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proceeded to join in the great development of humanity after the same method. The great difference that we perceive between, for instance, the science of Greece and that of England, being due partly, no doubt, to the greater scientific skill of our country, but very mainly to the point at which scientific progress had arrived when our nation took it up. This fact is analogous to that which, when M. Quetelet's book on Social Physics appeared *, was a truth, but is now a truism, that though Newton had a much greater knowledge of the mathematical sciences than Archimedes, it does not necessarily follow that Newton was individually a greater man than Archimedes. It was his position in time, it was the point at which in the progress of knowledge Newton came into action, that has made the Englishman appear greater than the Greek. Had he lived two centuries before our era he might have been in all probability only an Hipparchus, and had Hipparchus proceeded to advance science from the point where it was in the 17th century, he ought to have been a Newton. The advance of knowledge does not give a new nature to the individual, but each takes up the torch of science where the last runner laid it down, and every new bearer has, therefore, his name connected with more advanced progress and more extensive knowledge than appertained to his predecessor, though it by no means follows that the more recent bearer excels in strength and skill those who have gone before him. If we connect these facts with our previous observation, that the great man is the personification, the exponent of his age, there will be something towards a substantive base on which a theory of history may be constructed without necessarily being of the same order of architecture as a Chateau d'Espagne. Ców, Caw.
* Sur l'Homme, ii. 280.
a hooda chantera
THE LAWS OF NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT.
“ Applicons aux sciences politiques et morales la méthode que nous a si bien servi dans les sciences naturelles.” – LAPLACE.
** La fonction de la société, comme celle de l'homme, est d'adhérer et de concourir librement aux lois de la Providence.” – TURGOT.
What is it but an admission of a necessary relation between the characters and circumstances of nations and their political systems, when men say “ This was the government for the time;" * “ This despot, evil though he be, and the government he introduces, yet he is a necessity; we must bear his rule?” What is it but an unconscious assent to one of our fundamental principles, when it is said, “The time will not admit of this or that scheme of legislation; the national character (which like men's characters varies in many particulars with age) was against it?” And this necessity is the less often noticed, because it is only acknowledged when the result is unpleasant. The anti-feudalists of our age, when they have said all they can against the feudal system, conclude with the admission that it was necessary for the state of society in the middle ages, and in fact, the necessity of the time
• Sir H. Spelman, in his Glossary (sub voce Fædum) says, “De lege feudali pronunciandum censeo temporis eam esse filiam, sensimque succrescentem, edictis principum auctam indies et excultam.” And M. Comte, the most zealous of anti-feudalists, renders the thanks of posterity to the feudal system for the good it has done in forming modern civilisation at a time when it was a necessity.
has become a common-place for the defence of nations whose government we dislike, and of individuals whose character we disapprove. But if the government is good it ceases in common parlance to be a necessity; for instance, we are proud of the wisdom of our ancestors at the Revolution, but the government of James was so unsuited to the nation, that the only alternative, the Prince of Orange, was an absolute necessity, yet being a pleasant necessity, people are glad to call him their choice.*
These observations, unexplained, might sound like
fatalism, a creed which exercises so enervating and dedestination basing an influence on those who embrace it, that one Desting
who half believed it himself would be splendidly false if
poor Teucers, fight under the shield of the statistical philosophers, who assert one of the most striking discoveries of political science, that one man out of a certain number must be a criminal, without making any one of their audience feel that he is irrevocably destined to the unpleasant duty of fulfilling this law. It is fit then to assert general laws which act upon the mass without farther restricting the individual than as a member of the mass.
But some who reject fatalism, urge that Chance is the king who rules the world, a horrible phantom dreaded by the multitude, because nothing is known of him but the
Avaykalov, the Greek word for necessary, was often, as Archbishop Whately (Notes to King's Discourses, p. 85) has remarked, used as nearly equivalent to “ unpleasant ” or “disadvantageous.”
tremendous effects which they attribute to his agency, and hated by the philosopher because he is only a name for one form of human ignorance. Whatever turns out contrary to our expectation, said Pericles to the Athenians, we attribute to Fortune, and Fortune is sometimes useful, for by attributing to it the successful results of our own efforts, we escape envy.
It is easy to attack the throne of this inanimate, inactive puppet, but it is not possible to banish it from the world till more is known of those remote causes which, because their causation is often too intricate to reward a diligent investigation, and at the same time too trifling to allure men to the attempt, have had the honour of what they effected taken from them and given to this demon. At present, therefore, the wisest man must be content to say as the million says, that some
, accidents have entirely changed the form of human affairs ; but these are much fewer than the historians of the backstairs and their admirers are willing to admit. Nothing has been more fatal to historical science than the journals of demi-courtiers, who think that admission to an antechamber lays open to them the springs of national action. The Dutch medal, with the legend insolently triumphing over the kings and potentates of Europe, the ill-made window of Louis XIV., the dish of tea spilt over Mrs. Masham's gown, the quarrel between Tetzel and Luther, the drunken revels of the three Athenian youths in the Spartan territory, assume in the pages of those who explain history by anecdotes an importance which, if true, would render wholly futile any attempt at systematising human events ; but they are, in fact, as Laplace somewhere remarks, attributing the inevitable effects of constant causes to the accidental circumstances which only caused the development of their action : they are ascribing to the spark the effects due to the train previously laid, as well as to itself. There would have been war between Holland and France had no insulting medal been struck, and the Reformation would have been accomplished had Luther never existed.
For it is not given to one man to establish a reformed religion without the sympathetic energy of thousands ; and would those thousands have necessarily stood back from their enterprise if Martin Luther had happened to be still-born ? The causes of the Reformation, and of all great political movements, are to be sought in the social conditions of the nation, not in the character of individuals.
It was no accident that the changes effected by the first French revolution were effected, though it perhaps was an accident that they were effected by the revolution. It has been suggested* with great fairness that if Louis XV. had been a man cast in the same mould with Frederick the Great, he could have forestalled the revolution by making peaceably and gradually those changes which from long denial could subsequently be made only by a violent revolution. Had he done so, would France at this day have been substantially different from what it is? I think not. For hisscheme would have been to abolish nobility, to centralise, equalise, and turn the feudal monarchy into a centralised despotism. Possibly a Bourbon instead of a Napoleon would have been on the throne, and might have been called king instead of emperor, but his rule would have been of the same nature, and founded on the same administrative structure, as the present Napoleonic throne. There are other accidents, however, which are not concurrent with constant causes. “Perhaps," says Gibbon, “ the Greeks would be still involved in the heresy of the Monophysites if the emperor's horse had not fortunately stumbled. Theodosius expired ; his orthodox sister succeeded to the throne.” “How differently,” remarks Mr. Lieber, whose views on this point are always very just,“ would, in all probability, history have turned out had Gustavus Adolphus lived to make himself Protestant Emperor of Germany." Undoubtedly all the details of history would
By M. de Tocqueville, L'Anc. Régime, p. 252.