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retired into the abyss, and man had been again commanded to replenish the earth, Noah, alike the representative of his race then present and of all bis posterity, received this solemn injunction: At the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed.” This then is the command, clear and certain in its meaning, and irresis-ibly binding upon the universal family of man. But its application, from which for ourselves we see no possible way of escape, is denied in two different forms. There are those who maintain, that the scriptures have no connection with legislation, and who receive with indifference or with sneers a'l allusions to its authority. To such opponents we make no reply. But ther: are others who insist, that for the last eighteen centuries, mankind have lived under a milder dispensation of heaven, and that the instructions of the Savior and of his apostles warrant an entire departure from the laws divinely enjoined upon the Jews. The answer, however, is easy. Christ did indeed abolish many peculiarities of the Jewish ritual, and he did require of all his followers, and of all men, a forgiving and placable disposition in all the intercourse between man and man; but he has, in no place, abrogated or changed the previous rights and duties of rulers and subjects; and the precept, we have quoted, was not delivered to the Jewish nation as their peculiar law, but to all mankind. It was to the survivors of the deluge, the progenitors of all nations throughout the globe, many centuries before the Jewish nation were in existence, that the Deity pronounced his immutable decree : it was when the earth became once more the fair habitation of man, that he announced, that its surface should never again be defiled with blood shed by violence, without a sacrifice of the transgressor to wash away the stain. Neither were the moral or political relations of governments in the least degree changed by the christian dispensation. As has been already remarked, the doctrines of Christ refer exclusively to social duties and rights.* But to the different and higher obligations of the ruler and the subject, or the lawgiver and the judge, no sanctions are added, no authority is denied. The power once granted, has not been resumed; the duty once required, has not been repealed : and the result of our inquiry, if we mistake not, establishes the position, that the common principles of our nature, the dictates of reason, and the command of God, all unite in proving the lawfulness and the expediency of inflicting capital punishments.
As the safety of the community then, authorizes those penalties which are necessary to insure it; so, it is also to be noticed, that
* See the 5th, 6th and 7th chapters of Matthew, where the rights and duties treated of are solely those of a prirate and personal nature.
none are authorized which are not necessary. To inflict severe punishments where milder ones are effectual, is gratuitous cruelty : to sentence to death where imprisonment, banishment, or any lighter penalty will suffice, is the grossest oppression. If then it is asked, what are the crimes to suppress which requires the penalty of death ; we answer, that the public good as well as humane policy calls for its rare infliction only, and that it would be perhaps expedient to award it throughout the United States in no case, except treason and inurder. The first of these offenses, which makes man the enemy of his country and which threatens in its very nature the liberty and the lives of his fellow citizens, seems, equally with murder, to require the severest penalties. Should the state of society, the dangers arising from an increase of atrocious crimes hereafter, render an enlargement of the number evidently necessary, then, according to the principles contended for, such becomes the duty of the legislature : should it be expedient hereafter (an extreme supposition) to punish treason throughout our country in a milder form, then it would be a duty to substitute imprisonment, or some other penalty, in lieu of death. Murder only admits of no commutation. The divine command respecting this offense is immutable, and we cannot understand the argument that would explain away, and thus nullify, its obligation.
We have thus discussed at length some of the great principles which enter into the very essence of penal law, and which in every well digested system of such law, influence all its departments. Their intrinsic importance, and the conflicting opinions which have been maintained as to their nature and operation, supersede the necessity of any apology for the space allotted to the investigation. If then the natural question should be put, how far have these principles and those of a similar character affected the penal legislation and juriprudence of our numerous republics; we answer without hesitation, that their influence is controlling and supreme. We assert, without fear of contradiction, that in no other nation have human life and liberty been made more secure; that the full possession and exercise of every means of establishing his innocence are here guarantied to the individual, accused of offenses Tho punishments inflicted are prescribed by wisdom and humanity, and the general peace and order, which prevail in society, are the comment of fact and experience on the soundness of the system.
ART. IX.-REVIEW OF SPEECHES BY HAYNE AND WEBSTER.
Speeches of the Hon. Robert Y. Hayne, and the Hon. DANIEL WEBSTER,
delivered in the Senate of the United States, Jan. 21 and 26, 1830. With a sketch of the preceding debate on the resolution of Mr. Foot, respecting the sale, &c. of the public lands. Boston: 1830. 8vo. pp. 136.
Among the many distasteful truths set down by Capt. Basil Hall in his book of “Travels in North America,” must be numbered his account of the style of debating, and of the mode of transacting business in Congress.* No man who remembers the debates of the session of 1827—8, as they were reported in the newspapers at the time, or who has ever considered for a moment the way in which things of that kind are ordinarily managed in American legislatures, can question the general correctness of the Captain's statements, much as he may dislike the growling speculations with which those statements are encumbered. Nor can any man in his senses doubt, that the simple truth on that subject is in a high degree discreditable, not only to the representatives of the States and people, but to the States and people represented.
