Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

STATES.

II.

a

From The Fortnightly Review. In America everything seems to go by SOME IMPRESSIONS OF THE UNITED

political divisions, except when men say openly that it is time for the honest men

of both sides to join together against My visit to the United States had part- the rogues of both sides. On the other ly, but not wholly, the character of a lec- hand, I could learn next to nothing on turing tour. That is to say, 1 lectured in one of the points on which I most wished a good many places, mainly in the univer- to learn something, namely the adminissity and college towns, while I visited a tration of justice and of everything else good many other places where I did not in the rural districts. My only opportulecture. Among these last was the fed- nity was during a sojourn in a rural part eral capital. I was thus mainly thrown of Virginia, where, as far as I could see, among professors and others more or less nothing of any public interest went on at given to literary or scientific studies; but, all

. I was reminded of the ancient inwithout ever finding myself in the very habitants of Laish, who dwelled careless, thick of American political life, I also saw quiet, and secure, who had no business a good deal of political men, and heard a with any man, and who had no magistrate good deal of political matters. I saw to put them to shame in anything.* Yet something of federal affairs at Washing. even here I heard now and then of polititon, something of State affairs at Albany, cal differences; only here too, as elsesomething of municipal affairs at Phila- where, on most questions of immediate delphia. It must always be borne in importance, the division did not follow mind that State affairs and municipal af- the same lines as the received cleavage fairs come under the head of politics no into Democrats and Republicans. less than the affairs of the Union, and I often asked my American friends of that political divisions affect every detail both parties what was the difference beof all three. My American friends, who tween them. I told them that I could see naturally wished to learn something back none; both sides seemed to me to say again from me in exchange for all that I exactly the same things. I sometimes learned from them, were now and then got the convenient, but not wholly satissomewhat amazed at finding how little I factory, answer: Yes; but then we mean could tell them about English municipal what we say, while the other party only matters. They seemed to find it hard to pretends. Certainly at the present mounderstand the nature of a man who did ment the difference between different secnot live in a town. They were naturally tions of the Republican party is much all the more amazed when I sometimes clearer to an outsider than the difference sportively told them that I actually held between Republicans and Democrats. a nominal municipal office, one which I On intelligible questions like free trade suppose that Sir Charles Dilke or some and civil service reform, or again, the other reformer will before long take from local Virginian question of paying or not

It seemed a hard saying when I told paying one's lawful debts, the division them that I had stayed longer in Phila- does not follow the regular cleavage of delphia than I had ever stayed in Lon-parties. I certainly found it easier to don, longer than I had, since my boyhood, grasp the difference between a stalwart stayed in any town except Rome and Republican and one who was not stalPalermo. I have seen, and somewhat wart, than to grasp the immediate differattentively studied, an American munici-ence between a Republican and a Demopal election; an English municipal elec- crat. Questions of this kind are plain tion I have never seen or taken any in- enough; the distinction between the two terest in. I am aware that in English great acknowledged parties is just now municipal boroughs party politics largely much less plain. But it must not be inaffect the choice of councillors; I do not ferred that it is a distinction without a know how far they affect the votes of the councillors when they are once elected.

* Judges xviii. 7.

me.

a

difference. The two parties seem to say is the very way to lead to separation. I the same things, because just at the pres- know of no immediate reason to fear any ent time no question is stirring which at attempt at centralization such as might all strongly forces them to say different thus lead to separation. But it does things. Their differences have been im- seem to be a possible danger; it seems portant in the past; they may be impor- to me that there are tendencies at work tant in the future; but just now questions which are more likely to lead to that form which would bring out their differences of error than to its opposite. Nothing are not uppermost. I am not sure that can be a plainer matter of history than this is a wholesome state of things. If the fact that whatever powers the Union there must be — and there doubtless must holds, it holds by the grant of the States. be — parties in a State, it is better that It is equally plain that the grant was they should be divided on some intelligi- irrevocable, except so far as its terms ble difference of principle, than that po- may be modified by a coostitutional litical warfare should sink into a mere amendment. And the power of making a question of ins and outs, of Shanavests constitutional amendment is itself part of and Caravats. But, though the distinc- the grant of the States, which thus agreed tion between Republicans and Democrats that, in certain cases, a fixed majority of looks from outside very like a distinction thė States should bind the whole. The between Shanavests and Caravats, it is error of the Secessionists lay in treating only accidentally so. The distinction may an irrevocable grant as if it had been a easily become as real as the distinction revocable one. The doctrine of the right between Tory and Radical, Legitimist and of secession, as a constitutional right, Republican. Should any question ever was absurd on the face of it. Secession again arise as to the respective powers of from the Union was as much rebellion, as the Union and of the States, it is easy to much a breach of the law in force at the see which side each party would take. It time, as was the original revolt of the is simply because there is no such burn- colonies against the king. The only ing question at present stirring that the question in either case was whether those two parties seem to say exactly the same special circumstances had arisen which things, and yet to be as strongly divided can justify breach of the ordinary law.

