Abbildungen der Seite

and dependents, directed by a powerful opposition, flushed with hope of the overthrow of his administration. His trials were without example; and his manner of dealing with them was so different from General Jackson's overwhelming activity; there was something apparently so passive in Mr. Van Buren's personal resistance to opposition, such a total change from the Executive vigor we had become used to, and for several years upheld as the constitutional wand, that many of the President's best friends, supporting him, not for office, but on principle, began to apprehend that, if not unequal to the crisis, at least the mass would think so, as indeed many persons of all classes openly pronounced. Franklin, Jefferson, and Madison, considered patience and time-abiding reliance on popular intelligence as the true policy of Government founded on the sovereignty of the people. Most of us have witnessed the stupendous power and transcendant talents of Bonaparte, overcome at last by the less salient resistance of patient policy. And I believe it is now fast becoming a very general impression with the Democratic party, that the President they elected has proved himself eminently qualified to be a leader as well as Chief Magistrate, and that his system of government is working out success as effectually as if attempted to be achieved by a more towering administration. There is a time for all things. General Jackson's mode was well calculated for his time; but perhaps Mr. Van Buren's method may prove more efficacious at this period. Encountered in the very honey-moon of his connection with the Government by the most formidable complication of embarrassments, without faltering or over action, he instantly, calmly, and courageously met the exigency by a noble message to Congress, which, with great wisdom, virtue, and forecast, put his Administration before the country upon one plain, simple, and just principle, to stand or fall by. Leaving to Congress their share of a great responsibility, without the least encroachment on their province, he did not hesitate to take his own share. That principle was an Executive recommendation that the constituted authorities should put an end to all schemes of finance and sources of speculation, by closing forever that disastrous succession of Treasury experi ments and ministerial contrivances, by which the Federal Government had perplexed itself, distracted the States, and violated the Constitution, by banks, first National and then State; and restoring the public treasure to what and where it was fixed by the Constitution, simply but absolutely separate Government entirely from banks, leave banks to themselves, and the community in their commercial exchanges to themselves, and collect, keep, and pay the public dues in good money by individual agency. This one of those recurrences to first principles which is among the best lessons of Republicanism. It is a measure which must immortalize its author, whether he succeed with it or not: a conception marked with the enduring simplicity of genius, in harmony not only with our Constitution and institutions, but with the tendency and intelligence of our great mother country, and with the genius of the age-one of those indispensable reforms, like the separation of Church and State, whose adoption, sooner or later, is infallible, even though their authors fall before they ultimately succeed. Avarice, party prejudice, fear, and other unworthy passions, fell foul of it at once, as they do of all improvements, and the ballet boxes, from Maine to Mississippi influenced by banks, betrayed their power in furious opposition. It was an issue which seemed to be desperate, but which, it already begins to appear, was wisely ventured, and will be followed by a triumphant verdict of approval sooner than was anticipated.

Another seal of approbation to the course of Mr. Van Buren comes to us from the far South, as we write, in the following glowing tribute from Mr. Rittenhouse, of Alabama. The passage occurs in a speech replete with political knowledge, and expressed in a style of kindling eloquence that must soon win for its author a proud distinction. We regret that our limits oblige us to curtail it:


Could I consider him non-committal, who so frankly and early proclaimed himself on the new, and denounced Sub-Treasury? Could I consider him timid, who, though assaulted by more enemies, placed in greater difficulties, and submitted to a fiercer ordeal than adminis tration ever yet encountered, has calmly and firmly carried out his policy, and smiled at the vindictiveness of his foes? Though threatened with committees of ten thousand armed enemies; though perceiving, in the hour of his necessities, squadrons of his earliest friends wheeling by States from his ranks, he dared hold on the march which both consistency and country enjoined. Sir, fate and malignity had scattered, like the savage ordeals of the olden superstition, burning ploughshares in his path that the darkness of our calamities had obscured. He had sailed, it was said, this sunshine pilot "these many summers on a sea of glory," and when the vessel of State was weathering its stormiest capes," loudly was it prophesied that he would blanch and tremble in the untried tempests of the wild latitudes he had reached. But did he tremble? I, sir, I, with no friendly view, curiously watched that solitary man at the helm, (solitary, from his own vast and unshared responsibilities,) and when I beheld him amidst the uproar of the elements and the noise and the menaces of a distracted crew, calmly gazing at the card, and firmly directing the wheel-I could not withhold from him the tribute of my admiration, my esteem and my applause. Of humble parentage, endowed with no transcendent eloquence, wearing no soldier's laurels-he has nothing wherewithal to dazzle the multitude from their propriety; and the sustained confidence of his countrymen s ino feeble evidence of the justice of his cause. I do not exaggerate his claims, therefore, when I pronounce him the firm, courteous, and able statesmen; the very man for the times; the pure impersonation of principle.

[blocks in formation]


Post Office Reform; its importance and practicability. By Row-
land Hill. London, 1837.

