Imagens das páginas

the pliant and inhuman Audley, that second, he read in parchments, which heresy was made high treason, and the sounded prettily enough on the ear, but scatföld flowed with innocent blood.” holiow enough to the heart. What We mention these authorities, not so other interest can there be in this realm, much to defend Sir Thomas, as to that the people should be thus outraged account for what may seem an incon- for centuries ? Royalty must be abogruity between his widely-tolerant reli- lished—a commonwealth, with such a gious opinions, and his subsequent office libration in its frame, that no man, not conduct. He was ever of a modest even Oliver himself, shall have the inteand retiring disposition. He was com rest, or (having the interest) have the pelled to take the great seal. Long power to disturb it, must be establishbefore he became Chancellor, he would ed. Happy idea! Noble theme for leave his briefs and devotions, and retire contemplation! How shall it be framinto the cloister of contemplation, and ed, so that without contradiction to itwhile lashing with quiet, good humored self-to reason—to experience, it will satire, veiled under an occasional absur- regulate itself, without resistance, in dity, the chicanery of the court and the perpetuity ? Such, probably, were the corruptions of the church, would plead conceptions which met Harrington, in for a reform in the state, founded on in. limine, when he began his model. He dividual right, and toleration in religion, searched history, called into existence wide as even our Roger Williams could orators of the brain, who declaimed have wished. He clothed his concep- about his imaginary laws, gave them tions in a felicitous latinity,--imbued the authority of the old sages and the them with the dignity of philosophical eloquence of his own heart, imbued discrimination,mellowed them with their lips with the “ honey of persuathe golden light of Hesperian romance, sion,” tried their sentiments in the fires and enriched them with all the novelties of experience, and moulded them in the of the opening world, of El Dorados. symmetry of system; and thus sprung

The long vexed question of royal into being, like a Venus from the wave, prerogative and popular privilege had a land of happiness and harmony, from been decided. The “right divine of the bosom of the northern seas. kings to govern wrong," had been con We have now before us the three temptuously set aside by Puritan Enge happy Republics. It may not be unland. The sacred right of popular re- interesting to examine the principles on sistance had been established; but pow- which they were founded, and the spirit er yet remained in the hands of some by which they are pervaded. Pure as not loathing its exercise. The royal they appear, when contrasted with the victim must be immolated; and by way eras in which they are written ; splenof superfluity, Charles Stuart laid his did and unattainable as seems their obhead upon the block. It was severed ject, they are not the impossibilities from his body; and James Harrington, which they are generally supposed. heart-sick and pensive, retired from the Difficulties, the most formidable, are stained scaffold into his study to medi- not impossible, paletà pev, δυνατα δε πη. Of tate. England had suffered long-how their practicability we shall hereafter long from the haughty house of Stuart! speak. We refer now to their existOld England had suffered, even during ence in reason. Give Archimedes a the plausible reign of good queen Bess, point beyond the earth, and he will who was always chary of her queenly move it by his lever. Give philosophy prerogative. What availed the baro- and ethics certain premises, and they nial charter of Runnymede? Thirty will transform the morals and condition times had it been renewed by Parlia- of its inhabitants. Let us see what we ment. The theory of privilege had been can give our theorists. repeated by successive Parliaments; With Plato, education is the Archibut its observance in practice-what medean power. Whether he does not was it, but a mockery and an insult to expect more from it than he reasonably the Saxon spirit; and so felt James should, is questionable ; but that it is a Harrington as he sat down to the his- tremendous regenerating agency, this tory of English wrongs and English age and country illustrate ; and if civil rights. In the first he saw real red polity is ever to arise in the majesty of grievances crimsoning the page; the perfection, we know of no other or fitter

[ocr errors]

"He most livea

influence by which it will be accom same habits of obedience and industryplished. Plato believed that men were in the same processes of agriculture and something else beside gross matter; that commerce: and by arrangements which they were not dumb stocks and stones; bear a wonderful resemblance to the but spirits with capacities to be filled,“ series and groups” of Fourier, all his and inclinations to be bent. He felt industrial energies are happily developthat life was something more than the ed, and his relations to society are perquick round blood; time, something else vaded by a unity, which supposes a than heart throbs—that

very great change in the manners of mankind.

