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the stifled cry of the millions that sink, blends with the shout of those that exult as never to die. Unbeeding, meanwhile, we chase the bubbles in our own little vortex; or we pursue the rainbow painted on the spray in the forward distance, unmindful that it overarches the cataract : or, if awake to the perils that press, struggling to keep our individual fortunes afloat amid the wild drift, we cast but brief and distracted glances at the fearful power that sits upon the flood; rarely have we leisure or vastness of vision to take its aspect or dimensions. We exult, it may be, in the assurance of movement, but few discern whether that movement is toward Light or Gloom. Or, to change the figure, while, as in astronomny, we study the internal relations of our own particular system, we dimly read the movement of that mighty system of systems, of which our own is but a fragment.
The power that now sits dominant on the tide of human affairs, is Democracy: it is the ruling spirit of our era, the gravitating social force. It is the result which the turbulent and diversified civilization of modern times is elaborating; the universal solvent, into which all social, civil, and ecclesiastical inequalities are sinking.
Democracy is the fact of our era ; whether our choice or not, matters little—it is our destiny. Ever since modern civilization began to emerge from the chaos in which sank that of the ancient world, European society has been moving toward this result, with a steadfastness that marks a great law of Providencé. Like such laws, this tendency is beyond the power of human strength, or sagacity, to arrest or divert. The spirit that animates this movement, and that, through a thousand years of vicissitude and revolution, has with such persistency and vigilance, and such instinctive discernment, pursued its peculiar ends, now scents its quarry not from afar, and with accelerated rapidity hastens towards its assured goal—its day of universal triumph. That day, neither force nor fraud, nor shifts nor expedients, nor wisdom, nor piety can stave off: it is the destiny of the race: it is the ordinance of Heaven: All that remains for human wisdom is to direct and attemper this power; to prevent its extravagances and atrocities; and no longer exasperating by vain resistance, to endeavor to enlighten, humanize, and Christianize it. While Owenism, Agrarianism, and Infidelity, and the Protean shapes of Anarchism are aiming to intoxicate, blind, and madden it, it belongs to
Christian Truth and Love to penetrate it with a purer, milder, and more benign reason.
The germinant principle of Democracy is involved in the essential definition of a human being. It is no obscure corollary from the religious relations of man, especially as disclosed by the Christian Faith. It is the immediate inference which common sense and feeling draw from the revealed facts of our common origin and destiny, and of our direct relations to a common God: confirmed, also, by the consciousness of a community of reason and moral sentiment, and of innate and inalienable rights, and essential and intransferable obligations. Thus it is the child of common reason wedded to a common faith. Deriving life from these sources, it is idle to speculate upon the probable chances of baffling or quelling the democratic energy of our times. The child of nature and religion, the assurance of its life is einbraced in that of its parents.
The developments of Democracy in its hours of triumph, in modern times, bave thus far been too often the paroxysms force gigantic, but ignorant and brutalized, and taking a moment's revenge for ages of wrong; stimulated by the fearful energies of despair, or the no less fearful energies of sudden and blind hope: and again, after an hour of frightful ascendency, throwing itself, crippled and exhausted by its excesses, at the foot of a new tyranny. Its final ascendency, however, is foretokened with assurance, by past ages of painful but certain progress: but whether its future course shall be through the abyss of revolution upon revolution, (from which it shall bring out ihe wisdom of woful experience,) or whether it shall be guided to its Heaven-appointed goal by the benign and purifying influence of Truth and Love, is the great problem of our times.
Sucb is the consideration that has stimulated our Author to the writing of these works. He regards the course of Democracy as a fact-permanent, irresistible, and universal. Therefore it is that he attempts to delineate this type of society-to analyze and estimate its forces and tendencies; and to forecast its action and danger, and its ultimate results. He approaches the subject as a philosopher and a philanthropist, not as an advocate. His work is written not so much for America as for Europe, and especially for France. He selects American society for his analysis, as exhibiting Democracy in the most mature and natural state in which it has yet been exhibited ; as showing more of its full form and features, and less perturbed by extrinsic and accidental influences, than where it is yet struggling into life, or when new-born of revolution, it still feels the tumultuary and convulsive throes of its birth. He does not regard Democracy as restricted to our political forms; its outward mechanism and organization may be widely varied. Nor does he look to our society for an exact and universal paradigm of its social results: allowance is to be made for peculiarities of origin and history and local influences. But the force of these being estimated, he airns to discern in our political institutions and our social condition, the vital spirit and ihe essential tendencies of Democracy, and thence to educe general truths, in the light of which human society may forecast its dangers and provide against them; and foreseeing the ultimate goal to which the hand of Heaven is leading, may move toward it intelligently and tranquilly, with the calmness of certainty, if not of hope.
