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ciled, and something in the law and the constitution radically defective.
Hutchinson's disposition to push the House up to a full avowal or renunciation of their principles led him into a dispute upon another subject of stilt more importance, and the result of which ought to have convinced him of the impolicy of courting, under existing circumstances, too minute an investigation of the fundamental principles of the constitution. * The degree of authority,' says Chief Justice Marshall,
which might rightfully be exercised by the mother country over her colonies had never been accurately defined. In Britain it had always been asserted, that Parliament possessed the power of binding them in all cases whatsoever. In America, at different times and in different colonies, various opinions had been entertained on this subject.' In New England, during the earlier periods of its history, it had been a prevailing and favourite opinion, that the Americans were subjects of the British crown, but not of the nation. When the colonies became of sufficient importance to attract the notice of the parent state, it was found impracticable effectually to maintain this position; and it seems to have been silently and gradually abandoned. Still, however, public opinion on this subject was extremely loose and unsettled ; and although it seems to have been generally supposed that Parliament possessed some sort of power over the colonies, yet the attempt to exercise it in any particular case was generally viewed with great jealousy. In practice, the operation of acts of Parliament had sometimes been acquiesced in; sometimes the legislature of Massachusetts had by their own acts adopted those acts, by which the appearance of their being enforced by the mere power of Parliament was saved; more frequently such laws as were not agreeable had been evaded or misunderstood; whilst all such as related to taxation had uniformly been pronounced unconstitutional, and in the case of the Mutiny Act, as we have seen, obedience had been flatly refused. In their addresses they had frequently spoken incidentally of the Parliainent as the supreme legislative power over the whole empire,' of the superintending power of that high court over all his Majesty's subjects in the empire,' &c. taking care at the same time to add, that the exercise of the supreme legislative power was always to be limited and controlled by the constitution; and likewise
New Series, No. 4, 43
to insist upon the impracticability of the colonists being represented in Parliament ; in consequence of which impracticability, they had been allowed legislatures, which were to be 6 as perfectly free as could consist with a subordination to the supreme legislative of the whole empire.' But how much freedom this would have left them; or what were the precise boundaries of the powers of the colonial assemblies, and of the supreme legislature, no one had undertaken to point out. Indeed this seems hitherto to have been viewed by the defenders of American rights as a forbidden subject. But the controversy had now continued so long in Massachusetts, and all reserve and delicacy had been found so ineffectual, that the minds of the people were pretty well prepared for a contemplation of the whole subject. The supremacy of Parliament, it seems, had lately been denied by a town meeting in Boston, and Hutchinson saw fit to avail himself of this circumstance, to meet the legislature at the next session, which was in January 1773, with an elaborate and formal argument upon the subject. This was in a manner challenging the Assembly to an expression of their opinion upon this delicate question. The two Houses returned separate answers, differing very much in their general tone. The council preserved the
old ground, declining to prescribe the precise limits of the power of Parliament, but maintaining that it must necessarily be limited by the principles of the constitution, and by those principles it could not extend to the levying of taxes upon those who did not enjoy the right of representation. But not so with the House: they boldly meet the governor in all his positions, and, after a most full and able discussion of the subject, observe: - Your Excellency tells us you
know of po line that can be drawn between the supreme authority of Parliament and the total independence of the colonies.” If there be no such line, the
" consequence is, either that the colonies are the vassals of the Parliament, or that they are totally independent. As it cannot be supposed to have been the intention of the parties in the compact, that we should be reduced to a state of vassalage, the con. clusion is, that we were thus independent. “ It is impossible," your Excellency says, “ that there should be two independent legislatures in one and the same state.” May we not then further conclude, that it was their sense, that the colonies were, by their charters, made distinct states from the mother country?
Your Excellency adds," for although there may be but one head, the king, yet the two legislative bodies will make two governments as distinct as the kingdoms of England and Scotland before the union.” Very true, may it please your Excellency; and if they interfere not with each other, what hinders, but that being united in one head and common sovereign, they may live happily in that connexion, and mutually support and protect each other p. 36.
This, we believe, was the most full and explicit denial of the power of Parliament which bad then been made by any legislature on the continent. The governor, who probably had not anticipated that the House would have assumed this bold ground, felt obliged to send another message in support of his positions, which called forth a long answer from the House, breathing the same spirit and principles with the first. These four messages, which occupy about fifty pages of this volume, do infinite honor to both parties, by the learning, the ingenuity, and dignity, with which they are written. Those on the behalf of the House we have good authority for attributing to that venerable statesman in our vicinity, who yet lives to witness the successful operation of those principles, which, in his more active days, he did so much to establish and defend.