Third Reprnt from the Select Committee on Postages. Ordered
by the House of Commons to be printed. August 13, 1838.


III. SONNETS. By Park Benjamin, Esq.


Means and Ends, or Self-Training. By the Author of "Red-
wood," "Hope Leslie," Home,"
""The Poor Rich Man and
the Rich Poor Man," &c., &c. "As ye sow, so shall ye reap."
Boston: Marsh, Capen, Lyon, and Webb, 109, Washington
street, 1839. 12mo. pp. 278.

VI. SONNET. By Mrs. Da Ponte.

The Lost Child.

1. Phantasmion.

2. Cerography.

3. Hiram Powers.

[ocr errors]


VII. POLITICAL PORTRAITS. No. XIV. Churchill C. Cambreleng.

The Birds of Spring-The Encampment broken up, which introduces an illustration of
Dutch caution and Political Economy-A sick comrade-who, with the author, is cap-
tored by the Indians-The sick man scalped-The Catskill Mountains, and a new cap-




[ocr errors][ocr errors]







143 143







[blocks in formation]


WE deem it a matter of extreme surprise that the important developments in Post Office Reform, which have so extensively agitated the British public for the last two years, should be so utterly unknown, as far as all practical information is concerned, to the American public. While the minutest movements of the great stock operations of London, though confined in their most extended result to a narrow circle of speculators, and bearing but remotely upon trans-atlantic interests are chronicled with a species of feverish anxiety by our commercial press, and are read by thousands whose knowledge of such operations scarcely extends beyond the mysteries of financial phrase in which the account is enveloped; all notice of an utter change in the long established mode of Post Office communication in that country-which is somewhat analogous to our own—and a total revolution of the principles upon which it has hitherto been conducted; which, after thorough and searching discussion by the legislature, the press, and the public, is now about to be effected, and which is fraught with the most prodigious improvement not merely in commercial and social intercourse, but in civilization itself,is allowed to pass into operation unrecorded, unexplained, and almost unnoticed by any of our thousand and one American newspapers;—a painful commentary on that practical inefficiency for the useful and instructive which the unlimited devotion to party and personal politics has occasioned in a large portion of our press.

[ocr errors]

We propose to give in the present paper a succinct account of the projected Post Office Reform, its history, principles, and objects, reserving to a future occasion the important question of its applicability to our American System.

* Post Office Reform; its importance and practicability. By Rowland Hill. London, 1837.

Third Report from the Select Committee on Postages, ordered by the House of Commons to be printed, August 13, 1838.



In the whole range of human improvement and progress, there is no where to be found a more brilliant triumph of genius, than is presented by the present state of this great question of Post Office Reform in England. A few simple principles of arithmetic, proved to demonstration by calculations impossible to be shaken, called universal attention to a proposal that at the first blush might have been ridiculed as the reverie of a visionary; and soon, as a natural consequence, created such confidence in its details, as to make it revolutionize the whole of the existing system of government postage, and to subvert and utterly abolish not merely all the pre-existent machinery of post office management and revenue, but even all the pre-existing ideas, and the immemorial practice on the subject. This will be more fully understood, when we reflect that the British Post Office System, in many respects resembles a close corporation. It consists of an Executive, called the Postmaster General, who, assisted by his subordinates, manages the entire department. The mails are carried by contract, and the rates of postage for single sheets vary from two pence to one shilling and two pence sterling. The reception and distribution of letters, and the collection of the postage, are managed by postmasters in all the principal places, who are appointed by the government, and are responsible to it. The uniform practice of a long course of years had thoroughly consolidated the Post Office System of Great Britain, and rendered it in its workings almost as essential a part of the State as the Church, or the Army and Navy. Like every thing else connected with Government in the British Islands, it was, in all its branches, completely removed from the cognizance or control of the people whose interests it was professedly instituted to serve. Though the rates of postage had long been complained of as exorbitant and oppressive, and though Parliamentary Committees had the subject of their reduction repeatedly before them, the force of official opposition was found too powerful to be overcome, and there was about the same degree of disposition to gratify the public in this respect as there was to render the Peerage elective, to circumscribe the power of the Crown, or to grant universal suffrage, and the vote by ballot. Like every thing else in Great Britain, the main object sought to be attained was to get as much money as possible from the people, and to do this and lower the rates of postage were deemed altogether incompatible by the purblind intellect of officials, and so dismissed from contemplation. Meanwhile, as the leading mails were despatched throughout the country with punctuality and expedition, as no one individual felt himself more aggrieved than his neighbour, and as capacity to bear taxation was deemed the surest test of British loyalty, the system was permitted to go on from year to year in its usual track, and produced for the last twenty-five years a gross revenue of above twenty-two hundred thousand pounds sterling, or between eleven and twelve millions of dollars-of which income, about one million and a half of pounds were nett revenue.

In the year 1837, Mr. Rowland Hill, a private gentleman of London,

« ZurückWeiter »