« PreviousContinue »
117, and two others, one vote each. Whether these two were legal votes, appeared to be the question on which would ultimately be determined the legality of the election. But the House could not investigate a question respecting a claim to a seat, till it should have a Committee on Elections; and no Committee on Elections could it have, until it had a Speaker. The question now demanding its decision was, whether a gentleman of leisure, not possessed of the legal prima facie evidence of election to a seat, might step into the House, and assist it with his vote in organizing itself and the government.
The next day, the motion "to lay the whole subject on the table" being still under consideration, the debate was protracted into the afternoon, the leading topics being still the necessity of insisting on the legal primâ facie evidence of membership, in order to an organization of the House, and the circumstances of the particular case now in hand. The question being put, the monitor of the division in which Mr. Nash had taken his seat, gave in a double return, according as it would stand including or omitting the vote of that gentleman; and the clerk announced, that, "According to the return of the House, there were 173 votes in the affirmative, if the vote of the gentleman from Whately were counted, 172, if it were not counted, and 172 votes in the negative. Before the vote could be declared, therefore, it would be necessary for the House to decide, whether the gentleman from Whately should be counted or not." A motion was made to disallow the vote, and it was ordered, after some opposition from the claimant's friends, that the question on this motion, when taken, should be taken by yeas and nays, from a list to be furnished by the Secretary of the Commonwealth, of persons who had subscribed the oaths; and, in order to give time for the preparation of such a list, the House adjourned at half past five o'clock.
On Friday, the motion to disallow the vote of Mr. Nash was voted upon by yeas and nays, and was found to be carried by 177 votes against 175, that gentleman voting in the negative. This point settled, the vote of the previous day, upon the motion to lay on the table, was declared by the clerk to stand 172 against 172. Accordingly, that motion had not prevailed, and the question recurred on the point of order respecting the competency of the House, without first reconsidering its vote to proceed to a fourth trial, to entertain the motion for an inquiry of Mr. Nash, whether he had voted in the third balloting for Speaker. The mover of the Order for that inquiry hereupon withdrew his motion, at the request of one of his friends, who moved in its place the adoption of a Preamble and Resolve, declaring that,
the vote of Mr. Nash having been determined to be illegal, the candidate for the Speaker's chair, against whom his vote had been thrown at the third balloting, had been duly elected. The same point of order as before was raised upon this motion, which, after some conversation, was withdrawn. Next followed a motion for a Preamble and Order prohibiting both claimants of the seat for Whately from exercising any rights of a member of the House, till their respective claims should have been investigated by a committee. The debate upon this, and upon the point of order respecting its reception, occupied the remainder of another day. The point of order being overruled by a majority of six, and the motion being subsequently adopted by a majority of three, in a vote taken by yeas and nays, the House, after strong opposition to an adjournment, on the part of the hitherto successful party, at length, at half past five o'clock, voted, by a majority of three votes, to adjourn.
On Saturday morning, the House proceded forthwith to a fourth balloting, in which the two leading candidates of the previous days received respectively 175 and 172 votes, while a new candidate, of the same school in politics as the latter, had three votes, understood to be given by members of the third party. Hereupon, the gentleman who had received the second largest number of votes announced his wish to retire from the contest; and the rival candidate, declining to follow the example, was abandoned by his friends, who at the next balloting threw all their votes but three for another candidate of their own, understood to be acceptable to the Liberty party. Against 175 votes, divided in this manner, Mr. Daniel P. King, formerly President of the Senate, the gentleman whose name had first appeared on the fourth balloting, was elected Speaker by a majority of one.
The House of Representatives of Massachusetts is not apt to be composed of disorderly or of timid men; but we doubt whether there was one of them, who did not draw a longer breath and feel an uncomfortable tension of his nerves relax, when he saw the Speaker conducted to the chair, and a functionary armed with the power of the constitution and the laws, installed in authority over those agitated elements.
The House proceeded to attend public worship; but first, on motion of the leader of the opposition, passed unanimously an order," that the thanks of the House be presented to Luther S. Cushing, Esquire, its clerk, for the able and impartial manner in which he has discharged the arduous duties which have devolved upon him, during its organization, as its acting presiding officer." Never was such an unusual tribute better deserved.
Mr. Cushing's perfect familiarity with the rules and principles of proceeding inspired in all parties a perfect confidence, while his calmness and self-possession, his decision and promptness, his mildness, dignity, and quick sense of what was due to all parties, diffused a conciliating influence through the whole circle of the conflict. As presiding officer, his deportment would have been admirable. It was much more so, in the more critical situation which he filled, moderating in an excited assembly of which he was but the servant, himself clothed with none of the high powers to end a strife which belong to the Speaker's office, and the House free even from the restraints of a system of Rules and Orders. It was a merciful Providence, that frustrated the folly which would have put a helpless beginner in that place. The reign of Chaos and old Night would have been but too likely to come back again.
