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who roused passions as impetuous, proposed and virtue uncorrupted was to be found, and changes as sweeping, were actuated by ambi- glory unparalleled had been won? Who adtion as perilous, as that which, under their own ventured on a course which threatened to tear eyes, had torn civilization to pieces in its bleed-in pieces the country of Milton and Bacon, of ing dominion? What shall we say to those Scott and Newton, of Nelson and Wellington ? who did this in the state where freedom had History will judge their conduct: no tumultuexisted longer, and was at their accession more ous mobs will drown its yoice: from its deciunfettered than in any other country that ever sion there will be no appeal, and its will be the existed; where prosperity unexampled existed, I voice of ages.
It is a remarkable fact, that so numerous wealth, and the leaden chains of the centralized and pregnant are the proofs afforded by history government of his successors, has not blinded in all ages, of the universal and irremediable the far-seeing sagacity of Tacitus to the origin evils of democratic ascendency, that there is of all these evils in the wide-spread force of hardly an historical writer of any note, in any popular wickedness and folly, and the fatal country or period of the world, who has not overthrow of the long established sway of the concurred in condemning it as the most dan- Senate by the military talents and consummate gerous form of government, and the most fatal address of the first emperor of the world. enemy of that freedom which it professes to In modern times the same striking characsupport. In the classical writers, indeed, are teristic of all the greatest observers of human to be found numerous and impassioned, as events is equally conspicuous. Five hundred well as perfectly just eulogies on the ennobling years ago Machiavel deduced from a careful effects of civil liberty; but it is liberty, as con- retrospect of Roman history, not less than the tradistinguished from slavery, which is the ob- experience of the Republican States with which ject of their encomium: and none felt so strong- he was surrounded, the clearest views of the ly, or have expressed so forcibly, the pernicious enormous perils of unbridled democracy: and tendency of unbridled democracy to undermine he has left in his Discourses on Livy and and destroy the civil freedom and general pro- " Principe," maxims of government essentially tection of all classes, which is unquestionably adverse to democratic establishments, which, the first of human blessings. Thucydides, in depth of thought and justice of observation, whose profound mind was forcibly attracted have never been surpassed. Bacon clearly by the varied operations of the aristocratic and perceived, even amidst all the servility of the democratic factions, which in his age distract-nation, and tyranny of the government of Enged Greece, and whose conflict forms the sub- land under the Tudor princes, the opposite ject of his immortal work, has told us, that“ in- dangers of republican rule, and his celebrated variably in civil contests it was found at apophthegm, that political changes, to be safe, Athens that the worst and most abandoned “should resemble those of nature, which albeit public characters obtained the ascendency." the greatest in the end, are imperceptible in Aristotle has condensed in six words the ever-their progress," has passed into a consuetudilasting characteristic of democratic govern-nary maxim, to which, to the end of the world, ment---τυττών των τυραννιδων τελευταιή και δημοκρατια. | the wise will never cease to refer, and against Ballust has pointed to the “Egestas cupida no- which the rash and reckless will never cease varum rerum," as the most prolific source of to chafe. The profound mind of Hume, it is the evils which first undermined, and at last well known, beheld the long and varied story overthrew the solid foundations of Roman of England's existence with perhaps too great liberty; and left in his Catiline conspiracy a a bias in favour of monarchical institutions; picture of the demagogue, so just and true in and Gibbon, even amidst the long series of all its touches, that in every age it has the air calamities which accumulated round the sinkof having been drawn from the existing popu- ing fortunes of the empire, has sufficiently lar idol; and the phrase “Alieni appetens, sui evinced his strong sense of the impracticable profusus," has passed into a proverbial charac- nature, and tyrannic tendency of democratic teristic of that mixture of rapacity and insol- institutions.