Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

ers; and in reality some of them occasionally entered more at large into abstract discussions, than is quite suitable to the practical despatch of business; although the ability with which they managed such inquiries always did them great honour. Of the small number of persons composing this coterie, Mr de Serre, one of the ministry, has since enlisted under the royalist banner; MM. Camille Jordan and Royer Collard, then members of the council of state, were subsequently removed from this post, and the former is since dead. The latter is still the principal representative in the house of the same opinions, but from the change of circumstances has but little influence. His speeches on important subjects are perhaps the most remarkable specimens of scientific political reasoning, that have ever appeared in any country in this form. This style of speaking is rarely attempted, either in the British parliament or in congress. The speeches of Burke and of Sir James Mackintosh give a better idea of it, than any others in the English language. They are, however, less abstract; and, considered as specimens of eloquence, are for that reason doubtless superior. Mr Guizot, whom I have already mentioned, is the most remarkable writer attached to this party. He was also a member of the council of state, and was

removed at the same time with the others. On account of his youth, he was not eligible to the house of deputies.

With these remarks on the situation of public opinion and the modes and varieties of its expression, I shall close this imperfect sketch of the state of France. The substance of it may be recapitulated in a very few words. The political constitution of France is sound and vigorous in its essential parts, beyond that of any other nation in Europe. The outward appearance exhibits morbid symptoms at first view of a serious and alarming character ; but which, examined more nearly, can hardly be regarded as dangerous, and must soon vanish under the restoring influence of an active vital principle within. If we cross the Pyrenees, we arrive in a region placed for the present in a far less agreeable situation, but which holds out, nevertheless, the most encouraging prospects for the future.

CHAPTER III.

Spain and Portugal. It may seem paradoxical to regard the revolutions in Spain and Portugal in favour of popular principles, as natural results of the progress of industry, wealth, and civilization, considering that in all these respects the peninsula has been, for two or three centuries, apparently on the decline. It is, however, sufficiently obvious, that these revolutions are, in reality, connected with the general effort for political improvement, that agitates the whole christian world ; and are not isolated events resulting from independent and separate causes. If, therefore, the apparent anomaly did not admit of a satisfactory explanation, it could only be because the facts connected with the subject were imperfectly known. The following considerations will, perhaps, be thought to furnish a sufficiently plausible account of it.

As valuable political institutions contribute more than any other cause to the improvement and prosperity of a country, so they derive, in their turn, their own stability and strength from the reaction of these effects upon themselves. A vicious constitution, and its natural attendant, a vicious course of

a

a

administration, while they tend to destroy all the sources of the public welfare, affect in the same or in a still greater degree, the vigour and firmness of the government. When a nation has once entered upon a retrograde course, the natural

is undoubtedly from bad to worse ; and the natural conclusion is a state of utter desolation and complete physical ruin, as we see exemplified in the Mahometan countries. But if any accidental causes, from within or from without, counteract this movement and impress a different direction on the character and condition of the people, an effort for political improvement, will meet with less resistance from the government, precisely in proportion to the degree of degradation into which the nation had previously sunk, because the government is necessarily feeble to the same or a greater extent. Hence an amount of moral or physical force enlisted in the cause of civilization will be sufficient to produce a complete revolution in Spain and Portugal, which would not have excited a moment's apprehension in the governments of France or England. A still smaller force would produce the same effects in Morocco, Turkey, or Persia, because these countries have fallen still lower in the scale of civilization, and their governments are proportionately still more feeble. The

progress

>

:

only difficulty is to impart to a people in such a situation even the slight healthy movement necessary to change their direction and overcome the first obstacles. Every thing in nature occurs by the operation of general causes; and when these have been depraved, and their operation has become vicious, it would be as unreasonable to expect the natural occurrence of any favourable event, as it would be to look for the appearance of disease m a perfectly healthy body, without any previous unfavourable accident from within or without. Thus we see the Mahometan countries going on from age to age in progressive and gradually increasing decay, although the appearance of a single individual of a certain elevation of character in any one of them would be sufficient to regenerate the whole. Another Mahomet would restore with comparative ease the prosperity and power which the first created; and though the appearance of such an individual is almost impossible in the regular progress of events, it is really surprising that it should not have been brought about by some favourable accident, considering the intimate relations between the Mahometan countries and those of Europe.

The situation of Spain was more fortunate for this purpose, and it has been for some time under

« PredošláPokračovať »