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-doubted whether this be the preferable plan, even in these cases. Were a government manfully to determine that its resources should be directed to its own improvement, and were it to adopt a general and well organized system, it is clear that the results would be far more beneficial to the general prosperity, than any number of isolated projects intrusted to individuals. But the governments in Europe have, in the first place, the necessity, real or imaginary, of keeping up large standing armies, and moreover the cost of their courts and governments is so enormous, as to swallow up the funds that might be far better employed in adding to the general wealth. To diminish the military force, is in some cases dangerous, by exposing a nation to foreign aggression; in others, the security of the rulers would be impaired by lessening the means by which an oppressed and discontented people are kept in awe; while in all, the administration has an interest in keeping up the pomp and luxury, the places and sinecures, which seem the necessary accompaniments of regal state. How far the late change in France may relieve that country, and by setting an example of simplicity in her rulers, relieve the rest of Europe from the cost of courts and pensioners, we have yet to see; but there appears little prospect that the nations of that continent can soon dispense with the service of large standing armies. Still, the expenditure of large sums upon internal improvement is not absolutely incompatible with either prodigious luxury or the maintenance of vast standing armies. Thus the luxurious and military reign of Louis XIV. saw the execution of the canal of Languedoc, and the perpetual war that attended the rule of Napoleon, witnessed the construction of more works of public utility than had illustrated the whole line of Bourbon kings. Yet, under such circumstances, a government will view the means of internal commercial communication as merely secondary, when compared with preparations for defence or luxurious enjoyment; and while that is the case, it will be wise to encourage individuals to undertake what a government either cannot or will not perform. The objection next occurs, that there is thus created a body of influential men, whose interests are to a certain degree in opposition to those of the public, and whose privileges, in order to be valuable, must take the form of exclusive monopolies. In our own country no such reasons apply for committing public works to private hands. Few of our states possess any great superabundance of commercial capital; in others, where public works are most urgently demanded, the circumstances of new settlement exact more than all the funds the private resources or credit of individuals can bring into action, and employ them to greater profit than any public work. Hence the capital to execute any great design must be extrinsic, and private resources or pledges cannot procure it, Great as is the comparative wealth of the city and state of New-York, its canals would not have been executed within the next half century, had the government intrusted them to chartered companies, instead of taking them into its own hands, and pledging the credit and resources of the state to secure the loans it required to complete them.

When a state thus enters into a system of internal improvement, the mere returns in money become a very secondary object. It is sufficient, that the completion of the public works shall add to the value of individual property as much as they themselves cost, and the state is no loser; if, in addition, they pay the interest of the cost, the whole expenditure becomes clear profit. In the case of the New-York canals, many times their cost has been added to the productive capital of the state ; and the amount of tolls is such, that there can be no doubt, that so soon as the canal can be declared absolutely finished, they must far more than defray the interest of its cost. A degree of deception, probably necessary to carry a fluctuating population into a great expenditure, has been continued long after the reasons have ceased to exist. Works and additions that ought to have been included in the estimates of the cost, are thrown into the account of annual repairs, and the mere maintenance appears to absorb a large part of the income. Were it now to be frankly

а declared, that many parts were executed in such haste as to be merely temporary substitutes for permanent works, and that many important and essential structures and accessories were included neither in the original plan nor estimates, the matter would be placed in its true light, and even if the cost of these additions be defrayed out of the income, the items of essential additions and of mere maintenance would be separated ; and if the actual cost of the canal should appear greatly enhanced, its mett income would be at once seen to be abundant. Such a course would necessarily demand an examination like that which the celebrated Vauban made of the canal of Languedoc, at a time when its very existence appeared to be threatened by the cost of its maintenance, and the works which such an examination would point out as necessary, being undertaken as parts of the general scheme, and not as temporary expedients, growing out of accidents and casual circumstances, would be less costly than they now are.

A government need not fear to contract debt for works which are certain to be of public utility. The paradox that a national debt is a national blessing, has been indeed refuted by the masterly argument of Dr. Hamilton; and it is now no longer doubted, that all debt, growing out of wars or other unproductive expenditure, is the absolute loss of so much capital to the nation. But when the debt is contracted in order to be expended in creating a permanent and productive capital in public works, no loss can take place in any direction. The whole of the profits made by workmen, contractors, and all the different classes of traders through which the expenditure circulates, is so much addition to the general riches; the land through which the work passes is raised in value far more than the cost of the enterprise ; and every diminution in the cost of transportation, adds to the capital of the country.

