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forth just and salutary laws; it is to him alone the vassal, oppressed by his lord, can look for succour and protection; it is from him alone the townsmen obtain their charter of immunity; it is by his grace and beneficence alone they can repel exacting barons, to whom no longer submissive, they become hostile. As the head of the aristocrats, the person to whom even they bow, he arrogates to himself all those feelings which the sublimity of a warrior aristocracy has inspired into its subjects; he attracts to himself all the splendour and pomp of the country ; and, lastly, there belongs to him a sacred character, which nearly connects in the mind of a believing nation this loftiest of human beings with that Being who is more than human.
This is loyalty in its origin. In some respects changed, in many lessened, it yet lasts through the constitutional period of a nation, so long as the hereditary monarchy, however limited in power, endures. But never confound this sentiment of respectful allegiance, which exalts and refines the mind of the freeman who cherishes it, with that servility to a public government, despised while it is obeyed, and obeyed as a necessary evil,—a servility degenerating at last into blind and abject fear, which, sad to say, has, over nearly the whole continent of Europe, now taken the place of ancient loyalty.
This grim idol called the state, the central government before whose decrees, administered by paid and trading functionaries, every private interest, however just, must bow, in whose presence every free thought is repressed, by whose ministers the minds of the nation are drilled according to one common and abject standard, had heralds proclaiming and praying for its advent long before it settled upon the fairest nations of modern Europe.
The economists of the eighteenth century, amid the anticipated ruins of the feudal and constitutional régime, erected for the worship of their imaginations that centralised despotism, now too common, but for which, in their days, the only perfect existing model was sought in China. China and its despotism were the theme of their every praise. Were they so unnaturally?
China usually excites the wonder and the scorn of the free nations of the world, who are, perhaps, as just in their scorn as foolish in their wonder. Suppose we had been introduced to the Constantinopolitan empire about the year 1440, and knowing nothing of its history but what we heard from travellers, of the stagnant state of civilisation, the beautiful monuments, the vast learning, and the ingenious arts which were to be found in that empire, and yet the abject, scoundrel character of the people, and the facility with which they could be conquered by a horde of barbarians,—when we saw all this,
, and many more apparent inconsistencies, should we not have marvelled? and yet, mutatis mutandis, this has been the condition of China ever since its history has been known to Europe. The flourishing period of its career, when it was in a state of liberty and progress, is lost to our memory; and China has always stood before the cultivated world as an example of a nation in the last stage of stationary despotism. In nothing has it differed from other nations which have completely arrived at the same stage, except in duration. As Norway presents to us a living and long-enduring example of the earliest stage of national progress, so China of the latest. And China had arrived at this stage before the Norwegian nation commenced its existence.
The points which are chiefly selected for praise by the admirers of Chinese civilisation are,—1st. The general education of the people, for almost every man knows how to read and write, and can derive instruction from the current literature of the day. 2nd. The universal addiction to business, and the penurious saving of the profits made therein. 3rd. The absence of political turmoil (except in the fits of anarchy to which China, like every other despotism, is subject). The whole business of government being quietly given up to the public functionaries. 4th. The mode in which these functionaries are elected, viz., by merit, tested at the most severe examinations, open to all citizens. 5th. The tolerance of all creeds, and the freedom from any religious belief so earnest as to be politically troublesome. 6th. The uniformity of character, habits, and sentiments throughout the vast empire.* 7th. The absence of an aristocracy.
* The paternal government of China is said, by the Abbé de Marcy, to take under its protection the politeness and courtesy of the people. The manner of saluting, paying visits, and making presents are all laid down in a code of laws, whose infringement brings the offender before a special tribunal at Pekin.
The necessity of a certain degree of public virtue in those who establish despotic functionarism is too obvious not to have fallen under every one's observation. The hope and the belief that they will govern with more probity than the politicians whom they oust reconciles the subjects to their iron rule; nor could the nation consent to resign the whole work of government into the hands of a selected class, unless it had confidence that that class was animated by a spirit of justice towards all the factions of the state, and by a lively zeal for the public advantage.
The morality of the despotic functionary is never of that high and noble character which belongs to the statesman of a free country, who feels himself not a ruler of slaves, but invested by free men with the most sacred of trusts. In a functionarism each man lives by his office, and, were he left without check by his fellows, would probably make that office as lucrative as he could; but individual profligacy is controlled by collective merit, for, taking the government as a whole, its desire in wellordered functionarism is to promote the greatest happiness of the greatest number by means as little detrimental as possible to the governed, provided they secure the safety of the government.
So long as there is left in a nation sufficient public virtue to fill the offices of functionarism with men who possess this qualified sense of public duty, there is a guarantee against those who actually hold the offices falling below it, because the nation would, if those in office fell below the attainable level, eject them by force of arms, and place a better set of functionaries in their stead.
This change is in fact the object of the rebellions which are so common in countries governed by despotic functionarism, - rebellions promoted doubtless by those who hope to get into office by means of them, but meeting with the sympathy of the people because they hope thereby to substitute a more virtuous set of public functionaries. But even this degree of public virtue is sometimes wanting, not merely in the functionaries, but in those who alone can supply their place. This arises from one of two causes : either from the corruption of the class from which alone functionaries are chosen, as is the case in Spain, where the functionaries are chosen from the hungry candidates who lounge about Madrid ; or in the corruption of the whole nation, as is the case in China, Hindostan, and the Byzantine empire. When this disastrous issue takes place, and the whole object of each functionary is the attainment of his place and its subsequent enjoyment in the manner most profitable to himself, the material good which accrues to a people governed by a well-ordered functionarism is entirely taken away, and they are nothing but the victims of the most unscrupulous and worthless of their number. The resource in the first alternative is to admit a different class of the population to the public functions. In the second there is no hope of improvement but in the invasion of a more honest and trustworthy