Nathaniel Hillyer. Egleston.

The North American review (Volume 139) online

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Cruikshank, Seymour, Kenny Meadows, to mention no others,
began to design for books of fiction, and became so im
portant to their success that it is no wonder the first named
actually supposed himself, in his old age, to be the author of
" Oliver Twist." He was a man of some genius, and did some
clever work, but he was not a good draughtsman. He was essen
tially coarse, and never entirely overcame a tendency to carica
ture. He lacked imagination, and he could not have drawn a
woman if his life had depended upon it, except a woman of the
slums and the street. In all his pictures there is not a pretty
face, not even of a bar-maid. The " Pickwick Papers," undoubt
edly intended to be a letterpress to accompany pictures, were
soon made something much more important by the cleverness of
Mr. Dickens j and yet he never thoroughly relied upon pictures,
and never printed anything without them fairly good some
times, sometimes indifferent, and sometimes bad. Mr. Thackeray
fell into the habit, in his case confirmed by his personal love of
art, of publishing picture-books, sometimes with his own de
signs, which were usually ill-drawn, and hardly better drawn
when he confided the work to Doyle. Meanwhile " Punch " did
much to increase the appetite for illustration, which had now
become as confirmed as a school-boy's for lollipops ; the pictorial
newspapers had naturally a great success ; and the time came
when the public would have nothing without engravings.

Americans followed the example, and began to have their
own pictorial newspapers and magazines and their own editions
de luxe of favorite authors. For a while our work in this way
was mediocre or very ill-done. The Philadelphia magazines for
a long time printed engravings that would not now be tolerated.


Mr. Bennett scraped some excellent mezzotints for the "New
York Mirror," which are now cheap at almost any price. The
" Tokens " and " Atlantic Souvenirs/' that had really given illus
trations of merit, employed the Cheneys, Mr. Dick, and other
skilled engravers, with good results j but the annuals were fairly
swamped by the flood of cheaply adorned weeklies and monthlies,
and disappeared. It is only fair to say that this kind of work
has diminished in quantity and improved in quality. The prints
in " The Century" and " St. Nicholas" are almost all that could
be desired of the kind well-drawn, well-engraved, and admir
ably printed. They are instructive, and for those who will not
think, they help the text. It is true that they are mannered,
and there are so many of them that they become sometimes as
wearisome as a book extended from one volume to ten ; but it is
encouraging to feel that we have at last reached the extreme
point, beyond which we can no farther go, unless we give up
letterpress altogether.

It may as well be said plainly that this system of illustration
is a fashion, and cannot last. In one sense it is aboriginal and
savage, if not childish. It bears a close resemblance to the
aesthetic craze, which is only a revival of a similar madness in
the eighteenth century. Nothing that encourages affectation,
or that leads us to be satisfied with the pretty and to forget
the great, can promote a real love of art. It is of small use
that we admire, though even that is better than to say we admire
while knowing nothing about the matter ; the main point is,
whether an object is worthy of admiration. A man who likes a
meretricious picture, and admits his gratification, is so far
worthy of praise ; but that does nothing for the picture, nor is
the man himself less an object of commiseration. Tinsel is tin
sel, and fillagree is fillagree, and leather is leather, and prunella
is prunella, and will be until the end of time. What good has
the picture-card mania (now happily dying out, if not dead) ever
done to any human soul ? Chromo-lithography was carried to
such an extent that at last the popular stomach revolted. The
same fate awaits over-illustrated, tawdry, and bright-looking
books. People will come back to good plain letterpress, to quiet
binding, and to mere frontispieces, with a portrait or so to
gratify a reasonable curiosity.

Illustration without text, and confining itself to the expres
sion of an idea or a series of events, at its best may be independ
ent of the letter and tell its own story. The " Dance of Death."


for instance, needs no explanation. The same is true of many of
the scenes of Hogarth of " Marriage a la Mode " and " The
Industrious and the Idle Apprentice." The cartoons of Raphael
tell their story simply, plainly, and forcibly. But in every pub
lication in which pictures are permitted to dominate, it will be
found usually that the original text exhibits a tendency to de
terioration. There is evidence of this in " Punch," which has
lost almost entirely its literary character. Those who like a
plenty of pictures do not much care to read. Great poets and
novelists and historians have never depended upon pictorial
assistance, nor have the ablest magazines and newspapers.

