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Our list is closed by a paper reprinted in this country from the in which one of the most smooth-tongued of the detractors of America, the author of is gently, but most effectually demolished. The exposure of the incompetency and presumption of the travelling Tory is complete. As to the subject itself, the reviewer endeavours to make out, in behalf of his country, more points than, judging from other authorities, we incline to think he can succeed in; but he is well entitled to a hearing, and we eagerly expect the judgment of the same writer on M. de Tocqueville, and on the various authors reviewed in our present article.
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This is likely enough to be a true picture of the American Government, but can scarcely be said to be peculiar to it: there are now few governments remaining, whether representative or absolute, of which something of the same sort might not be said. In no country where the real government resides in the minister, and where there are frequent changes of ministry, are far-sighted views of policy likely to be acted upon; whether the country be England or France, in the eighteenth century or in the nineteenth. is the character of all governments whose laws are made and acts of administration performed not in pursuance of a general design, but from the pressure of some present occasion; of all governments in which the ruling power is to any great extent exercised by persons not trained to government as a business. of ancient Rome and modern Venice were of this character; and as all know, for ages conducted the affairs of those states with admirable constancy and skill, on fixed principles, often unworthy enough, but always eminently adapted to the ends of governments. of the many or of a privileged class, is so numerous, that the large majority of it do not and cannot make the practice of government the main occupation of their lives, it is impossible that there should be wisdom, foresight, and caution in the governing body itself. These qualities must be found, if found at all, not in the body, but in those whom the body trust. opinion of a ruling class is as fluctuating, as liable to be wholly given up to immediate impulses, as the opinion of the people. Witness the whole course of English history. All our laws have been made on temporary impulses. In
The relation between a representative and his constituents may be illustrated by a reference to the analogical relation which exists, and to which we have already slightly adverted, in the mutual circumstances of the physician and his patients. The security which patients have for the best application of the physician’s skill does not arise from any ability of theirs to direct his practice, but from the circumstance of having in their own hands the power of choice. In the nature of the case they must place great confidence in his conduct, if they would obtain the benefit of his knowledge. When they select him, they are guided by such evidence as is within their reach respecting his qualifications. They may not always make the wisest choice; because, not being competent judges of the science, they must depend, in a great measure, on collateral facts, or evidence of an indirect character, and are sometimes swayed by irrelevant motives; but the power of selection and dismissal is the most effectual means of securing the best services of those whom they choose; and there can be little doubt that, on the system of each individual selecting his own medical attendant, and trusting to his discretion, patients fare better than on any other plan. And although they cannot antecedently judge of the medical treatment necessary in their case, nor direct the curative process, yet after recovery they can frequently form a tolerable estimate of the skill which has been evinced, and can always appreciate the care and attention of the practitioner; whence there are evidently strong inducements acting on his mind to please and benefit his patients.
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Another circumstance which has important consequences, both as to society and national character, is the unrivalled prosperity of the United States. This circumstance enables the country to do with less government than any other country in existence. It is easy to keep the peace among a people all of whom are not only well off, but have unlimited means of making themselves still better off without injury to any one. The facilities of acquiring riches are such, that according to M. de Tocqueville, that is the career which engrosses all the ambitious spirits. But this same industrial prosperity has some undesirable effects. Both wages and profits being higher than in any other part of the world, the temptation is strong to all classes (but especially to those who, as managers of their own capital, can unite both sources of emolument) to as it is called, in other words, to plunge into money-getting, at the earliest possible age. It is affirmed that hardly any American remains at a place of general education beyond the age of fifteen. Here again we recognise the habits and ways of thinking of a middle class; the very causes which are accountable for the comparative failure of the London University. Further, the chances of rapid gain, combined with the facility of recovering after a fall, offer a temptation to hazardous speculations greater than in any other country. In Europe, a person who loses his all, falls into beggary; in America, only into a condition from whence, in a few years, he may emerge restored to affluence. A most adventurous spirit may, therefore, be expected to prevail in the conduct of business. Not only does this appear to be the fact, but the sympathy of the public generally with that adventurous spirit, seems to produce extraordinary indulgence even to its ill success. It is a remarkable circumstance, that although the power is expressly reserved to Congress, of framing a general law of bankruptcy for the United States, public opinion has never permitted any such law to be enacted. The laws of some of the states are lenient to excess towards even fraudulent bankruptcy; and failures inflict no discredit in the opinion of society. One cause of this indulgence towards bankruptcies may be their extreme frequency. “A short time,” says M. de Beaumont (Vol. I, pp. 284-6),