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 It may be that the boiler has burst, notwithstanding the best preventive appliances of science, the steam-plug, the safety-valve, and the water-gauge, in which case the true description of the accident would be, not that these appliances do not furnish the “slightest security,” but that in political, as in other machinery, the strongest precautions cannot always prevent an accident. Then, as to the “worst of wars,” it may safely be maintained that the civil war in America is not the worst that has been recorded in history. So far, there has been astonishingly little bloodshed, and it seems likely to prove “civil” in more senses than one. The alienation which has long existed between the North and South may teach us to be sparing of our rhetoric about fratricide. The Americans are brothers much as all people that on earth do dwell are brothers, but there has been far more real fellowship of feeling between Frenchmen and Englishmen during the last forty years than between the citizens of South Carolina and Massachusetts. As for the causes of the present strife, they are infinitely more respectable than the keys of the Holy Sepulchre, which took us to the Crimea, and cost the lives of tens of thousands of Englishmen. Finally, it is not true that democracy in America is “unlimited,” as the writer will find by turning to M. de Tocqueville. One great object of the framers of the American Constitution was to limit the power of the people. Both in the mode of its election and its appointment of its representative power, the Senate is essentially an aristocratic and conservative body, while the clause in the Constitution which ordered that three-fifths of the slave population in the South should be added to the white population, as a basis for calculating the number of representatives to be returned to Congress, runs full in the teeth of that doctrine of civil and political equality which is the essence of democracy. Moreover, it is clearly demonstrable that the civil war has sprung out of those elements of the American Constitution which are not Democratic; and, indeed, so far as analysis can establish any sort, of probability, it is inconceivable how, if democracy in America had been “unlimited,” the war could have arisen. If the foes of free government are really anxious to array the experience of the new world against the theories of the old, if the expediency and the justice of a six-pound franchise in England are to be determined by the merits of the contest now waging between President Lincoln and President Jefferson Davis, we shall be glad, especially at this season of the year, to enter into the controversy. But by all means let us know what we are arguing about. Let us import into the discussion so much discrimination at least as would suffice to distinguish a root of horse raddish from a watermelon. We are slightly surprised to find it set down among the special disadvantages of Democracy that it offers no security against war. We should rather have been prepared for an opposite assertion. War in a just cause has been described to us as a glorious thing. We have been told that there are times when a nation by refusing to take up arms, shows that it has lost its manhood, and is fit henceforth to be snubbed as sneaks and cowards. It is a dreadful thing, truly, for men deliberately to aim a rifle at each other's skulls, and send daylight by a bayonet thrust into a living heart; but then the irrefragable answer to sentimental maundering of this sort has been that there are things more precious to mankind than life. Honor, principle, conscience, liberty, the balance of power, the integrity of an empire, or the glory of an “idea,” have been put singly into the scale, and declared to be immeasurably heavier than limbs, life, or wealth. One great objection to the extension of political liberty at home has been that it might beget an indifference to national honor, and interfere with that steady prosecution of a foreign policy which is supposed to be safest in aristocratic hands. Commerce has been assailed for the same reasons. A nation of merchants and shopkeepers it was feared would prefer the security of trade, and the opportunity of quietly getting rich, to the obligation of assisting a distressed ally, maintaining the sacred principle of international justice, or even washing with bloodshed a suspicious taint from the national escutcheon. The people who have been dinning our ears with such arguments for the last ten years ought to hail the American war as an apology for civilization, as one of the most auspicious signs of the times. Here we have politically the freest nation on the globe, as well as the most commercial, flinging their wealth and their lives away in order to fight for a principle. At trumpet call the merchant closes his glutted warehouse and sends his young men off to the battle-field; the capitalist unstrings his purse, and pours out its contents to supply arms and provisions for the troops; the manufactories are closed, for there is no work, and the artisan exults in idleness and poverty because they are sanctified in his eyes by adherence to a holy cause. On the theories that have hitherto found favor with our critics, this sight is one of the most glorious and inspiriting that the world ever beheld. It proves beyond contradiction that commerce does not rust the national energies, and that the freest people are the most prompt to fight for any object they consider just. Only imagine what would have been said if the North had submitted peaceably to a partition of the Republic. That course might have been wise, beneficent, and best in harmony with their institutions; but on that point we need say nothing; but how the world would have rung with bitter taunts on their pusillanimity! We should then have been told that Democratic institutions were an utter failure; that they had proved themselves unable to nurse and mature a great national sentiment; that their tendency was to endless disintegration, and to the rendering all
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