Abbildungen der Seite

in any

than pronounce and enforce judgment in particular cases; they shape the opinions of mankind in analogous ones; and those opinions, as we have seen, are the basis of government and legislation.

It will immediately occur to the House that the only republic in the world should be very careful not to commit its destinies,

serious degree, to institutions which might and would be controlled by influences hostile to its principles; and the more especially, as the natural tendency of things is more favorable to those principles than any policy shaped or controlled by the existing governments of Europe can possibly be expected to prove. In the nature of things, every organ, however constituted, of such governments, must speak the language of what is called "resistance” to the spirit of the age; and if any thing could enable them to resist that spirit, it would be a permanent congress of Laybach or Verona, laying down the law of war and peace for all nations. This was, indeed, the very scheme of the holy alliance to which this country was formally invited to accede.

The example of the Amphictyonic Council of Greece, which has been cited with confidence by the petitioners, is, in the opinion of the committee, as unfavorable to their purpose as any that could be selected from the records of the past. Without going into a critical examination of its history, for which this is not a suitable occasion, it is sufficient to refer to indisputable general results, to what every one who will cast his eye, however, carelessly, over the annals of those commonwealths will at once perceive—that it had no effect whatever in healing their fatal dissensions; that so long as there was any thing like a balance of power among the principal states, they continued to make war upon each other, without the least regard to the imaginary jurisdiction of that assembly; that, although by its constitution, the twelve peoples composing it had each an equal voice in it, whatever might be their inequality of weight and importance, yet its decisions were continually and openly swayed by the influence of the power or powers in the ascendant for the time being; and finally, that it was by availing himself of his absolute control over it, and by taking advantage of a favorable juncture in affairs, brought about by its policy, that Philip of Macedon found a plausible pretext, and a show of legitimate authority, to sanctify the machinations which he had been long contriving, and the war which he ultimately waged with success against the liberties of Greece.

Every other mere confederation, both in ancient and modern times, except under circumstances so peculiar as to make them unfit to be considered as precedents, has been attended with the same results. Either the leading members of them, at the head of standing, systematic parties, have been at perpetual war with

each other, or the overruling ascendant of some one of them has enabled it to invade the rights of all the rest, in every form of violence and artifice. The late German empire, for example, affords us instances of both these tendencies. Some of the longest and most desolating wars that have scourged Europe have grown out of the contlicting interests of the members of that league of peace, and had for their avowed object the adjustment of those interests according to the true theory of its public law. This was as much the case after as before the treaty of Westphalia, although one capital object of that memorable negotiation was to reform the constitution or the administration of the Imperial Chamber and the Aulic Council-in which jurisdiction in federal and feudal causes had been vested, without any effect, however, in deciding them to the satisfaction of the weaker party. Neither ought it to be forgotten that by that treaty a majority of suffrages in the diet was no longer to give the law in any matters that related to religion, or in which the two great parties as such, should vote differently, or, in general, in any case, wherein all the states could not be considered as forming a single consolidated nation. In all such cases the questions submitted to them were to be treated as those arising between foreign nations, and to be arranged by compromise, with no appeal but to the sword. So difficult is it to accomplish what the memorialists propose-the peaceful decision of controversies between states whose interests are materially different—that even where tribunals have been instituted for that purpose, the abuses to which they have been made to lend their authority have seldom failed, in the end, to aggravate and multiply the very evils they were intended to prevent. Experience shows, that of all wars, the most obstinate and terrible are those which grow out of such abuses. They partake of the nature of revolution and civil war, the color of authority on the one side, the sense of injustice on the other, inflame the usual bitterness of hostility; and battles are more sanguinary and victory less merciful where the contest is waged by parties standing towards each other in the supposed relation of rebel and tyrant. Such institutions, therefore, unless where the circumstances of a country are very peculiar, have inevitably one of two effects: they either strengthen the hands of the oppressor, or they lead to dreadful and desolating wars to overthrow him ; sometimes, as in the case of the Germanic empire and the house of Austria, in the seventeenth century, to both.

Upon the whole, your committee are of opinion that time is the best reformer in such things, and that any attempt to anticipate the natural progress of events, by institutions arbitrarily adopted, would either be vain or something worse than vain. They have endeavored to show that the cause of peace is visibly

gaining ground; that mankind are already become, and will daily become more and more disposed to sacrifice their comforts and their business to the ambition of Governments; nay, that Governments themselves, partaking of the spirit of the times, or dreading its effects, avoid, as much as possible, those ruinous contests by which nations are rendered discontented, and rulers more dependent on them, just when suffering and poverty most dispose them to revolt. Instead of congresses to put an end to war, generally on the foot of the status quo ante bellum, there are congresses to prevent a rupture, and piles of protocols attest that power, as was said of the Spartans after a memorable defeat, has lost much of its insolent and peremptory brevity of speech. The truth is that every war, hereafter, will, by the social disorders that are likely to accompany or to follow such an event, throw additional obstacles in the way of future ones. The sword will thus prove the best guaranty of peace.

