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the sinking fortunes of the empire, ciples, in which all minds of a certain has sufficiently evinced his strong elevation in every age have concurred: sense of the impracticable nature, and while Chateaubriand, the illustrious tyrannic tendency of democratic in- relic of feudal grandeur, and the stitutions.* Sir James Mackintosh, in graphic painter of modern suffering, his maturer years, strongly supported has arrived, from the experience of the same sound and rational princi- his varied and interesting existence, at ples ; and all the fervour and energy the same lofty and ennobling conclu. of the youthful author of the Vindicie sions; and M. de Tocqueville, the Gallicæ, could not blind bis better worthy conclusion to such a line of informed judgment later in life, to the greatness, has portrayed, amidst the frightful dangers of democratic ascen. most impartial survey of American dency, and the ultimate conclusion equality, seeds in the undisguised" ty“ that the only government which rany of the majority," of the eventual offers a rational prospect of establish- and speedy destruction of civil liberty. ing or preserving freedom, is that These enemies of democracy in where the power of directing affairs every age, have been led to these conis vested in the aristocratic interests, clusions, just because they were the under the perpetual safeguard of steadiest friends of freedom. They popular watchfulness.”+ Burke, al. deprecated and resisted the unbridled most forgotten as a champion of Whig sway of the people, because they saw doctrines in the earlier part of his clearly that it was utterly destructive to career, stands forth in imperishable their real and durable interests ; that it lustre as the giant supporter of Con. permitted that sacred fire which, duly servative principles in the zenith of restrained and repressed, is the fountain his intellect. Pitt has told us that of all greatness, whether in nations or “democracy is not the government of individuals, to waste itself in pernicious the few by the many, but the many flames, or expand into ruinous conby the few, with this addition, that flagration. They supported the estathe few who are thus raised to power, blishment of Conservative checks on are the most dangerous and worth- popular extravagance, because they less of the community ;" and Fox, perceived from experience, and had who spent his life in supporting liberal learned from history, that the gift of principles, with his dying breath be- unbridled power is fatal to its posqueathed to his successors a perpetual sessors, and that least of all is it toler. struggle with the gigantic power able where the responsibility, the sole which had risen out of its spirit, and check upon its excesses, is destroyed embodied its desires. Nor is France by the number among whom it is behind England in the same profound divided. They advocated a mixed and far-seeing views of human affairs. form of government, because they Napoleon, elevated on the wave, and saw clearly, that under such, and such supported by the passions of the Revo- only, had the blessings of freedom lution, conceived himself, as he him in any age been enjoyed for any length self told, to be the commissioned hand of time by the people. They were of Heaven to chastise its crimes and fully aware that democratic energy extinguish its atrocity. Madame de has, in every age, been the mainStael, albeit passionately devoted to spring of human improvement ; but the memory of her father, the parent they were not less aware, that this of the Revolution, and the author of spring is one of such strength and the French Reform Bill, has yet de- power, that if not duly loaded, it imvoted the maturity of her intellect to mediately tears the machine to pieces. illustrate the superior advantages They admired and cherished the which the mixed form of government warmth of the fire, but they were not established in England afforded ; and so blinded by its advantages, as to perin her Treatise on the French Revo- mit it to escape its iron bars, and wrap lution, supported with equal wisdom the house in flames; they enjoyed the and eloquence the Conservative prin- igour of the horses which whirled
In his letters and miscellaneous works, his opinions on this subject are clearly.ex. pressed.
† Mackintosh's Memoirs, I., 174...
the chariot along; but they were not with which the knights of old saw
His central heat, which clothed the sides work on England and the English is of the volcano with luxuriant fruits ; a brilliant performance, abounding but they looked to either hand, and with sparkling, containing some probeheld in the black furrow of desolation found, observations, and particularly the track of the burning lava which interesting to the multitude of persons had issued from its summit when it to whom foreign travelling has renescaped its barriers, and filled the dered the comparison of English and Heavens with an eruption.
