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--so often unconnected with a single principle except personal interest, and leading to nothing-called patriotism, however intense, would still be useless, if it were not united with hardy and generous qualities, and in free countries with a love of liberty. Patriotism, severed from these, is a wild and absurd sentiment; and when put in motion, plays its exaggerated antics, and makes itself contemptible. A people may be patriotic, in the limited sense of the word, and yet corrupt to the heart. They may love their homes, the place of their birth--all their feelings may be bound by the ties of association and they still may not possess a single quality that can resist the inroads of corruption, of profligacy, and depravity, and the silent tide of ruin which overwhelmns every great virtue, and undermines the fabric which they construct. The first view of a country presents, almost always, its worst points. We see the strifes and struggles of parties--their conduct so completely reckless that it seems to dare the hazard of entire destruction rather than forego a single aim--their mischievous machinations--the corruption they spread through every class, by making their objects paramount; by causing men to lose sight of the interests of all, in those of a few; by making all character doubtful--all virtue a matter for ridicule---all motives and all action suspicious; by supporting the apostate ; by rewarding the useful tool, without regarding his honesty : by employing any means, however base, for their end; by placing success before all else, and foreclosing the spirit of all honour; by giving it no more weight than to qualities directly the opposite; and lowering it by a contaminating juxtaposition with what is only fitted to produce strong contrast. The most idle eye can detect these evils and their consequences --for they are the most natural and obvious in free countries. But it is not easy to discover, through the obscurity thrown over national character by the foul and dense vapours of this immoral state, how much real virtue there is in the hearts of the people. This only appears in all its beauty and all its force on extraordinary and trying occasions ; for, like the undertow that flows silently but strongly back towards the deep centre of the sea, it is not affected by the shallow currents that glide upon the surface, nor by the blasts and storms that raise the billows and the foam there. Although this be true, yet it is also true that this very power, without which nations are nothing, comes too late into action, or cannot make head against the weight and odds of its enemies. Nations appear, like indidividuals, to waste away by a kind of consumption. Their form remains, their external appearance changes but slightly, and all preserves the aspect of vigour, until the warning comes too late, and nothing can retrieve the neglect through which all principle has been gradually undermined. It was
so with Rome. The people gained the supremacy—they broke down the senate, and then the laws, and having reached this point, where a return to the control or the impulse of virtue or good government is impossible, or nearly so, they quietly sank and died in the arms of despotism. It will not be asserted that there was no love of country in Rome—or that a large body of the best and purest men could not be found ; and yet the majority were so corrupt as to be beyond all preservation. So that nations can lose their moral sense as well as individuals; and all will agree with Cicero, in his quotation of a line from a poet—“Moribus antiquis res stat Romana virisque;" and that when a people desert the elements on which they have founded their constitution, their ruin is inevitable.
Our situation differs, however, from that of Rome in this. We have principles to guide and correct us, and to which we can return in times of danger. Rome had none. There was no constitutional code of rights to which they could appeal. They were only able to conjecture as to what was best—to throw the lead along the shore of wisdom, and sound its depths as they went along--without a chart or a pilot, or any thing but the unsteady gleams of their own reason, by which to make their course; and with them the only safety consisted in keeping always in view the stern pride and haughty dignity--the severe and chastened love of liberty which belonged to the founders of the republic. They had every reason to look back, and endeavour, by present conduct, to preserve the glory of their past-to be ever polishing the old armour of thought, and keeping it bright with the lustre of new fame, and saving it from the rust and tarnish of time and neglect, and their innovations and corruptions. Our safety turns upon the same point. It rests on our maintenance of the principles with which we started; and our observing, with scorn and horror, all these mushroom doctrines that come up, like the haggard forms of air that startled Macbeth, and lead nations to their ruin, by offering the stimulus of novelty and change, by breaking up the dominion of established modes of thought and action, and troubling men's minds with new hopes; by producing that unsettled condition of suspense and doubt, that makes men timid and desperate, and haunts them with the notion that all heretofore is folly, all hereafter will be wisdom.
Art. IV.—1. Executive Messages, Reports from the Depart
ment of War, and Reports of the Committees of the House of Representatives since 1790, relative to the Academy.
Congressional Documents. 2. Reports of the last fifteen Boards of Visitors of the Acade3. Letter to the Hon. Mr. M. C., in Reply to his Stric
tures on the Graduates of the Military Academy. By a GRADUATE, late an officer in the United States Army. New
York: 1836. 4. Report of the Select Committee (Hon. F. O. J. Smith, of
Maine, chairman) of the House of Representatives, to which the subject of the Military Academy at West Point had been referred ; March 1, 1837. Congres. Doc. 24th Cong. 2d
session. 5. Remarks on the Report to the House of Representatives of
the Select Committee of Nine, appointed to investigate the condition of the United States Military Academy at West Point. Pamph. June, 1837.