At first sight, it seems marvellous that the people of the United States, with all the good sense which they profess to have, are willing to tolerate in their servants, so much waste of time and money, so much perversion of talent, and so much actual neglect of public business, as results every winter from the practice of turning the two houses of Congress into political debating clubs. But the mystery is in a measure explained, when we remember that the evil complained of is by no means peculiar to Congress. The people of the United States have not yet learned to apply their common sense to the proceedings of deliberative assemblies. · In this country the ambition of being eloquent, is, in almost every place where that ambition can penetrate, the real bane of eloquence, and in almost every public assembly, the greatest hindrance to the despatch of business. From the green freshman who stands up to spout in a college society, to the hoary senator who thunders in the capitol, men speak with too few exceptions—not so much with the expectation or design of enlightening or convincing, as for the simple sake of making speeches. What we call a debate, is in fact an exhibition—every man displaying himself, every man striving to outdo his antagonists or his compeers, every man striving to catch some breath of admiration. Few who have ever been where speeches are uttered, or who have read printed speeches with an observant eye, will fail to recognize the truth of these
* Hall's Travels in North America, Vol. II. chap. 10 and 12.
remarks. Our orators stand up to speak, not because they have something important to say ; but because they deem it important to say something, and are determined to say something fine, if they
Another great fault in the ordinary style of debate in Congress, is, the unlimited indulgence which is afforded to the spirit of party and personal abuse. This is connected with, and prompted by, the love of making speeches. A man of moderate ability in legitimate discussion, may often catch the applause of the million, by reviling the administration, or by snecring at the opposition. Such a man may repeat, for the thousandth time, the stale calunnies of a hireling press; he may expatiate with the impudence of a brazen-faced demagogue, on the wearisome topics of party invective'; and his speech, as deficient in argument as it is abundant in abuse, shall be quoted and applauded by a hundred partizan journalists, as an admirable display of eloquence. Thus it has become an established custom, in both branches of our august national legislature, to wander in any or every debate, over the whole universe, in search of materials for abuse or for vindication. No matter what is the subject which ought to be considered, and which must be acted upon, every speaker has his eye on the next election, and the state of parties; and he who can assail his adversaries with the most intolerable invective, he who can do the most, by his speeches, towards fanning public sentiment into fury, is ordinarily most applauded by his party. The
abuse of parties involves of course, the abuse of individuals. The orators who are pitted against each other as champions of their respective parties, soon slide into personal controversy, and are intent on mutual irritation, defeat, and
However discursively one member may barangue, and however multifarious may be the materials of his philippic, another member will be found to reply to him in detail, following him through all the wide flights of his discourse, and enlarging still more widely the range of the debate by the introduction of new topics of discord. Speech answers to speech, crimination is echoed by recrimination, the angry assault elicits a still more angry reply ; and sometimes the controversy which was begun in the capitol, is transferred to the dueling ground, and the explosion of foolish words, is succeeded by the more foolish explosion of gunpowder.
We believe that no blood was shed, and no pistols discharged, in the last winter's debate on “ Mr. Foot's resolution.” If this be the fact, it deserves to be chronicled as an illustration of the "maich of mind," a proof that our countrymen are advancing in civilization, an auspicious omen, an indication that the time may yet come, when other abuses, less bloody indeed, but hardly more consistent with the character of a civilized and intelligent people, shall in their turn be done away. Aside from the fact that there
was no dueling among the members, and no spitting in each others' faces; and aside froin the talent which some of the speeches unquestionably exhibit; this debate is far from being creditable to the country; certainly it allords no materials with which to refute the testimony of Captain Hall.
The history of this debate is well known. It was proposed to institute an inquiry respecting the present systein of surveying and selling the public lands. Mr. Benton declared, that the proposal was intended to prevent emigration and retard the growth of the west, and affirmed that the same attempt had been systematically made for forty years, and that the west had been saved only by the steady friendship of the south. Mr. Benton was answered, not only by the mover of the resolution disclaiming the motives ascribed to him, and stating the reason of his proposal, but by Mr. Holmes, who launched at once, with sails all set, on the wide sea of party politics, and past and coming presidential elections, and charged “the gentleman from Missouri” with having changed his course of action in regard to retrenchment and reform. The gentleman from Missouri replied by insinuating that the gentleman from Maine had published the same remarks in the newspapers of the preceding summer. And in some such style the debate on the public lands” proceeded day after day, and week after week.
The two speeches reported at full length in the pamphlet before us, have had a wide circulation, have received from different parties immense applause, and are no doubt the inost favorable specimens that could easily be selected of that style of debating, on which we have thus freely animadverted. Their ability as electioneering documents, we shall by no means dispute. But what had either of these speeches to do with a debate on the public lands? Mr. Webster's speech is a detailed reply to Mr. Hayne's. Mr. Hayne's is a detailed reply to a previous speech of Mr. Webster's, which was a detailed reply to a previous speech of Mr. Hayne's. Who would wish to put these two speeches—powerful as they are in their kind-into the hands of an intelligent foreigner, as a specimen of the debates in our national legislature ?
In one respect, however, Mr. Webster's speech has a substantial and permanent value. It contains a dignified, clear, simple exposition of the federal constitution, and of the mutual relations existing between the state legislatures and the national government. Its statements on that subject are level to the understanding of a child, and conclusive beyond the power of sopbistry to evade. It has exploded, we may hope forever, the disorganizing and treasonable doctrines with which some factious spirits have insulted the common sense of the public, and which they had been suffered to repeat, till the public in some parts of the country, had almost begun to question the decisions of its own common sense.