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Disputes are less personal, and, if not always less sanguinary, are less tainted with rage, perfidy, and individual animosity-with all the petty but destructive passions which accompany weakness. If an emulation of talent sometimes raises the intellectual standard in a community of small states, as has been asserted of ancient Greece, of Italy in the middle ages, and of modern Germany, other causes of rivalry spring from the same source, and involve mankind in fatal difficulties. But the science of government is most particularly restricted by the subdivision of territory ; because the virtue and wisdom necessary to make men wise, and good, and free, and happy, follow in a much more rapid progression than the direct increase of numbers and territory. It may easily be shewn, too, that it was not the rivalry of the other Greek republics which converted Athens into the emporium of mind, or mere emulation which made Tuscany the seat of modern art. The security, the duration of happiness and prosperity, are greater in extended empires; and the nations which have occupied the brightest, as well as the longest page in modern history, have not been small republics.
Notwithstanding all that has been said in favour of the Italian republics of the middle ages, by historians who seem to make liberty consist in disorder, it must be confessed, that the picture which they present, is composed of much violence and treachery. The vice which most particularly characterises small states, which supplies the place of strength to narrow minds--cunning—was the most prominent feature of Italy. Conspiracies, assassinations, the stiletto, poison, were the daily resources of the patriotic, and the secret dagger the noblest weapon of defence. Neither was it the country only that was covered with the emblems of lawlessness : in every town, ensigns of insecurity were unfurled ; the houses of the great were converted into fortresses, surrounded by battlements, and Hanked with towers, and every street became a field of battle. Domestic broils divided every city, and were the inheritance of every family. When internal force or artifices were not sufficient, foreign assistance was invoked, which either quelled or fomented discords, as its own interest required, and every occurrence afforded an opportunity for new insurrections. Such a condition of political existence is too dear a price for liberty, if indeed such a condition is compatible with that which has justice and security for its foundation.
Little, then, of internal policy is to be learned from the middle ages of Italy, applicable to the great states of modern Europe. The democracy of Florence, which excluded the nobility from public offices, and took from them the protection of the law, making common report sufficient evidence to condemn them, could not, at this day, be admitted by the wildest demagogue. The aristocracy of Venice, with its permanent inquisitors of state, its secret delations, its secret trials, and its secret executions, deserves to be mentioned at this day for no purpose but to shew that such an institution should be avoided. It is only as the commencements of reviving policy, and as the prelude to a better era than that of mythology, that these states command respect and admiration.
• The Italian peninsula, in the middle ages, was a miniature of Europe in its present state. It was composed of numerous realms, whose international relations were extremely complicated. In the twelfth century, during the quarrels between the Italian cities and the emperor Frederick Barbarossa, the number of states which adhered to his cause was eight, while eighteen had confederated to oppose him ; and these six-and-twenty states embraced only the north of Italy. Amid so populous a community of cities, a code was necessary to regulate the social intercourse ; and the law of nations, like most other intellectual improvements, had its origin in the south, upon small dimensions, and an humble scale, and rose to larger growth in the dilatory north. From Italy, this code has spread over Germany, a much greater extent of territory, where it was improved by wider relations and stronger powers of reflection; and what in the former was confined to practice, in the latter was matured upon principles. In the country where morality is more absolute, too, it was divested of one of the great vices which debased it in the regions of debility and luxury-perfidy; and though it assumed another appearance -- force, sometimes ferocity-it was no longer sullied but by defects which social progress never fails to diminish.
Vol. I. pp. 241–3. It is one defect in the plan of the work, that the same historical circumstances and personages are again and again referred
the effect of repetition. Thus, Cromwell, the Stuarts, the Bourbons, as well as Philip, Scipio, and Cæsar, pass and repass before us. We premise this, in selecting one of several passages relating to the same period of our history: it occurs in the chapter on Patriotism.
