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of De Tocqueville, and yet, with all his sagacity, he can discover no other reason for the greater permanency of things in America, than that the mass of the people hold property, and, therefore, dread a change. This is the more singular, because our only revolution, that which separated us from Great Britain, originated among the property holders and was sustained by them, and our wars have, also, always been chiefly sustained by the same class. Has it never occurred to the French tourist, that in democracies, where all power is vested in the people, and they are at liberty to change their government just as often as they please, no violent revolutions can ever take place ? Violent revolutions and bloody civil wars occur in the kingdoms of Europe, because one power in the state is arrayed against another; the king against the people, or the people against the king: but in pure democracies there can be only a single power in the state, viz., the power of the people. When Charles the First, of England, and Louis the Sixteenth, of France, came to the block, it was because they set up the
of the throne in opposition to the will of the subject : and the revolutions of France, in the time of Napoleon, were produced by the army, a power altogether distinct from that of the people.
These elements of revolution cannot exist in a democracy. All power is diffused through the ranks of the people, who put in, and thrust out, and change at their pleasure. So long as this democratic principle prevails—so long as the mass of the people have every thing according to their own wishes
there is no motive for violent revolutions, and the government jogs on, apparently without change, while, in fact, it is undergoing constant and essential changes all the time. The ascendency of the Jefferson party in 1801 was, doubtless, the greatest revolution which this country has ever cxperienced since its independence, and yet we glided into it with less physical disturbance than frequently attends the review of a troop in the old world.
Such, then, is the simple reading of this proverb, so difficult to be understood by those who have been nurtured in the school of aristocracy. It must be acknowledged, however, that even we are not entirely free from the danger of revolutions, although such danger results from causes altogether different from those which produce the same effects in Europe. The two most prominent that occur to us are, the clashing interests of individual states and
sections of the Union, and the question of domestic slavery. We have, however, but little apprehension, even from these causes, and hitherto, public opinion alone, with a few trifling exceptions, has been sufficient to control the occasional excitement to which they have given rise.
On the whole, we see no reason to doubt the permanency admirable form of government, and firmly believe that the course of our country is upward and onward, and that she will long continue to run that career of glory which she has so brilliantly commenced. Her free institutions continue day by day to develop new resources of enterprise, to devise new modes of improvement, to seek out new channels of enjoyment. Since the adoption of the federal constitution we have continued steadily to advance in wealth and population, and our country has thrown out its arms to embrace a nation of freemen then unborn. From the margin of the Atlantic, where the colonies were first planted, we have spread deep into the western wilds, and great states have sprung up in the very heart of the wilderness. The number of the states has doubled, and the population has quadrupled, but our form of government is more firmly fixed in the affections of the people the further we advance, and there is much less prospect of internal disturbances or a dissolution of the Union at this moment, than at any former period.
Ours is indeed a wonderful country. Vast in extent-vast in resources-vast in its mighty rivers and lofty mountains, but still more wonderful in that freedom of thought and action, which arises from its beautiful system of government. When the members of our great national congress assemble at the capitol in Washington, the free representatives of the sovereigns at home: from what distances do they come ? Through what a variety of climates ? Along what majestic rivers ? But although they are gathered from Maine and from Florida, and from Wisconsin and Missouri, yet do they speak the same language, feel the same patriotism, the same love of the constitution. Although they meet from such distant portions of this great continent, yet we venture to say, that not one out of the two hundred and forty-two representatives and fifty-two senators harbors a thought of revolution or change, further than the mere administration of the government is concerned; and that of the twenty-six independent nations, who convene in one united congress, there is not one which is not proud of its attachment to the Union.
Art. VI.-Magnalia Christi Americana : A Review of Cotton
Mather’s Account of Witchcraft in New-England.
Under the general denomination of witchcraft may be comprehended whatever relates to divination, astrology, necromancy, and omination. These all may claim a kindred relation, for they evidently have a family resemblance, and are manifestly derived from the same source, namely, an inherent propensity in the human mind to pry into futurity, and a desire to achieve that which is naturally beyond human power to effect.
There is, indeed, in the human heart a natural fondness for the marvelous, a desire to astonish others with wonderful achievements, with bold and daring deeds. Hence the many stories which have been manufactured by cunning and artful men, recited by old nurses in the hearing of unsophisticated children, and believed by the credulous of all classes and in all ages. That this thirst for gaining dominion over the minds of others, which seems to be an inherent principle of human nature, has prompted men to fabricate and trumpet forth for truth those stories of marvelous -adventures which are calculated to excite the wonder and admiration of their auditors, and thereby to elevate themselves in the estimation of a credulous multitude, is abundantly verified in the history of our race, particularly in the many vicious novels which have teemed from the press, and the easy belief which is given to the many idle stories concerning the achievements of wizards and witches.