French character and institutions an Nothing daunted by this long and object of interest. The great defects majestic array of authority against of his writings, in a political point of him, Mr Bulwer has taken the field view, are the total absence of any rein four octavo volumes, in order to ference to a superintending power and illustrate the beneficial effect of Re- the moral government of the world ; publican institutions upon social great and the continual and laboured at. ness and national prosperity. He has tempt to exculpate the errors, and selected for his subject the Athenian screen the vices, and draw a veil over democracy—the eye of Greece-the the perils of democratic government. cradle of history, tragedy, and the The want of the first, in an investigafine arts; the spot in the world where, tion into human affairs, is like the abin the narrowest limits, achievements sence of the character of Hamlet in the most mighty have been won, and the play bearing his name: the pregenius the most immortal has been sence of the second a continued drawdeveloped. He conceived, doubtless, back on the pleasure which an imparthat in Attica at least the extraordi. tial mind derives from his otherwise nary results of democratic agency could able and interesting observations. not be disputed ; the Roman victories More especially is a constant sense of might be traced to the wisdom of the the corruption and weakness of human Senate ; the Swiss patriotism to the nature an indispensable element in simplicity of its mountains; the pros- every enquiry or observation which perity of Holland to the wisdom of has for its object the weighing the its burgomasters; the endurance of capability of mankind to bear the exAmerica to the boundless vent afforded citements, and wield the powers, and by its back settlements; but in Athens exercise the responsibility of self-gonone of these peculiarities existed, and vernment. We are not going to enter there the brilliant results of popular into any theological argument on ori. rule and long established self-govern- ginal sin, how intimately soever it ment were set forth in imperishable may be blended with the foundation colours. We rejoice he has made of all investigations into the right the attempt; we anticipate nothing principles of government; we assert but good to the Conservative cause only a fact, demonstrated by the ex. from his efforts. It is a common say, perience of every age, and acquiesced ing among lawyers, that falsehood in by the wise of every country, that may be exposed in a witness by cross- there is an universal tendency to corexamination ; but that truth only ruption and license in human nature comes out the more clearly from all that religion is the only effectual the efforts which are made for its con- bridle on its excesses, and that the fusion. It is a fortunate day for the moment that a community is estacause of historic truth when the leaders blished, without the effective agency of of the democratic party leave the de. that powerful curb on human passion, clamation of the hustings and the the progress of national affairs bebase flattery of popular adulation, and comes nothing but the career of the betake themselves to the arena of real prodigal, brilliant and alluring in the argument. We feel the same joy at outset, dismal and degrading in the beholding Mr Bulwer arm himself in end. It is on this account that the the panoply of the field, and court the friends of freedom have in every age assaults of historical investigation, been the most resolute and persevering
The Athenian Democracy. enemies of democracy ; because that but only gives it a different, less violent, fervent and searching element, essen- but not less interested direction ;tial to national existence, and the best that the diffusion of supreme power ingredient in its prosperity, if duly among a multitude of hands dimincoerced and tempered, becomes its ishes to nothing the responsibility of most devouring and fatal enemy the each individual, while it augments in instant that it breaks through its bar- a proportionate degree the rapacity riers, and obtains the unrestrained and selfishness which is brought to direction of the public destinies. bear on public affairs ;-that when the The views of the republican and multitude are the spectators of
governthe democrat are the very reverse of ment, they are inclined to check or all this. According to them, wicked- restrain its abuses, because others proness and corruption are the inheritance fit, and they suffer by them ; but when of the oligarchy alone ; aristocracies they become government itself, they are always selfish, grasping, rapa- instantly support them, because they cious ; democracies invariably ener. profit, and others suffer from their getic, generous, confiding. Nobles, continuance ;-that democratic insti. they argue, never act but from de- tutions thus, when once fully and signing or selfish views ; their con- really established, rapidly deprave the stant agent is human corruption; their public mind, and engender an univer
; incessant appeal to the basest and most sal spirit of selfishness in the majority degrading principles of our nature. Re- of the people, which speedily subverts publicans alone are really philanthro- the foundations of national prosperity; pic in their views; they alone attend to and that it is only when property is the interests of the masses ; they alone the directing, and numbers the conlay the foundations of the social sys- trolling power, that the inherent vices tem on the broad basis of general and selfishness of the depositaries of well-being. Monarchical governments authority can be effectually coerced are founded on the caprice of a single by the opinion of the great majority tyrant; aristocratic on the wants of a who are likely to suffer by its excesses, rapacious oligarchy ; democratic alone or a lasting foundation be laid in the on the consulted desires and grateful adherence of national opinion to the experience of the whole community. principles of virtue for any lengthened If these propositions were all true, enjoyment of the blessings of prosthey would be decisive in favour of perity, or any durable discharge of popular, and highly popular institu- the commands of duty. tions ; but unfortunately, though it is These are the opposite and conflictperfectly correct that monarchies and ing principles of Government which aristocracies are mainly directed, if are now at issue in the world : and it uncontrolled by the people, to support is to support the former that Mr Bul. the interests of a single or an oligar- wer has brought the power of a cultichical government, it is no less true, vated mind and the vigour of an enthat the rapacity of a democracy is larged intellect. Athens was a fajust as great ; that the responsibility vourable ground to take, in order to of its leaders, from the nuinber of enforce the incalculable powers of the those invested with power, is infinitely democratic spring in society. No. less, and that the calamities which, in where else is to be found a state so its unmitigated force it in consequence small in its origin, and yet so great in lets loose on the community, are such its progress : so contracted in its teras in every age have led to its speedy ritory, and yet so gigantic in its subversion.
