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the principles of his party, to be a calm spectator of the present, or an unprejudiced reviewer of the past. He may serve the spirit of his age, instead of wrestling with it, and placing himself on an eminence from which to survey the historical drama of the world. However these things be, his work is elaborately and strongly, yet elegantly written; it is altogether the most accurate and philosophical account that has been given of the United States ; and parts of it may be reckoned among the most splendid in all historical literature.
Mr. Sparks is the author of no one extensive and elaborate work which, perhaps, entitles him to be ranked among the great historians; but his various and numerous contributions to historical biography and criticism, made accurate by laborious and philosophical research, constitute a claim to the country's admiration as well as its gratitude.
To Mr. Cooper's admirable Naval History of the United States; the learned History of the Northmen by Mr. Wheaton; Mr. Irving's classical History of the Life and Voyages of Columbus ; Dr. Holmes's Annals; Dr. Belknap's History of New Hampshire, and other histories of individual states which are admitted to be eminently creditable to their authors, I can here refer only in this brief manner. It will be conceded that in the department of History our national literature is not deficient in extent,* in distinctiveness, or in any of the qualities which should mark this kind of writing.
Our works in Historical Biography are numerous, and many of them are executed with singular judgment and ability. The lives of Washington by Marshall and Sparks; Tudor's Life of Otis, Austin's Life of Gerry, Wirt's Life of Patrick Henry, Wheaton's Life of Pinckney, the Life of the elder Quincy by his Son, the Life of Franklin by Sparks, the Life of Jefferson.by Tucker, the Life of Hamilton by his Son, Biddle's Life of Sebastian Cabot, Gibbs's Life of Wolcott, Cooper's Lives of the Naval Commanders of the United States, many of the lives in Sparks's Library of American Biography, and others of the same character, will be remembered as productions of permanent interest and importance.
The Historical Correspondence of the Revolutionary Age constitutes a very remarkable portion of American literature, and it equals if it does not surpass any similar correspondence in any language, not only in the higher qualities of wisdoil and patriotism, which make it chiefly valuable to us, but in literary
More than four hundred large historical works, most of which relate to our own country, have been written in the United States.
excellence—the graces of expression and felicitous illustration. The letters of George Washington, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Jay, Gouverneur Morris, Alexander Hamilton, and some of their compatriots, will always possess a peculiar value besides that which they derive from their authorship and the gravity of their subjects.
The Public Speeches of a nation's chief legislators are among the most luminous landmarks of its policy, the most lucid developments of the character and genius of its institutions, and the noblest exhibitions of its intellect. The speeches of many of our greatest orators have not been preserved, and like those of Demades the Athenian, who was deemed by some of the ablest of his contemporaries superior to Demosthenes, they are forgotten. Of the orations of Otis, which were described as “flames of fire,” we have but a few meager reports. We are persuaded of the eloquence of Henry only by the history of its effects. The passionate appeals of the elder Adams, which “moved his hearers from their seats,” are not in print. But for tradition it would be unknown that Rutledge was one of the greatest of orators. There is in existence scarcely a vestige of the resistless declamation and argument of Pinkney. Some of the speeches of Fisher Ames have come down to us, with their passages of chaste and striking beauty, and they constitute nearly all the recorded eloquence of the time in which he was an actor.
Of the great orators of a later day-Webster, Clay, Calhoun and others --we have the means of forming a more accurate judgment. Their works belong to our Standard Literature. They are thoroughly imbued with the national spirit. They glow with the feelings of the people.
Daniel Webster has written his name in our history. He has graven it indelibly on the rocks of our hills. He has associated it in some way with all that is grand and peculiar about us. Whatever may be the effects of Time upon his reputation as a politician, unless the world return to barbarism it cannot destroy his fame as an author. If I were to compare him to any foreigner it would be to Burke. But he is a greater man than the Irish Colossus. His genius is more various. He is more chaste. His style and argument are not less compact. And his learning is as comprehensive and more profound. The literature of the language has no more splendid rhetoric or faultless logic. Born almost contemporaneously with the nation, he has grown with its growth, strengthened with its strength, and become an impersonation of its character -such an impersonation as we proudly point to when we remember that we also are Americans.
The distinguishing characteristic of the speeches of Henry Clay is an eminent practicalness. They are not imaginative, nor poetical, nor impassioned. They lack the solidity, compactness and inherent force of Webster, and the philosophic generalization of Calhoun ; Wright is more plausible and ingenious, Preston is more graceful and fervid, and Choate more brilliant and classically ornate. Yet there is an unaffected earnestness of conviction, a profound heartiness of purpose, a frank and perfect ingenuousness, a manly good sense, exhibited in the works of this great statesman which commend them to the reader's understanding and approval. Although the manner of the orator adds force and significance to the matter, so that his speeches should be heard to be justly estimated, they are found to bear a value in the closet not possessed by the productions of many who have enjoyed the highest eminence in the senate, the forum and the world of letters.
Mr. Calhoun is another author of the highest rank, and his works, though in many respects very different from those of the great orators I have mentioned, are scarcely less peculiar and national. It has been too much the habit to consider him only as a politician. His claims as a philosopher have been almost overlooked. No one has more skill as a dialectician. His sententious and close diction, his remarkable power of analysis, his simplicity and dignity -his doctrines, and all the elements of the power with which they are maintained—will secure for his works a permanent place in the world's consideration.
