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MR. CAMP'S “DEMOCRACY."
This is an admirable little volume-with but one fault ; namely, that being a little volume as it is, it had not been made a little smaller. That is to say, that if the three or four concluding chapters which the author has appended to the main body of his work, in the form of a “Part II.," had been omitted, we should have been able to omit the qualification we feel now bound to add to our approval of its general excellence of matter as of manner. It is evident that these chapters formed no part of the plan on which Mr. Camp had projected the lucid, logical, and beautiful essay on the general principles of Democracy, which constitutes his “Part I.” The latter was pronounced, we presume, by the Publishers, insufficient, in a mechanical point of view, to fill up the requisite bulk to give the volume admission to their Family and School Libraries; and the author has had to eke it out as per order-no longer under the inspiration which had before guided his voluntary pen, in a labor of love, performed in a manner not unworthy of his elevated and elevating theme; but under that kind of requisition, for a given number of pages, supplementary and distinct, usually the least favorable to an author's success. The First Part is an essay on the abstract theory of Democracy, than which we know of none so complete, connected, compact. The author has rendered a valuable service to his country and its political literature. Mr. Camp's pages are rich with thought, strong, clear, and well arranged, equally in their logic and their language. There is very little in this part of the volume which has not alike our concurrence and our admiration. There are many passages, teeming with important and interesting truth, and evincing profound reflection by an active and original mind, upon the grand subject of political science, which we had marked for extraction. The cheapness and facility of access of the volume induce us, however, to prefer to recommend the perusal of the whole - notwithstanding the serious drawback to its value which we find, on some of the superfluous pages, he has been unwisely induced to append to it. One extract alone we shall not omit, with which Mr. Camp closes that part of his work which we have taken pleasure in thus highly commending. We insert
* Democracy. By George Sidney Camp. New York : Harper & Brothers, Cliff-st. 1841.
it for the purpose of showing that he is not insensible to a point of view in which we have more than once attempted to present the great Truth of Democracy, in the pages of this Review :
But we have, in these modern times, a more powerful guarantee for the public mor. als. We have the Christian religion, which Greece and Rome had not. Its code of morals is perfect. Its sanctions are as powerful as it is possible for the imagination to conceive. It is never satisfied with the improvement of its disciples; it will never cease to make converts, until it embraces the universal race of man. If humanity had a downward tendency, this religion would arrest its progress. It is implicitly believed by us that its achievements will be equal to its aims, and that it will go on conquering and to conquer until it shall have restored our race to its primeval purity. On the contrary, rites and ceremonies constituted the chief part of the religion of the ancients; and those rites and ceremonies, so far from improving, corrupted their votaries. The most disgusting and abominable orgies formed a part of them; while theft had a patron in Mercury, drunkenness in Bacchus, licentiousness in Venus, and every vice a precedent in the conduct of some of the numerous divinities of the ancient mythology. It may readily be supposed that heathenism had but little connex. ion with the study of morals, which, while that odious system was universally popu. lar, excited no interest among the people, but was confined to the schools of the philosophers. There was thus no renovating principle for human nature ; and it was left under all the seductive influence of circuinstances, combined with a religion, ito self the offspring of the passions and vices of men, to an uncertain dependance on natural temperament and the unaided sanctions of a natural conscience.
But the Christian religion not merely preserves our morals from corruption, and gives them a decided and continuous impulse towards improvement: it tends directly to the institution of democracy. Make men just, and they must be democratic. What will become of usurpation and force, corruption and fraud, as Christianity takes its march over the earth? It respects no abuses, however ancient. It sanctions nothing but what is wise and what is good. It abhors the corruption, extravagance, and vanity of courts. It imbues man deeply with the fear of God, and those who fear God are inaccessible to any other fear. It fills us with a sense of the absolute equal. ity of the species. It teaches us to respect nothing so much as principle. It inspires the most dignified independence. It is democratic in its Author ; our Saviour himself came from the common people; he was born in a manger ; he was a carpenter's son. It was democratic in its apostles ; they were fishermen, poor, ignorant. and despised. It expresses its preference of the poor. Its morals are digested to the comprehension of the poor and illiterate. Its sanctions, no man so stupid but that he can comprehend. It inculcates the liberty of conscience; and no man who is thor. oughly impressed with the truth that his Creator has intrusted to him his own eternal salvation, can well doubt that the same wise Providence has fully accomplished him for the subordinate relations and responsibilities of this life, and his own government among the rest. No book ever written makes us so sensible as the Christian revelation of the dignity of man as man, and the frivolity of all those temporary or accidental distinctions with which the world has been so long oppressed.
I cannot refrain from noticing some strong points of similarity between the history of religion and of democratic liberty ; nor can I believe these points of resemblance between the fate of truth in religion and of truth in politics, man's chief terrestrial and the summary of man's celestial good, to be entirely capricious and fanciful.
Both have always had the predominance of numbers against them. Both are sustained by principle, and would be annihilated by precedent or authority. Both flour: ish best on the same soil, and sympathize deeply in each other's successes. Both have always inculcated the same contempt for human authority, the same regard for the poorer and humbler classes, the same disregard of merely adventitious and accidental distinctions, the same paramount authority of principle. Both have for their
basis the law of benevolence. Both have been reproached with the origin and character of their supporters. Both have been stigmatized as the occasion of an extensive destruction of the species. Both have borne the reproach of being disorganizing and anarchical.
The Christian religion is emphatically a religion for the people. It impregnates the masses with something better than humanity, What a religion for the many ! What a basis for popular government! How elevated and how substantial the hopes of the friend of popular rights, when he feels that the progress of human liberty must keep pace with the progress of Christian illumination, and that the cause of man is thus identified with the cause of his Maker!