Plato, by a divine intuition, peneWho thinks most-feels the noblest-acts the best"

trates into the nature of the human The intellectual and ethical develop- soul, and draws thence the causes ment by which he would influence the which are to produce social harmony. individual, renders it impossible that he More, by his ingenious talent, discerns should be content to dwell in any other the best recorded thought and experithan the very society that exists in the

ence; and by a collation of effects Republic. This development depends establishes a result of admirable uniforupon an acute insight into the human mity. Plato allures to virtue by showsoul, whose discordant elements are ing its beauty; More would guide us in harmonized, and made the spring of its pleasant path by a happy restraint; every grace and beauty ; that dwelling, Plato would prevent, rather than punas in a sanctuary of health, the young ish ; More would mould character rashould imbibe good from all around ther than crush it by penalties. He them, whence anght may strike their would build no throne in Utopia, lest sense, like airs that are wafting health ambition should aspire ; use no orafrom purest climes.

ments lest men should become vain and Sir Thomas, with little of Plato's effeminate, nor present any attractions philosophical acumen, with which to lest men should be dazzled. Plato apprehend and classify the flitting phe- builds th nes, surrounds them with nomena of mind; without his daring in embroidered canopies and splendid dethe enunciation of principles, that bold- corations ; places upon each a Republily traverses the path of prejudice, mea- can, that all may rule in their own sured man more by his external manic spheres with a royal equality : Plato is festations and his actual history; select- superior to Sir Thomas, as the orator is ed from each state some well-tried superior to the mere rhetorician; as Cicero measure and wise maxim ; extracted is superior to Quinctillian ; as the poet the spirit of his ethics from Christianity; is superior to the artistic translator; as bound them all together by a common Spenser surpasses Pope. Plato is an brotherhood; and thus formed a system, ingenious creator. More a talented conin each particular perhaps practicable, structor. The harmony of the latter is which, as a whole, never existed, but that of the silver-sounding instrument which might exist in that advanced played by a cunning hand; the barmostate of mankind, which Plato's influ- ny of the former is that of an Eastera ences upon the plastic soul would pro- fountain, gracefully leaping upward, duce. He locates his Utopia upon an then dancing over pearls and precious island of the western main, and in its stones, to its own ravishing melody. arrangement endeavors to reduce every• Picture before you his community of thing, save religion, to a uniform stan- men, endowed with the gifts of wisdom; dard. His fifty-four cities are laid out excommunicating all those who are inwith a precision which extends to every corrigible in disposition, from long perstreet and house. A certain number version ; trying and refining by their constitute a family ; a certain number pure ordeal the rising race; frowning of families select a magistrate ; each upon the fancied superiority of wealth member lives a certain time in the city, and the foppery of fashion, with no cast and a certain time in the country; wears but that of virtue, no nobility but that a common costume, and partakes of a of manhood ; permitting this one to turn / common table. By a wholesome dis- the turf, under the clear sky, with the cipline, similar to that of the Pelopon- shining share ; that one to chisel the conesian Republic, he is disciplined in the lumn for the towering temple; and

those to whom it is congenial, to become state, is also true ; that it should not be, the servants, workmen, and traders of every principle of our nature suggests, society, and thus, each one to realize the experience of England attests, and his own idea of life in his own way, our inborn independence forbids. This with the same rapture as the philoso- question of property has been the pher in his study, and the painter in his mountain in the otherwise even path of studio. The courageous defend from our speculators. Some glance around aggression by the same law which it, or soar above it; but most meet it makes the intellectual the legislators of boldly, insert, silently, their bore, and the commonwealth ; and to this latter— shatter it by their explosive appliances, the highest eminence, where none are Plato does not hesitate at a community low—there is ever a path open by which of property ; More advocates it, pergoodness and wisdom may reach their haps only as a cloak of absurdity for proper sphere. Under such genial in- his satire ; and Harrington is by no Auences each individual is led, step by means equivocal in his opinion. We step, to act his own part perfectly; should not hastily condemn the classic and, although like the allegorical knights speculators on this vital question. There of the “ Faërie Queen," not perfect in was wanting in their times that protectall the cardinal virtues ; yet all, when ing arm which stimulates to labor by combined in the state, as were the insuring reward, which we possess. twelve virtues in Prince Arthur, pro- The rich held their property by a tenure duce a perfect architype of human as frail as their title was flimsy. It was 1 magnanimity.

