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Southern extremes no index of state of feeling
domestic institution,” by a Virginian, 331.
view by T. C. C.), 230.
S. Senator of the State of New York, biogra-
vocates internal improvements, law reform,
Western people, (T. C. C.), 423.
Whitney to the Editors of the London Times,
family and education ; becomes editor of the
A M E RICAN REVIEW,
FOR JANUARY, 1850.
DEMOCRACY IN FRANCE. *
The author of this work is a man of principles, the real merits of the general great philosophical ability, and of a repu- subject—involved as they are in fact in tation quite equal to his deserts. He pos- these principles-must receive ample though sesses moreover that which gives a higher indirect elucidation. authority with the public, a practical ex- The first of our explanations will perience in the subject he treats. In pro
In pro- a certain presumption which would preposing to criticise a writer thus qualified in clude all argument, all evidence whatever. reality, and confided in by the general With the acknowledged honesty as well as opinion, we feel obliged, alike by deference ability and experience of Guizot, how, it to this opinion and diffidence of our own, may be thought, can he well have been to premise a few explanations, by means of very widely misled in a matter of politiwhich the reader may judge in turn of the cal science? Or supposing such the fact, critic as well as the author.
how can this or that critic, inferior to him For this very submissive procedure—so in some or perhaps all these qualifications, characteristic, no doubt, of literary and all expect to be listened to with attention in other censors—we have still a more sub- pretending to convict him—and with him, stantial motive than modesty. The preli- three-fourths of Europe—of error? This, minaries alluded to may also shed some
it will be observed, is the old argument light upon the most important political from authority. But, though this logical phenomenon of this or any previous age, opiate be now renounced by name, yet the the revolutionary eruptions of 1848 and 9; thing itself retains, and salutarily, all its a light which appears requisite to the spe- bold upon the instincts of the people, who culators of all parties, and especially per- distrust it rather for the oppressions which haps to the gentlemen of the press. For, it has sanctioned than for the fallacies which respecting the true nature of this social it involves. As preliminary therefore to the earthquake, there seems to be as yet quite evidence of fact, it will be well to show, as little of discriminative agreement among concerning the errors in question, that those who are predisposed to regard it with neither is their occurrence a thing so impredilection, as there is of comprehensive probable in M. Guizot, nor their detection intelligence in the opposite party. The at all presumptuous in persons differently latter, are however, entirely positive, pre- circumstanced. It is thought no presumpcise, dogmatic, in denouncing it. M. Guizot tion that the peasant of the present day preis their enlightened advocate, or their doc- tends to see the errors, for example, of witchtrinal exponent. In submitting, therefore, craft and astrology; and yet these had been our strictures upon his book to the test of l for ages devoutly believed by unanimous
* De La Democratie en France. Par M. Guizot. Paris, 1849. VOL. V. NO. I. NEW SERIES.
Europe—including, M. Guizot. But the vested in its triumph the sole passion of difference of time is too, many as great or his nature, and the most obstinate of the greater intellects than only one of the ele- human heart, which is pride—we need ments of diversity in human judgments. not be surprised to find him not very per
Of this habitual diversity there are two spicacious into the errors of that system; general causes. The one consists in the especially at the hour of its downfall and variety of circumstances in which the same
But this was the predicament of subject is seen by different persons. The the standard-bearer of the Doctrinaires other, in the variations of condition under and ex-minister of the ex-royalty of which the subject itself may exist at differ- France. ent times. To the class of influences Yet the more fundamental error of which affect the vision belong, preëminent- Guizot's book does not proceed from the ly, education, religion, the several pas- distortions of those prejudices precisely. sions, the particular pursuits, the personal It has its root rather in the second of our interests. Now these are all so many general causes of misjudgment—the inadpackets of judgments made up by other vertence to, not to say ignorance of the parties—whether man, or God, or nature- variation of conditions. Guizot reasons as and imposed upon each individual who is if men were composed of the same menborn into society. The process by which tal and moral elements to-day, as upon he applies them is therefore not judgment, descending from the ark. He recognizes but mere association. At the impression no normal progression in man or in governof a particular fact, the opinion originally ment. He employs, indeed, the word; but attached to it springs up spontaneously it is only with a tone of resignation or an The man-machine does but take the label- air of derision. “ Order," as the end, ed judgment from his packet and deposit it “ power” as the means, and the eternal -much like the Laputan philosophers who statu quo which would be their necessary conversed by means of bundles of sticks. consequence-this is the hopeful triad of Such is, however, the judgment of most his govermental providence ; —a psycholomen upon most subjects from the cradle gical phenomenon truly wonderful in a to the grave. It is necessarily the judg- French philosopher of the present day, ment of all men, and of all ages of man- and which requires a large combination and kind, until they have attained that intel- intensity of the above influences to confirm lectual manhood which fits and sets them it; but stranger still in a man who had to review the provisional teachings of their lectured long on the history of civilization. nonage, and to transform into principles For the principle of civilization is quite what had been hitherto but prejudices. incompatible with the theory in question, We mean by “prejudices,” not necessarily which considers man, we repeat, as fixed errors; but, according to the etymology, a quantity as a metal or a stone, of which simple pre-judgments, or judgments with the properties are eternally the same in all out examination,