Caricature, which works not necessarily by distortion, but by
an aggravation of personal peculiarities, and by a material par
ody of serious actions, while in some respects analogous to satire,
is not necessarily ill-natured. Its tendency, however, is in that
direction. It seizes upon manners, physiognomies, and figures,
and does its best to render them ridiculous. Even when simply
humorous, and so far good-natured, it is intended to have the
effect of a serious argument. Its methods are very old, and were
used by the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Romans, in early Chris
tian times, in the Middle Ages, and ever since, by most peoples.
Caricature, designed for immediate and popular effect, almost
always degenerates into coarseness and exaggeration. It takes
the color and shape of those to whom it is addressed. English
caricature, for example, has usually a touch in it of the pot-house
and the prize-ring. Nothing is left to the imagination. The
most dignified personages are represented in the most undignified
positions. If there is a play, it is horse-play, and of the rough
est. Many of the works of Gilray and Bunbury are indecent
and hardly fit for the walls of ale-houses. English caricature
during the wars with Napoleon sank into sheer degradation, and
became utterly disgusting.

Once in four years, on the recurrence of our national
election, our politicians find caricature a cheap and ready expedi
ent, and our shop- windows are full of these satirical lithographs,
of which the humor is rather dreary, the point scarcely percep
tible, and the general style mediocre. Many of them are such as
boys would make upon fences, only a little better drawn. The
allusion is generally to some campaign scandal, quite bad enough
in cold type, and insufferable in a print, especially if inflamed
by color. The caricatures of the newspapers are many of them


strong, if not humorous ; those of " Puck," for instance, showing
a decided advance in the art. The main fault of our political
caricature is its incongruity. Frequently a scene is presented
representing nothing that ever did happen, or ever can in this
world. There is no story, no probable action, no simplicity of
truth, no propriety of detail. Often there is a want even of
drollery. We are expected to laugh, but we find nothing to
laugh at. It is like a comic play in a cheap Third avenue theater.
The fun is that of Mr. Merryman in the circus. The picture,
whatever the skill displayed by the artist, makes no impression ;
it is looked at and forgotten.

We trust that in this article we have not been hypercritical.
We understand perfectly well the innocent pleasure that cheap
pictures give; but we understand, also, that an indulgence in
this taste may be carried too far and may work harm both to the
illustrator and the illustrated. We are living in a time remark
able for a want of great writers in several departments of litera
ture, and it may be questioned whether this unpleasant state of
things may not be attributed, in part, at least, to the intellectual
indolence that a habit of indulgence in mere picture-gazing may
have originated and confirmed.



THERE are two diametrically opposite theories touching the
right of suffrage. One is that the universal enjoyment of the
right to vote for public officers, and to fill offices in the gift of
the people, is a right by natural law. This idea is grounded
on. the fiction that the obligations of municipal law arise out
of a social contract, express or implied ; that by this contract
suffrage, or voice in the affairs of government, is one of the
incidental rights of citizenship, and consequently should be
universal, especially in a representative form of government. The
other is that, since the true object of government is the welfare
of the whole, the duty of the state manifestly is to consider
whether suffrage may be more beneficially exercised by the
many or the few ; that if it is the intelligence and virtue of the
community which an elective legislature should represent, their
suffrage must of necessity be limited j and that as the state
may, in order to secure the general welfare, fix the qualifica
tions of voters, suffrage is, so far from being a natural right
incident to citizenship, merely a political privilege.

The first, namely, that suffrage ought to be universal on the
assumption that it is a natural right, has been very generally
condemned by publicists as erroneous in principle and inexpe
dient and dangerous in practice. It has never been accepted in
the United States. No one has ever pretended that our State
governments were originally constituted upon any such a per
nicious theory; nor has any American statesman above the
grade of the average demagogue ever committed himself to un
qualified suffrage as a matter of policy. Suffrage has never been,
nor is it now, universal in any of the States of the Union. "Women
do not vote, and yet they are citizens. Even manhood suffrage is
nowhere quite universal. All the State governments annex to
its exercise certain qualifications, such as age and terms of pre-


vious residence ; and in addition to these, the elector is usually
the subject of certain taxes. In some of the States, as for
instance in Connecticut, he must have served in the militia;
in others, a property qualification has always been required.
In Rhode Island, every voter must be a freeholder, and the
value of his freehold must not be less than $134. And by none
of the Constitutions of the original thirteen States was the bare
fact of citizenship a qualification to vote for public officers.
Citizenship invested its possessor with certain inestimable priv
ileges and immunities of a fundamental character, but the right
to vote or hold office was not among them.

The idea of unqualified or "tramp" suffrage, like communism,
with which it is closely allied, seems to be of modern origin ;
and, like that and kindred isms, it usually finds advocates and
apologists in the ranks of the discontented, improvident, igno
rant, vicious, depraved, and dangerous classes of society. It is
not indigenous to the soil of the United States. It originated in
the slums of European cities, and, like the viper in the fable, has
been nurtured into formidable activity in this country by misdi
rected kindness.

