Page images

Thornton on the right bank of the river is proof. Had General Packenham established a strong body on that side of the Mississippi, and deferred his attack on the other, until the lines were enfiladed, it is not improbable that thousands of British had been saved, and New Orleans a trophy in the hands of the enemy. In all these cases, it would appear that the enemy, by his rashness or want of precaution, of which he was undoubtedly guilty through contempt of his undisciplined adversary, reduced himself to a state of inferiority in the conflict. Such advantages may be often anticipated, as ignorance and presumption are not always the rarest qualities of commanders.

In the range of our observations, we have frequently had occasion to avail ourselves of General Sumner's ideas, and might have more often advantageously adopted his language. But extracts would give but an inadequate idea of the general aim of his remarks. We presume every person among us, who feels an interest in this important subject, has read his letter. We think his ideas in the main just and practical, and do not find any attempts unreasonably to magnify the capability of the militia. He believes it a useful auxiliary in war, and the best security of our laws and liberties in time of peace, and gives it no undue precedency among the means of national defence. We have already expressed our concurrence with him in the opinion, that the ordinary militia duty is not felt as a burden. The privileges which appertain to our free citizens, although occasionally demanding a little of their time, are too highly prized to be surrendered on that account. They do not complain of attendance on frequent elections as an unnecessary or oppressive tax upon their time, and the man who should seek to persuade them that it is so would be regarded with suspicion, if not with stronger feelings. And is not the privilege of bearing arms an honorable franchise? It was thought to be of such importance, as to be made a special reservation in the amendments to the constitution. It has often been said, that the trainings bear with unequal weight upon the poor. But has not the poor man much to secure? He has as deep an interest in our free institutions, which afford him the chance of becoming one of the affluent and the great, as the man who has already become affluent and great. Every class has the same privi

leges to preserve. An equal interest in every institution. pervades the whole community; and the incumbent of the most elevated office, whose tenure is temporary and defined, may be said to have no more at stake than any other individual.

Even if there were no other utility to be derived from the militia, than to enforce the execution of the laws of the union, when opposed by misguided or unprincipled combinations, instead of leaving that task to a regular force, every patriot and reflecting man must prize it as of inestimable importance. What different consequences might have arisen, had the suppression of Shay's rebellion,' or the 'whiskey insurrection,' been confided to a regular force! Such a description of force, in all such cases, assumes the aspect of oppressive energy, and is regarded as an instrument of government, which has no connexion, no sympathy, with the mass of the people. Had either of these political disturbances been attempted to be put down by an arm, to which such an odious and unpopular character might have been attached, these formidable insurrections, which, in their result, seemed only to strengthen and confirm our excellent frame of government, might have ended in its prostration. But as there was a power existing among the people themselves, which, although dormant, was capable of being roused to any degree of energy, which the government could call forth in all the plenitude that the crisis might demand, a resistance, which had probably defied the executive arm, wielding a regular force, and perhaps increased in resoluteness and exasperation, subsided in dismay before an army of citizens, who had shared in all the evils, which were made the pretexts for these insurrections, but who stood forth the defenders of government and law. Had the regular force at the disposal of the executive been the only resource in these emergencies, its numbers could have been easily ascertained, and resistance founded on calcution. But when the people themselves arose as the friends. of good order, and the avengers of violated public tranquillity, the power arrayed on the side of government would seem to have no other limits, than those of the efficient population. And when the invidious task of suppression was done, and the laws had quietly resumed their silent sway, this overwhelming force, which had been so easily embodied, or, as

it were, created, dissolved at once, and was lost in the multitude. No trace was left behind to remind the vanquished of their defeat and shame, and all exasperated and mortified feelings soon sunk into submission and contentment.

