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priests, had not courage to incur the present hazard consequent on a departure from this ruinous system ; and they bought their grain, of course, where they could get it cheapest—in Egypt, Odessa, and the Levant. The banks of the Volga are to modern, what those of the Nile were to ancient Rome. The Campagna has been chained to sterility and desolation by the same cause in modern as in ancient times—under the Popes as the Emperors. So far has this evil gone, that in 1797, when the Papal Government was overturned by the French, the Casa Annonaria of the Apostolic Chamber, or Board of Public Subsistence, exhibited a deficit of 3,293,000 crowns, (£645,000,) incurred in retailing bread to the people cheaper than they could purchase it even in the cheapest foreign markets. *
The Campagna of Rome is the great type of the state to which the doctrine of the Chrematists would reduce the states of modern Europe. Agriculture, ruined by the perpetual curse of foreign importation ; urban industry alone flourishing by the stimulus of foreign export ; vast fortunes accumulated in the hands of a few merchants and great proprietors; constant distress among the labouring poor ; all the symptoms of prosperity in the cities—all the marks of decay in the country ; luxury the most unbounded, side by side with penury the most pinching; an overflow of wealth which cannot find employment, in one class of society ; a mass of destitution that seeks in vain for work, in another; a middle class daily diminishing in number and declining in importance, between the two extremes ; and government, under the influence of popular institutions, yielding to all the demands of the opulent class
, because it gives money—and deaf to all the cries of the impoverished, because they can only ask for bread. The name of slavery is indeed abolished in Western Europe, but is its reality, are its evils, not present ? Have we not retained its fetters, its restraints, its degradations, without its obligation to support? Are not the English factory children often practically in a worse servitude than in the Eastern harem? If the men are not “ascripti glebæ, are they not “ascripti molinis ac carbonariis »
Nicolai, dell Agro Romano, iii. 153. Sismondi's Etudes Sociales, ii. 44. This part of Sismondi's work, which will be found vol. ii. pp. 1–74, is highly interesting.
trade can a factory girl or coal-mine child take to, if thrown out of employment ? The master cannot flog them, or bring them back by force to his workshop. Mighty difference! He can starve them if they leave it : he chains them to their mills by the invincible bond of necessity. They have the evils of slavery without its advantages. Can, or ought, such a state of things long continue? Whether this is descriptive of the state of society in France and England, let those determine who are familiar with the people of either of these countries.
Such are Sismondi's political views, which are enforced in the volumes before us by a vast array of historical and statistical facts, which, as well as the deservedly acknowledged talent and character of the writer, entitle them to the highest respect, and render them of the deepest interest. That they are “important if true,” as the Americans say, no one will deny : that they are of immediate and pressing application to the state of society in the British islands, none acquainted with it, especially in the manufacturing districts, will be so bold as to dispute. We have deemed it best to give an abstract of his opinions and principles in a condensed form, in preference to quoting individual passages, because he expands his ideas so much, that the latter course would have enabled us to give only a limited number of his views. Those who will take the trouble to turn to the original volumes, will find every sentence in the preceding abstract enforced and illustrated at least a dozen times in this most able and original work. That we consider his ideas as in the main just, and his anticipations too likely to prove well founded, may be inferred from the pains we have taken to form a digest of them in the preceding pages. We only hope that, though he possibly has not much exaggerated the social evils which now threaten society, he has not given their due weight to the many alleviating or corrective causes which, in a free, religious, and moral community, are constantly called into activity when society has come to require their operation. Sismondi says, though he has been enforcing these principles for twenty years, he has found few converts to his opinion in France; and that he does not think he would have found one, if the English Parliamentary Reports had not afforded decisive evidence of the existence of many of these social evils, amidst unbounded commercial prosperity and the highest political power in Great Britain. The social evils which destroyed Rome, he reminds us, were in full activity during the eighty years of the splendid, pacific, and wise rule of the Antonines—the most happy, to external appearance, which the world ever knew. Their baneful influence appeared at once, when political dangers commenced with the accession of Commodus. These doctrines are not the less likely to be true that they are contrary to general opinion, that they run counter to many important interests, that they are incapable of present application, that they are adverse to the policy of the rulers of the state. Government rules men, but Providence rules government, and will in the end assert its supremacy, and right the moral evils of mankind, or punish the sins of nations.
[BLACKWOOD'S MAGAZINE, August 1831]
POLAND in ancient possessed very much the extent and dominion of Russia in Europe in modern times. It stretched from the Baltic to the Euxine ; from Smolensko to Bohemia; and embraced within its bosom the whole Scythia of antiquity--the storehouse of nations, from whence the hordes issued who so long pressed upon and at last overthrew the Roman empire. Its inhabitants have in every age been celebrated for their heroic valour : they twice captured the ancient capital of Russia, and the conflagration of Moscow and retreat of Napoleon were but the repetition of what had resulted five centuries before from the appearance of the Polish eagles aiding the Tartar horse on the banks of the Moskwa. Placed on the frontiers of European civilisation, they long formed its barrier against barbarian invasion : and the most desperate wars they ever maintained were those which they had to carry on with their own subjects, the Cossacks of the Ukraine, whose roving habits and predatory life disdained the restraints of regular government. When we read the accounts of the terrible struggles they maintained with the great insurrection of these formidable hordes under Bogdan, in the seventeenth century, we are transported to the days of Scythian warfare, and recognise the features of that dreadful invasion of the Sarmatian tribes, which the genius of Marius averted from the Roman republic.
Nor has the military spirit of the people declined in modern times. The victories of Sobieski, the deliverance of Vienna, seem rather the fiction of romance than the records of real achievement. No victory so glorious as that of Kotzim had been gained by Christendom over the Saracens since the triumphs of Richard on the field of Ascalon : and the tide of Mahommedan conquest would have rolled resistlessly over the plains of Germany, even in the reign of Louis XIV., if it had not been arrested by the Polish hero under the walls of Vienna. Napoleon said it was the peculiar quality of the Polanders to form soldiers more rapidly than any other people. And their exploits in the Italian and Spanish campaigns justified the high eulogium and avowed partiality of that great commander. No swords cut deeper than theirs into the Russian ranks during the campaign of 1812, and alone, amidst universal defection, they maintained their faith inviolate after the rout of Leipsic. But for the hesitation of the French emperor in restoring their independence, the whole strength of the kingdom would have been roused on the invasion of Russia ; and had this been done, bad the Polish monarchy formed the support of French ambition, the history of the world might have been changed ;
“ From Fate's dark book one leaf been torn,
And Flodden had been Bannockburn." How, then, bas it happened that a country of such immense extent, inhabited by so martial a people, whose strength on great occasions was equal to such achievements, should in every age have been so unfortunate, that their victories should have led to no result, and their valour so often proved inadequate to save their country from dismemberment. The plaintive motto, Quomodo lapsus ! Quid feci?-may with still more justice be applied to the fortunes of Poland than the fall of the Courtenays. “Always combating," says Salvandy, “frequently victorious, they never gained an accession of territory, and were generally glad to terminate a glorious contest by a cession of the ancient provinces of the republic.”
Superficial observers will answer, that it was the elective form of government; their unfortunate situation in the midst of military powers, and the absence of any chain of mountains to form the refuge of unfortunate patriotism. But a closer examination will demonstrate that these causes were not sufficient to explain the phenomenon ; and that the series of disasters which have so long overwhelmed the