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inhabitants of St. Domingo_resemble their former masters in the rapid succession of different governments destitute of self-government and peace.
The words of Mr. Everett are doubtless true, that " the French, though excelling all other nations of the world in the art of communicating for temporary purposes with savage tribes, seem, still more than the Spaniards, to be destitute of the august skill required to found new states. I do not know that there is such a thing in the world as a colony of France growing up into a prosperous commonwealth. A half a million of French peasants in Lower Canada, tenaciously adhering to the manners and customs which their fathers brought from Normandy two centuries ago, and a third part of that number of planters of French descent in Louisiana, are all that is left to bear living witness to the amazing fact that not a century ago France was the mistress of the better half of North America." Are they succeeding in establishing a vigorous colony in Algeria ? It seems not; and the question presents itself, what is the reason of this inability of so intelligent a nation as the French are to establish flourishing colonies ? I believe there is no other answer than this: The French are thoroughly wedded to centralism, and eminently uninstitutional in their character. They do not know self-government; they cannot impart it. Every Frenchman's mental home is Paris, even in France; as to a colonial life, he always considers it a mere exile.
4 Mr. Everett's Address before the New York Historical Society, 1853.
The assimilative power and transmissible character of the instutition are closely connected with its tenacity and formative character. Few things in all history seem to me more striking, and, if analyzed, more instructive than the fact that Great Britain, though monarchical in name, and aristocratic in many points, plants freedom wherever she sends colonies, and becomes thus the great mother of republics; while France, with all her democratic tendencies, her worship of equality and repeated proclamations of a republic, has never approached nearer to the republic than setting aside a ruling dynasty; her colonies are, politically speaking, barren dependencies. They do not bloom into empires. The colonies of Spain also teach a grave lesson on this subject."
5 The reader has a right to ask here, why then did not the Netherlands, so institutional in their character, establish prosperous self-governments in foreign parts, as England did ? I believe the answer which must be given is this :
The Netherlands lacked at home a protecting national government proper-one that could furnish them with a type of a comprehensive yet popular general government. The Netherlandish colonies always remained mere dependencies upon the executive. The Netherlanders did not plant colonial legislatures.
The Netherlands, moreover, had lapsed into a state of sejunction. The idea of their petty sovereignty was carried to the most ruinous extreme. The Greeks colonized, indeed, by dotting as it were foreign parts. The shores of the Mediterranean were sprinkled with Greek and Phoenician colonies corresponding to the ancient city-states-from which they had branched off. But a Netherlandish town could not thus have established a little colony in Java or the West Indies.
Lastly, I believe the Netherlanders did not become the disseminators of self-government, although institutional in their character, because they had no living common law to take with them, as the
The power by which institutional self-government assimilates different and originally discordant elements is forcibly shown in the United States, where every year several hundred thousand immigrants arrive from different countries accustomed to different governments. The institutions of our country soon absorb and assimilate them as integral parts of our polity. XIn no other political system could this be done. Such additions could not even be allowed. Let an influx of foreigners take place in a country like France when she called herself republican, and the danger of so large a body of foreigners would soon be perceived. It would be an evil day indeed for the United States and for the emigrants when our institutions should be broken up and popular absolutism were to be erected on the ruins of our institutional liberty. We, of all nations on earth, are most interested in the vigorous life and healthful development of institutional self-government. No nation has so much reason to shun mere inarticulated equality and barren centralization as ourselves.
On the other hand, it may be observed that the Turks to this day are very little more than they were on the day of their conquest-isolated rulers, unassimilated and unassimilating, having for centuries been in possession of the finest country in Europe, whence in the fifteenth century our civilization was kindled again. Yet so unidentified are the Turks with the country or its population that the idea of their expulsion from Europe has nothing strange in it, or difficult to imagine. The reasons cannot lie in their race, for they are no longer Mongolians; it cannot lie in their religion, for Mohammedans have flourished; they have no political institutions, carry. ing life and action within them, nor did they find institutions, which might have absorbed them. The Byzantine empire had become a mere court government long before the Turks conquered it, and the worst court government that ever existed in Europe.
talent of the mother country. They had the learned civil law—at least sufficient of it to stifle farther development of common law. We know already that the Roman law, however excellent some of its principles are, is void of the element of self-government, and, because superinduced, antagonistic to self-development of law.
Nevertheless, it is a question of interest to Americans, whether and how far the first settlers of New England were influenced by their sojourn in the republican Netherlands. I throw out the question. It deserves a thorough yet very plain and unbiased inquiry.
The stability obtained by an institutional government is closely connected with the tenacity which has been mentioned; but it is necessary to observe that an institutional self-government seems to be the only one which unites the two necessary elements of continuity and progression, or applicability to change ing conditions. Asia, with its retrospective and traditional character, and without political mutations proper, offers the sight of stagnation. France, with her ardently prospective and intellectual character, but without political institutions proper, lacks continuity and political development. There is a succession of violent changes, which made Napoleon the First exclaim, observing the fact but not perceiving the cause, “Poor nations! in spite of all
your enlightening men, of all your wisdom, you remain subject to the caprices of fashion like individuals.” Now, it is pre-eminently the institutional self-government which prevents the rule of political fashion, because, on the one hand, it furnishes a proper organism by which public opinion is elaborated, and may be distinguished from mere transitory general opinion, from acclamation or panic; and, on the other hand, it seems to be the only government strong enough to resist momentary excitement and a sweeping turn of the popular mind. Absolute popular governments are liable to be seized upon by every change of general passion or desire, and monarchical concentrated absolutism is as much exposed to changes and fashions. The difference is only that single men-ministers or the rulers--may effect the sudden changes according to views which may happen to prevail. The English government, with all its essential changes and reforms, and the
6 The words reported to have been used by Napoleon is Lumières, which may mean enlighteners and enlightenment. The passage is found in the Mémorial de Sainte-Heléne, by Las Cases. Napoleon was speaking of the clergy, and the whole passage runs thus:
"Je ne fais rien pour le clergé qu'il ne me donne de suite sujet de m'en repentir, disait Napoléon; peut-être qu'après moi viendront d'autres principes. Peut-être verra-t-on en France une conscription de prêtres et de religieuses, comme on y voyait de mon temps une conscription militaire. Peut-être mes casernes deviendront-elles des couvents et des séminaires. Ainsi va le monde ! Pauvres nations ! en dépit de toutes vos lumières, de toute votre sagesse, vous demeurez soumises aux caprices de la mode comme de simples individus."
7 Public Opinion and General Opinion have been discussed in the first volume of Political Ethics.