achievements : so limited in numbers, The Conservative principle of go- and yet so immortal in greatness. Its vernment, on the other hand, is, that dominions on the continent of Greece mankind are radically and universally did not exceed an English county ; its corrupt; that when invested with free inhabitants never amounted to power, in whatever form of govern- thirty thousand citizens-yet these inment, and from whatever class of considerable numbers have filled the society, they are immediately inclined world with their renown; poetry, to apply it to their own selfish ends ; philosophy, architecture, sculpture, that the diffusion of education and tragedy, comedy, geometry, physics, knowledge has no tendency whatever history, politics, almost date their orito eradicate this universal propensity, gin from Athenian genius : and the monuments of art with which they to rise superior to all their misfortunes, have overspread the world still form and the grateful feelings which, in the standard of taste in every civilized moments of disaster, ranged the al. nation on earth. It is not surprising lied states in steady and durable arthat so brilliant and captivating a spec. ray around them. During the invatacle should in every age have dazzled sion by Hannibal, which, as involving and transported mankind; and that a civil contest between the Patricians seeing democratic institutions co-ex- and Plebeians in all the Italian cities, isting with so extraordinary a deve- very nearly resembled the Peloponnelopement of the intellectual faculties, sian war, not one state of any moment it should have come to be generally revolted from the Roman alliance till imagined that they really were cause after the disaster of Cannae; and even and effect, and that the only secure then it was only Capua, the rival of foundation which could be laid for the Rome, which took any vigorous part attainment of the highest honours of with the Carthagenians, and a very little our being was in the extension of the effort was sufficient to retain the other powers of Government to the great allied cities in the Roman confederacy, body of the people.
or reclaim such as, from the presence of Athens, however, has its dark as the Punic arms, had passed over to their well as its brilliant side ; and if the enemies. Whereas in Greece, on the perfection of its science, the delicacy very first reverse, the whole states and of its taste, and the refinement of its colonies in alliance constantly passed arts, furnish a plausible, and, in a cer- over to the Lacedemonian league; and tain degree, a just ground for repre- the growth of the power of Athens senting democratic institutions as the was repeatedly checked by the periogreatest stimulant to the human mind, dical reduction of its strength to the the brevity of its existence, the injus- resources of its own territory. Had tice of its decisions, the instability of its the Athenian multitude possessed the councils, and the cruelty of its decrees enduring fortitude and beneficent rule afford too fair a reason for doubting of the Roman aristocracy, they might, the wisdom of imitating, on a larger like them, have risen superior to every scale, any of its institutions. Its rise reverse, and gradually spread, by the was rapid and glorious; but the era willing incorporation of lesser states of its prosperity was brief; and it with their dominions, into a vast emsunk, after a short space of existence, pire, extending over the whole shores into an obscure, and, politically speak of the Mediterranean, and giving law, ing, insignificant old age. The sway like the mighty empire which sucof the multitude, who formed the coun. ceeded them, for a thousand years to cil of last resort in the commonwealth, the whole civilized world.was capricious and tyrannical ; and Mr Bulwer appears to be aware of such as thoroughly disgusted all the the brief tenure of existence wbich states in alliance. There was the se- Athens enjoyed; but he erroneously cret of its weakness. Instead of pro- · ascribes to general causes or inevitable tecting and cherishing the tributary necessity what in its case was the reand allied states, the Athenian demo. sult merely of the fever of democratic cracy insulted and oppressed them, activity. and in consequence, on the first serious reverse, they all revolted ; and the “ In that restless and unpausing energy, Heets which had constituted their which is the characteristic of an intellec. strength were at once ranged on the tual republic, there seems, as it were, a side of the enemies of the state. The
kind of destiny: a power impossible to flames of Aigospotamos consumed the
resist urges the state from action to action, Athenian navy ; but that disaster,
from progress to progress, with a rapidity
dangerous while it dazzles ; resembling in great as it undoubtedly was, was not greater than the rout of Trasymene, onward, first to attain, and thence to pre
this the career of individuals impelled the slaughter of Cannae, the irruption of the Gauls to Rome. But Athens
serve, power, and who cannot struggle
against the fate which necessitates them to had not the steady persevering rule of
soar, until, by the moral gravitation of huthe Roman Patricians ; nor the wise
man things, the point which has no beyond and beneficent policy of the Senate to is attained ; and the next effort to rise is the states and alliance, and thence but the prelude of their fall. In such they wanted both the energy requisite states Time, indeed, moves with gigantic
strides; years concentrate what would be upon their fellow-citizens. Mr Bul. the epochs of centuries in the march of wer is much puzzled how to explain less popular institutions. The planet of away these awkward facts ; but as the their fortunes rolls with an equal speed banishment of these illustrious citizens, through the cycle of internal civilisation and the death of this illustrious sage, as of foreign glory. The condition of from the effects of popular jealousy, their brilliant life is the absence of repose.
