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makes him regard other mere forms as that cure which can only come from a true knowledge of his real condition, from a humbling distrust of himself, and from a reverential attitude in view of his Maker's law, and the life to come. If there be a difference, then we have here something of a test. Those forms are worst which do most to foster the false feeling; those are best which have a tendency to check or suppress its growth. It may be that the restless spirit of man is thus condemned to make trial of all forms, and to experience their utter vanity in themselves, as the only means by which the great lesson may be not only theoretically but practically and enduringly learned. Is man capable of self-government ? We would not give an absolute denial, but would only say,-certainly not, whilst he is ever boasting of it,certainly not, whilst he is so blind and so absurd, as to believe that any mere form can elevate him above his own passions, and his own selfishness.
But the ultra-radical, as we have said, is ever an ultra-formalist. Blind to the true disease of human nature, he is ever charging it upon the institutions of society. If this could only be put down, or that idolized form put in its place, then would come at length the golden age. Just as some spurious conservatives of the Tory school can never conceive of a church without a bishop, or a state without a King and House of Lords, so he also sees nothing good, nothing hopeful, unless the most unchecked democracy predominate alike in the civil and ecclesiastical constitution. "Could this democracy everywhere supplant monarchy, then would shine out man's semi-angelic nature. Humanity, so long trampled on by humanity, would rise again to fall no more.
The condemned forms, therefore, are violently changed. A short period of excitement follows, during which a mock heroic is the order of the day; and then it is found that the restless invalid has only turned himself upon his feverish couch, perhaps to a more disadvantageous position than before, but he has not arisen, he cannot arise, take up his bed and walk. What little advance had been gradually made before is lost in the revolutionary tumult. Political power, by a law of corrupt humanity, soon settles down again into the hands of a few; but without that orderly guidance which weakened its mischief, and actually turned it to good, under previous established institutions. The people have erected their barricades, they have overturned the throne, but they have not expelled the unseen spiritual monarch, the dread evil power, that tyrannizes over them the more unrelentingly in consequence of that very revolutionary feeling which causes them, more than ever, to lose sight of the true source of all the woes of humanity. In the fustian and rant so common a few months ago, nations were said to have lain down at night in chains, and to have awaked in the morning to
liberty, redeemed, regenerated, and disenthralled; but time passes on, and it is soon found that they have only changed an old form of subjection for a servitude still deeper and more galling. The glorious liberty of law has given place to the intolerable bondage of licentiousness. And then, too, there almost seems an actual challege to the Almighty, to bring to naught that which so proudly denies what He has pronounced true of man, and which so boastingly seeks to ground our well-being on a foundation He has declared so inadequate.
It is not denied that there may exist at times the right of violent revolution. But such have been ever cases, most clearly marked, of intolerable oppression without any other hope of relief. They have generally, too, been instances of resistance to foreign or extra territorial domination; where a conquered or colonized country has revolted from a rule exercised in violation of acknowledged right or existing law. Such was the revolt of the Dutch from the domination of the Spaniard; such was our secession, (improperly styled revolution,) from the foreign mother country ; such seems to be now the resistance of the Italians to the Austrian rule, the most justifiable of all the late movements in Europe. Others again, of a different class, have been violent efforts to right the ship of state, when some department of the government had usurped an undue and unconstitutional power over the others efforts conservative even of that which they aimed to rectify—as in the Scottish war against Stuart oppression, and in the English revolution of 1688. These, however, as we have said, or some of them, have been, marked cases, on which God may be said to have set his seal in the characters of the chief men who were raised up for their accomplishment,-men serious, grave, devout, of high, heroic and religious bearing, men, in short, in almost all respects the opposite of the frivolous, the animal, or, at the highest, sentimental and poetical cast, who have figured in the late revolutions of Europe.
But the present revolutionary period is, in many respects, sui generis. It is not so much resistance, even alledged resistance, to actual oppression, either foreign or domestic, as a war for abstract rights. In other cases, (in its common application to which the word revolution, we think, is a misnomer, all the internal, civil, and domestic institutions of the land remained as before, or with unsubstantial modifications to adapt them to a new relation. But now the claim comes fully up to the spirit of the word. It is the period of revolutions, of rolling over and over ; and this right of revolution, or rolling over, has no place or principle at which it can consistently stop. It is, in fact, the claim to destroy civil institutions, and that, too, as a matter of inalienable right, whenever it can be ascertained that they are disagreeable, in any way, to any number possessed of the present physical force for that
any sane man believe that the right thus asserted will stop at a provisional democratic council, or a national assembly, any more than at a king, or a chamber of deputies ?—that when it has destroyed all that has heretofore been deemed sacred in political institutions, it will stop at property, or refrain from invading the social and domestic relations?--the moment there is an entire cutting loose from the past, and an assertion of the absolute right of any generation, and of any present collection of men, to begin de novo, it is utterly impossible to establish any foundation, or to assign any limit.