not the accumulation of honest toilThe Oceana is less poetical, conse- the results of a sweating brow, the best quently less attractive; but, as a useful title which man can have to a portion model, is perhaps preferable. Its struc- of God's footstool! But what excuse ture is mechanical. It seems supported is there for the Englishmen? Harringby underpinning and buttresses, and re ton asks, whether there is not an Agragalated by weights and ingenious com- rian law, or some law to supply its place, i pensations. It stands out in strange in every commonwealth? There must contrast to the sublime Ideal of Plato, finally be. There is in this country, and the splendid romance of More. It Abolish your primogeniture in England ! was demanded by exigency, and was Ah! there is the fault which you are pot infused with the spontaneous out- striving to correct. Strike there, and pouring of enthusiasm, or thrown off as the mountain in your path is as a mole- ! the jue d'esprit of a leisure hour. It hill. is wanting in soul, though not in spirit. Another prominent idea of the Oce- ! The matter is learned, and the style ana, is the ballot. Agrarianism is to perspicuous. The fundamental idea is, preserve equality in the root, by the that government is not an accidental nor balance of dominion, and the ballot by an arbitrary institution, there being in an equal rotation conveying it into the society natural causes, producing their branch, or exercise of sovereign power. necessary effects, as well as in the This seems to have been a new idea, at earth or in the air. Harrington looks least in the time of Harrington. It beneath the superfices of society for the troubled his answerers exceedingly; as causes of the then existing agitations, it always willtrouble “the demure,graveand finds them in the increase of pro- looking, spring-nailed, velvet-pawed, perty; and, consequently, of power in green-eyed despisers of public opinion," the hands of the commons. Hence his in every age and country. His friends apothegm, “ Empire follows the ba- had a club called Rota, where they met lance of property." This is the grand to discuss political principles; and solution, of which James Harrington is where, by way of essay, they used the the Edipus, and for which a biograph- ballot. The novelty of the operation er claims for him an eminence with filled their meetings, and the experiGallileo, Harvey, and other discoverers. ment might have been made in ParliaThat property has its influence ment, had not a certain iron-hand medin government is most true. The dled overmuch in state affairs at that extent of that influence has been time. But it has become a mighty inmore clearly ascertained since the mid- strument in the hand of the descendants dle of the seventeenth century. That of the old commonwealth men. We it is not the paramount authority in the are doubtless, indebted in a great degree

to James Harrington, for the still small syllogistic axis ; but the world would voice of the ballot, which stays the still be marking time to the dull music tempests of party, and persuades all of conservatism. Now, although our into patriotic acquiescence.

speculators differ as widely as the manThe plan of the Oceana is simple. ners of their respective eras; although The first part consists of preliminary many of their ideas are chimerical and dissertations on liberty, beginning at its absurd; and although the results are dawn, and closing with the times of the impracticable, yet in this idea which first Charles. In the second part he runs throughout all their speculations, enters the visionary realm. He lays we agree with them, that modifications down, in the form of laws for its gov- must be made-that improvements are ernment, certain positive propositions ; always in order—and that that age is introduces imaginary legislators, who recreant to the past, and reckless of the represent different nations, as Israel, future, that will not dare and do someAthens, Sparta, and so forth ; calls into thing beyond the confines of barren cushis council Bacon, Hobbes, Cromwell, tom: something beside “swallowing and others, under the titles of Verula- antiquity whole," because gorgeous mius, Leviathan, Olphaeus, Megaletor, with the mystic pomp of elder days, &c.; gives them the floor to discuss his and armed with the authority of age. laws; enlivens their rhetoric with meta- There is no government in which we phor, and enriches their oratory with cannot, with every day, discern many even more philosophy than would be deficiencies, some redundancies, and now tolerated from a Macaulay or a very few things that are not susceptible Guizot; and at last interposes the of change or emendation. An enlightbuckler of the Archon, the Premier of ened age will be governed more by reaOceana, whose decisions give tone and son than authority ; else, why this frecharacter to the book. The laws thus quent enacting and abrogating; why enacted, Harrington believed would es this continual probing and analysis of tablish equality in the frame-work of the primordial principles of society ; Society. He saw the causes of the why these reformatory movements, decay of all governments in the want these conventions to reestablish fundaof this equilibrium between different mental constitutions ? These peaceful departments; and since he had furnish- movements are the most cheering signs ed the proper balances, his government of our age. Now, since reforms can- | would live forever. He did not con not be made without a previous concepsider, that a very little friction, or even tion and contemplation, there is nothing the slightest jar, would increase by its in the mere imaginary forms of our auown action, until the harmony of his thors reprehensible. If their concepcontrivance should become confusion. tions are true; if the intellectual ore is The earth itself, as it spins around on good, it is none the worse for being its soft axle,” is silently changing its re- wrought into beautiful and elegant lations to the Universe ; and at the best, figures, stamped in a perfect mould, or finite reason cannot bestow upon any- because glittering with the flash of thing mortal, that immortality, anything fancy. We have seen that our authors corruptible, that incorruptibility which were practical men ; that they lived in the Almighty has refused to his produc- trying times, and we might hence contions. We are no friends to that rash clude, à priori, that the subjects upon generalization, which would make the which they treat are worthy of the constars turn in circles rather than in ellip- sideration of even a practical age; but : ses, because it fills some loved idea of we subjoin one or two illustrations from beauty. The world has had such a the most flighty of our authors, to prove system of celestial mechanics; but that they were in spirit, and would who lives now, Gallileo, or his incarce- have been in deed, practical reformers. rators? It has had