But it is a pity, in avoiding this error, to I may speak on this matter as one who run into the opposite one, and to hold, has made the nature of federal govern- not only that the grant made by the ment an object of special study. It States to the Union was irrevocable, but strikes me that, as the doctrine of State that the grant was really made the other rights was pushed to a mischievous ex- way. I find that it is the received doctreme twenty years and more ago, so there trine in some quarters that the States is danger now of the opposite doctrine have no rights but such as the Union being pushed to a mischievous extreme. allows to them. One of the Boston newsThe more I look at the American Union, papers was angry because I stated in one the more convinced I am that so vast a of my lectures the plain historical fact region, taking in lands whose condition that the States, as, in theory at least, in. differs so widely in everything, can be dependent commonwealths, surrendered kept together only by a federal system, certain defined powers to the Union, and leaving large independent powers in the kept all other powers in their own hands. hands of the several States. No single The Boston paper was yet more angry parliament could legislate, no single gov- because a large part of a Boston audience ernment could administer, for Maine, warmly cheered warmly that is, for Florida, and California. Let these States Boston such dangerous doctrines. I be left to a great extent independent, and was simply ignorant; those who cheered they may remain united on those points me were something worse.* on which it is well that they should remain

as ever.

a

* I must even cleave to the phrase “ sovereign united. To insist on too close an union 'States," though I know it may offend many.

A Stato

or

Now notions of this kind are not con:, and one not federal is a difference of fined to a single newspaper. And they original structure which runs through surely may lead to results as dangerous everything. It is a far wider difference at one end as the doctrine of Secession than the difference between a kingdom was at the other. Both alike cut directly and a republic, which may differ only in at the very nature of a federal system. the form given to the executive. It is Connected perhaps with this tendency is perfectly natural that the word “ federal” one of those changes in ordinary speech should be in constant use in a federal which come in imperceptibly, without State, in far more common use than any people in general remarking them, but word implying kingship need be in a wbich always prove a great deal. In En. kingdom. There is a constant need to gland we now universally use the word distinguish things which come within the

government” where in my boyhood range of the federal power from things everybody said "

ministry “minis- which come within the range of the State ters.” Then it was “the Duke of Wel- or cantonal power. And for this purpose lington's ininistry” or Lord Grey's; now the word “federal” is more natural than it is “ Lord Beaconsfield's government” the word “national.” The proper range or Mr. Gladstone's. This change, if one of the latter word surely lies in matters comes to think about it, certainly means which have to do with other nations. a great deal. So it means a great deal One would speak of the “national honor," that, where the word “federal” used to but of the “ federal revenue."

That “na. be used up to the time of the Civil War tional” should have driven out “federal’ or later, the word “national” is now used within a range when the latter word seems all but invariably. It used to be “ federal so specially at home, does really look as capital,” “ federal army,” "federal rev- if the federal character of the national enue," and so forth. Now the word "na- power was, to say the least, less strongly tional” is almost always used instead. present to men's minds than it was twenty I have now and then seen the word “ fed- years back. eral” used in the old way, but so rarely that I suspect that it was used of set pur- It is rather odd that this emphatic use pose, as a kind of protest, as I might use of the word "national” should have been it myself. Now there is not the slightest accompanied by changes which have objection to the word “national;” for the made the being of the United States less union of the States undoubtedly forms, strictly national, in another sense of the for all political purposes, a nation. The word, than it was before. That great land point to notice is not the mere use of the is still essentially an English land. But word “national,” but the displacement of it is no small witness to the toughness of the word “federal” in its favor. This fibre in the glish folk wherever it setsurely marks a tendency to forget the tles that it is so. A land must be reckfederal character of the national govern- oned as English where a great majority ment, or at least to forget that its federal of the people are still of English descent, character is its very essence. The dif- where the speech is still the speech of En. ference between a federal government gland, where valuable contributions are is sovereign which has any powers which it holds by