Yet, while so much praise is due to the accomplished acting moderator for the satisfactory result, we are equally bound to congratulate the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on the generally calm and dignified deportment of her Representatives throughout this critical transaction. No one who witnessed the scene, and understood the exciting character of the questions at issue, could doubt, that, in some legislatures of the day, disorder and violence would have had their perfect work before the termination of the controversy. The possession of the government of the Commonwealth till the period of another election was the immediate prize at stake, while the more considerate were still more concerned about the tremendous future consequences of permitting an unlicensed entrance into the legislative halls. There was that warmth in the debates which might have been expected from the occasion, and from the distinguished talent and energy of several of the speakers; heavy personal imputations were made to rest on some of the leaders of one of the parties; yet such was the tone of gravity, dignity, and self-respect that pervaded the body, that any symptom of ungovernable petulance was made to pass off harmless, and the spirit of ruffianism was held in check, as with an iron compression. "The gentleman from Seekonk," said the leader of the opposition, in the innocent fulness of his heart, "had alluded to the proceedings of Congress in a similar case. For his part, he did not wish to have that body referred to for a precedent. Here we settled our difficulties in a sober and decorous manner, and God forbid that this House should ever copy the doings at Washington." God forbid, indeed! And Massachusetts will have to level her schools and her churches first.
In the present publication, Mr. Cushing, has faithfully and fully told the whole story of this movement, except that part of it
which is as prominent as any in the memory of witnesses, the part relating to his own most intelligent and meritorious services. "The statement of the different questions, the remarks on the forms of proceedings and points of order, and the orders and motions submitted, are all given," says Mr. C., “ from my own memoranda and the records and files of the House." The speeches are prepared, with one exception, from reports in the principal newspapers of the day, collected together, and corrected from Mr. Cushing's own notes taken at the time. The work cannot fail to have a permanent value, as the record of a very able assertion and maintenance of the all-important principle, that without legal primâ facie evidence of membership, no man may be admitted to take a part in the organization of a legislative body, or is entitled to a place therein, until such time as his claim has been investigated and established according to the forms of parliamentary proceeding. It will be a convenient and useful manual for reference, as often as hereafter any question shall come up touching the difference between a bonâ fide representative body and a self-constituted club, assuming to act with its authority and name.
In a Preface, full of choice learning in parliamentary law, Mr. Cushing treats of the forms of returns and admissions to representative assemblies, and expounds the principles and precedents upon which he acted, in declining, while officiating as temporary moderator of the House, to assume prerogatives of its Speaker, as, for instance, the decision of questions of order. The Preface concludes with a course of remark especially worthy of attention in these times of impatient innovation.
4.- An Introduction to Geometry, and the Science of Form. Prepared from the most approved Prussian Text-Books. Boston: James Munroe and Co. 1843. 12mo. pp. 159.
THE tendency of the youthful mind to observe and study forms is developed by this book. This tendency is the earliest to show itself, and is very active in children of quick intellect. If improved in good time, a child may be easily inducted into a familiarity with the scientific arrangement and nomenclature of forms and solid bodies, and will bring to the study of Geometry, in the higher schools, a complete elementary knowledge of the subjects treated. The usual course of study neglects this invaluable preparation. Geometry is taken up as a science not
only severe, but comprehensive, when the pupil is too young to appreciate its scope and importance; and he must commence his hard task by loading his memory with definitions. It is a high merit of this "Introduction," that it teaches these definitions in a familiar way, long before they are required as the preliminary steps to abstract study. It also supplies such a rudimentary knowledge of the principles of Geometry, and their application, as lessens, if it does not remove, the difficulties attending the first efforts in theoretical reasoning. We cannot doubt, that the neglect, or rather the want, of such means of initiating a pupil into the science, has turned aside capacities suited to this study.
It would be trifling with our readers, to enlarge here upon the importance of Geometry as a branch of education. Neither is there any occasion to dwell upon the great help supplied by the use of solid figures. The "Introduction " begins with the simplest mode of teaching with tangible objects, in which common ideas are combined and classified, rather than new ones given. The child arrives at a definition by merely learning to distinguish previously acquired notions. From this humble beginning, the path to such proficiency as is required of candidates for admission to Harvard University is gradual, easy, and without any pons asinorum to abridge the progress of the pupil. The first lesson is a reply to the question, "What do you remark in this cube?" the solid model being shown to the learner. The latter part of the book is devoted to miscellaneous propositions in mensuration and proportions. The former subject is not beyond the powers of a child six years old; whilst the scientific engineer may bring the latter into his daily practice. Yet the ascent is so easy, that a child of ordinary ability is in no danger of being fatigued.
It will be inferred from what has been said, that this work is practical. Its propositions are of the nature of problems, which most readily win the attention and engage the curiosity of the beginner, who, whilst amusing himself with toys, or the drawingpencil, is imbibing, in a pleasing and insensible way, the fundamental truths of that science which embraces the mechanism of the heavens. This merit of the work will be appreciated, when it is considered how difficult it is to impress upon the juvenile mind its first abstract ideas. Not only are the senses and the perceptive faculties first developed, but they have attained a high degree of skill and accuracy, before the intellect is prepared to Ideal with its own materials.
The object of the "Introduction," which it is eminently suited to attain, is, to "help children to arrange what nature teachVOL. LVIII. - No. 122.