circumstances. But the transformation will evidently be It is needless to state that this is not the more difficult, more imperfect, in propor- case with any organized being. On the tion as the prejudices are reinforced by contrary the normal condition of this form each other. Thus, if the religion second of existence is continual change. And the passions, as in some infamous supersti- the change becomes more intense and intions of antiquity, it will be more difficult definite in proportion as the object ascends to rectify the perversions of either than it in the scale of organization, from the vethey stood opposite or even isolated. Hard- getable to man, and from man himself to er still must be the task, if not quite hope- society. It is thus that during childhood, less, when the early inculcations of reli- the individual and the state are governed gion are followed up by the routine of pro- respectively by the pedagogue and the fession, and fortified by the instincts of in- priest. On advancing to maturity they terest. For if a statesman has devoted demand different rulers. This continual his life to the inculcation of a certain form progression of govermental forms, result, of government, has risen to public honors ing from the aggregate and accumulated through its temporary ascendancy, has in progressions of the governed, is the key, as it has been the cause, of the late Euro- the consideration of the Whig party, whose pean revolutions; and not only these in policy is already proficient in combining particular, but the key to the whole history, firmness of principle with flexibility of modthe laws, the destinies of society. It is ification. There remains in fact little else then against this history, these laws, that than to substitute gradually the guidance destiny, that M. Guizot has had the har- of science for the sure, indeed, but less dihood to erect the sandbank of his book, systematic impulses of patriotism and the after their indignant food had just sub- effete phraseology of past politics. These merged the barricades of his master. things have served us tolerably hitherto.
In the light of these general remarks While confined to the native bays and inrespecting the nature and occasion of the land seas of our political infancy, we errors suggested, we now proceed to exem- might, as did the ancient mariners, conplify in a careful and consecutive analysis. trive to get along by coasting in view of
First, however, it seems proper to advise the promontories of precedent, marking the the reader, on the other hand, that it is rocks and quicksands of party opposition, not errors alone which it will be our duty and looking aloft for our last bearings to the to point him out. The excellencies of de- familiar stars of the Revolutionary Fathers. tail are a good deal more numerous, and of But this state of things is changed. We incontestible truth and importance. At are fast and irresistibly drifting out into a present these lie lost in a great degree to shoreless ocean, where other principles of all parties. By the progressives they are steerage are perilously indispensable. They included in the general prejudice against must be something independent of all inthe known politics of the author. To the dividuals, of all examples, of all times, conservatives they teach no lesson, being because embracing them all. This new represented as concessions or casualties, compass is the application of political or instead of general and providential causes. social science. And the party whose To the impartial they bring no firm con- statesmen shall have first appropriated it viction, because of their incongruity with in this country may reasonably count upon the spirit and purpose of the publication. a long possession of the helm of affairs. Now, by exposing this incongruity; by de- Better and higher than this, by breaking taching this vigorous undergrowth of prac- loose from red-tape, and routine, and rastical truths from the rotten trunk of a or- cality of the present practice, they would der,” upon which Guizot would engraft introduce into the art of goverment a rethem; by distinguishing both in his doc- volution no less remarkable, perhaps, than trines and in the principles which he com- was effected by the magnet in the art of nabats, the chaff to be given to the fire from vigation. the grain to be stored for use, the latter But, in the third place, the mode proposed may be rendered acceptable as well as in- of examining the book of Guizot, will afstructive to all.
ford us also the pleasure of doing justice, But it would be particularly available to amidst his faults, to a writer to whom, afthe American people—because the only ter all, both the letters and politics of the people that have yet appeared upon the age are quite as much indebted as to any stage of the world in the condition to or- other individual thinker. A man whose ganize deliberately into an harmonious soul, still loftier than his genius, does hoand enduring system, the adverse move- nor to the literary character—so much in ments that are now distracting and long need, heaven knows, of an occasional reshall disorder the social peace and prospe- demption. A man of that sublime, because rity of Europe; and not only of Europe, self-centred dignity, which the petty stigbut after it of Asia, and so outward to the matize as pride, and which remained the most torpid extremities of humanity. This same through his wide vicissitudes of forwe owe as an inheritance to our own pos- tune ; the same when a nameless student terity, as an example to mankind, as a debt he wrote for the newspapers from the purto divine Providence, who has placed the lieus of Paris, as when after he stood forth attainment peculiarly not only within our at the head of the French nation, that is reach, but athwart our path. It is a pride to say, the official leader of modern civilto this Journal to commend it especially to ization. And the same still in his fall,