In our republic, the sole question seems now to be, whether the general or state governments shall be the organs for the execution of public works. Practice seems to have vested in the state governments the right of granting privileges to associations of individuals, and of undertaking on their own account all the different forms by which inland communication is facilitated. Yet it is reasonably doubted, whether the general government have not a concurrent right to engage in constructions of the kind, even when local in their position, if they conduce to the general prosperity. Without entering into the constitutional question, we shall content ourselves with stating, that when, by a compact such as our Union, the duties of sovereignty are divided between central and local jurisdictions, it appears to be demanded by justice, that the power which derives the greatest pecuniary benefit from the compact, shall contribute to all objects of public usefulness in proportion to its advantages under the compact. To the general government have been surrendered, by the states, all the great and easily productive sources of revenue; hence the general government ought to bear the greater share of all those improvements whose value is to be tested by another criterion than that of a direct pecuniary nature. Many such undertakings there are, which the present state of our country demands almost imperatively, that private individuals will not, and state governments dare not, engage in, because they afford no certainty of speedy returns for the sums they must cost. Of those of most obvious interest, a list has been given in another place, and it is possible that others might be discovered upon a close investigation. We cannot but hope, that the feeling which once existed, and the liberal construction of the constitution that at one time seemed to prevail, will again resume their ascendency in the councils of the nation, and lead to such a wise and judicious application of the superabundant resources of the country, to works of internal improvement, as will conduce to the wealth, the power, and the honour of the American nation.

ART. III.-- The Novels of Charles Brockden Brown. 7 Vols.

12mo. Boston: S. G. Goodrich.

We anticipate no contradiction when we assert, that to the mass of readers, no species of literature is so attractive as novel-writing. This is owing to many causes, some of which are sufficiently obvious to every observer. One of the chief, undoubtedly, is the excitement and consequent gratification of curiosity-a principle of the mind, which, as every one must. have experienced, is extremely susceptible of excitement, and when excited, extremely eager for gratification. It is a principle wisely implanted in our nature to quicken our investigating powers, and arouse our energies in pursuit of knowledge; and so effectual is its stimulus in this respect, that its immediate gratification is often the only inducement to the most minute and laborious research. Discoveries of great magnificence and high utility-in science and in art—in mechanics, chemistry, astronomy, geography,-in short, in almost every branch of human investigation,-have resulted from the ardour of pursuit excited by this feeling alone. The impulse which drives men to disregard the dangers and fatigues of exploring unknown countries, in order to ascertain the height of a mountain, the sources of a river, or the site of a city; or to undertake the performance of a tedious and hazardous experiment, or the solution of a difficult problem, for the mere satisfaction of knowing the result, must not only be strong but productive of delight. If this principle is so powerful, therefore, as to overcome the usual reluctance of men to attempt efforts which are laborious and of doubtful success, how great must be its influence in impelling them to inquiries that occasion no fatigue, and in which gratification is certain ?

And here lies the potent charm of novel-reading ;-without labour, without hazard, it affords to the mind the grateful employment of investigating and ascertaining the motives of actions, the issue of adventures, the development of mysteries, and the disentanglement of plots.

The gratification of curiosity, indeed, forms one of the most pleasing intellectual sensations we can enjoy. And what can more readily excite, or more strongly gratify it, than a wellcontrived series of adventures, skilfully narrated, the actors in which derive additional interest from being of the same nature, feelings and dispositions with ourselves? The work, therefore, which, in its progress, powerfully awakens and agitates the curiosity by the importance, the singularity, and the intricacy of the events it relates, will always be a favourite with the reading world. Such a work is a high-seasoned dish in literature ; it

applies itself to the most active of our intellectual appetites, and becomes a luxury, which, when once tasted, cannot be relinquished until all its contents be devoured.

But although indulging curiosity be the principal, it is not the only means of attraction possessed by this species of lite

It has various other modes of communicating pleasure. It can interest by incident, arouse by novelty, and touch by pathos. It makes delineations of nature which we delight to contemplate. It presents views of society, which afford amusement or impart instruction, or yield the advantages of both. It revives pleasant recollections, awakens endearing associations, and fills the mind with animating and salutary reflections. There is, in fact, no scope for the exercise of genius which it does not afford, no field for the admonitions of wisdom which it does not embrace. Invention, memory, judgment, taste, knowledge, have all ample room for the display of their particular powers; and there are novels extant, whose production has called into action the full vigour of all these faculties, and exhibited the powers of literary aptitude in their highest excellence.

Novels of this high order are, indeed, but few. But a species of literature, susceptible of such excellence, cannot be refused an important station among the productions of mind. The vast and undeniable popularity of modern novels, has, indeed, given them such an influence over the opinions and manners of society, that it is no longer in the power of either statesmen or philosophers to view writings of this description with the indifference or contempt, in which, until within these last twenty years, they were usually held. All classes in Europe, from the prince to the pauper, from the archbishop to the sexton, from the fieldmarshal to the sutler, and, in our own country, from the president to the petty constable, read them, relish them, and talk about them, as if they formed one of the prime necessaries of life;—so that the appearance of a new novel has become an event of consequence in the affairs of mankind, and its merits and demerits are discussed with as much interest and anxiety as the prospects of peace or war, or of a good or bad harvest. Hence it is, that the character of the last Pelham fabrication has occasioned, in this country, as much debate as the Nullification question itself.

It is important, therefore, that works which exercise such a powerful influence over the public mind, should be narrowly watched by the conductors of the periodical press. Their doctrines and tendencies ought to be rigidly scrutinized, and, when found fallacious and corrupt, exposed to public disapprobation with just censure and unshrinking severity. On the other hand, when they advocate correct principles, and strengthen the cause of morality, they should receive from the critical tribunals such VOL. VIII. —No. 16.


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