Of the many usurpers known in history, Cromwell is not the most unpatriotic or self-interested. That he was ambitious, factious, crimi. nal,—that he monopolised the powers of the realm by unjust means, is certain. But he was not a conqueror: he did not lavish the blood of England in running after foreign victories, or squander away her strength that he might be called a hero. To make her formidable and respected, was indeed his ambition ; but when ambition is thus bounded, it is laudable. It is a saving, not a destroying principle. Neither was destruction, in any of its shapes, his passion. He shed but little useless blood. He was not merciless, like Robespierre ; nor, like Buonaparte, did he keep up a preternatural excitation in the people, which could be followed but by prostration and debility. Without stepping beyond the circle which nature had assigned to his empire, he left behind him as many monuments of wisdom, and as few of vanity, as rulers generally do, whose title rests on worthier foundations than their crimes.
* Had the two succeeding sovereigns been as patriotic as was this man, usurpation and regicide apart, the House of Stuart might still be on the throne. But the dissoluteness of Charles II., his attachment to the greatest enemy of England, his enmity to her best ally, prove how little he loved his country; and his desire of pleasure left
him no resource but to make his people as dissolute as himself. To this end he bent his efforts, and was in part successful ; though, hap pily, the nation recovered its virtues under a more bigoted prince. The affection of James to England was greater than Charles had ever felt; for he was frugal of her resources, jealous in asserting her naval superiority, in encouraging her trade and industry, and in maintaining her national honour; in short, attached to every thing relating to her, except her creed and charter. Had his subjects been of the same mind as he was upon these matters, they would have found him abundantly patriotic.
. But, whatever may have been the disposition of this family towards the realms which they governed, the people were truly patriotic, and could not brook a monarch whose feelings did not harmonize with theirs. A first revolution broke out, in which all was, for a time, dictated by love of country; but of which faction finally became the master. In the second revolution, there was as little of private ambition or of self-interest as can be expected in human affairs; and pa. triotism was the constant and universal guide.
From this great event, the completion of British patriotism may be dated. Instances, indeed, might be adduced to shew that the feeling occasionally met with interruptions; but, in a wide view, the excep. tions have been fewer and less dangerous than might be expected in a country where liberty leaves such openings to the conflicts of passion ; and infinitely smaller than are to be found in nations where every sentiment is smothered by rule, and every thought repressed by despo. tism. The exceptions, it is true, are glaring, and the outcry against them vehement; but that is because the feeling is so strong and general, that millions cry, and cry aloud, when only one has failed. In the silence of oppression, none dares say that a superior errs, eren when he sins; but the patriotism of a free people is jealous of his slightest foibles.
From this rapid sketch, the true nature of British patriotisn becomes at once apparent. The object of its veneration, unlike that which other monarchies adore, is the country, not the sovereign; and in all its bearings, so much more multiplied when a nation, not a man, inspires it, its first and greatest element is pride.
Although the prince or dynasty who governed England, has alwars been much less its idol than the nation itself; yet, when once the English have professed a regard and esteem for a sovereign, they are capable of greater sacrifices for his welfare, than the vain nations, whose only patriotism is their monarch. Vol. II. pp. 520–523.
We can make room for only one more extract, and must resist the temptation to comment which it supplies. The passage occurs in the last chapter of the second volume, 'on the Mutability of National Character'.
The country to whom, amid the future generations of empires, the greatest number shall look back as to their parent, is England ; and though the mutual feelings between colonies and their mother country
are not always filial and paternal—though gratitude and affection often te are wanting between them - yet none will be able to refuse its admi.
ration to the little kingdom which has engendered so many worlds. The bitterness which England must feel towards the United States for having shaken off their allegiance,—the resentment of the latter against the opposition made by England to their independence, however strong and lasting, cannot prevent the one from owning that, without such lessons as Britain gave them, they would not now be free, or make the other blind to the progress which her colony has made since its emancipation, and to the still greater prospects which open on its futurc destinies. Whether similar contests will attend the liberation of the other British possessions, must be decided by time; but, taught by experience, all parties may perhaps be more rational. Most especially, too, England, who so well knows that the part of every generous nation is to make her colonies as prosperous as she can, may have learned that the natural and indestructible tendency of every colony is toward independence, and that the opportunity will come the sooner, the earlier and the greater is that prosperity. In such a case, it is possible that the most amicable relations may continue between parent states and colonies, and that emancipation may be granted without animosity, and received without reproach.