His philosophy consists in the application of the known laws of human nature to the phenomena of our Democracy, and in constructing general propositions from the principles thus indicated. By thus pursuing facts to their principles, and principles until they disclose some universal psychological or social law, he attempts to separate the local, temporary, and accidental, from the essential, the permanent, and the universal, and to distinguish what is merely American from what belongs to human society everywhere.
It is not the aim of this article to attempt a minute criticism or analysis of these works, or to sit in judgment on their general merits. Their wide celebrity renders this gratuitous, and their high reputation might give the air of presumption to common censure or praise. The first volume, which relates to the influence of Democracy upon political institutions, was published some five years since, and has been repeatedly reviewed, both in Europe and America, with different degrees of ability, and generally with high and deserved commendation. The verdict of public opinion with regard to it may be considered as already rendered, and recorded. It has given the author rank amid the standard writers and profound thinkers of our age. The second volume, on which alone it is our present purpose to remark, will be found more attractive to the general reader than the former; it embraces also, in our view, questions of weightier moment. In it he attempts to analyze the influence of Deinocracy upon those interests, to which all political institutions are but ministers and guardians; and with relation to which alone they possess any value-the inner and spiritual life of a people, their opinions, tastes, and sentiments, and the habits and manners which are the expression of the national mind. Again, he briefly treats of the reaction of these intellectual and moral products of Democracy upon its political institutions. In this volume, as in the first, the design of our author has in general been executed with great candor and ability. There is usually exhibited the same accuracy of observation and sharpness of analysis; the same perspicuous insight into human nature, combined with a philosophy clear, far-seeing, and rapid in its generalizations. It is, on the whole, a beautiful specimen of general reasoning applied to topics deeply involving the sympathies, affections, and hopes of the American beart. You may at times, perhaps, find difficulty in admitting the perfect accuracy and completeness of his facts, and the correctness of his postulates ; but in all cases you are compelled to adınire the acumen and boldness with which he pursues facts to their principles, and principles to their remote consequences.
The imagination is captivated by the brilliancy and grandeur of his generaliza tions, even though the reason may feel compelled to start back from his conclusions. The logical defects, which we may think we discover in the work, arise mainly from his Gallic bias toward general ideas. The French mind in our times is marked by a taste for rapid and sparkling generalization: we must also accord to thein a superior faculty in this kind.
A fondness and aptitude for general ideas are essential to the philosophic faculty, and if accompanied with patience and the love of Truth, may be most favorable to the progress of an enlarged and liberal philosophy; but if they lead one to seek after the brilliant, rather than the true, and to overstate, rather than fail to be striking and authoritative; or if they lead to the hope of arresting general truths by impatient and hasty inductions, then, indeed, “ they lead to bewilder, and dazzle to blind.” They produce a style which is apt to fascinate the inexperienced reader, and delight him with the idea that he is rapidly enriching his mind with new and profound truths. In perusing works, therefore, marked by this bias, there is need of constant watchfulness, lest one be surprised or dazzled into false conclusions, and a necessity of studying the intellectual and moral peculiarities of the author, before committing one's self to his guidance: indeed, where it is strongly developed, the highest intellectual and moral endowments will not warrant implicit trust. A passion for what is positive and generic may mislead the clearest and purest mind. Where great questions are at issue, the feeling of suspense is so painful, and that of certain knowledge so delightful, and the assurance of the discovery of vast truths so grateful both to our self-complacency and our indolence, that they will often blind the severest analysis, the most sincere love of Truth. Generic terms seem to furnish a sort of rainbowbridge to ultimate conclusions, along which one may pass with easy and delightful rapidity to the desired goal, without weltering through the vast and chaotic morass of particulars, out of which the splendid arch should have been constructed. The writer unconsciously deceives himself by the use of generic terms, making the same algebraic characters represent the same values in different parts of his calculation.
In this fondness and faculty for generalization M. De Tocqueville shares largely; but in him they are uniformly tempered by a sincere love of Truth, and are guided, in most cases, by patient, accurate, and comprehensive induction. Some cases, where they seem not to have been so, will be presently pointed out. But, as a general fact, wbile with a bold and rapid hand he projects the outlines of vast social principles, these principles will be found to bear a severe scrutiny, and satisfactorily to classify and solve many important phenomena of American society; and his intellectual structures will be proved solid as well as glittering. Where they seem to be based upon insufficient data, we should remember how small was the field open to his survey, and how brief the experience from which he could reason, frequently those of our Republic alone; and when bis generalizations seem not to accord with his facts, we should not forget how extremely difficult it must often be for a foreigner to ascertain facts with the precision and correctness of coloring essential to their true significancy, especially when these facts are spread over a mighty territory, and amid a most miscellaneous population; and the inquirer himself may be surrounded by those incompetent to inform, or interested to deceive. Perhaps a simpler and deeper piety would have better qualified him to appreciate the religious element in American society, and to estimate its position and force in the system. A warmer devotional glow, if it would not have added to the accuracy and clearness of his philosophy, might have placed him on a higher point of vision, and taught him to take the course of human