But it has been asserted and believed, especially on the
opposite side of the Atlantic, that our federal Constitution, as
amended by articles xiv. and xv., fastens upon us the doctrine
of unqualified suffrage. This is a very common error of opinion
among the European masses, who know almost nothing of our
complex system of government. But English journalists and
magazine writers, who are in a great measure responsible for it,
ought to know better. Even a superficial acquaintance with the
origin, history, and present provisions of our Constitution,
ought to be sufficient to dispel such an illusion.

By our old Constitution of 1777, known as the " Articles of
Confederation," representatives in Congress were " appointed in
such manner as the Legislature of each State should direct";
and, by the provisions of nearly all the State Legislatures, some
kind of property qualification was required, as well of the
elector as of the elected. By our present Constitution, adopted
in 1787, the House of Representatives is " composed of members
chosen every second year by the people of the United States * ;
and the electors of such members " must have the qualifications
requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State
Legislature " (Art. I., Sec. 2). That is to say, all persons quali-


fied by State laws to vote for members of the lower House of the
State Legislature, are, by that fact alone, qualified to vote for
members of the lower House of Congress 5 and it follows, as a
natural sequence, that persons not so qualified are not legal
voters at national elections. Even the " times, places, and
manner of holding elections for senators and representatives "
in Congress, are regulated by local or State legislation. True,
" Congress may at any time by law make or alter 77 these regula
tions as respects the election of representatives, though not as
to senators; but this provision has never been held to extend to
the power of fixing the qualifications of electors ; that has always
been regarded as an exclusive prerogative of the States.

It is very true that, by provisions of the Fourteenth Amend
ment, there is now a citizenship of the United States quite inde
pendent of citizenship of an individual State. In other words,
a man may now be a citizen of the United States without being
a citizen of any one State of the Union ; and a citizen of an
individual State is, according to the tenor of recent judicial
decisions, merely a citizen of the United States residing in a
State. But it by no means follows that suffrage is a necessary
incident of such national citizenship. The weight of judicial
opinion is directly to the contrary. Suffrage is one of the
chiefest functions of citizenship, and its just and constitutional
possession is the highest evidence of citizenship ; still, a man
may be a citizen without it. The proposition laid down by
Justice Curtis (in 19 How., 581) that " the enjoyment of the
elective franchise is not essential to citizenship," has never been
set aside.

The Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution, after defining
citizenship of the United States as embracing " all persons born or
naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction
thereof," prohibits the individual States from making or en
forcing any law abridging " the privileges and immunities of
citizens of the United States"; and this has been cited in sup
port of the assumption that the States are prohibited from
limiting the elective franchise. The question, then, is, What are
these " privileges and immunities " !

The terms are not new in the Constitution. They were in it
more than three-quarters of a century before the Fourteenth
Amendment had an existence. They occur in the second section
of the fourth article, which declares that " the citizens of each


State shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of
citizens of the several States." There were, then, certain " privi
leges and immunities " incident to American citizenship at the
time of the foundation of the government ; and they were of a
character so sacred that the framers of the Constitution thought
it necessary to prohibit the States from interfering with them.
But the fathers were equally careful, as we have just seen, to
reserve to each State the right to fix the qualifications of elect
ors ; and this right has been always asserted, maintained, and
exercised by the States in their local legislation prescribing the
prerequisites of age, residence, payment of taxes, etc. It is
manifest, therefore, that suffrage was not considered one of the
u privileges and immunities," the abridgment of which was pro
hibited to the States.

The expression, then, must be understood as limited to those
"privileges and immunities" which attach to the essence of
citizenship ; such, for instance, as protection in the right of per
son and property, the enjoyment of life and liberty, the right to
acquire and possess every species of property, and to pursue
and obtain happiness, subject only to such restraints as the
government may prescribe for the good of the whole. Thus,
for example, that no greater burdens can be imposed on a
citizen of one State temporarily residing in another than are
imposed on the citizens of the latter. In other words, the
clause was simply meant to guarantee equality in the enjoy
ment of the fundamental or so-called private rights, as between
citizens of the several States while in the same State. It has
never been construed otherwise by our national tribunals ; and
no intelligent American lawyer would hazard his professional
reputation by asserting that, as used in the Fourteenth Amend
ment, it confers the right of suffrage.