cannot be denied, he boldly endeavours The accelerated circulation of the blood
to justify these atrocious acts of the beautifies but consumes, and action itself,
Athenian democracy. In regard to exhausting the stores of youth by its very
Miltiades he observes :vigour, becomes a mortal but divine disease.”
“ The case was simply this, - Miltiades
was accused — whether justly or unjustly no Now, in this eloquent passage there
matter it was clearly as impossible not to is an obvious error: and it is on this receive the accusation, and to try the cause, point that the Conservative or Consti
as it would be for an English court of jus. tutional principle of Government main. tice to refuse to admit a criminal action ly differs from the Movement or De- against Lord Grey or the Duke of Welmocratic. Aware of the violence of lington. Was Miltiades guilty or not? the fever which in Republican states This we cannot tell. We know that he exhausts the strength and wears out was tried according to the law, and that the energy of the people, the Conser- the Athenians thought him guilty, for they vative would not extinguish but regu
condemned him. So far this is not ingra
A man is late it ; he would stop its diseased and titude--it is the course of law. feverish, to prolong and strengthen its
tried and found guilty--if past services healthy and vital action. Hewould not
and renown were to save the great from allow the youth to waste his strength punishment when convicted of a state ofand life in a brief period of guilty ex
fence, society would, perhaps, be disorcess, or unrestrained indulgence, but canized, and certainly a free state would so chasten and moderate the fever of shrinks to this-was it, or was it not un
cease to exist. The question, therefore, the blood as to secure for him an use
grateful in the people to relax the penalty ful manhood and a respected old age.
of death, legally incurred, and commute it The democrat, on the other hand, would
to a heavy fine ? I fear we shall find few plunge him at once into all the excesses instances of greater clemency in monarof youth and intemperance, throw him' chies, however mild. Miltiades unhappily into the arms of harlots and the orgies died. But nature slew him, not the Atheof drunkenness, and, amidst wine and nian people. And it cannot be said with women, the harp and the dance, lead greater justice of the Athenians, than of a him to poverty, sickness, and prema- people no less illustrious, and who are ture dissolution. And ancient history now their judges, that it was their custom, affords a memorable contrast in this • de tuer un Amiral pour encourager les particular; for while Athens, worn out autres.' and exhausted by the fever of demo- This passage affords an example of cratic activity, rose like a brilliant me- the determination which Mr Bulwer teor only to fall after a life as short as generally evinces to justify and support that of a single individual, Rome, in the acts of his darling democracy, howwhom this superabundant energy was ever extravagant or monstrous they for centuries coerced and restrained may have been. Doubtless, we are by the solidity of Patrician institutions not informed very specifically as to the and the steadiness of Patrician rule, nature of the evidence adduced in supcontinued steadily to rise and advance port of the charge of bribery brought through a succession of ages, and at against Miltiades. Doubtless, also, it length succeeded in subjecting the was necessary to receive the charge whole civilized earth to its dominion. when once preferred; but was it ne
It has long been a matter of reproach cessary to convict him, and send the to Athens, that she behaved with the hero of Marathon, the saviour of his blackest ingratitude to her greatest ci. country, into a painful exile, which ultizens; and that Miltiades, Themis- timately proved his death? That is tocles, Aristides, Cimon, Socrates, the point, and, as the evidence is not Thucydides, and a host of other illus. laid before us, what right has Mr Bultrious men, received exile, confisca- wer to assume that the Athenian mul. tion, or death as the reward for the titude were not ungrateful or unjust in inestimable benefits they had conferred their decision? . For their conduct, in
VOL. XLII. NO, CCLXI.