Imágenes de páginas

ister a constitution emanating immediately from the people, and trusted by them to our administration.

3. It is not the creature of the state governments. It is of no moment to the argument that certain acts of the state legislatures are necessary to fill our seats in this body. That is not one of their original state powers, a part of the sovereignty of the state. It is a duty which the people, byʻthe constitution itself, have imposed on the state legislatures, and which they might have left to be performed elsewhere, if they had seen fit.

4. So they have left the choice of president with electors; but all this does not affect the proposition that this whole government — president, senate, and house of representatives - is a popular government. It leaves it still all its popular character. The governor of a state (in some of the states) is chosen, not directly by the people, but by those who are chosen by the people for the purpose of performing among other duties that of electing a governor.

5. Is the government of the state on that account not a popular government ? This government, sir, is the independent offspring of the popular will. It is not the creature of state legislatures ; nay, more, if the whole truth must be told, the people brought it into existence, established it, and have hitherto supported it, for the very purpose, amongst others, of imposing certain salutary restraints on state sovereignties. The states cannot now make war; they cannot contract alliances; they cannot make each for itself separate regulations of commerce; they cannot lay imposts; they cannot

6. If this constitution, sir, be the creature of state legislatures, it must be admitted that it has obtained a strange control over the volitions of its creators. The people, then, sir, erected this government. They gave it a constitution, and in that constitution they have enumerated the powers which they bestow on it. They have made it a limited government.

7. They have defined its authority. They have restrained it to the exercise of such powers as are granted; and all others, they declare are reserved to the states or the people. But, sir, they have not stopped here. If they had, they would have accomplished but half their work. No definition can be so clear as to avoid possibility of doubt; no limitation so precise as to exclude all uncertainty. Who, then, shall construe this grant of the people ?

coin money:

8. Who shall interpret their will, where it may be supposed they have left it doubtful ? With whom do they repose this ultimate right of deciding on the powers of the government? Sir, they have settled all this in the fullest manner. They have left it with the government itself, in its appropriate branches.

9. Sir, the very chief end, the main design, for which the whole constitution was framed and adopted, was to establish a government that should not be obliged to act through state agency, or depend on state opinion and state discretion. The people had had quite enough of that kind of government, under the confederacy. Under that system, the legal action, the application of law to individuals, belonged exclusively to the states.

10. Congress could only recommend ; their acts were not of binding force, till the states had adopted and sanctioned them. Are we in that condition still ? Are we yet at the mercy of state discretion, and state construction ? Sir, if we are, then vain will be our attempt to maintain the constitution under which we sit. But, sir, the people have wisely provided, in the constitution itself, a proper, suitable mode and tribunal for settling questions of constitutional law.

11. There are in the constitution grants of powers to Congress, and restrictions on these powers. There are, also, prohibitions on the states. Some authority must therefore necessarily exist, having the ultimate jurisdiction to fix and ascertain the interpretation of these grants, restrictions and prohibitions.

12. The constitution has itself potted out, ordained and established, that authority. How is it accomplished this great and essential end ? By declaring, sir, that “the constitution, and the laws of the United States made in pursuance thereof, shall be the supreme law of the land, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding."

13. This, sir, was the first great step. By this the supremacy of the constitution and laws of the United States is declared. The people so will it. No state law is to be valid, which comes in conflict with the constitution, or any law of the United States passed in pursuance of it. But who shall decide this question of interference? To whom lies the last appeal ?

14. This, sir, the constitution itself decides also, by declaring, “ that the judicial power shall extend to all cases arising under the constitution and laws of the United States.” These two provisions, sir, cover the whole ground. They are, in truth, the keystone of the arch. With these, it is a constitution; without them, it is a confederacy.

15. In pursuance of these clear and express provisions, Congress established, at its very first session, in the judicial act, a mode for carrying them into full effect, and for bringing all questions of constitutional power to the final decision of the supreme court. It then, sir, became a government. It then had the means of self-protection; and, but for this, it would in all probability have been now among things which are past.