Nor does the second section of the amendment confer this
right upon " all male citizens of the United States twenty-one
years of age," though the contrary has been loosely asserted.
The first clause of the section relates exclusively to the method
of apportioning representation among the several States. It
supersedes the old method, and counts "the whole number of
persons in each State " (exclusive of Indians not taxed), instead
of determining the apportionment, as formerly, by " adding to
the whole number of free persons three-fifths of all other per
sons." That is, when the negroes were held as slaves, five


counted as three; but now that they are free citizens, each
counts one in the apportionment of representation. But the
qualifications of electors remain as provided for in the first
article of the Constitution. This is manifest from the language
of the final clause, which is as follows :

" But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors
for President or Vice-President of the United States, Representatives in
Congress, the executive and judicial officers of a State, or members of the
legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State,
being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any
way abridged, except for participation in rebellion or other crime, the basis
of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the num
ber of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens
twenty-one years of age in such State. n

Now, while every one acquainted with the discussions at
the time knows very well that this clause originated in a
purpose to enfranchise the negro as a class, it seems almost
incredible that any intelligent man should conclude that it was
designed to take away from the States the right, which they
had exercised from the foundation of the government, to fix the
qualifications of electors. It certainly does nothing of the kind.
Each State is still competent, and exclusively so, to fix its own
standard of suffrage. But if, in doing this, it should exclude
from the privileges of the ballot male citizens of the United
States twenty-one years of age, a proportionate diminution of
its representation, under the new apportionment, would neces
sarily follow. It would lose, not as a penalty, but as a sequence,
a portion of its numerical representation in the lower House of

Nor is the right of the State to fix the qualifications of voters
seriously interfered with by the Fifteenth Amendment, which
merely provides, as a supplement to provisions in articles xiii.
and xiv., that the standard of suffrage shall be impartial.
There must be no discrimination on account of " race, color, or
previous condition of servitude." No other restriction is imposed.
The State Legislature may still exclude ignorant and vagrant
white men from the privileges of the ballot ; and it may, with
equal impunity, exclude ignorant and vagrant negroes from its
privileges. But, in either case, the line must be drawn without
reference to race distinctions. No man, white or black, can be
denied the ballot merely because he is white or black. Hence a


statute fixing an educational or property qualification without
regard to " race, color, or previous condition of servitude n would
not fall within the prohibition.

The question, then, is one of policy merely. The State has
only to consider, first, whether its own domestic government
would not be improved by a judicious restriction of the suffrage j
and, second, whether it would not really gain, rather than lose
influence in the councils of the nation by such a measure. Its
present quota of representation in the Senate would remain un
changed ; and by a loss of two or three demagogues in the lower
House, it would incur no actual loss of influence therein. Every
one experienced in public affairs knows that it is not in the num
ber, but in the ability and character of their representation, that
the people of any given State attain to influence in the national
legislature. We cannot, by any political contrivance, annul the
divine law by which one wise man counts for more in delibera
tive assemblies, and in the destiny of the world generally, than
any number of fools.

That the spirit of our government has been undergoing a
rapid change during the past quarter of a century, every intelli
gent man realizes fully. But these changes are all due to ante
cedent causes. It is a futile misrepresentation of facts to say
that the constitutional amendments opened the flood-gates of
universal suffrage. It was the State governments themselves
that sowed the dragon's teeth. The craze for universal suffrage
broke out among them some forty years ago, and since then
their legislation shows a rapid destruction of former constitu
tional checks. Long before the late amendments to the federal
Constitution were dreamed of, the State governments, with hardly
an exception, had already degraded suffrage, increased the num
ber and frequency of elections, made nearly all offices elective
for short terms, and stripped the local judiciary of its ancient
independence and dignity. All history proves the danger of
such an experiment if, indeed, that can be called an experiment
which has been so often tried, and has so invariably failed, in
other countries. The danger consists in the spirit of faction,
and the power of active, ambitious, unprincipled, and reckless
demagogues to control the popular voice for their own
selfish purposes. But when such methods are applied to the
selection of Judicial officers, the case becomes infinitely more
serious, because its natural tendency is to break down and de-


stroy the independence and integrity of the administration of
justice. And yet, contrary to the teachings of history, and to
the dictates of enlightened reason, this is precisely what nearly
all the States have. done. Some of them compromised with this
demagogue spirit by making their judges elective by the legisla
ture for short periods of one, two, and three years ; but the ten
dency in all was toward an elective judiciary by universal suffrage
for short periods. The consequence has been that, in some of
the States, the local tribunals are little else than political clubs,
and an able and pure administration of justice is exceptional;

We are in the habit of charging this failure of justice to the
jury system ; but where the judge himself is selected by the mob,
and is, in too many instances, merely an ignorant ward politician,
why attempt to make a scape-goat of the jury? Surely if a man
is deemed competent to pass upon the legal and moral qualifica
tions of the judge, he ought to be considered sufficiently well-
informed and honorable to decide upon the mere issues of fact
ordinarily submitted to a jury.

Happily the national government still preserves its inde
pendent judiciary. But the demoralizing effects of the danger
of demagogism are apparent in nearly every other department.
If we examine the make-up of Congress we find many pain
ful evidences of this. We cannot resist the conclusion that
there has been a general deterioration ; not merely in respect to
learning and ability, but in character and integrity also. It con

Online LibraryNathaniel Hillyer. EglestonThe North American review (Volume 139) → online text (page 48 of 60)