constantly made to English literature, inherent right, without control on the part of any other where the law is still essentially the law power, without responsibility to any other power, Now of England, and where valuable contribuevery American State has powers of this kind. The tions are constantly made to English juristhirteen States did not receive their existing powers from the Union; they surrendered to the Union certain prudence. A land must be reckoned as powers which were naturally their own, and kept others English where the English kernel is so to themselves. Within this last range the State is sovereign: within the range of the powers surrendered to strong as to draw to itself every foreign the Union the Union is sovereign. Of the old States element, where the foreign settler is this is historically true in the strictest sense. Of the adopted into the English home of an En. constitutionally true ; for they were admitted to all the glish people, where he or his children rights of the old thirteen.

exchange the speech of their elder dwell

ܪ

later States admitted since the Union was formed it is

ings for the English speech of the land. | memory of the wrongs which drove them Nowhere does the assimilating process go from the old. I share the natural indig. on more vigorously than in the United nation against those who, either in Ireland States. Men of various nationalities are or in America, make a good cause to be easily changed into “good Americans,” evil spoken of; but, as long as the Irishand the “good American ” must be, in man seeks to compass bis ends only by every sense that is not strictly geographi-honorable means, we have no right to cal or political, a good Englishman. And, blame him because his ends are different as regards a large part of the foreign set from ours. But all this is perfectly contlers, no man of real English feeling can sistent with the manifest fact that the give them other than a hearty welcome. Irish element is, in the English lands on The German, and still more the Scandi- both sides of the ocean, a mischievous navian, settlers are simply men of our element. The greatest object of all is for own race who have lagged behind in the the severed branches of the English folk western march, but who have at last made to live in the fullest measure of friendship it at a single pull, without tarrying for a and unity that is consistent with their thousand years in the isle of Britain. severed state. Now the Irish element in But there are other settlers, other in-America is the greatest of all hindrances mates, with whose presence the land, one in the way of this happy state of things. would think, might be happy to dispense. It is the worst, and perhaps the strong. I must here speak my own mind, at the est, of several causes which help to give a great risk of 'offending people on more bad name to American politics. Political sides than one. Men better versed in men in all times and places lie under American matters than myself point out strong temptations to say and do things to me the fact that the negro vote bal. which they otherwise would not say and ances the Irish vote. But one may be do, in order to gain some party advanallowed to think that a Teutonic land tage. But on no political men of any might do better still without any Irish time or place has this kind of influence vote, that an Aryan land might do better been more strongly brought to bear than still without any negro vote. And what I it is on political men in the United States venture to say on the housetops has been who wish to gain the Irish vote. The imwhispered in my car in closets by not a portance of that vote grows and grows; few in America who fully understand the no party, no leading man, can afford to state and the needs of their country: despise it. Parties and men are there. Very many approved when I suggested fore driven into courses to which otherthat the best remedy for whatever was wise they would have no temptation to amniss would be if every Irishman should take, and those for the most part courses kill a negro and be hanged for it. Those which are unfriendly to Great Britain. who dissented dissented most commonly Any ill-feeling which other causes may on the ground that, if there were no Irish awaken between the two severed branches and no negroes, they would not be able to of the English people is prolonged and get any domestic servants. The most strengthened by the presence of the Irish serious objection came from Rhode Isl. settlers in America. In some minds they and, where they have no capital punish- may really plant hostile feelings towards ment, and where they had no wish to keep Great Britain which would otherwise find the Irish at the public expense. Let no no place there. At any rate they plant in one think that I have any ill-feeling to many minds a habit of speaking and actwards the Irish people. In their own ing as if such hostile feelings did find a island I have every sympathy with them. place, a habit which cannot but lead to I argued long ago in the pages of this bad effects in many ways. The mere rureview on behalf of Home Rule or of mor, the mere thought, of recalling Mr. any form of Irish independence which did | Lowell from his post in England in subnot involve, as some schemes then pro- serviency to Irish clamor is a case in posed did involve, the dependence of point. That such a thing should even Great Britain. I should indeed be incon- have been dreamed of shows the baleful sistent if I were to refuse to the Irishman nature of Irish influence in America, and what I have sought to win for the Greek, how specially likely it is to stir up strife the Bulgarian, and the Dalmatian. Nor and ill-feeling between Great Britain and is it wonderful or blameworthy if men America even at times when, setting Irish who have left their old homes to escape matters aside, there is not the faintest from the wrongs of foreign rule should ground of quarrel on either side. In a view carry with them into their new homes the l of poetical justice it is perhaps not unrea. sonable that English misrule in Ireland such an experiment been tried. And should be punished in this particular this, though in some ages of the Roman shape. It may be just that the wrongs dominion the adoption and assimilation which we have done to our neighbors of men of other races was carried to the should be paid off at the hands of mem- extremest point that the laws of nature bers of our own family. But the process would allow. Long before the seat of is certainly unpleasant to our branch of empire was moved to Constantinople, the the family, and it is hard to see how it name Roman had ceased to imply even a can be any real gain to the other. presumption of descent from the old pa

