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alone, and shape his conduct in accordance with its views. The case supposed would be a pure aristocracy; and this is the first and fundamental vice of that scheme of polity. The supreme power is vested in the hands of men who form a body numerous enough to be to themselves as the whole world; and those men never look beyond it. The tendency of the constitution is to place them wholly above the influences of public opinion, which restrain even tyrants in their course. In modern times, it is true, this irresponsibility never can be complete, because the natural aristocracy interferes with it. The respect due to talents, learning, wealth, even virtue, obtains for those who belong not to the privileged class a certain weight in society ; and their opinion will be in some degree regarded by the members of the ruling body. But such a controul must always be exceedingly slight and uncertain, compared with its effects upon the very few .men, or the single man, who in a monarchy wields the supreme power of the state.
One of the most striking digressions fills a chapter upon Party, which the noble author severely denounces. Take his views of one of the most dangerous and unprincipled forms which it can assume.
It is a very different and a very pernicious kind of party to which the term faction is generally applied, and which arises out of the contentions for power and not out of the desire to further principles : and this weed is the natural growth of popular, but most of all, aristocratic government. Men bind themselves together, and obtain the support both of their followers among the ruling orders and their dependents among the plebeians, that they may be enabled to engross the whole power in administering public affairs. The possession of power with its attendants, patronage, honour, places, wealth, impunity for malversation, indemnity against charges of maladministration, all the benefits that uncontrolled dominion can bestow upon those who are clothed with it—this is the object of the party combination; and to this every other consideration, among the rest all regard to public duty, all concern for the interests of the community, is sacrificed without hesitation, without scruple, and without remorse. There is generally a pretext of principle put forward to hide the nakedness of the association; but no one is deceived by it, and the less, that the same principles are successively taken up and abandoned by all the factions successively as it suits their position and serves the purpose of the day; so that you shall see the party the most clamorous forcertain measures before its accession to office, the readiest to abandon and even oppose the same proposal immediately after that event; and the same men who had the most loudly condemned a given course of policy lay themselves meekly down by its promoters and join in patronizing it, as soon as their interest in the clamour has passed away.
This is the first, and it is the worst of the evil effects which party produces. Principles are no longer held sacred in the estimation of mankind; They become secondary and subordinate considerations; they are no more the guides of men's conduct, but the false fabricated pretexts under which the real motive and object is cloaked ; they are the mere counters with which the profligate game of faction is played. The highest public duties are thus not merely violated, but brought into open and unblushing contempt. A vol. 11. (1843.) No, IV.
low tone of political morality becomes the prevailing sentiment of the governing classes in the state. Stern principle is scorned ; rigid virtue is a laughing-stock ; and men in the humblest stations see those who should be their patterns set them an example of the most scandalous profligacy. Add to this the disgusting hypocrisy which men practise in their loud assertion of opinions which they care nothing about; their solemn declaration of doctrines in which they have no faith ; their earnest expression of feelings no deeper than their mouths; their inflated avowal of devotion to principles wholly foreign to their nature and habits. All this makes up a picture which the people must be debauched by beholding so continually unveiled before their eyes.
Mr. Macintyre's “Influences of Aristocracies on the Revolutions of Nations" is a work as different as possible from that of the exchancellor. It is strongly radical, although the author disclaims, and for aught we have discovered, honestly, that he is not a party man; and it is written in a highly popular strain, having a fluency and abundance of expression that reaches eloquence in the matter of language and imagery at least. A good-natured sarcasm sometimes characterises the more telling passages; and a very considerable command of illustration renders the whole still more pleasing. There is nothing like dulness in the book; both earnestness and animation imbue its pages. On the other hand, Mr. Macintyre does not penetrate far beyond the surface ; there is little that is new in his ideas, although he frequently puts them in a novel light; and altogether we may pronounce him unequal to the requirements of his theme. His logic is but lame; he interprets not seldom, both rashly and wrongly; his philosophy wants breadth and depth. These few general obseryations we have ventured to offer, but shall not enter upon the dry task of contesting particular points of political doctrine with him ; preferring to let him be heard at some length, and on various topics. The volume is calculated to attract many readers; and it only needs samples to be shown to enlist an interest and a curiosity relative to the whole of its contents.
