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term it in language borrowed from our own great poet) towards universal dominion over the New World. Its present population of ten millions will in another generation be increased to twenty; and the new community now forming to the westward, to a million or
The question is natural, Can such à vast mass of people, spread over so large a territory, be kept together by a feeble government? And the enemies of the United States have seldom any hesitation in boldly concluding, that their fate is, either to become the slaves of a military des. potism, or the prey of internal disunion. No one seems to think the subsistence of the Federal Union a possible event.
It might be proper, however, to consider the real ground of stability which the government of America possesses, before we decide in so positive a manner against it. There can be little doubt, that the whole question turns upon the difference of Amierican and European society, and the total want, in the former, of that race of political characters which abounds in the latter. In America, all men have abundant occupation of their own, without thinking of the State. Every person is deeply interested, and perpetually engaged, in driving his trade, and cultivating his land: and little time is left to any one for thinking of state affairs, except as a subject of conversation. As a business, they engage the attention of no one except the rulers of the country; and even they keep the concerns of the publick subordinate to their own. The governor of a State is generally a large landowner and farmer of his own ground. A foreign minister is the active member of a lucrative and laborious profession, quitting it for a few months, and returning to its gains and its toils when his mission is ended. The business of the Senate occupies but a few weeks in the year; and no man devotes himself so much to its duties, as to leave it doubtful to what class of the industrious community he properly belongs. The race of mere statesmen, so well known among us in the Old world, is wholly unknown in the New; and, until it springs up, even the foundations of a change cannot be considered as laid. The Americans, no doubt, are, like other freemen, decided partisans, and warm political combatants; but what project or chance can counterbalance, in their eyes, the benefits conferred by the Union, of cultivating their soil, and pursuing their traffic freely and gainfully, in their capacity of private individuals ? A preacher of insurrection might safely be left with such personages as the American farmers; and, until the whole frame of society alters, even a great increase of political characters will not enable those persons successfully to appeal to the bulk of the community, with the prospect of splitting the Union. The cautious and economical character of the Federal Government seems admirably adapted to secure its hold over the affections of a rational and a frugal people.
In the abstracts and extracts, of which this article consists, we have given a tolerably fair outline of Mr Birkbeck's work. We shall close our account of it with one more quotation, containing the account of a religious society, so extraordinary, that we are desirous of acquainting the reader with its character, because all such peculiarities tend to throw a light upon the history of human nature. With this extract, then, ---with a warm recommendation of Mr B.'s work, and an expression of our hopes that we may soon again hear from him of the progress which his interesting colony has made, we conclude the present article.
. At this, our third visit, Harmony becomes more enigmatical. This day, being Sunday, afforded us an opportunity of seeing grouped and in their
best attire, a large part of the members of this wonderful community. It was evening when we arrived, and we saw no human creature about the streets :-we had even to call the landlord of the inn out of church to take charge of our horses. The cows were waiting round the little dwellings, to supply the inhabitants with their evening's meal. Soon the entire body of people, which is about seven hundred, poured out of the church, and exhibited so much health, and peace, and neatness in their persons, that we could not but exclaim, surely the institutions which produce so much happiness must have more of good than of evil in them; and here I rest, not lowered in my abhorrence of the hypocrisy, if it be such, which governs the ignorant by nursing them in superstition ; but inclined in charity to believe that the leaders are sincere. Certain it is, that living in such plenty, and a total abstraction from care about the future provision for a family, it must be some overbearing thraldom that prevents an increase of their numbers by the natural laws of population.
· I had rather attribute this phenomenon to bigotry pervading the mass, than charge a few with the base policy of chaining a multitude, by means of superstition. It is, however, difficult to separate the idea of policy from a contrivance which is so highly political. The number of Mr Rapp's associates would increase so rapidly, without some artificial restraint, as soon to become unmanageable.
• This colony is useful to the neighbourhood, a term which includes a large space here : it furnishes from its store many articles of great value, not so well supplied elsewhere; and it is a market for all spare produce. There are also valuable culinary plants and fruit trees, for which the neighbourhood is indebted to the Harmonites ; and they set a good example of neatness and industry: but they are despised as ignorant ; and men are not apt to imitate what they scorn. Ignorant as the mass of Harmonites may be, when we contrast their neatness and order with the slovenly habits of their neighbours, we see the good arising from mere association, which advances these poor people a century, probably much more, on the social scale, beyond the solitary beings who build their huts in the wilderness. For my reflections on the principles which may be supposed to actuate the rulers of this highly prosperous community, having no personal knowledge of the parties who govern, nor intimacy with any of the governed, I have no data, except the simple and, possibly, superficial observations of a traveller. Should I in this character have underrated or mistaken them, I shall, when their neighbour, gladly repair my error.
In the institution of these societies, the Shakers and the Harmonites, --religion, or, if you will, fanaticism, seems to be an agent so powerful, and in fact is so powerful in its operation on the conduct of their members, that we are apt to attribute all the wonders that arise within the influence of this principle to its agency alone : for what may not be effected, by a sentiment which can bear down and abrogate entirely, in the instance of the Shakers, and nearly so in that of the Harmonites, the first great and fundamental law of human, or rather of all, nature? I allude to the tenet which is avowed in the former, and more obscurely inculcated in the latter, that the gospel of Christ is offered to them under the injunction of abstinence from sexual intercourse.