* Sir James Mackintosh, in his vency which ever forms the basis of the cha- maturer years, strongly supported the same racters who attain to democratic ascendency. sound and rational principles; and all the ferLivy, amidst the majestic and heart-stirring vour and energy of the youthful author of the narrative of Roman victories, never loses an Vindicia Gallicæ could not blind his better inopportunity of throwing in a reflection on the formed judgment later in life, to the frightful mingled instability and tyranny of popular as- dangers of democratic ascendency, and the ulsemblies; and all the experience of the woful timate conclusion that the only government tyranny which the triumph of democracy under which offers a rational prospect of establishing Cæsar brought upon the Roman common- or preserving freedom, is that where the power of directing affairs is vested in the aristocratic people. They were fully aware that demo interests, under the perpetual safeguard of po- cratic energy has, in every age, been the pular watchfulness. 1* Burke, almost forgot- mainspring of human improvement; but they ten as a champion of Whig doctrines in the were not less aware, that this spring is one of earlier part of his career, stands forth in im- such strength and power, that if not duly perishable lustre as the giant supporter of loaded, it immediately tears the machine to conservative principles in the zenith of his in- pieces. They admired and cherished the tellect. Pitt has told us that “democracy is warmth of the fire, but they were not so not the government of the few by the many, blinded by its advantages, as“to permit it to but the many by the few, with this addition, escape its iron bars, and wrap the house in that the few who are thus raised to power are flames; they enjoyed the vigour of the horses the most dangerous and worthless of the com- which whirled the chariot along; but they munity;" and Fox, who spent his life in sup- were not so insane as to cast the charioteer porting liberal principles, with his dying breath from his seat, and allow their strength and bequeathed to his successors a perpetual strug- energy to overturn and destroy the vehicle: gle with the gigantic power which had risen they acknowledged with gratitude the genial out of its spirit, and imbodied its desires. warmth of the central heat, which clothed the
* Athens, its Rise and Fall. By E, L, Bulwer, Esq. Saunders and Otley: London, 1837. Blackwood's Maga- * In his letters and and miscellaneous works, his zine, July, 1837.
opinions on this subject are clearly expressed. .
Nor is France behind England in the same sides of the volcano with luxuriant fruits; but profound and far-seeing views of human af- they looked to either hand, and beheld in the fairs. Napoleon, elevated on the wave, and black furrow of desolation the track of the supported by the passions of the Revolution, burning lava which had issued from its sumconceived himself, as he himself told, to be the mit when it escaped its barriers, and filled the commissioned hand of Heaven to chastise its heavens with an eruption. crimes and extinguish its atrocity. Madam de Nothing daunted by this long and majestic Staël, albeit passionately devoted to the me- array of authority against him, Mr. Bulwer mory of her father, the parent of the Revolution, has taken the field in two octavo volumes, in and the author of the French Reform Bill, has order to illustrate the beneficial effect of reyet devoted the maturity of her intellect to il- publican institutions upon social greatness lustrate the superior advantages which the and national prosperity. He has selected for mixed form of government established in Eng- his subject the Athenian democracy--the eye land afforded; and in her Treatise on the of Greece-the cradle of history, tragedy, and French Revolution, supported with equal wis- the fine arts; the spot in the world where, in dom and eloquence the conservative princi- the narrowest limits, achievements the most ples, in which all minds of a certain elevation mighty have been won, and genius the most in every age have concurred: while Chateau- immortal has been developed.
He conbriand, the illustrious relic of feudal grandeur, ceived, doubtless, that in Attica at least the and the graphic painter of modern suffering, extraordinary results of democratic agency has arrived, from the experience of his varied could not be disputed; the Roman victories and interesting existence, at the same lofty and might be traced to the wisdom of the senate; ennobling conclusions; and M. de Toqueville, the Swiss patriotism to the simplicity of its the worthy conclusion to such a line of great- mountains; the prosperity of Holland to the ness, has portrayed, amidst the most impartial protection of canals, or the prudence of its survey of American equality, seeds in the un- burgomasters; the endurance of America to disguised “ tyranny of the majority," of the the boundless vent afforded by its back settleeventual and speedy destruction of civil li- ments; but in Athens none of these peculiariberty.