The Preface affords a good idea of the manner and the matter of the numerous succeeding chapters. Mr. Macintyre there says, “This work is an attempt to bring from general history, ancient and modern, a few passages to bear upon the peculiar condition of the British empire, in its political, fiscal, commercial, and colonial relations, but particularly on those circumstances which affect the comfort and happiness of the great mass of the people.” His attempt is, “ with a sounding-staff in his hand,” to discover the nature of the dangers embedded below the hollow surface, the kind “of materials in a state of fermentation, which will work into an explosion.” The result of his soundings amounts to this, " that there is at present, in this country, the excited action of that law of society that terminates in social convulsion, out of which will arise the body of military des
potism, or, will emerge a new constitutional fabric, cemented in the alluvium deposited by the flood of revolution."
We stop not to remark upon the danger which a flowery and metaphorical writer runs, of being led astray by the mere tinkle of sounds and glitter of imagery ; neither need we detail concerning the presumption that he who has cultivated a taste for floridity is not very likely to have habituated himself to the severity and grasp of thought called for by political topics and in the discussion of principles belonging to constitutional history.
Mr. Macintyre indicates in the Preface that he is going to lay the blame and responsibility, which attach to our present alarming condition, upon the aristocracy, whose usurpations and protracted system of unfair and bad laws have brought us to the brink of ruin or revolution. The people are in the meanwhile bewildered ; and in their perplexity, while not knowing what to do, “ sink into Jower depths; the cruel oppressors at the same time by their party-strife, and their noisy declamation in the senate, and various other practices, drowning the voice of pity, and smothering the cry of distress, just as the bloody persecutors in former times caused drums to be beaten and shouts to be raised, to prevent the shrieks and cries from being heard, or to hush the last words of the dying patriot from rousing the feelings of his assembled countrymen.'
In the noisy and party strife made to “ drown the cries of the wounded and the groans of the dying,” a great part consists of attempts between the factions to "give to the country the appearance of a struggle between the landed interest
, and the manufacturing and commercial interest, for political influence and ascendancy; or to throw, on machinery, and its uses, and its employers, the onus or responsibility of the distresses of the country; or to utter economical jargon on joint-stock banks, and their effects on the monetary system and the encouragement of speculation.
There is a good deal of truth in this; and we particularly like the view taken of machinery, the author explaining himself by saying that although there may be a derangement or transition of labourers from one employment to another, on the first invention and use of a machine, such is only temporary or local. He adopts Dr. Chalmers's forcible
way of putting the subject : “ Machinery does not impair the fund out of which industry is supported, neither does it lessen the amount of industry, but only alters the distribution of it, and makes it more productive than before." “What will be said," continues Mr. Macintyre, "of the machinery by which the scrawl of an author is converted into a printed book, such as this? The most useful and intelligent class of labourers employed on it, were not known in society, as a body, before the invention of the printingpress. The party opposed to machinery, must wage war against the principle of it, and not against the mere materials of wood and iron;
and it would be well that they at once settled the question by breaking their own heads on the printing-press."
Before leaving the Preface we notice one or two points more, in order to furnish the author's key to his entire doctrine about the British system of fiscal arrangements, and apparently complicated politics. He scouts the idea that the country is suffering under over. production. “Stocking-weavers cannot afford to wear stockings. How is this? While earning only about ten shillings a week, like many others, they “pay in direct and indirect taxation on their food, fifty per cent. of their hard-won wages! This is a fact demonstrated in this work." Then come other facts. “On the fifteenth of this present month, (April, 1843,) the duty on foreign wheat imported into this country, was twenty shillings a quarter, equal to forty-six and a half per cent. on the market-price of that necessary of food.” Another of Mr. Macintyre's facts: “ The taxes on corn have the effect of increasing the rents of land from 20 to 25 per cent." And again: it " has been proved that a duke, with an income from land to the amount of one hundred thousand pounds, receives in that sum a bonus of about four times the amount of all the taxes, direct and indirect, which he contributes to the support of the government, and institutions of the country."