tricians and plebeians. A walk through But the Irishman is, after all, in a wide any collection of Roman inscriptions will sense, one of ourselves. He is Aryan; show how, in the later days of the undi.. he is European ; he is capable of being vided empire, a man was far oftener sucassiinilated by other branches of the Eu- ceeded by his freedman than by his son. ropean stock. There is nothing to be And besides freedmen, strangers of every said against this or that Irishman all by race within the empire had been freely himself. In England, in America, in any admitted to citizenship, and were allowed other land, nothing hinders him from be. to bear the names of the proudest Roman coming one with the people of the land, gentes. The Julius, the Claudius, the or from playing an useful and honorable Cornelius, of those days was for the most part among them. All that is needed to part no Roman by lineal descent, but a this end is that he should come all by Greek, a Gaul, a Spaniard, or an Illyrian. himself. It is only when Irishmen gather But the Gaul, the Spaniard, the Illyrian, in such numbers as to form an Irish com- could all be assimilated; they could all munity capable of concerted action that be made into Romans. They learned to any mischief is to be looked for from speak and act in everything as men no them. The Irish difficulty is troublesomeless truly Roman than the descendants just now; it is likely to be troublesome of the first settlers on the Palatine. Such

r for some time to come; but it is not likely men ceased to be Gauls, Spaniards, or to last forever. But the negro difficulty Illyrians. The Greek, representative of must last either till the way has been a richer and more perfect speech, of a found out by which the Ethiopian may higher and older civilization, could be. change his skin, or till either the white come for many purposes a Roman witliman or the black departs out of the land. out ceasing to be a Greek. In all these The United States — and, in their meas. cases no born physical or intellectual difure other parts of the American conti-ference parted off the slave from his nent and islands — have to grapple with master, the stranger from the citizen. a problem such as no other people ever When the artificial distinction was once had to grapple with before. Other com- taken away, in the next generation at munities, from the beginning of political least all real distinction was lost. This society, have been either avowedly or cannot be when there is an eternal phys. practically founded on distinctions of race. ical and intellectual difference between There has been, to say the least, some master and slave, between citizen and people or nation or tribe which has given stranger. The Roman Senate was filled its character to the whole body, and by with Gauls almost from the first moment which other elements have been assimi. of the conquest of Gaul ; but for a nalated. In the United States this part has tive Egyptian to find his way there was a been played, as far as the white popula- rare portent of later times. No edict of tion is concerned, by the original English | Antoninus Caracalla could turn him into kernel. Round that kernel the foreign a Roman, as the Gauls had been turned elements have grown; it assimilates them; long before that edict. The bestowal of they do not assimilate it. But beyond citizenship on the negro is one of those that range lies another range where as- cases which show what law can do and similation ceases to be possible. The what it cannot. The law may declare the eternal laws of nature, the eternal dis- negro to be the equal of the white man; tinction of color, forbid the assimilation it cannot make him his equal To the old of the negro.

You may give him the question, Am I not a man and a brother? rights of citizenship by law; you cannot I venture to answer : No. He may be a make bin the real equal, the real fellow, man and a brother in some secondary of citizens of European descent. Never sense; he is not a man and a brother in before in our world, the world of Rome the same full sense in which every Westand of all that Rome has influenced, hasern Aryan is a man and a brother. He

[ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »