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nounce the business, and to employ in alms the gain which they have made by it.”
The translator hopes that his work will be found to be exact; he very early in his professional life began the study of these writings; he has devoted to it some portion of the leisure hours of many years; and he has aimed, in the following pages, to furnish his professional brethren with a translation, which shall not be unworthy of their approbation or of the fame of the author.
- L. S. C.
2.—Historical Letters on the First Charter of Massachusetts Government. By ABEL Cushing. Boston: J. N. Bang, Printer, 30 Cornhill, 1839.
The author of this little work is evidently well read in the early history of Massachusetts, and thoroughly imbued, too, with the most ultra doctrines ascribed to that political party of the present day, which is denominated the democratic. For his knowledge of our colonial and provincial history, he is certainly to be commended ; and for his political principles; we, at least, have no vocation, if we had the disposition, to blame him; but, that he has made use of the annals of the colonists of Massachusetts, merely to subserve the purposes of a party, as he has done in the work before us, is, in our opinion, unjust to the memory of the “pilgrim fathers,” and unworthy of one of their descendants.
The author thus announces the purpose of his work in the preface :
“We, like our early ancestors, are in the possession of sovereign power; and, like them, we use it after the manner of despotic kings— to build up and to destroy, and to grant privileges, immunities, and monopolies, to favored classes. In truth, we use the people's sovereignty as an arbitrary master, to control men's pursuits, when their right is protection merely in the acquisition of property.
“No direct interference by the people's sovereignty, can aid the general interests of property more than those of religion. Our government, in its legitimate functions, operates like a mighty system of police, merely to establish justice between man and man, and keep the nations' peace at home and abroad.
“The following letters are designed to teach these truths by the examples of our history; and any success, however limited, will reward the labor.”
In this extract, the author charges the colonists, with having exercised their sovereign power of government, “to build up and to destroy, and to grant privileges, immunities, and monopolies, to favored classes.” We certainly cannot claim for ourselves a tithe of the knowledge of our early history, which Mr. Cushing possesses; but, setting aside the charge of “building up and destroying,” which has no apparent connection with the “privileges, immunities, and monopolies,” which follow, and which may or may not be a proper exercise of the function of government, according to what is built up or destroyed,—we do not believe that the history of our ancestors furnishes ground for the sweeping reproach of having used their sovereignty, in granting “privileges, immunities, and monopolies, to favored classes; ” nor do we believe, that an unprejudiced reader will find in the “Letters,” themselves any evidence of the truth of this assertion.
The author's notion of the proper function of government seems to us quite as narrow, one-sided, and imperfect, as his conclusions from our colonial history are mistaken. “In truth,” he says, “we use the people's sovereignty as an arbitrary master, to control men's pursuits, when their right is protection merely in the acquisition of property.” In this sentence, there is a confusion of language if not of ideas. We are left in doubt, whether the word “their " refers to “people's sovereignty” or to “men’s pursuits.” If it refer to the former, then the meaning of the sentence is, that “the right of the people's sovereignty is protection merely in the acquisition of property,”—or, in other words, that the only right of government is to acquire property, a monstrous proposition, which so good a democrat as our author would not knowingly entertain for a moment; if it refer to “men’s pursuits,” then the author attributes rights to the employments and occupations, or professions, of men, rather than to men themselves, which we are quite sure he would never do. The only probable meaning we can gather is, that Mr. Cushing considers it to be the sole and only right, duty, or proper function, of government, to protect men in the acquisition of property. But, if this be so, what security is there for the personal liberty and the reputation of the citizen 2 and of what use, indeed, is protection in the acquisition of property, if the owner is not also to be protected in its enjoyment 2
It is “to teach these truths by the examples of our history,” says the author, that the letters are designed : namely, that our early ancestors used their sovereign power “to build up and to destroy, and to grant privileges, immunities, and monopolies, to favored classes,”—and that the rightful function of government is to afford the citizens “protection merely in the acquisition of property.” We are no blind admirers of antiquity; nor are we disposed to become the wholesale apologists for all that was said and done by our “pilgrim fathers;” but we raise our voices against the too common practice of trying their conduct by the lights of a succeeding generation, and of condemning them by a principle, which, whether it be true or not at this moment, or ever likely to become so, was, at least, wholly unknown to them; and we rejoice, that there is one historian among us, quite as familiar with colonial history, and almost as democratic, as Mr. Cushing, who has studied the annals of the colonists of New England in a different spirit from his, and drawn therefrom other lessons of wisdom, than are contained in the “Historical Letters on the First Charter.”