ties existed, and there the brilliant results of These enemies of democracy in every age, popular rule and long established self-governhave been led to these conclusions, just because ment were set forth in imperishable colours. they were the steadiest friends of freedom. They We rejoice he has made the attempt; we antideprecated and resisted the unbridled sway of cipate nothing but good to the conservative the people, because they saw clearly that it cause from his efforts. It is a common saying was utterly destructive to their real and dura- among lawyers, that falsehood may be exposed ble interests; that it permitted that sacred fire in a witness by cross-examination; but that which, duly restrained and repressed, is the truth only comes out the more clearly from all fountain of all greatness, whether in nations the efforts which are made for its confusion. or individuals, to waste itself in pernicious It is a fortunate day for the cause of historic flames, or expand into ruinous conflagration. truth when the leaders of the democratic party They supported the establishment of Conser- leave the declamation of the hustings and the vative checks on popular extravagance, be- base flattery of popular adulation, and betake cause they perceived from experience, and had themselves to the arena of real argument. learned from history, that the gift of unbridled We feel the same joy at beholding Mr. Bulwer power is fatal to its possessors, and that least arm himself in the panoply of the field, and of all is it tolerable where the responsibility, court the assaults of historical investigation, the sole check upon its excesses, is destroyed with which the knights of old saw themselves by the number among whom it is divided. extricated from the mob of plebeian insurrecThey advocated a mixed form of government, tion, and led forth to the combat of highborn because they saw clearly, that under such, and chivalry. such only, had the blessings of freedom in any
Mr. Bulwer is, in every point of view, a dis age been enjoyed for any length of time by the tinguished writer. His work on England and
the English is a brilliant performance, abound Mackintosh's Memoirs, I. 174.
ing with sparkling, containing some profound, observations, and particularly interesting to a single tyrant; aristocratic on the wants of a she multitude of persons to whom foreign tra- rapacious oligarchy; democratic alone on the velling has rendered the comparison of Eng- consulted desires and grateful experience of lish and French character and institutions an the whole community. If these propositions object of interest. His novels in profound were all true, they would be decisive in favour knowledge of the human heart, brilliancy of of popular, and highly popular institutions ; description, pathos of incident, and eloquence but unfortunately, though it is perfectly correct of language, are second to none in the English that monarchies and aristocracies are mainly language. The great defects of his writings, directed, if uncontrolled by the people, to supin a political point of view, are the total ab-port the interests of a single or an oligarchical sence of any reference to a superintending government, it is no less true, that the rapacity power and the moral government of the world; of a democracy is just as great; that the reand the continual and laboured attempt to ex- sponsibility of its leaders, from the number of culpate the errors, and screen the vices, and those invested with power, is infinitely less, draw a veil over the perils of democratic go- and that the calamities which, in its unmitivernment. The want of the first, in an inves- gated form it in consequence lets loose on the tigation into human affairs, is like the absence community, are such as in every age have led of the character of Hamlet in the play bearing to its speedy subversion. his name: the presence of the second a con- The Conservative principle of government, tinued drawback on the pleasures which an on the other hand, is, that mankind are radiimpartial mind derives from his otherwise cally and universally corrupt; that when inable and interesting observations. More espe- vested with power, in whatever form of govern, cially is a constant sense of the corruption ment, and from whatever class of society, they and weakness of human nature an indispen- are immediately inclined to apply it to their sable element in every inquiry or observation own selfish ends; that the diffusion of education which has for its object the weighing the capa- and knowledge has no tendency whatever to bility of mankind to bear the excitements, and eradicate this universal propensity, but only wield the powers, and exercise the responsi- gives it a different, less violent, but not less bility of self-government. We are not going interested direction ;-that the diffusion of suto enter into any theological argument on preme power among a multitude of hands dioriginal sin, how intimately soever it may be minishes to nothing the responsibility of each blended with the foundation of all investiga- individual, while it augments in a proportionate tions into the right principles of government; degree the rapacity and selfishness which is we assert only a fact, demonstrated by the ex- brought to bear on public affairs;-that when perience of every age, and acquiesced in by the multitude are the spectators of government, the, wise of every country, that there is an they are inclined to check or restrain its abuses, universal tendency to corruption and license because others profit, and they suffer by them; in human nature—that religion is the only but when they become government itself, they effectual bridle on its excesses, and that the instantly support them, because they profit, and moment that a community is established, with others suffer from their continuance;that out the effective agency of that powerful curb democratic institutions thus, when once fully on human passion, the progress of national and really established, rapidly deprave the affairs becomes nothing but the career of the public mind, and engender an universal spirit prodigal, brilliant and alluring in the outset, of selfishness in the majority of the people, dismal and degrading in the end. It is on this which speedily subverts the foundations of account that the friends of freedom have in national prosperity; and that it is only when every age been the most resolute and perse property is the directing, and numbers the convering enemies of democracy; because that trolling power, that the inherent vices and selffervent and searching element, essential to the ishness of the depositaries of authority can be highest national greatness, and the best ingre- effectually coerced by the opinion of the great dient in its prosperity, if duly coerced and majority who are likely to suffer by its extempered, becomes its most devouring and cesses, or a lasting foundation be laid in the fatal enemy the instant that it breaks through adherence of national opinion to the principles its barriers, and obtains the unrestrained di- of virtue for any lengthened enjoyment of the rection of the public destinies.