In his introductory chapter, Mr. Macintyre draws analogies from the inferior animals, which he argues ought to teach to man the doctrine and practice of “live and let live.” The contrary, however, he holds, is the creed and conduct of the aristocracy; for the powerful having sagaciously made the discovery that Food is Power, he endeavours to show from history as well as from the nature of man, that they in their rule, whether monarch, oligarchy, or priesthood, have acted on the principle of controlling the subsistence of the vassals and votaries.
In the progress of his work our author takes a survey of Roman history, and especially of aristocracy and democracy as there developed; finding that the aristocratic power controlled the people, by controlling their means of subsistence; but that the latter regained their liberties and secured their sway by recovering possession of the public lands, as the source of subsistence. At last military despotism crushed the Republic." The cycle of two thousand years is coming round to the middle of the nineteenth century." Passages from the French Revolution are then ransacked by Mr. Macintyre, and in these he thinks he finds parallels and analogies demanding the gravest consideration of England at this moment.
Necker wrote like a wise statesman, when he said, “The alterations that may happen in the circumstances of the rich are indifferent to the state, and it is sufficient to subject these variations to the rules of justice and to the empire of the laws; but the diminutions that the moderate incomes of the poor may experience, are so nearly allied to the very sources of their exist
ence, that they interest every one, and demand more especially the attention of the sovereign.
The man who by his labour gets no more than what is necessary for the subsistence of himself and his family, is continually exposed to troubles and anxieties ; the least diminution of his earnings, or the smallest augmentation of his expenses, affects him in a very sensible manner, and every unfortunate incident that he cannot foresee must lessen those scanty savings that proceed from his labours, and which were intended to supply his wants in the hours of sickness and repose. A minister cannot impress these truths too deeply on his mind.”
Those remarks were written at a time, when the relative circumstances of taxation in Great Britain and France were very different. It is absolutely necessary for the inhabitants of the country to look matters sternly in the face, when they are informed, that our system of taxation is now the same in principle and as intolerable to the bulk of the people, as that which existed in France previous to the great Revolution. Necker says: “The burden of the taxes is more especially aggravating, when too great a share of them falls on the poorest classes of the subjects ; for a proper direction in the assignment of the taxes, modifies their essence : and we see that, in Great Britain, that part of the taxes to which the poorer sort is liable, is infinitely less considerable than in France.” How altered is the state of the case in the present year, 1842, from what it was in 1782! but there is an addition of 600,000,000 to the national debt since that period, the interest of which is paid from taxes on food; by which means the veriest beggar is made to contribute his share. It must be impressed on the minds of the individuals in this country born since 1815, that the war entered into with the French nation, at the beginning of its Revolution, was one of dynasty, --that is to say, the British government fought to replace the Bourbon family on the throne, and to uphold the French aristocracy.
It must however be stated, that the war, after the truce of Amiens in the year 1802, became, on the part of Great Britain, a defensive one, as the Emperor Napoleon avowed his object to be to reduce or ruin the power and infuence of this country. But, taking the grand result of the war, we find the original object carried into full effect, by the restoration of the Bourbon heir to the throne of France in 1814; and by the forcible replacement of him by the armies of Great Britain and her allies, after the decisive victory of Waterloo in the following year. The French people, however, recovered their liberty, and, in one week, neutralized all our efforts during a war of a quarter of a century, by dethroning, in 1830, the family that has cost the labouring classes of this country so much misery.
The total amount of taxes in France some years previous to the revolution, was, in sterling money, £24,375,000.
The expense of collection between 10 and 11 per cent. The number of persons of all kinds employed in the collection, was about 250,000.
The total amount of taxes of England and Scotland in 1784, including the cost of collection, poor-rates, and turnpikes, was about £17,800,000.
The total amount of taxes, including the cost of collection, poor-rates, and turnpikes, in 1842, was about £60,000,000.
So much for wars to force a royal family on a foreign nation !