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of a treaty, in which, there being no common superior, each party must interpret for itself, under its own obligation of good faith. But this is not a trealy, but a constitution of government, with powers to execute itself, and fulfil its duties.
“ I admit, Sir, that this Government is a Government of checks and balances ; that is, the House of Representatives is a check on the Senate, and the Senate is a check on the House, and the President a check on both. But I cannot comprehend him, or, if I do, I totally differ from him, when he applies the notion of checks and bal. ances to the interference of different Governments. He argues, that if we transgress, each State, as a State, has a right to check us. Does he admit the converse of the proposition, that we have a right to check the States ? The gentleman's doctrines would give us a strange jumble of authorities and powers, instead of Governments of separate and defined powers. It is the part of wisdom, I think, to avoid this; and to keep the General Government and the State Governments, each in its proper sphere. avoiding, as carefully as possible, every kind of interference.
“ Finally, Sir, the honorable gentleman says, that the States will only interfere, by their power, to preserve the Constitution. They will not destroy it, they will not im. pair it—they will only save, they will only preserve, they will only strengthen it! Ah! Sir, this is but the old story. All regulated Governments, all free Governments, have been broken up by similar disinterested and well-disposed interference! It is the common pretence. But I take leave of the subject.”
With these remarks the discussion ended, as between Mr. Webster and General Hayne. It was afterwards continued, however, for several weeks, and a majority, or nearly a majority, of the whole Senate took part in it; but whenever it is now recollected or referred to, the contest between the two principal speakers, from the 19th to the 23d of January, is, we believe, generally intended.
The results of this memorable debate are already matter of history. The vast audience that had contended for admission to the senate-chamber, till entrance became dangerous, were the first to feel and make known its effect; for, with his peculiar power of explaining abtruse and technical subjects, so that all can comprehend them, Mr. Webster there expounded a great doctrine of the constitution, which had been powerfully assailed, so that all might feel the foundations on which it rests, to have been consolidated rather than disturbed by the attempt to shake them. Their verdict, therefore, was given at the time, and heard throughout the country. But since that day, when the crowd came out of the senate-chamber rejoicing in the victory which had been achieved for the constitution, nearly twenty editions of the same argument have been called for in different parts of the country, and thus scattered abroad above an hundred thousand copies of it, besides the countless multitudes that have been sent forth by the newspapers, until, almost without a metaphor, it may be said to have been carried to every fire-side in the land. The very question, therefore, which was first submitted to an audience in the capitol,comprising, indeed, a remarkable representation of the talents and authority of the country, but still comparatively small
, -has since been submitted by the press to the judgment of the nation, more fully, probably, than any thing of the kind was ever submitted before; and the same remarkable plainness, the same power of elucidating great legal and constitutional doctrines till they become as intelligible and simple as the occupations of daily
life, has enlarged the jury of the senate-chamber till it has become the jury of the whole people, and the same verdict has followed. What, therefore, Chancellor Kent said in relation to it, is as true as it is beautiful ;—“Peace has its victories as well as war;"_ and the triumph which Mr. Webster thus secured for a great constitutional principle, he may now well regard as the chief honor of his life. Indeed, a man such as he is, when he looks back
past life, and forward to the future, must needs feel, that his fate and his fortune, his fame and his ambition, are connected throughout with the fate and the fortunes of the constitution of his country. He is the child of our free institutions. None other could have produced or reared him ;-none other can now sustain or advance him. From the days when amidst the fastnesses of nature, his young feet with difficulty sought the rude school-house, where his earliest aspirations were nurtured, up to the moment when he came forth in triumph from the senate-chamber, conscious that he had overthrown the doctrines of nullification, and contended successfully for the union of the states, he must have felt, that his extraordinary powers have constantly depended for their development and their exercise on the peculiar institutions of our free governments. It is plain, indeed, that he has thriven, heretofore, by their progress and success; and it is, we think, equally plain, that in time to come, his hopes and his fortunes can be advanced only by their continued stability and further progress. We think, too, that Mr. Webster feels this. On all the great principles of the constitution, and all the leading interests of the country, his opinions are known; his ground is taken; his lot is cast. Whoever may attack the Union, or any of the fundamental doctrines of our land, he must defend them. Prima fortuna salutis monstrat iter. The path he has chosen, is the path he must follow. And we rejoice at it. We rejoice, that such a necessity is imposed on such a mind. We rejoice, that, even such as he cannot stand, unless they sustain the institutions that formed them; and that, what is in itself so poetically just and so morally beautiful, is enforced by a providential wisdom, which neither genius nor ambition can resist or control. We rejoice, too, when, on the other hand, a man so gifted, faithfully and proudly devotes to the institutions of his country the powers and influence they have unfolded and fostered in him, that, in his turn, he is again rewarded with confidence and honors, which, as they can come neither from faction nor passion, so neither party discipline nor political violence can diminish or impair them. And, finally, and above all, we rejoice for the great body of the people, that the decided and unhesitating support they have so freely given to the distinguished Senator, with whose name “ this land now rings from side to side,” because he has triumphantly defended the union of the states and the principles of the constitution ;-we rejoice, we say, for the people, because, such a support given by them for such a
cause, not only strengthens and cements the very foundations of whatever is most valuable in our government; but at the same time, warns and encourages all who would hereafter seek similar honors and favors, to consult for the course they shall follow, neither the indications of party nor the impulses of passion, but to address themselves plainly, fearlessly, calmly, directly to the intelligence and honesty of the whole nation, "and ask no omen but their country's cause."