blessings of prosperity, or any durable disThe views of the republican and the demo- charge of the commands of duty. crat are the very reverse of all this. Accord- These are the opposite and conflicting prining to them, wickedness and corruption are the ciples of government which are now at issue inheritance of the oligarchy alone; aristocra- in the world: and it is to support the former cies are always selfish, grasping, rapacious; that Mr. Bulwer has brought the power of a democracies invariably energetic, generous, cultivated mind and the vigour of an enlarged confiding. Nobles, they argue, never act but intellect. Athens was a favourable ground to from designing or selfish views; their constant take, in order to enforce the incalculable powagent is human corruption ; their incessant ers of the democratic spring in society. Noappeal to the basest and most degrading prin- where else is to be found a state so small in ciples of our nature. Republicans alone are its origin, and yet so great in its progress: so really philanthropic in their views; they alone contracted in its territory, and yet so gigantic attend to the interests of the masses; they alone in its achievements : so limited in numbers, lay the foundations of the social system on the and yet so immortal in genius. Its dominions broad basis of general well-being. Monarchi- on the continent of Greece did not exceed an cal governments are founded on the caprice of English county; its free inhabitants never amounted to thirty thousand citizens-yet these Roman confederacy, or reclaim such as, from inconsiderable numbers have filled the world the presence of the Punic arms, had passed with their renown; poetry, philosophy, archi- over to their enemies. Whereas, in Greece, tecture, sculpture, tragedy, comedy, geometry, on the very first reverse, the whole states and physics, history, politics, almost date their colonies in alliance constantly passed over to origin from Athenian genius; and the monu- the Lacedemonian league; and the growth of ments of art with which they have overspread the power of Athens was repeatedly checked the world still form the standard of taste in by the periodical reduction of its strength to every civilized nation on earth. It is not sur- the resources of its own territory. Had the prising that so brilliant and captivating a Athenian multitude possessed the enduring spectacle should in every age have dazzled and fortitude and beneficent rule of the Roman transported mankind; and that seeing demo- aristocracy, they might, like them, have risen cratic institutions co-existing with so extra- superior to every reverse, and gradually spread, ordinary a development of the intellectual by the willing incorporation of lesser states faculties, it should have come to be generally with their dominions, into a vast empire, eximagined that they really were cause and effect, tending over the whole shores of the Mediterand that the only secure foundation which could ranean, and giving law, like the mighty empire be laid for the attainment of the highest hon- which succeeded them, for a thousand years ours of our being was in the extension of the to the whole civilized world. powers of government to the great body of the Mr. Bulwer appears to be aware of the brief people.
