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tians Roman Catholics ? Because the state likes the religion. All the world knows they care not threepence for the Pope.”* The plutocratic Anti-Orange party in Holland were in like manner the most opposed to the doctrines of Calvin.
Selden, Table Talk, tit. Religion.
SCARCE anything is more common at the present day than to hear mooted on the platform and in the saloon the startling questions, Can Hungary, Poland, Spain, be free? The answer is usually prompted rather by generous hope than cool reflection.
Now I apprehend that in order to settle that point in every instance with scientific precision (an achievement I certainly do not undertake here), the proper method to be pursued is of this kind. First, to recall the general rule that all forms of government have certain social conditions with which they harmonise, and that where these conditions and the appropriate form of government meet in the same nation, that government will naturally endure so long as the conditions remain; and next, to remember that each form of government is liable to be misplaced, for constitutional monarchy is not the only government which vanity or dishonesty have imposed upon nations unfitted to receive it, though the incongruity is, in that case, more apparent and striking, because, without a nobility and a free commonalty constitutional monarchy cannot work, whereas other governments, such, for instance, as a centralised despotism, may retain a firm sway for centuries over populations fitted for better rulers and a higher destiny
Despotism may be imposed upon nations unfitted for it. The discussion in Chapter XXII. was an attempt to fix the characteristics which mark the stage when despotism becomes the natural, if not the necessary government. If we desire to ascertain, in respect of any particular nation, whether despotism is natural or necessary to it, we have only to observe the characteristics of that nation and the characteristics of despotism, and in proportion as they are incongruous and dissimilar is despotism unfitted for that nation.
Despotism is naturally the government of a late stage of society, it suits the characteristics of that late stage, and, for reasons before stated, it succeeds in the course of nature to plutocracy and democracy. But despotism may be found misapplied to nearly every stage of social development. There are many instances in which this system of complicated minuteness and watchfulness has been imposed upon a people whose life is simple, whose character is honest. If we wish to find an example of the earliest and simplest state of society, where a shepherd population, scarcely settled upon the land, lives in primitive simplicity without wants, without the knowledge of, or the desire for luxury; if we wish to see set over a people whose wealth is in their herds and their strong arms, and who carry in the ornaments of their own or their wives' persons all the precious metals they possess, a class of ingenious functionaries prepared to patent a new invention in the steam-engine, or an improved polish for their French leather boots, or a stronger lavender dye for their kid gloves, with an education which has made them fit to report upon designs for sewers and to establish gas companies, to regulate the tendency of newspaper articles and to license the drama, - if this is our wish, we shall be gratified by a tour through the outlying districts of the Turkish empire, where despatch-writing functionaries, brought up at Constantinople, rule the amazed tribesmen
with a minuteness of interference which would be ridiculous if it were not depraved.
A population more advanced, settled as agriculturists, possessing some few towns, honest, simple, allied by blood with the nation which has of all shown most capacity for self-government, yet by a defect in its political development now lingers on under a centralised functionarism. I speak of the Swedes, a people who live in their loved homesteads a life of healthy, merry industry, and with flaxen locks, blue eyes, and ruddy complexion, would bear no mark of distinction from our own countrymen in our best country districts were their tongue but differently trained. They live under functionarism, but, except in the capital, it oppresses them not, because their manners are simple and inartificial, and give but little opportunity for the functionaries to interfere, though there is such a goodly number of them that the supply of their administrative labour far exceeds the demand.
How functionarism came upon the land of Sweden is easy to be explained. Gustavus III. destroyed the constitutional power of the nobles, and their own corruption has, by impoverishing them, destroyed their individual power, and converted them all into courtiers and functionaries; and while in the villages of Sweden one could not know whether there were functionarism or not, the life in Stockholm is redolent of it; uniforms meet one at every turn, the population of the capital is always hunting after orders and titles, for office is the only distinction, and that which keeps the son of the noble in dignified poverty gratifies the ambition of the son of the tradesman. There is no question that could an independent and honourable aristocracy be established, or reinstated, in Sweden, that country would, at this day, take its place alongside of the England of the last Henrys and Elizabeth; and though to reproduce an aristocracy, when once it has degenerated into a functionary class, is, I believe,
impossible, Sweden may yet advance to the stages of town-life and plutocracy without any hindrance from its despotism. The growth of Gottenburg and the increase of its manufactures, give token of some progress in the usual course of national development; but the character and poverty of the Swedish nobles, if my information is correct, forbid any hope of a constitutional monarchy; and the present state, therefore, of Sweden is that of a country in the simple agricultural stage, ruled by a centralised functionarism.
Not dissimilar is the condition of the other Scandinavian kingdom. The Danes in the seventeenth century annihilated the independence of their noblesse, and that for ever destroyed their chance of a true constitutional monarchy. Their political difficulties at the present moment arise from the impossibility of framing a constitutional monarchy (for which they are otherwise well fitted) without an independent aristocracy. The despotism which had succeeded by the overthrow of the nobility, while the commons were yet agricultural and without towns, must either stop or allow progress. But what progress can there be ? Clearly only this—to allow towns to grow and plutocracy to become a new power, for a constitutional monarchy can never be formed.
Nations more advanced, where the affairs of life are more complicated, and where there is no independent nobility, are more apt subjects for despotic functionarism. Prussia, and so much of the rest of Germany as follows the Prussian type, have since the days of Frederick the Great been ruled by a despotism ever increasing in the minuteness and activity of its interventions, and none the less potent because disguised by the imposture of paper constitutions. This system is much more appropriate in Prussia than in Sweden and Denmark, because the existence of the old commercial towns of mediæval Germany left a large civic population, to whom the government