I have had repeated opportunities of personal observation, on the effects of the united efforts of the Harmonites. The result of a similar union of powers among the Shakers, has been described to me by a faithful witness ; and I am quite convinced that the association of numbers, in the application of a good capital, is sufficient to account for all that has been done : and that the unnatural restraint, which forms so prominent and revolting a feature of these institutions, is prospective, rather than immediate in its object.
' It has, however, as I before remarked, the mischievous tendency to render their example, so excellent in other respects, altogether unavailing, Strangers visit their establishments, and retire from them full of admiration :-but, a slavish acquiescence under a disgusting superstition, is so remarkable an ingredient in their character, that it checks all desire of imitation.' p. 135-140.
Art. V. Viere of the State of Europe during the Middle Ages.
By HENRY HALLAM, Esq. 2 vol. 4to. London, 1818.
object of this work is to trace the progress of Europe
from the middle of the fifth to the end of the fifteenth century; from the establishment of Clovis in Gaul, to the invasion of Italy by Charles VIII.; from the final settlement of the Barbarians in the Western empire, to the consolidation of Christendom into a political system of unequal, but independa ent states, which has subsisted with little variation to our own times. There are few periods of history more deserving investigation, or more pregnant with useful information to the present age. To the revolutions of the Middle Ages the nations of Europe owe their existing laws and institutions, their peculiar manners and character, their particular faults and merits. still suffer from the prejudices and errors, we still profit by the spirit and wisdom of our ancestors.
It would be difficult to appreciate exactly the merits, and invidious to point out the defects, of the numerous precursors of Mr Hallam in this branch of historical investigation. It is sufficient to remark, that the plan of his work is more extensive than that of our countryman Dr Robertson, its arrangement more strictly historical, its views more comprehensive, and its information more copious and critical. Mr Hallam appears to have bestowed much time and reflection on his subject. He has availed himself, without scruple, of the labours of those who had preceded him in the same career ; but he has not servilely adopted their opinions, nor carelessly copied their errors. On every disputable point he has exercised his judgment freely, and examined the conclusions of his predecessors with diligence and impartiality. But, though he has not disclained the aid of modern abridgments, he has not trusted implicitly to the extracts of compilers and system makers. On the contrary, he appears to have had recourse habitually to the original authors, who describe the transactions and exhibit the sentiments of their own age. This, it must be owned, is often an ungrateful labour. Many pages must sometimes be perused of these worthies, before a single fact or observation occurs that repays the toil. But to an historian of the present day, who wishes to be imbued with the real spirit and feeling of ages that are past, the study of their writings is indispensable. To a familiar acquaintance with the early chronicles and original histories of the Barbarians, Mr Hallam has added a diligent examination of their laws; and wherever records throw their steady and certain light on the progress of events, he has consulted them with care. But it is not the labour and industry employed by Mr Hallam in the composition of his work, nor even the valuable and interesting information it contains, that constitute its chief or peculiar merit. It is written throughout with a spirit of freedom and liberality, that do credit to the author. A firm but temperate love of liberty, an enlightened but cautions philosophy, form its distinguished excellence. We never find the author attempting to palliate injustice, or excuse oppression; and whenever he treats of popular rights, or pronounces on the contentions of subjects with their sovereigns, we meet with a freedom and intrepidity of discussion that remind us of better times. But though a decided enemy to the encroachments of arbitrary power, Mr Hallam is no infatuated admirer of antient turbulence, nor blind apologist of popular excesses. If, indeed, there is any quality of his work that merits our unqualified approbation, it is the spirit of fairness and impartiality that per vades the whole. We have sometimes found him careless, and have sometimes thought him in the wrong; but we have not met with an uncandid misrepresentation, an ungenerous sentiment, or a narrow-minded prejudice in his book.
To give a full analysis of Mr Hallam's labours, in the short compass of a review, would be a task impossible to execute. To those who wish to follow the progress of Europe from rudeness to refinement,-- from turbulence and violence to order and tranquillity,—from poverty and ignorance to wealth and knowledge, we recommend his book as one of the most valuable additions made in our time to the stock of our historical information. We must content ourselves with a short notice of the principal subjects which he treats, giving extracts to show the spirit in which he writes, and occasionally interspersing observations of our own on particular points where we think him inistaken, or happen to differ from him in opinion.
The first chapter of Mr Hallam's book is employed in giving an abridgement of the history of France, from its conquest by Clovis to the invasion of Naples by Charles VIII. This is a rapid but masterly sketch of the revolutions of that great kingdom. The principal events are selected with judgment, and related with spirit. It was no part of the author's plan to follow, with minute and tedious exactness, the succession of princes, or to expatiate on undecisive wars and fruitless victories. His object was, to mark those important events which led to permanent changes in the internal state and political institutions of France. He passes slightly over the degradation and deposal of the first dynasty; dwells with complacence on the splendid character of Charlemagne; describes the anarchy that led to the usurpation of the Capets; and traces with precision the successive encroachments by which the princes of that ambitious family gradually extended their dominions and increased their power, till the feudal constitution, of which they were at first only the superior lords, disappeared from sight, and left an absolute and arbitrary monarchy in its place. In his review of the Capetian race, Mr Hallam bestows that eulogy on St Lewis which his solitary virtue so justly merits.