tenure of existence which Athens enjoyed; but Athens, however, has its dark as well as its he erroneously ascribes to general causes or brilliant side ; and if the perfection of its sci- inevitable necessity what in its case was the ence, the delicacy of its taste, and the refine- result merely of the fever of democratic acment of its arts, furnish a plausible, and, in a tivity. certain degree, a just ground for representing
“ În that restless and unpausing energy, democratic institutions as the greatest stimu- which is the characteristic of an intellectual lant to the human mind, the brevity of its ex- republic, there seems, as it were, a kind of istence, the injustice of its decisions, the insta- destiny: a power impossible to resist urges the bility of its councils, and the cruelty of its de- state from action to action, from progress to crees, afford too fair a reason for doubting the progress, with a rapidity dangerous while it wisdom of imitating, on a larger scale, any of dazzles; resembling in this the career of indiits institutions. Its rise was rapid and glori- viduals impelled onward, first to attain, and ous; but the era of its prosperity was brief; thence to preserve power, and who cannot and it sunk, after a short space of existence, struggle against the fate which necessitates into an obscure, and, politically speaking, in- them to soar, until, by the moral gravitation significant old age. The sway of the multitude, of human things, the point which has no beyond who formed the council of last resort in the is attained; and the next effort to rise is but the commonwealth, was capricious and tyrannical; prelude of their fall. In such states Time, inand such as thoroughly disgusted all the states deed, moves with gigantic strides ; years conin the confederacy of which it was the head. centrate what would be the epochs of centuries There was the secret of its weakness. Instead in the march of less popular institutions. The of protecting and cherishing the tributary and planet of their fortunes rolls with an equal allied states, the Athenian democracy insulted speed through the cycle of internal civilization and oppressed them, and in consequence, on as of foreign glory. The condition of their the first serious reverse, they all revolted; and brilliant life is the absence of repose. The the fleets which had constituted their strength accelerated circulation of the blood beautifies were at once ranged on the side of the enemies but consumes, and action itself, exhausting the of the state. The flames of Aigospotamos con stores of youth by its very vigour, becomes a sumed the Athenian navy; but that disaster, mortal but divine disease. great as it undoubtedly was, was not greater Now, in this eloquent passage there is an than the rout of Trasymene, the slaughter of obvious error; and it is on this point that the Cannæ, the irruption of the Gauls to Rome. Conservative or Constitutional principle of But Athens had not the steady persevering rule Government mainly differs from the Movement of the Roman patricians; nor the wise and or Democratic. Aware of the violence of the beneficent policy of the Senate to the states and fever which in Republican states exhausts the alliance, and thence they wanted both the strength and wears out the energy of the people, energy requisite to rise superior to all their the Conservative would not extinguish but misfortunes, and the grateful feelings which, regulate it; he would stop its diseased and in moments of disaster, ranged the allied states feverish, to prolong and strengthen its healthy in steady and durable array around them. and vital action. He would not allow the During the invasion by Hannibal, which, as youth to waste his strength and life in a brief involving a civil contest between the Patricians period of guilty excess, or unrestrained induland Plebeians in all the Italian cities, very gence, but so chasten and moderate the fever nearly resembled the Peloponnesian war, not of the blood as to secure for him a useful manone state of any moment revolted from the hood and a respected old age. The democrat, Roman alliance till after the disaster of Cannæ; on the other hand, would plunge him at once and even then it was only Capua, the rival of into all the excesses of youth and intemperance, Rome, which took any vigorous part with the throw him into the arms of harlots and the Carthagenians, and a very little effort was orgies of drunkenness, and, amidst wine and sufficient to retain the other allied cities in the women, the harp and the dance, lead him to
poverty, sickness, and premature dissolution. That is the point, and, as the evidence is not And ancient history affords a memorable con- laid before us, what right has Mr. Bulwer to trast in this particular; for while Athens, worn assume that the Athenian multitude were not out and exhausted by the fever of democratic ungrateful or unjust in their decision? For activity, rose like a brilliant meteor only to their conduct, in this instance, they received fall after a life as short as that of a single the unanimous condemnation of the historian individual, Rome, in whom this superabundant of antiquity, and yet Mr. Bulwer affirms that energy was for centuries coerced and restrained never was complaint more unjust. The fact by the solidity of Patrician institutions and the is certain, that all the greatest benefactors of steadiness of Patrician rule, continued steadily Athens were banished by the ostracism, or vote to rise and advance through a succession of of all the citizens, though the evidence adduced ages, and at length succeeded in subjecting in support of the charges is, for the most part, the whole civilized earth to its dominion. unknown; but as these deeds were the acts of