I may here allude to John Quincy Adams as altogether one of the most remarkable men of this century, in whose various and voluminous works there is not only marked nationality, but a wisdom which astonishes by its universality and profoundness; to Edward Everett, as an orator of the most comprehensive learning, elegant taste, and noble spirit ; to Hugh S. Legare, as one of the finest of our senatorial rhetoricians; to Tristram Burgess, and many others, whose speeches, when their histories as partisans are forgotten, will be regarded as portions of the classical literature of the country, fit to be ranked among the finest works of their kind produced in the most cultivated ancient or modern nations.
No other of the immortal company by whose genius, virtue and suffering our independence was achieved and our government established, has suffered so much from misrepresentation as Alexander Hamilton, of whom Guizot says justly that there is not one element of order, strength and durability in our constitution which he did not powerfully contribute to introduce into the
scheme and cause to be adopted." He was the first of our great legislators; and though the world has made some advances since his time in political philosophy, his works are still resorted to by the judicious as a storehouse of the profoundest wisdom. Much of his celebrated Report on Manufactures combats objections to the protective policy, which are no longer urged, and has therefore now only an historical value, but The Federalist will always be a text book among statesmen.
The writings of Madison, though less important than those of Hamilton, show that he also was a consummate statesman. They are distinguished for an extent and fulness of information, soundness of reasoning, and sagacity, which characterize but few even of the most celebrated works in their department.
The political writings of John Adams, Dickinson, Jefferson, Jay, and others of that age, are likewise remarkable for great and peculiar merits.
A very large proportion of our works in Political Economy relate to the Circulating Medium and Manufactures, and have been occasioned by the movements of parties or the immediate wants of the country. Those on currency and banking by Mr. Gallatin, Mr. Raguet, Mr. Tucker, and some others, with the discussions of this subject by our leading statesmen in the legislative assemblies and through the press, have shown a depth of research and an acuteness of understanding very rarely equalled. Commerce as affecting manufactures has constantly engaged public attention since the days of Hamilton and Madison. Parties have been for or against the American System—for free trade or for protection. Jefferson engaged in the controversy, but to suit temporary purposes, and without consistency. Dr. Cooper, when in Pennsylvania, wrote forcibly in favour of protection, and subsequently, when in South Carolina, against it. Mr. Clay has advocated the protective system with consistency and a lucid ability hardly ever surpassed. No man has been more successful in his treatment of the subject in its secondary aspects, though he may have produced little which will survive the changes of the times. Mr. Webster has written ably on both sides of the question, as the circumstances of the country seemed to require ; before 1824 for free trade, and
* Washington, par M. Guizot. Paris, 1840.
It exhibits an extent and precision of information, a profundity of research, and an acuteness of
See his letters to B. Austin in 1816, and a letter written by him on the same subject in 1823.
since for protection. Mr. Calhoun has in both periods been opposed to Mr. Webster, and he is now undoubtedly the ablest economist of his party. The protective policy has also been defended by Mr. Mathew Carey, Mr. Alexander H. Everett, Mr. Lawrence, and Mr. Greeley; and a perfect freedom of trade advocated by Mr. Condy Raguet, Mr. Bryant, Mr. Clement Biddle, Mr. Legget, and Mr. Walker. Many other writers have been more or less prominently engaged in this controversy. Works on Political Economy have also been written by Mr. Cardoza, Professor Dew, Dr. McVickar, Dr. Vethake, Dr. Wayland, Mr. C. Colton, Mr. Middleton, and Mr. Raymond, several of which are text-books in the colleges. Mr. Everett is also the author of a work on New Principles of Population, and Mr. Henry C. Carey has written largely and with ability on Population, the Production of Wealth, and Wages.*
Among our writers in Jurisprudence have been many of great ability. Our books of Codes, Statutes, Reports and Essays on Rights, Crimes and Punish
* Wayland, Tucker, Dew, etc., agree very well with Ricardo and Malthus. Mr. Carey does not, and he has attempted to show that a proper examination of the facts that are before us prove that their views are unsound. Ricardo teaches that profits fall as wages rise—that the one must fall with the rise of the other—that rent is paid because of a constantly increasing difficulty of obtaining food, as population increases, and consequently that the interests of landlord and labourer are always opposed; the one fattening upon the starvation of the other. This whole system is one of discords. Mr. Carey holds, on the contrary, that wages and profits both tend to increase with the growth of capital and the increase of production, but that with the increased productiveness of labour the labourer obtains a constantly increasing proportion, leaving to the capitalist a constantly decreasing proportion, but to both an increased quantity. Thus if at one time the labour of a man produces fifty bushels, of which the landlord takes half, and at another one hundred, of which he takes only one-third, both are improved, although the apparent condition of the landlord is deteriorated from half to one-third.
33—100 The rent of land is held to be subject to the same law, it being only profit of capital, under another
With the increased facility of obtaining food, as capital is applied to the land, the landlord takos a constantly decreasing proportion, and the labourer has a constantly increasing one. The interests of all therefore are in perfect harmony with each other, and all are benefited by every measure tending to the maintenance of peace and the growth of capital.
Every part of Political Economy is included in the great law,“ Do unto your neighbour as you would have your neighbour do unto you." Security of person and property succeed the growth of capital physical, moral and intellectual improvement are a necessary consequence of such growth, and with every step in his material or moral advancement man becomes more conscious of the existence of pori'ical rights, and more able to maintain them. Democracy—self-government—is therefore a necessary consequence of the growth of wealth, and it arises out of the change of proportions, above noted. With every increase in the proportion which capital bears to labour, their relative value changeslabour goes up and capital down—but only so far as proportions go—not quantities.