à priori system There cannot remain a doubt upon the of metaphysics; but where now are mind of any reader of the Utopia, but the golden books of Eugena and Ray- that its author anticipated the great mond Lully? The schoolmen might principles of commercial reciprocity, elaborate and refine; Thomas Acqui- (so long considered Utopian!) afterpas might delve into his dialectics wards established theoretically by until he should turn the universe on a Adam Smith, and now about to be

fully realized by the greatest commer there lies the golden mean. Plato, the cial people on the globe. “ If I do not,” most sublime of our authors, does not, says Lord Campbell, find in the Uto as is generally supposed, reason by rash pia, all the doctrines of sound political generalities. "He ascends to them, as economy advocated by Adam Smith, I Mr. Coleridge has shown, in the order can distinctly point out in it the objec- of nature, from particulars,—the same tions to a severe penal code, which have manner which Bacon pursued. We at last prevailed, after they had been could show this at length, but we forurged, in vain, by Romilly and Mack- bear. Because Plato is lofty, therefore, intosh,” We know well the change most persons believe that he is poetic. that has been gradually taking place in Because he stands on the highest sumpublic sentiment, as well as in juris- mits around which the eagle sweeps, prudence, in relation to penalties. A they will not believe that he ascended very great number of the best thinkers thither, step by step, as the chamois, of our time doubt the right of society but on a bold wing of generalization. to take life at all. It is then a matter. In his Republic this process is clearly of present interest to observe the prac- discernible. Plato analyzes the mind tical wisdom of the old Lord Chancel- of the individual, and then draws his lor, who would have introduced many conclusions as to a number of minds in remedial measures, had he not been in society. But it may be asked, are not advance of his age by many centuries. social phenomena intricate and complex, We have not room to quote. We refer and can universal prescriptions, applithe intelligent reader to the original, in cable to individuals, be applied to sociewhich the salutary effects of a humane ty? Yes; but only so far as the sopenal code are insisted upon, and sim- cial and the individual are identical. ple yet good reasons urged in its favor. Hobbes and Machiavel, who looked on We need not go into further detail to the dark side of human nature, regardprove the practicalness of Utopia. ing man as a huge leviathan, to be reWith some, vo demonstration could strained from rude outrage by an iron overcome the prejudice of the name un- grip; or Plato and More, who regardder which it is imparted. To the truth. ed man too exclusively, perhaps, in his loving, names are but the shell, princi- divine character, may each and all agree ples the kernel. Let the sincere refor- in regarding social identical with indimer ask, whether there is one form of vidual phenomena, and to a certain society more perfect than another ; then point they may be right, all of them; let him inquire which is the most per- and that far, the general laws of each fect of all, -—then he will be able to may be applicable to society; but it is, bring any real constitution or legal en on the one extreme, unphilosophical to actment as near it as possible; and thus refer all the unforeseen, peculiar, and init becomes practical.

finitely varied circumstances of society The tendency of such speculations, to the general ideas of the one class; • and the propriety of indulging in them, and since from these circumstances, com

has ever been a question. One class of bined with the dogma of a Hobbes, we minds have framed theories of mathe- may draw principles in economy, founmatical exactness, and like the alchy- ded in the fear and selfishness of men ; mist, dazzled by one splendid idea, or combined with the idea of a Plato, have thrown fortune, reputation, cha- principles of national glory, founded in racter, heart and life into the crucible, the hope and disinterestedness of human and at the momentous trial of their nature, it would be as unphilosophical's charm, have found for their golden on the other extreme, to condemn such dreams the bitter ashes of disappoint- speculations for their seemingly nonment and despair. The other class re- practical tendency. ject all speculation—have no certain Without inquiring how much of the idea—but in the much abused name of individual is, or should be sunk in socommon sense, demand specific experi- ciety, (a question of such confusion and ment for everything. They apply their intricacy as to require a Psyche to sort avtos ion to every theory, and when out the truth from the error,) we cannot too late, find that the expanding soul but see that the systems of our authors, will not be compressed within the circle if applied to society now, would be as of their narrow comprehension. Be- incongruous as the laws of the imagitween these two far separated extremes nation applied to the motions of the hea

« AnteriorContinuar »