We are not unaware that we may run the risk of forfeiting the favorable opinion of those who seem to think that a belief in divine revelation is inseparably connected with faith in the arts of necromancy, witchcraft, and in all those ghostly stories with which the annals of mankind have been incumbered. We must beg of all such, however, to suspend their judgment until they have carefully heard and weighed what we have to say on this subject. And lest they should be shocked in advance by what they may consider a bold and unwarrantable attack upon a favorite theory, we wish to apprise them beforehand, that we have no doubt that both wizards and witches have existed; and we hope to furnish good and substantial reasons why the Almighty doomed them to such severe punishments for the manner in which they practiced their wily and wicked arts; and also, that though they hid themselves from the scrutinizing eye of philosophical inquiry for a season, their diabolical arts have been, and may be detected and exposed.
But while we make this avowal, we are equally free to confess our unbelief in the reality of those things which have been generally ascribed to a secret league which human beings have held with invisible spirits, by which they have been enabled to inflict pain and misery upon their fellow men.
That witchery, in some form, has existed, even from the earliest periods, is not denied. As before said, there seems to be in the human heart a strong propensity to believe in the marvelous, to pry into the secrets of futurity, and to ascertain, by some means, whatever relates to ourselves and our friends or enemies. Hence the various arts of cunning and designing men, to impose upon the credulous disposition of an ignorant multitude, by attempting to lift the veil which hides futurity from human view, and to disclose that which God has wisely hidden in the secrets of his own mind. This propensity has developed itself among all nations, not excepting the most learned and philosophical, entwining itself into all systems of religion, whether pagan, Jewish, or Christian. The oracles of Greece and Rome, as well as the sorcerers of Egypt, and the false prophets in the land of Israel, all attest the existence of this propensity, and show the necessity of guarding against its mischievous influence. The history of Rome declares that no people were more addicted to this superstition than the ancient Romans. On almost all great occasions, the people, and even the senate, sought to ascertain a knowledge of future events by the flight of birds, and the entrails of beasts, as well as by the auguries of the priests. These omens, as they were called, were relied on by the wisest men of the nation, as sure indications of what was to happen, either of a calamitous or prosperous character, and they seldom entered upon any great enterprise without resorting to those omens as premonitions of the issue of every such enterprise.
The responses of the oracles, generally adapted by the cunning artifices of those who were behind the screen to the prejudices and wishes of those who consulted them, were received with respectful deference, and quoted as a defense against the censures consequent upon a failure in an enterprise. And that bribery was often resorted to for the purpose of eliciting such a response as suited the inclination of the inquirer, is known to all who are acquainted with their history.
Let us, however, turn our attention to the origin and character of the several classes of arts by which so many have been debased and deluded. They have been by some comprehended under the general name of “occult science,” because the secret artifices by which their abettors have carried on their nefarious designs have been carefully hidden, as far as possible, from human view. Under this veil the adepts of the science have concocted their plans, prepared the wires by which their mysterious machinery might be moved, and purposely imposed upon the senses and understandings of their deluded followers.
There can be, we think, little doubt, that these crafts originated in that prevailing desire we have already noticed to become acquainted with the wonders of the invisible world, and to pry into the secrets of futurity. This led to an effort to imitate the prophets of the true God. These were holy men, to whom God revealed his will. They, therefore, “spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” They foretold future events, and in the name of God wrought miracles, and denounced his judgments upon the wicked, and promised his blessings to the righteous. In consequence of these things they became famous, were patronized by kings and potentates, and generally venerated by the truly pious as servants of the Most High God. These things excited the jealousy and envy of their enemies. They were hence provoked to an effort to imitate them in their predictions, and, consequently, to pretend to a knowledge of secret things, and of future events. Hence the “ lying oracles” were but deceptive imitators of the “oracles of God," and the “false prophets” hypocritical mimics of the true prophets, while the various omens in the heavens and the earth were substitutes for those symbols of the divine presence by which God proclaimed himself unto his chosen people.
The messages of these panderers to the corrupt desires of depraved men were delivered with that pomp and show which excited popular belief and applause. To keep up their credit among the ignorant multitude they must have some semblance of authority for what they said and did, and this they pretended to derive from invisible spirits. To elude detection, however, by inquisitive minds, their “cunningly devised fables” were concocted and per