16. Having constituted the government and declared its powers, the people have further said, that since somebody must decide on the extent of these powers, the government shall itself decide ; subject always, like other popular governments, to its responsibility to the people. And now, sir, I repeat, how is it that a state legislature acquires any power to interfere ?

17. Who or what gives them the right to say to the people, “We, who are your agents and servants for one purpose, will undertake to decide that your other agents and servants, appointed by you for another purpose, have transcended the power you gave them !” The reply would be, I think, not impertinent, “Who made you a judge over another's servants ? To their own masters they stand or fall.”

LESSON CLVII. The Old Clock on the Stairs. LONGFELLOW.

1. SOMEWHAT back from the village street Stands the old-fashioned country seat. Across its antique portico Tall poplar trees their shadows throw; And from its station in the hall An ancient timepiece says to all, — “Forever

never ! Never forever!

2. Half-way up the stairs it stands,
And points and beckons with its hands,
From its case of massive oak,
Like a monk, who, under his cloak,

Crosses himself, and sighs, alas !
With sorrowful voice, to all who pass,-
- Forever

never! Never forever!”

3. By day its voice is low and light;
But in the silent dead of night,
Distinct as a passing footstep's fall,
It echoes along the vacant hall,
Along the ceiling, along the floor,
And seems to say, at each chamber door

- never! Never - forever!”

4. Through days of sorrow and of mirth, Through days of death and days of birth, Through every swift vicissitude Of changeful time, unchanged it has stood, And as if, like God, it all things saw, It calmly repeats those words of awe, “ Forever

never! Never — forever !

5. In that mansion used to be Free-hearted Hospitality; His great fires up the chimney roared ; The stranger feasted at his board ; But, like the skeleton at the feast, That warning timepiece never ceased, « Forever

never ! Never forever!

6. There groups of merry children played, There youths and maidens dreaming strayed; O precious hours! O golden prime, And affluence of love and time ! Even as a miser counts his gold, Those hours the ancient timepiece told,

never! Never - forever!”

7. From that chamber, clothed in white, The bride came forth on her wedding night; There, in that silent room below, The dead lay in his shroud of snow; And in the hush that followed the

prayer, Was heard the old clock on the stair, —

- never ! Never - forever 1"

“ Forever

- Forever

8. All are scattered now and fled,
Some are married, some are dead;
And when I ask, with throbs of pain,
“Ah! when shall they all meet again ?”
As in the days long since gone by,
The ancient timepiece makes reply, -
« Forever never !
Never - forever!”

9. Never here, forever there,
Where all parting, pain and care,
And death and time, shall disappear,-
Forever there, but never here !
The horologe of eternity
Sayeth this incessantly, -
« Forever · never!
Never - forever!"

LESSON CLVIII. Extract from a Speech in the United States Senate.

HENRY CLAY. 1. I CANNOT, therefore, consider the message as conveying the sentiments and views of the president. It is impossible. It is the work of his cabinet; and if, unfortunately, they were not practically irresponsible to the people of the United States, they would deserve severe animadversions for having prevailed

upon the president, in the precipitation of business, and perhaps without his spectacles, to put his name to such a paper, and send it forth to Congress and to the nation.

2. Why, I have read that paper again and again ; and I never can peruse it without thinking of diplomacy, and the name of Talleyrand, Talleyrand, Talleyrand, perpetually recurring. It seems to have been written in the spirit of an accommodating soul, who, being determined to have fair weather in any contingency, was equally ready to cry out, Good lord, good devil.

3. Are you for internal improvements ? -you may extract from the message texts enough to support your opinion. Are you against them ?—the message supplies you with abundant authority to countenance your views. Do you think that a long and uninterrupted current of concurring decisions ought to settle the question of a controverted power? — so the authors of the message affect to believe. But ought any precedents

« AnteriorContinuar »