Most of the nations of modern times, advanced in the arts which grow out of a high state of civilization, have found it necessary to cultivate the science of war. Warlike communities have sometimes fostered the diffusion of military knowledge among their members, with the ultimate end in view of conquest and territorial aggrandisement, but these instances are as rare on the historic page, as the objects sought to be attained were unworthy. For the most part, self-preservation has been the principle which has governed them in the cultivation of this species of knowledge. This principle seems to be as just, when applied to a nation, as it is in the case of an individual who prepares himself by study and reflection, not only to know, but to maintain his civil rights, in the mode recognised by the laws of his country. It is too late in the day to deny that war, in the abstract, is a scourge ; but it is equally well settled by the common sense of mankind, that it is the only resource for the prevention of greater evils to the human family. Pacific, then, as the policy of a nation may be, its best interests, even its very existence, require that it should be enabled, on the most unexpected emergency, to assume a formidable hostile attitude. We are aware that we are now giving utterance to what many would call truisms, but in these days of disputation and political conflict, no one can hope to be fairly interpreted, or free from the risk of cavil at the threshold, unless his discussion upon any given topic is ab ovo usque ad mala. It is the peculiar characteristic of the American people, especially upon all subjects of national concern, in which the question is whether this or that thing shall or shall not be, to require a recurrence to elementary principles. Does any one on the floor of congress assert a fact, deduced from the history of the past or the present, or from general experience ? Fortunate indeed is the utterer, if forthwith he meet not with a flat denial. He cannot hope to be listened to with patience, much less that conviction in others will be the fruit of his labours, unless he array both history and experience in support of his assertions. Perhaps this trait is not censurable, but, on the contrary, is useful, especially in its practical effects. Where each citizen reasons for himself
, in a country in whose government he is a participator as well as its subject, and where, of necessity, the source of individual information is as various as its many possessors, he cannot be satisfied until the whole truth is made manifest ; and that never can be, unless he begins with the beginning. With him it may truly be said, Αρχη ημιου παντος. We advert to this, because we are anxious to invoke this spirit of enquiry, free from party feelings or accidental prejudices, in reference to the interesting institution whose name is at the head of this article. In its infancy, it elicited neither the praises nor the dislikes of the country, but it struggled into existence, by aid of the efforts of a few of the wisest and best men known to our land, yet in the midst of the absolute indifference of the many. But now that it has become an important feature in the policy of the government; now that it has acquired an extended reputation at home as well as abroad; and now that its influence, by means of its graduates, is seen and felt in the military and civil walks of life, the hitherto torpid feelings of the people have become awakened to a contemplation of its rise, progress, and history. It has become a theme, at least among some portions of our western brethren, in political contests; it has furnished a topic of discussion on the floors of the legislative halls; constitution mongers have argued the subject pro and con; several states, through their legislatures, by resolution, have recommended their peculiar views to the consideration of the people and their represen atives in congress; and the public eye, as if it has just opened upon the spectacle of a national institution annually sending forth its “half hundred” graduates, imbued with an excellent military and general education imparted at the expense of the nation, has become intensely fixed upon its present condition and future growth. Hence the people have divided themselves into two parties, in their opinions on the subject. The first, and by far the largest, entertain a most decided judgment in its favour, and the second an equally determined feeling against it. For ourselves, having surveyed the subject in all its bearings, theoretically and practically, with the aid of a personal exa
mination, with all that was necessary for that purpose at our command, and with full time and opportunity for an observation of all its features in detail, we rank with those who, by a sense of justice, feel themselves compelled to raise the voice of approbation. It may safely be conceded that in this utilitarian country of ours, public establishments of doubtful value, or, at best, depending upon theories and doctrines derived from the experience of other nations, existing under circumstances of a different character from those which surround us, should not meet with encouragement. Nor is it to be denied that a rigid and wholesome economy forbids the maintenance of institutions which do not at an early period repay the nation, by the possession of a solid advantage, as an equivalent for the necessary disbursement. Admitting these to the fullest extent to be leading principles of the political creed, we are free to assert, that they have been and are unassailed in the slightest degree, by the organization, support, and practical results of the Military Academy; and further, we think we incur no risk in saying, that every unprejudiced man, who will take up the subject and carefully examine it for himself, regardless of all local feeling or idle political declamation, will arrive at the same opinion. As to the motives and causes which have led to a scattering opposition to the institution, and to a partial desire, if not wholly to annihilate it, at least to remodel it upon a much narrower and more limited scale, and thereby, we think, to destroy its real value to the country, we shall have occasion to advert to, and explain them satisfactorily: let it suffice for the present to glance at as many of the historical facts as are necessary to cause the subject to be fairly understood.
The United States Military Academy was not founded in mere servile imitation of similar schools of the old world, although they may be referred to as evidence of the experience of the governments which created, and the necessity which required them. We know that the youth of Greece and Rome were trained to the theory of war before they were sent to participate in its active scenes. In more modern days, after a long lapse of time, in which war had been neglected as a science, and disaster and disgrace had ensued to her arms, France set the example of organizing military schools, and their utility was soon felt under Louis XIV. and the princes of the house of Nassau. Down to the present day, with a few slight interruptions, caused by internal revolution, she has steadily pursued a constant policy in this respect, and the establishments at Brienne, of Metz, the Polytechnic, of St. Cyr, at Saumur and at Paris, have mainly contributed to her great military efficiency and renown. The immediate effect of this has been to place France foremost on the list of nations in the art of war, which is founded on a