Having followed the House of Representatives to this declaration, it occurs to us-what our readers no doubt have long been thinking of-that it is time for us to stop.
Something we had intended to say of the remaining documents in this volume and of the subjects they relate to of the establishment of the state committees of correspondence of the famous letters of Hutchinson and Oliver-of Gage's insolent conduct in meeting the legislature of the removal of the legislature to Salem, in pursuance of the Boston Port Bill of the final dissolution of the provincial legislature, and of the address of the Massachusetts Congress to the people, with which the volume closes. But we find it impossible to resist the temptation of making extracts, or to avoid historical statements with which our readers are or ought to be already acquainted.
We conclude by earnestly recommending this book to our readers' attention. We are the more urgent on this point, because we have just been astonished and mortified by seeing the publishers of it announcing in a newspaper conducted by them, that they have sustained a loss by the publication, of between seven and eight hundred dollars. We feel no other interest in the success of these publishers, than we do in that of every man who undertakes to furnish the public with good books. But if we could believe that the fact, above stared, was at all indicative of the general spirit of literary patronage amongst us, it would afford us much more mortifi cation than all the stierrs and the abuse of the state of our literature, which the most industrious compiler could bring together from the whole circle of English travellers and reviewers. It would be in vain to say that Americans ought to make books; it would be in vain to say that the documents respecting our history ought to be collected and preserved, if many such facts were permitted to disgrace us.
But we know that this is not the case ; and we can account for tbis instance of unmerited neglect only by the presumption that the nature of the book has not been generally understood. One suspicion may perhaps be excited upon reading these papers, which may not be altogether gratifying to our vanity ; it is that the advances of the present generation in knowledge and letters have not been quite so large as we are apt to imagine. We find in this volume not only the marks of a bold spirit and of strong natural talent, but of the most extensive reading, and specimens of pure and elegant composition. Indeed we are not absolutely certain that from the journals of Congress, for the last ten years, could be selected a volume containing so much fine writing. But whether it be owing to the style or the subjects of these papers, or to both, we are persuaded that no man who ever derives pleasure from books, will be able to read a few of them without going through with the whole, and then wishing that there were
ART. XVI.-Memoirs of Richard Lovell Edgeworth, begun by
himself and concluded by his daughter Maria Edgeworth. London, 2 vols. 8vo. 1820.
The ordinary and easiest kind of biography contents itself with relating the principal incidents of a life, with the more peculiar circumstances which accompany them ; sometimes venturing to guess at the motives of the man when they happen to lie pretty near the surface, and now and then pre
senting the features of his moral or intellectual character which stand forth most prominently. This sort of biography is entertaining enough, and is not without its use ; histories of men, who have made themselves eminent, if they are but sufficiently minute and circumstantial, must do good ; not so much by direct instruction how to act in particular cases, as by their general influence upon our habits of thought and feeling.
All men are not to be required or enabled to possess the force of mind or character, which gives to the few supremacy over the many ; but minute, matter of fact biographies of men remarkable for goodness or greatness, do great good in bringing us into close contact with beings of greater strength or higher elevation than ourselves, because the imitative propensity and faculty of our nature is constantly at work in assimilating our characters to those with which we have the most frequent intercourse and the closest intimacy. If they, with whom we are most conversant, have stood in the upper places of society, and have given there the most striking proofs and examples of strong minds and good hearts, we naturally carry into the humbler concerns and interests of life something of the same feeling, and act there with more energy and disinterestedness. Common life, made up of common feelings and common events, must be the lot of most of us, and we shall probably go to our graves without finding occasion or need of such entire self-abandonment, thorough devotion to good purposes, and energy in conquering difficulties or resisting oppression, as we may find recorded in history; but if we dwell upon such examples fondly and frequently, it is to be expected that they will strengthen and liberalize our characters, although we cannot fill with our generosity and firmness so wide spheres of action or of fame.
But there is another kind of biography,—the history of the internal man, and this is the most useful and the most rare. It tells not merely the sayings and doings of him whose life it is relating, but his thoughts, and feelings, and imaginations; it teaches not only his actions, and the motives which led to those actions, but the state of mind and feeling which gave efficacy to the motives, and paints at large and to the very life, the thousand thoughts, and feelings, and propensities which make up the heart and the man. The