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-the Church ;-the Peerage and the Throne. They already carry all before them in the House of Commons, the real seat of the Government,-occupy the ministerial benches, and thence issue their decrees, in the name of the king. The great modern engine for maintaining political influence, which has been well described as a Fourth Estate, more important and powerful than the other three put together,—the Press,—is almost wholly with them. The adversary still presents a feeble show of resistance in the House of Lords, and a few journals hang out here and there the grand hailing sign of distress. It is even rumored that the conqueror of Waterloo is buckling on his rusty armor, and dreaming of a new career of domestic conquest. But what can a few gouty old gentlemen effect, against the almost unanimous will of the people ?
eople ? Even Wellington, though backed by the redoubtable Christopher North,--and no one can estimate the talent and efficiency of either of these champions of legitimacy more highly than we do,—would find himself as powerless, in such a contest, as the renowned Knight of La Mancha and his squire in their encounter with the windmills. Mr. Fidler may call it infatuation :-possibly it is so :—but whether for good or for evil, the decree has gone forth and it must be executed.
It will not answer, therefore, for British writers to continue much longer to disparage the form in which the English character presents itself on this side of the Atlantic, now that Jonathan has, by a sort of Kentish common law, acquired, (morally speaking) possession of the old homestead, and become of course the principal representative of the family.
Great let me call him, for he conquered me.' On our side, we shall ever be among the last to depreciate the value of the common English character, as exemplified in England, or to dwell with any other feelings than respect, admiration, and delight, upon the long glories of British history. In representing the American principles of polity as superseding, even in England, the British Constitution, we mean no disparagement to that celebrated model of government, which was well described by one of the most illustrious of our own statesmen,before the Constitution of the United States existed as the most stupendous fabric of human invention. Such, in fact, it then was. Of all the works of man, a real (not paper) constitution of government is by far the highest in order and imporVOL. XXXVII. NO. 81.
tance; and of all constitutions of government, prior to ours, the British was beyond comparison the best ; the one which most successfully combined the security of the common body politic with an adequate protection for individual rights and liberty. This noble creation had grown up gradually and continued to flourish through the long period of a thousand years. It had, as we said before, rendered a little island in the German ocean one of the leading powers of the world. It had scattered, wherever its influence extended, the seeds of liberty, humanity, civilization and religion. Under its influence, more had been achieved in philosophy, poetry, and all the useful arts and sciences, than had ever been done before by any one community. But, in the general mutability of all human things, it could not be expected that even this noble monument of wisdom, virtue and fortune would endure forever. It was predicted more than a century ago by one of her greatest admirers, that England would finally lose her political institutions, and perish as Rome, Sparta, and Carthage had perished before her.-This fatal period seems to have arrived, somewhat more suddenly than had been anticipated; and if the signs of the times are at all to be credited, the British Constitution, after surviving, apparently unhurt, the tremendous shocks of the last thirty years, is now breaking up under the operation of a deeply-seated internal principle of destruction. Should this in fact happen, its memory will be always venerated by the friends of liberty, and its history carefully studied as one of the most interesting chapters in the book of political science. In saying that the principles embodied in it have been superseded even in England by those which prevail in this country, we do not even affirm that the latter are in themselves better, that is, truer to the nature of man and society. It remains for America to prove, by centuries of successful practice; by a thousand years of social order, holding the protecting shield over regulated liberty,—that her creations are as durable and as fortunate, as those of the parent country. Should she succeed in this, she will then have added to the numerous glories of the British form of government that of having left to the world, as its natural offspring, another superior even to itself ;-matre pulchrâ filia pulchrior,—and the remark of Fox will be confirmed, that the Constitution of the United States is no other than the British, improved and adorned by the results of the experience of more than ten centuries.
Art. II.—Life of John Jay.
