while politics have not dreaded interference, if it should ex. once come into our thoughts. Pre- ist, instead of being hurtful, would be sently one and another of those itself a salutary result. But against whom we have reckoned friends of this influence the most wholesome such measures, become inactive and laws can not be enacted in behalf of reserved. A spell is on them from public morals, or if enacted, can not
A some quarter. The explanation is, be carried into effect. they are afraid that the responsibil- Such are some of the mischievous ity of the movement will come upon tendencies that show themselves in the party to which they belong, that the working of party spirit in our their opponents will take advantage times and under our peculiar instiof it to secure the votes of those few tutions. The evil is acknowledged persons whose practices or profits to be such, and perhaps lamented, by will be affected by our success, and many of the very people who cherthat thus the political balance will ish it most warmly. It appears to be turned against them. More than them as pernicious as to us, yet they once in this way, men who would virtually set it down as a disease of have enforced some of the most sal. the body politic under free instituutary laws, have had their energies tions, incurable, and therefore to be paralyzed, seeing themselves desert- borne as it best may be. “Of what ed in a crisis by the very people on use is it,” they ask themselves, " to whose coöperation they had relied, expatiate on what is a necessary but whose partisanship prevailed fault of society?" Now it is true against more generous philanthropic that while men continue as they are, impulses. The thing is understood in such a country as ours, there will in every town where such efforts be too much partisanship in all polithave been made in vain. In cases ical affairs ; but is that a reason why where the majority of both the op- any should go on indulging it in posing parties, if individually con- themselves, and countenancing it in sulted, would be favorable to a pro- others ? As much may be said of posed reform, it is yet found that almost every public vice, and of all they are so far arrayed against each sin; yet we would not leave it to do other, as to make both afraid to act continued and increasing mischief. upon it with candor and indepen. We properly endeavor to restrain and dence, lest either should lose some. reduce an evil, if we can not expect at once to extirpate it. And by re- honestly refuse to enroll themselves flection and suitable vigilance, we among the servile followers of any may guard ourselves against the in- man or set of men,—who obey their fluence of party spirit, if we can own convictions and keep their own not banish it from the whole com counsel, in exercising their political
munity. The contrary impression, privileges. Nor are they liable to that the evil is irremediable, and any just reproach for taking such a
therefore to be let alone, has done position. It is always the fashion much to perpetuate and extend it. among partisans of every sort, to rep
And besides the supposed neces. resent those who call themselves a no sity of party spirit, the notion has party men,"* as time-servers and come to prevail, that party organi- pretenders, “ fence-men," and the zation is also necessary, and that like; but such judgments, pronounevery man must necessarily submit ced by men who would rule, on those himself to it, or else be content ei- who will not be ruled, may be ther to incur the ill will, by thwart- safely disregarded. There is a paing the schemes, of all factions, or .ragraph from Dean Swist, which to throw away his just influence over goes the rounds of the press now the affairs of his country. But if and then, to this effect, that every we would rid ourselves of the evils man must in fact belong to some of partisanship, such views must be party, and if he claims to be indediscarded. By such views they are pendent of all, he has some sinister made worse and worse.
ends to answer by it; but the saying Of course there should be, and is a mere assumption. Unprincipled must be, to some extent, concert and men may renounce all existing parmutual understanding among patri. ties, sometimes to form a new one, otic men for specific purposes; but sometimes to reserve themselves for there is something different from the most successful ; but when our this, as every body sees, in the spi. position is mistaken for theirs, it is rit and the machinery now at work enough to reply that there are men on every side. As citizens, we can who, without proposing to themnot be insulated ; but it is not neces- selves any selfish advantage, do yet sary nor expedient for us to lose our refuse to be regarded as if they had political individuality, and become in. no choice but of belonging to this or corporated wholly with a party. It that faction,—who lend what influ. is possible and desirable for us to be ence they have to such public men freemen, not partisans, in the proper and measures as they individually sense of those terms. That individ. prefer, at the cost of dissenting from ual independence is not a mere fig. all factions. There is independence ment, nor a virtue impracticable in and dignity in such a position, whethcommon life, there are examples er in the state or in the church, in enough to show. There was a time political or ecclesiastical strife, howwhen the doctrine that now prevails, ever liable it may be to reproach of subserviency to organization, had from those whose dictation is resistno countenance from the more in. ed. The phrase, “non-committal telligent class of citizens,—when the policy,” is used to signify a crafty
, word caucus was an abomination, as concealment of one's opinions or dewell as an Americanism,-till they signs; but often it has been applied, unhappily concluded that they must by way of undeserved reproach, to of course employ the same weapons conduct the most high-minded and by which they were assailed. The doctrine may yet be repudiated. And there are examples at this party party,” is chargeable on their oppo
* The absurdity of the phrase, “noday, of men who intelligently and nents, not on themselves.