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become, like his own native subjects, the polished and powerless creatures of a military despotism, not trusted because unfit to be trusted. The strong and turbulent he will draft off for his army, the rest he will equalise, humanise, and thus subjugate.

If Poland and Hungary can recover their liberty before their Russian, Austrian, and Prussian masters have 66 civilised” them, there is no circumstance of which I am aware that would prevent their taking their place as distinguished members of some new generation of nations. They would start whence France and England started in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and might attain by their own efforts as high a pitch of self-constructed civilisation as we have attained, and that is the only civilisation that does not immediately, and by a direct action, degrade a people.

Such submissions as those of Poland and Hungary entail no disgrace on the vanquished. They are the simple and inevitable conquests by the stronger over the weaker. There is no resemblance in Poland and Hungary to nations which, having tried to be governed by an aristocratic, or a democratic, or plutocratic government, have been obliged to exchange these for a despotism by reason of the corruptness of the persons

in office. A despotism so introduced can never be permanently removed, -the persons may be changed, but the system remains ; but the despotisms that now brood over Hungary and Poland might at any time be shaken off finally and for ever when the strength of the vanquished has increased, or that of the autocrats has diminished,—a consummation most devoutly to be wished by every Englishman, not merely for the sake of the subjugated people, but for the sake of human progress, which needs some new and vigorous nations to carry it on to further triumphs than those which it has yet achieved. The hand of France is enfeebled ; that of Prussia, never strong, grows more infirm.

There is I know not what of

unhappiness ever marring the fortunes of Italy. Spain is stagnant, with how little hope of a useful future; and the true progress of our species is left to be carried on alone by England, who may worthily help to raise up coadjutors without fearing to find them rivals.

CHAP. XXV.

TIE PREMATURE APPROACHI OF APPROPRIATE DESPOTISM.

“Sed stupet hic vitio, et fibris increvit opimum
Pingue : caret culpa : nescit quid perdat, et alto
Demersus summa rursus non bullit in unda."--PERSIUS.

That a centralised despotism, like any

other

government, may be imposed inappropriately at any period of a nation's career, was the thesis which the last chapter assumed to illustrate. That a centralised despotism may become appropriate to a nation at any period in its career, is the thesis which this chapter aspires to establish.

This government, in the development of nations, resembles decay in the development of organic nature. Nothing succeeds to it except inanition. Decay or death may come upon a being at any period of its existence. In cases of full and complete development decay comes only after a long series of phases have been traversed; but it may come, and it often does, in the very first stage of being

Now, if we take each separate phase (except the penultimate) of the development that has been traced out, and suppose that that phase, instead of leading to what has been described as next in natural succession, leads to centralised despotism, this supposition, so far from being against history, actually gives the clue to the arrested

of a

development of nearly every nation whose affairs are recorded in history.

Observe centralisation increasing under the tutelage of the early monarchical element. The first purpose monarchy is to establish a centre for the combined action of the whole nation. If this central government is composed of an order of independent nobles with territorial and local sympathies, or is composed of the representatives of localities, then the necessary work of legislative centralisation can proceed, without also creating administrative centralisation. This was the case in English history. Up to the time of the Reformation our Statute Book is full of laws regulating the minute actions and rights of the population, including therein the nobles who legislated. Their “restrictions upon selfishness,” as they have been aptly termed *, proceeded upon the basis that every one who possessed property was bound so to use it as to consult best the interests of the state. The public interest, as interpreted by these local potentates in assembly, was always paramount to a conflicting private interest ; but the decision of what was the public interest was arrived at by comparing and well-weighing the conflicting private interests, and striking out a compromise as the result. In that compromise every private interest was, to some extent, regarded; but, so far as it was not regarded, it conflicted with the public interest, and was bound to bow to it.

A fallacy lurks in this neighbourhood which it may be as well to start from its lair and hunt down at once. " That is the best government in which all private interests yield to the public interest.In a centralised functionarism all private interests do so; therefore a centralised functionarisin is the best government.” The error lies in not considering of what the true public interest is composed. It

a

* Froude, Hist. of England, i. 11. † See Aristotle, Pol. lib. iii. c. iv.

is, in fact, composed of the aggregate of portions of every private interest. Now, in a free constitutional government every private interest boldly and openly asserts itself, and is, to a certain limited extent, recognised and protected by the general result, called the public interest. In a functionarism a separate class of persons, pretending to have no interests of their own, take upon themselves to enact what the public interest shall be. Private interests are not openly heard; they must proceed, if at all, by intrigue or secret menace. The real interest administered is that of the functionaries, who advance and keep themselves at the public expense, and only recognise or shelter other private interests when, for the prolongation of their own tenure of office, it becomes necessary to silence a body clamorous against the official interpretation of the “ public interest.” That all men should yield to the state is beautiful in theory, but is good in practice only when “ the state” is the aggregate of legitimate private interests administered by honest persons.

So long as the persons who take upon themselves to decide what the state requires are composed of elements of strong local and personal independence, this rigorous assertion of the public interest does not tend to too great centralisation ; though in feudal times the public interest, as opposed to private interest, is generally the interest of the sovereign, as opposed to that of the nobles. In fact, the strong assertion of the public interest by the central monarch is, during the times of feudality, absolutely necessary to the unity of the nation. Thus Richelieu, observing the prosperity of the Spaniards and the disorder of French affairs at the beginning of his ministry, wholly attributes the prosperity of Spain to the preference of the public good to private interest in Spain, while the opposite obtained in France*; which means that the independence and turbulence of the nobles in France continually thwarted the

* Test. Polit. du Cardinal Richelieu, c. iii. p. 2.

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