3.—Laws of the state of Mississippi : embracing all acts of a public nature, from January Session, 1824, to January Session, 1838, inclusive. Published by authority. Jackson: Printed for the state of Mississippi, 1838.
The publication, of which the above is the title, contains probably the revised statutes of Mississippi, to which we have alluded in our last number (p.230) and in a former volume (xviii. p.212); but, of this fact, we have no certain information in the work itself; which, as its title imports, appears to be a mere collection of the statutes, arranged in chronological order. The volume contains no preface or advertisement, nor indeed any evidence that it has received a legislative sanction, except the statement in the title, that it is “published by authority.” Neither are we informed, that there were any statutes in force prior to those of January session, 1824, with which the volume commences. All these things are doubtless very well understood by the people of Mississippi; and it would have been quite gratifying, if the publishers of the volume before us had condescended to enlighten others in reference to the same points.
4.—The Revised Statutes of the State of Indiana, &c., arranged, compiled, and published by authority of the general assembly. Indianapolis: Douglass and Noel, Printers, 1838.
It is gratifying to perceive, that the several states are following the example of New York and Massachusetts, in the revision of their statutes. The volume before us, besides the declaration of independence, the constitutions of the United States and of the state, and “sundry other documents connected with the political history of the territory and state of Indiana,” contains the statute laws in force therein, at the time of its publication, arranged in the alphabetical order of their several subjects. The collection is scarcely entitled to the appellation of “Revised Statutes; ” since it appears, from the certificate of the secretary of state, that the acts contained in it are simply reprinted from the original rolls in his office; and there is no evidence in the volume, that the laws had previously undergone the revision of a commission or of the legislature.
The constitution of Indiana contains provisions, in relation to education, criminal law, and the support of the poor, which show, in a striking point of view, the enlightened and humane policy of the founders of that state. It requires the general assembly, “as soon as circumstances will permit,” to provide by law, “for a general system of education, ascending in a regular gradation from township schools, to a state university, wherein tuition shall be gratis and equally open to all; ”—“to form a penal code, founded on the principles of reformation, and not of vindictive justice; ”— “and to provide one or more farms, to be an asylum for those
persons, who, by reason of age, infirmity, or other misfortunes, may have a claim upon the beneficence of society, on such principles, that such persons may therein find employment, and every reasonable comfort, and lose, by their usefulness, the degrading sense of dependence.”
How far these requirements have been complied with, the cursory examination which we have given the statutes will not enable us to decide. The criminal law is embodied in a statute, “relative to crime and punishment,” which consists of ninety-nine sections, and in several additional statutes. The principal punishments to be inflicted are imprisonment and hard labor in the state prison, confinement in a county jail, and pecuniary fines. The punishment of death is provided only for the case of wilful and deliberate murder.
5.—A Charge to the Grand Jury of Adams County, delivered at the opening of the special term of the Criminal Court of Mississippi, on the fourth Monday of June, A. D. 1838, by J. S. B. THACHER, judge of that court. Natchez, 1838.
This charge was published at the request of the jurors to whom it was delivered, and it seems to be well worthy of that distinction. Among other subjects, the judge alludes to duelling, in the following terms:
“I am bound to call your attention, in particular, to some of the acts of the legislature of recent creation, which have been made for the holy purpose of endeavoring to brand with legislative condemnation, a species of felony which has hitherto had a sort of fashionable sanction. I refer to an act passed on the 13th of May, 1837, to suppress the evil practice of duelling, and other personal conflicts. The enactment runs against all persons who shall challenge others to fight a duel, or who shall deliver a challenge knowingly, or accept such challenge, or be present as aid, second or surgeon at the time of fighting a duel; against all persons who shall send a challenge in this state, to any person to fight a duel out of this state, or shall leave this state and fight a duel out of this state, or shall accept a challenge out of this state, and shall leave this state for the purpose of eluding the provisions of this act, or shall knowingly bear such challenge, or act as aid, second or surgeon of either party as