Of the many great names which adorn our country's history, it would be difficult to point to one more eminent for intellectual dignity or virtue, than that of the late Chief Justice Jay. Age and infirmity had long detained him in that retirement, to which he was induced by inclination to withdraw in the fullness of his fame and honors; but the adıniration of the wise and the affection of the good went with him there; nor can we name a fact more honorable to our countrymen, than that the stern political hostility of which he was at times the object had so effectually and so long ago subsided, that not a trace of it remained to dim the brightness of his declining years ; that all combined to render him the homage due to eminent ability and worth ; that the veneration which accompanied him while living, was expressed with solemn and impressive earnestness, when he was called to join those fellow laborers in the cause of freedom, of whom nearly all had gone before him to the grave. It is well, that some permanent memorial should be raised in honor of his name ; nor is the monument of the father less imposing to the moral eye, because it is erected by the son. In this instance, it does equal honor to the hand that reared it, and to him, to perpetuate whose memory it was built. The student of our political history will find much in these volumes to invite his attention, and reward his labor. If the feelings of the writer have led him occasionally to express opinions in which many will find it impossible to concur, they are at least maintained with manliness and candor; but with respect to the general merits and public services of the subject of his work, there is no room for controversy ; on this point, the verdict of enlightened public sentiment has already been pronounced, with a fullness and decision, alike emphatic and unchangeable. We think we cannot gratify our readers more, than by placing before them a brief sketch of the most important incidents in the life of Mr. Jay, together with such extracts from these volumes as may be fitted to illustrate them, without entering into the discussion of any controverted topics, in which we have neither space nor inclination at present to engage.
Mr. Jay was born in the city of New York, on the 12th of December, 1745. His ancestors were of the number of those Protestants, who were driven from France on the occasion of the revocation of the edict of Nantz, and bore their full share in the sufferings of that disastrous time. His grandfather, a man of sense and enterprise, established his permanent residence in this country, to which he originally fled as a place of refuge. The character of his parents did much to inspire in Mr. Jay those principles of generous and manly action, of which he subsequently gave so memorable an example. His father was a man of strong intellect, stern principle, and thorough knowledge of mankind; and graceful manners were finely blended with taste and religious feeling in his mother. Both gave as much attention to his early education, as the claims of a numerous family would allow ; and though no remarkable incidents of his early life are at this day remembered, it is known that his character and progress gratified their pride, and fulfilled their warmest expectations. At the age of fourteen, he entered King's, now Columbia College, over which Dr. Samuel Johnson presided at the time with dignity and honor. This eminent person appears to have formed a strong attachment to his pupil, but retired from the institution before the close of Mr. Jay's collegiate term. The latter was afterwards banished from the college for a time in consequence of an occurrence, which his biographer relates without comment. Several of the students were guilty of some outrage, in the presence of Mr. Jay, who was, however, not concerned in it; but when an enquiry was instituted in order to discover the offenders, Mr. Jay, though he disclaimed any share in the transaction, refused to reveal the names of those who had, on the ground that he was not obliged to do so by the statutes of the college. It was by this refusal that his sentence was incurred; but he returned soon after, and left the institution at the expiration of the usual term, with its highest honors.
Immediately after leaving college, Mr. Jay commenced the study of the law in the office of Mr. Kissam, a distinguished advocate in the city of New York, whose confidence he soon acquired by his industry and talent. In 1768, he was admitted as a member of the bar, and entered at once upon an extensive course of profitable practice. His reputation was soon
established for eminent attainments, and forensic power; but the controversy between Great Britain and the Colonies was now drawing to a crisis : and, like many other of the young and ardent spirits of the time, he did not hesitate to relinquish his professional career to enter upon the broader field of public labor, in which he soon acquired abundant honor to himself, and advantage to his country. The passage of the Boston Port Bill, in 1774, was the signal for the adoption of vigorous measures of resistance to the aggressions of the British Government. When the intelligence of this measure was received in New York, a meeting was at once assembled, to deliberate respecting the course which ought to be pursued ; and a committee was appointed, of which Mr. Jay was a member, to correspond with other committees of the sister Colonies on this momentous subject. One of the letters addressed by this committee to another which had been appointed in Boston, suggests the propriety of an immediate convention of delegates from all the Colonies: the authorship of this letter is attributed to Mr. Jay. A recommendation of substantially the same character had been made by the House of Burgesses of Virginia a few days earlier, but the intelligence of their proceedings could not have been received in New York, when the letter in question was prepared. In both instances, however, it is probable that the suggestion was rather an expression of the prevailing sentiment, than an original one: it was received with universal approbation, and when the delegates were appointed, Mr. Jay was associated with other distinguished individuals as a representative of his native city in the Continental Congress :—that remarkable assembly, whose dignity, moral energy and intellectual power will command admiration, as long as virtue shall be held in reverence by men.
At the time when he took his seat in Congress, Mr. Jay had not yet reached the age of thirty, and was the youngest of its members; but his reputation had preceded him, and his character for wisdom and practical ability was already very high. The general opinion of his power was soon confirmed by his Address to the people of Great Britain, which he was appointed to prepare by a committee, of which Governor Livingston and Richard Henry Lee, together with himself, were members. It was said of this noble composition by Mr. Jefferson, while he was yet ignorant of its author, that it was 'a production of the finest pen in America :' the remark was