We have already alluded to parts of Captain Partridge's lecture, cited at the head of this article. His observations on our maritime defence are doubtless the result of much reading and reflection. Many of his best suggestions are, we believe, in the course of fulfilment. Until within a few years, even since the late war, we had no general system of maritime defence, so far as it related to fortification. In the main, we are disposed to agree with Captain Partridge in his ideas on this subject. But we suspect some of his observations on 'permanent fortification' border a little on hypercriticism. After stating objections to this system, as now practised in the United States, he alludes to the works of Fort Columbus in the harbor of New York, and remarks, that during the late war, when that city apprehended an attack, the militia and citizens, notwithstanding these and other permanent works, were obliged to toil most assiduously upon temporary works for its security. We are not disposed to depreciate in the least the patriotic and zealous labors, which were so freely tendered in that hour of threatened danger, and have no doubt, had the attack been made, that they would have essentially contributed to the defence. But these hasty redoubts and lines were only subsidiary to the main works. Suppose New York had been without these main works, and had depended on temporary defences alone; she would have probably been an easy prey to a strong fleet, cooperating with a land force. Fortified towns have lost their former importance. Modern warfare has determined, by bloody examples, that they are insufficient to arrest invasion. But fortifications for maritime defence have been growing into increased estimation; and for this the history of modern warfare affords many good reasons. What enabled France, during her long struggle with the mistress of the ocean, and while her armies were generally at a distance from the coast, to present an impregnable maritime frontier? Her permanent fortifications.

We are thus free in our remarks on Captain Partridge's apparent censure of the present system of fortification, which

[ocr errors]

he seems to think founded on 'radical error,' because we are aware that his opinions are respected, and because we apprehend that, in this rather sweeping condemnation, he may mislead the public mind. Indeed, we have doubts whether Captain Partridge himself entertains so pointed a disapprobation of the system, which has heretofore been pursued, and particularly of that which is now adopted, as some of his remarks would imply. For in the plan, which he ultimately proposes, that is, to erect what are called permanent fortifications at the principal points, and to keep them in a state of good preservation, he does not differ in terms from those, who have approved the essential features of the past system, and who approve that now in force.

We cannot conclude, without calling the attention of those, who have not already perused it, to General Bernard's letter, addressed to General Sumner. This distinguished soldier has discussed the subject of our militia with an ability, which bespeaks an intimate and accurate knowledge of the institution. He has no exaggerated notions of its utility, but sees that it is capable of much good, and must always be a powerful means of national defence.

J.C. Witam,

ART. II.—Hints on Extemporaneous Preaching. By HENRY WARE, Jun. 18mo. pp. 93. Boston.

In this little volume it is the purpose of the author to augment the good effects, which result from the labors of those who are engaged in the Gospel ministry. Few objects are more important than this in a christian community, where the instructions of the Sabbath are calculated to have so strong an influence on the social condition of men, as well as on their religious character and destiny. It is a necessary consequence of the return of the Sabbath, that a rest should follow to the thoughts and cares of men, a cessation from their secular toils, and a relief from the exercise and conflict of the baser passions. Under such circumstances they meet in the 'Lord's Courts;' the sacredness of the place helps them to disburden themselves of those interests and prejudices, which too often warp their minds and feelings asunder, and they

listen with attention to the momentous truths, which every conscientious preacher is expected to communicate. The tendency of the annunciation of these truths is to deepen those serious impressions, which the mere return of the day itself is fitted to excite. The mind is powerfully directed towards those considerations, which relate to the reality and the mode of its existence beyond the grave. The Christian is brought to a firmer reliance on the operations and the excellence of his faith.

The beneficial effects of Sabbath instructions are, in truth, more than can be estimated; and it is hence of great consequence, that the persons, on whom these instructions devolve, should be fitted for a calling on which so much of the well being and happiness of society depend. Any suggestions, which may tend to render their instructions more appropriate and powerful, and more beneficial in their general results, should be favorably received. The art of extemporaneous speaking is both difficult and important. No one can be a correct and efficient speaker in this way, who has not a well disciplined and a well furnished mind. But however great the discipline, to which one must subject himself, before he can speak correctly and to the point in unpremeditated language, it is an art so valuable as to recompense the greatest toil and perseverance; maximus fructus velut praemium quoddam amplissimum.

We admit, that a person may be truly eloquent, who preaches, as it is technically termed, with notes. However some may be disposed to differ from Chalmers on certain speculative points; whatever exceptions scrupulous critics may take to a few peculiarities in his style, yet, when his depth of thought, his power of argument, his occasional touches of true pathos, his frequent richness and splendor of expression are recollected, it will not be denied by any candid judge, that Chalmers is an eloquent man. But, if we are rightly informed, this Scottish orator, whose fame has spread itself to more than one continent, usually preaches from manuscript. The instances, indeed, are innumerable, in which powerful effects have been produced by preachers, who have confined themselves to written compositions. In speaking favorably, therefore, of this little treatise, and of the art which it is designed to recommend, we would not be understood to enter our dis

« PreviousContinue »