In the Second Part, we have no fault to find with the chapter devoted to the refutation of De Tocqueville's favorite idea of the supposed “tyranny of the majority” in America.
On the contrary, the fallacy of this criticism, by the celebrated Frenchman, of the Democracy with which he was able to find no other serious fault, is very conclusively exhibited. No such “ tyranny" exists. The mental independence fostered by our institutions might have been even more strongly asserted than Mr. Camp has done. The moral and social power of public opinion-quite independent of the political organization—he clearly shows to be a great power only in such cases, and to such an extent, as constitute it necessarily a salutary and useful one; while it has its origin in those fundamental laws of human nature, upon which all other forms of government only impose artificial and mischievous restraints, and to which the freedom of Democracy simply allows the natural and healthy action designed by their Author. “This is not the tyranny of majorities,” says Mr. Camp; “it is the nature of man, more prominent only in republics, because government has less force and nature more.”
Nor with the chapter entitled “Immigration" have we any other fault to find, than the author's omission to go to the whole length which consistency with his own general principles seems to us to require. He states strongly the benefits which our country has derived, and is daily deriving, from the influx of European immigration; and not only dissipates the idle alarms with which it has been regarded by that most absurd of the political humbugs of late years, "Native Americanism,” but also administers a mild though just rebuke to that sectarian bigotry, which we have recently seen so rise among us, and which would prefer to reject the manifold advantages brought by every immigrant, with a sinewy arm and a humane heart, rather than welcome, in the true spirit of kindly brotherhood, a Catholic fellow-Christian. Af ter showing the fallacy of any apprehension from this source in a political point of view, he thus proceeds :
To urge the influx of Catholics as an evil, in a religious point of view, is a flagrant error. The Protestant Christian, as such, ought to know no particular country. The soul across the Atlantic ought to be as dear to him as that of a native-born American. He ought therefore to rejoice at an event which places the Catholic within his reach, within his means of influence and conversion—at a change to a place where that (in his view) erroneous faith is more accessible, and truth is re-enforced by the strong auxiliary power of majorities. The religious Protestant ought to regard with great satisfaction an event which brings Catholics to his own door, to have their belief rectified if it be not orthodox, and thus converts every Protestant neighbor into a Protestant missionary. He ought not to fear for the cause of truth in an equal competition with error, but rather to invite such competition. The rivalry among religious sects has already redounded much to our secular adyantage, and has actually, I be. lieve, made us a more enlightened people. It may well be doubted whether, had the population rapidly settling at the West been all Protestant, the same strenuous efforts would have been put forth there in the cause of education, or so zealously sustained.
Yet, while on this subject, we should have been glad to see Mr. Camp go a little farther than he has done. While exhorting us to welcome the immigrant, even though he come in the rags of that pauperism to which he has been reduced by those oppressions of government in a foreign land, which have already served as the best apprenticeship to enable him to appreciate the blessings of the free institutions of his new home and country, we should have been glad if he had not stopped short at bidding us to “interpose no capricious barriers to their amalgamation” with ourselves, but had urged us to remove, at least to some extent, the barriers already existing, by reducing the unnecessary length of the term of residence now required by our laws of naturalization. We have no hesitation in declaring that we would have no objection to admit the immigrant to every privilege of citizenship within a single year of his arrival, instead of the present period of five years — with the simple qualifications of bona fide intention of residence, and the ability to read the newspapers, in which he will have found by that time a sufficient discussion of the leading questions on which the exercise of the elective franchise will require him to form an opinion.
The chapter on “Aristocracy in America" contains much on which we regret that our limits compel us to forego the criticism to which it is justly amenable. We must content ourselves with a fe:v remarks on the chapter to which Mr. Camp will hardly regard it as a very desirable compliment that its doctrines have elicited an approval from his Whig readers as general as their condemnation by those of his own political faith. We refer to the chapter on "The Right of Instruction."
The Right of Instruction Mr. Camp calls a “false pretence." He pronounces against it, without compromise, and without ex
ception. In his argument in support of this position, there is little that is new, though he states it ingeniously and plausibly. It is simply this:
1. The object of the Constitution of the United States, in the length of tenure of the senatorial office, is to render the incumbent independent of the capricious fluctuations of the popular will. -- 2. By his election he becomes a representative, not of his particular constituency, but of the whole Union; and cannot therefore receive a dictation from the one to control his legislation for the others. 3. It was only at the adoption of the Constitution that any true expression was made of the will of the people in this matter. They then determined, not simply that the popular will should, as a general truth, give shape and direction to the action of government, but also that it should be done in a particular manner — through a certain system of political machinery — with various checks upon the action of that popular will itself, for the very purpose of securing an eventual calm, sober, and mature expression of it. And, although they may be very respectable assemblages of men, yet no number of persons among a particular constituency can claim any right to this title as “the People," to supersede, by mandatory instructions, that original and still paramount authority. – 4. In the case of senators of the United States receiving instructions from State Legis. latures, it is an usurpation of power on the part of the latter to which the former is not bound to pay any regard ; both being different sets of representative agents of a common constituency, with distinct duties, rights, powers, and responsibilities, neither in any way amenable to the other, and each bound to confine itself within the strictly defined limits of its delegated authority. - 5. And finally, that the alleged amenability to instructions would deprive the popular minority of an important conservative right, as against temporary minorities, which is secured to them in a long and independent tenure of the representative office.
Now, in all this, Mr. Camp loses sight of the idea which lies at the bottom of any system of representative democracy — namely, the very representative character of the agent delegated by the people of every particular constituency to speak their voice and act out their will. The just point of view in which our whole apparatus of legislation should be regarded is, that it is but a set of convenient labor-saving machinery, to supersede the necessity for the assemblage of the great masses of the People themselves, to discuss and dispose of the affairs of their own self-government. This idea would be realized in its high