The great problem in political philosophy is, to get, as the support of the very idea of government, something out of the present governed, and which may be supposed to survive all outward mutations,—something which shall be held sacred as a permanent bond of connection with the past historical life of a people,-something which belongs to past generations as well as the present, which connects the living with the dead, and with those who are yet unborn, and which, therefore, the present masses, being but a part of a whole, have no right utterly to dispense with. Something of this kind, be it ever so flexible or elastic, has been supposed to belong necessarily to every idea of government rising at all above the sensual conception of present physical force. It has been sought in a line of descent,-in the preservation of a monarchical principle, reduced to its lowest elements of power, and surrounded with popular checks intended to regulate but not destroy. It has been sought in certain fundamental ideas brought in at the birth of a nation, and which it was supposed would be held sacred through all outward changes. Even the very instincts of the demagogue acknowledge something of this kind, when, without knowing what he means, he babbles about the genius of our institutions. This principle has been sought in antiquity, and in a reverence for law which becomes stronger and stronger as it advances in age. It has been supposed that it might be found in constitutional provisions atteinpted to be placed beyond the power of present majorities; provisions regarded as connected with the revered name of the fathers of the republic, and, therefore, as possessing a sacredness which would preserve them as the unchanged ground of all other changes-something, in short, which might justly call out the rational feeling of reverence as for that which is above us, even although we ourselves had aided in giving it that high place, something which must remain when generations pass away, thus standing as a faint symbol of the divine, and a link of connection with the universal government of God. In these ways has there been earnestly desired, even in governments outwardly the most popular, that which should run through the nation's historical life-making it one continued existence, having all its
modifications, be they of less or greater flexibility, flowing from such fundamental ideas or law; and this fundamental law itself, if susceptible of outward changes, having them always in accordance with the still deeper and more remote law which regulates its own organism. In consequence of a feeling of this necessity, minds as acute and profound as the world has ever known have concluded that some form of monarchy was essential to the preservation of this indispensable idea, and that, let government be ever so popular in the greater part of its insti. tutions, there must, after all, be a visible, acknowledged, power, back of the present popular will, in which this continuity of political life must be supposed to reside. Nothing shows how little true thinking or true independence of thought there really is among us, with all our boasting of it, than the way in which we follow our editors and lecturers, and political declaimers, in the universal taking for granted, that an opinion most profoundly entertained by such men as Burke, and Arnold, and Coleridge, and Hall, and Chalmers, and Whately, is hardly worth a refutation by the most superficial sophist of the land. rationally feel that we have sought and found this vital principle in some better, way—better at least for us—but he is utterly unworthy of the name of statesman who does not acknowledge the difficulty of the problem, and the importance of having something out of the direct power of the present; unless it chooses violently to sunder all connection with previous institutions, by the mere volition and physical strength of revolution.
Even France, in all her former convulsions, never wholly lost sight of this principle. Every step from the assembling of the Notables and States-general, in the movements of the last century, had been connected with former legislation by some link having the spirit and form of law. However irregular and spasmodic, yet through all these went the national life, under all the forms of the old reduced monarchy, the republic, the empire, the restored inonarchy, the second revolution which preserved the legislative bodies or chambers, down to the last revolution of February. Here commences a new era. Here was the first violent sundering of all connection with the past. All departments went at a single blow. Some institutions remained, not as having any authority from the preceding, but as a matter of necessity-just as the cities, the public buildings, the roads, and the masses themselves survived. But as far as any idea of government is concerned, the Parisian mob having the then present physical force, resolved to begin anew. All on which they could put their hands was virtually abolished. Half a dozen men, in the midst of uproar and confusion, assumed to originate a new national existence for thirty million. From this indeed, may grow out something having the main elements of
government. It may repudiate the suicidal doctrine in which it had its origin, and may thus become entitled to the good wishes of every conservative mind. But as far as the idea of this last revolution is concerned, France can never have any government without retracing some of her steps. The only acknowledged doctrine now is the inherent right of the stronger part of the population, nearest to the seat of government, to break it down whenever it is disagreeable to them; they being the only judges. For here is the difference between this and all other events that have borne the name of revolution. It is not simply the right to rectify constitutional disorders in one department through the action of other departments of the government. It is not merely the right to resist intolerable physical oppression-for this could not be said to be the case in France under the rule of Guizot and Louis Philippe—but it is the assertion of the naked' abstract right of revolution, at any time, on the ground that any present government is obnoxious to the masses in its vicinity. It is a principle opposed to all government, republican as well as monarchical. Against its destructive application not even the
. most extreme flexibility can avail. No provision in respect to constitutional changes, no restrictions, such as we have in all our states, as to time, or place, or numbers, or mode of proceeding, can be any allowed obstacle in the way of those who know they have the physical force, and do not choose to wait for such proceedings,-alleging as a reason therefor either fancied inconvenience, or the assumed danger which delay may bring to their rights, or acting from the merest caprice of the moment. Physical force, it is true, may destroy any government; it may destroy the works of God. But in France, this, if we may use the paradox, has been legitimated. The right of revolution, or of unfixing all things, if we may employ the word in so strange a sense, is the only fixed principle of the nation ; and even the nation remains the nation, and does not become numberless nations, or parts of other nations, no longer than the aggregate wills of these parts consent to remain together.
Now it is such a revolution, and such a principle as this, which has been extravagantly lauded from one end of our land to the other. How few enquired, or even thought, the enquiries pertinent, whether or not instead of intolerable physical oppression, the government of France, during the past eighteen years, had been so peacefully and well administered, that the physical comfort and outward prosperity of the masses, had been more advanced than during any previous eighteen years of her history; or whether during this period, there had not been a substantial progress, a gradual, yet most sure tendency towards an equalization of property, and a decided advance in all the elements of national wealth. It appears from the very statistics of