It has long been a matter of reproach to democratic assemblies, Mr. Bulwer, without Athens, that she behaved with the blackest in- any grounds for his opinion, in opposition to gratitude to her greatest citizens; and that the unanimous voice of antiquity, vindicates Miltiades, Themistocles, Aristides, Cimon, So- and approves them. crates, Thucydides, and a host of other illus- It is clear, from Mr. Bulwer's own admission, trious men, received exile, confiscation, or death that the banishment of almost all these illusas the reward for the inestimable benefits they trious benefactors of Athens was owing to their had conferred upon their fellow-citizens. Mr. resisting democratic innovations, or striving Bulwer is much puzzled how to explain away to restore the constitution to the mixed.condithese awkward facts; but as the banishment tion in which it existed previous to the great of these illustrious citizens, and the death of democratic innovations of Solon and Themis this illustrious sage, from the effects of popu- tocles: but such resistance, or attempts even lar jealousy, cannot be denied, he boldly en- by the most constitutional means to restore, he deavours to justify these atrocious acts of the seems to consider as amply sufficient to justify Athenian democracy. In regard to Miltiades their exile! · In regard to the banishment of he observes :
Cimon he obseryes: “The case was simply this,--Miltiades was “Without calling into question the integrity accused whether justly or unjustly no matter and the patriotism of Cimon, without sup--it was clearly as impossible not to receive posing that he would have entered into any the accusation, and to try the cause, as it intrigue against the Athenian independence would be for an English court of justice to of foreign powers-a supposition his subserefuse to admit a criminal action against Lord quent conduct effectually refutes he might, Grey or the Duke of Wellington. Was Mil- as a sincere and warm partisan of the nobles, tiades guilty or not? This we cannot tell. and a resolute opposer of the popular party, We know that he was tried according to the have sought to restore at home the aristocratic law, and that the Athenians thought him guilty, balance of power, by whatever means his for they condemned him. So far this is not great rank, and influence, and connection with ingratitude-it is the course of law. A man the Lacedæmonian party could afford him. is tried and found guilty—if past services We are told, at least, that he not only opand renown were to save the great from pun- posed all the advances of the more liberal ishment when convicted of a state offence, party—that he not only stood resolutely by the society would, perhaps, be disorganized, and interests and dignities of the Areopagus, which certainly a free state would cease to exist. had ceased to harmonize with the more modern The question, therefore, shrinks to this-was institutions, but that he expressly sought to it, or was it not ungrateful in the people to restore certain prerogatives which that assemrelax the penalty of death, legally incurred, bly had formally lost during his foreign expeand commute it to a heavy fine?' I fear we ditions, and that he earnestly endeavoured to shall find few instances of greater clemency in bring back the whole constitution to the more monarchies, however mild. Miltiades unhap- aristocratic government established by Clispily died. But nature slew him, not the Athe- thenes. It is one thing to preserve, it is nian people. And it cannot be said with another to restore. A people may be deluded, greater justice of the Athenians, than of a under popular pretexts, out of the rights they people no less illustrious, and who are now have newly acquired, but they never submit their judges, that it was their custom, de tuer to be openly despoiled of them. Nor can we un Amiral pour encourager les autres.''
call that ingratitude which is but the refusal This passage affords an example of the to surrender to the merits of an individual the determination which Mr. Bulwer generally acquisitions of a nation. evinces to justify and support the acts of his “ All things considered, then, I believe, that darling democracy, however extravagant or if ever ostracism was justifiable, it was so in monstrous they may have been. Doubtless, the case of Cimon-nay, it was, perhaps, we are not informed very specifically as to the absolutely essential to the preservation of the nature of the evidence adduced in support of constitution. His very honesty made him rethe charge of bribery brought against Miltiades. solute in his attempts against that constitution. Doubtless, also, it was necessary to receive the His talents, his rank, his fame, his services, charge when once preferred; but was it neces- only rendered those attempts more dangerous. sary to convict him, and send the hero of Mara- « Could the reader be induced to view, with thon, the saviour of his country, into a painful an examination equally dispassionate, the seveexile, which ultimately proved his death?/ral ostracisms of Aristides and Themistocles,