• It is by the empires which England has created, by the degree of civilisation which she has diífused, and the tracts of earth over which she has spread it, that she must be judged by posterity. The only rule for appreciating nations is to compare original means with the ends attained ; and in what nation did the latter ever shew such an excess above the former as in Britain? The Greeks had greater natural advantages, but used them not so wisely. The Romans did for themselves as much as a people could do; but the rest of mankind felt rather their ambition than their benevolence. Among modern states, not one could be named that has disseminated so much good, and so little evil, as England. Spain and Portugal discovered new seas and lands: England discovered and enlightened them. Germany has not been in a situation favourable to maritime adventures, France, with extensive coasts, and all the power and knowledge which could make her great by sea, has indeed coinpleted voyages of circumnavigation ; but she has planted few colonies, and can appeal to no deserts, once unpeopled, to prove that the men who now inhabit them are her offspring. The public monuments of England can bear no comparison with the stupendous edifices which the Romans erected in their conquests. They are surpassed by those of ancient Greece, of modern Italy, and of nations much inferior in the arts of embellishment. Upon the useful establishments which make her present superiority, and so far surpass the conceptions of all other nations, time can more easily lay its pitiless hand, than upon hewn stone and brass. The roads, six times as numerous, and incomparably more practicable than in any other country, must leave less traces behind them than the ancient causeway; and, overgrown with grass, their thin beds of loose pebbles may be turned up by the ploughshare. Their present perfection may make their obliteration more easy. The canals which now are thronged with traffic; which, in their ordinary course, are so VOL. VII.-N.S.
modest, though so magnificent when any obstacle is to be overcome; may more easily burst their dikes, or be filled up with mud, than those whose boast was architecture, not trade. The subterraneous works of the greatest city of the world, the dwelling of more than a million and a half of men, may lie underground forgotten, and leave no towering arch to strike the eye, like the Appian or the Claudian aqueducts. Envy, too, may pen the history of England, and rival nations gratify their enmity by detraction. Spain may tell how the Catholics have been persecuted, and the library of the Inquisition record the condemnations of the men who were punished for conspiring against the sister-in-law of King Philip. France may charge her civil wars with perfidy; her revolution with cruelty; her policy with intrigue. All nations may lend her their own vices. The United States, indeed, will call her ancient annals theirs, and glory in having had such princes as Edward and Henry; but will they be thus candid on her future story? They must; their own existence will testify against whatever malice they may yet retain. When they behold themselves, and think how they were founded ; when they read their own laws and constitution, and reflect from whom they held them, and the spirit which enacted them ; when they see, in other regions, other nations happier and freer than natural circumstances would have made them, and find the languages of all to be derived from one source--from the idiom which Shakspeare, Bacon, and Newton spoke; they will be forced to say, 'Had England not been great and generous, these things could not have been. When the greatest of republics shall allow that Britain was the freest of kingdoms, all will own that no nation of the world ever was so prolific a parent of mighty empires.” Vol. II. pp. 575—578.
After perusing these copious and interesting specimens, no one requires to be told, that the work from which they are taken, notwithstanding all that is faulty in the Author's plan, or unsatisfactory in his ethics and philosophy, is a production of no ordinary merit and interest ; one that will amply repay perasal, and not only so, but will provide for itself a place in the library. We have not spoken of the Author's style, which constitutes no small part of the attraction and charm of the work. Uniformly perspicuous, correct, and unaffected, it sometimes rises into eloquence. As the Author's pride and vanity are now alike buried in the dust, our approbation or censure cannot affect him ; but we have been not the less anxious to do justice to a work upon which have been bestowed the meditation of a life, and the best efforts of a mind of no ordinary endowments.
Art. IV.-1. The Annual Biography and Obituary: 1832. Vel
XVI. 8vo. Price 158. London, 1832. 2. The Georgian Era: Memoirs of the most eminent Persons who
have tourished in Great Britain, from the Accession of Georye I.