Your Committee, therefore, do not think the establishment of a permanent international tribunal, under the present circumstances of the world, at all desirable; but they heartily concur with the memorialists in recommending a reference to a third power of all such controversies as can safely be confided to any tribunal unknown to the constitution of our own country. Such a practice will be followed by other powers, already inclined, as we have seen, to avoid war, and will soon grow up into the customary law of civilized nations. SThey conclude, therefore, by recommending to the memorialists to persevere in exerting whatever influence they may possess over public opinion, to dispose it habitually to the accommodation of national differences without bloodshed'; and to the House the adoption of the following resolution:

Resolved, That the committee be discharged from the further consideration of the subject referred to them.


1. The Historical Antiquities of the Greeks, with reference to their political in

stitutions. By William Wachsmuth, Professor of History in the University of Leipzig. Translated from the German, by EDMUND WOOLRych, Esq.

O. ford. 1837. D. A. Talboys. 2. A Manual of the Political Antiquities of Greece, historically considered; from

the German of Charles FREDERICK HERMANN, Professor of the University of Heidelberg. Oxford. 1836. D. A. Talboys.

The remarks which we had occasion to make in a recent paper,* on the great sựperiority, over all others, of the German philologists of the present day, especially in matters of historical criticism, are most strikingly exemplified in the two works at the head of this article. We take it upon us to assure such of our readers as have a taste for this department of study, that they will be amply repaid for any pains they may be put to in possessing themselves of their contents. The translation of them into English is but one more proof of the homage now universally done to those great masters of an erudition almost without bounds, informed and elevated by the spirit of a philosophy every way worthy of it. These are acquisitions to our language that deserve, in point of usefulness, to be placed by the side of the versions of Böckh’s “Public Economy of Athens,” and of Müller's "Dorians," both of which have been given to the English world within the last ten or twelve years. The works under review are, indeed, a necessary supplement to those admirable disquisitions, and can be studied with perfect advantage only in connection with them. We do not think we hazard much in saying, that whoever is not thoroughly familiar with Böckh's masterly view (so far as it goes) of the principles of Athenian government and administration, has yet to learn his elements as a student of history in one of its most interesting branches. It is a work deserving, in our opinion, to be adopted as a text-book in our public schools and colleges, instead of those handed down from an age far less accurately informed in such

* On the Origin, History, and Influence of Roman Legislation. New York Review, No. 10.

things than the present. Müller's Dorians, though entitled to high praise, is not, certainly, a monument of such patient and profound research, nor so full of new matter upon an old subject as the masterpiece just mentioned of his learned master. But those two works, combined with the "Historical Antiquities of Professor Wachsmuth, and the invaluable manual of Mr. Hermann, will be found, by a philosophic reader, to throw more light upon the genius, constitutions, and history of the two ruling Greek races, than all that has ever been written about them in the English language, from the invention of the art of printing up to the present moment. Nor is it only that they give us more, but that they give us better light upon these subjects-it is not merely that we are enabled to see farther into them, but that we are enabled to see more clearly than we ever did before. Objects hitherto surrounded with a false glare, or distorted by a troubled medium, are now exhibited in their natural shape and color, not to puzzle the curious as anomalies and non-descripts, but to instruct our reason, and to guide our conduct, by confirming the experience of statesmen, and completing the inductions of philosophers. Whatever, for example, may be in some respects the merit of Barthélemy, they whose ideas of Greek history and government have been formed upon the views presented in the "Travels of Anacharsis," have much to unlearn, before they can begin to profit by the lessons of better teachers, and perhaps the first step towards real improvements in such studies, would be the purging of our libraries with the salutary sternness of the curate and master Nicholas.

The two volumes, of which a translation is now offered to the public, form (we are told in the translator's preface) the first part of Professor Wachsmuth's treatise on Grecian Antiquities, of which we are promised the second in two additional volumes as soon as the translation is completed. This work has, it seems, already attained to the dignity of a classic in Germany. Professor Hermann, in his preface, speaks of it in that light, and thus explains the relation which his own labors bear to it:

“Hence naturally follows the relation this attempt bears to the great classical work on the same subject, the “Hellenic Antiquities” of Wachsmuth. The present treatise so far entirely agrees with that work, in the main design of combining, in one regularly connected series, all the results of previous antiquarian research, thought it would be presumptuous to institute any further comparison between the two works. li considered merely as a clue through those researches, this work may escape the charge of being superfluous, but must also, in that case, disclaim the merit of the original disquisitions and reflections by which the above mentioned highly gifted and deeply learned inquirer has rendered his work so peculiarly valuable, and of the high finish he has also imparted to its details. Only a few points have been treated more at length than by Wachsmuth, the author's object having, in general, been to furnislı an introduction to that author's elaborate work. The careful examiner, however, will not

« ZurückWeiter »