and demanded should be filled between the close of his great History and the era of Constantine. Such a task, at any rate, seems indispensable to be done by somebody; and by whom so well? In default of it, we take up his volume of "Lectures" with something of hope, and more of disappointment. From its slender bulk a good deal must be deducted, for the apologetic and homiletic requirements of his lectureship; and of the remainder, there is barely enough to give us a few glimpses and hints, where we want the clear outline, if not the full detail, of a finished picture. What the book contributes to our knowledge of the period it treats - the four hundred years from Julius Cæsar to Constantine-is, first, the independent judgment of a man of letters, as well as churchman and apologist, reviewing the facts from a position as broad and enlightened as his official character will permit; and, secondly, a series of very interesting groups of testimonies, to illustrate the phases of Pagan thought with which the early church militant had to deal.

In two or three instances, these illustrations are given in scenes, or historical sketches, drawn with a good deal of force and skill. Such is the parallel, in the first lecture, between the two most noteworthy scenes that mark the beginning and end of the period under review, the trial of the accomplices of Catiline, in which Julius Cæsar made, without rebuke, his striking declaration of utter disbelief in a future life; and the Council of Nicæa, also a great council of state, presided over by the chief magistrate of the empire, and consulting how to state the terms of a revelation which had so powerfully moved men's minds by the reality of things unseen and spiritual. This striking sketch, showing at one glance the immense space travelled over by the human spirit in those centuries of struggle, is the finest single achievement of the volume.

In the second lecture, a description is given, hardly inferior in interest, of the ceremonial of lustration (detailed by Lucan), to expiate the impiety of Cæsar's parricidal attack on Rome. This, with the religious re-action, or revival, cherished by Augustus, is used to illustrate what is one of the most valuable points in Mr. Merivale's History, - the reality and power of a secular or state religion among the Romans, having no reference to a future life of retribution, but only to the edicts and judgments of the unseen powers respecting the secular majesty of Rome. A religion how genuine and powerful few suspect, unless with some such guidance as this they have made it a matter of special study.

[ocr errors]

The third exposition made by Mr. Merivale — valuable in what it gives, but much less detailed and complete than we should wish — is of the development of Roman law, from its rude and harsh germ into a system of breadth enough, and of abstract justice enough, to serve as a "schoolmaster to bring men to Christ." This genuine appreciation of what was good in Pagan life and thought, so honorable in him as an historian and critic, is further seen in his treatment of the Roman moralists, the "preachers" of the heathen world. With a true and noble aspiration, but with a tone sad and desponding, they also did an important service to the ethical development of Christianity. A corresponding service might be claimed, perhaps,

[ocr errors]

but it is less distinctly urged, for the "spiritualists" and mystics of the later Pagan faith. That this phase of faith degenerated into necromancy and pious frauds suggests its parallel in our day — which Mr. Merivale draws in a manner not flattering to the modern counterpart. The closing lectures of the volume state the positive elements brought by Christianity to the great war of the religions,its definite theological creed, and the moral power of the Christian life. In this portion, the thought, in a good measure, is Neander's ; and the illustration is neither complete nor original enough to add much to what we had already. Indeed, the chief value which the reader will find in reference to these matters consists in the citations made from early writers, both Pagan and Christian, of which the body of notes serves as a tolerably complete and very interesting collection.

[ocr errors]


We have received from England a pamphlet, by Mr. F. W. Newman,* containing more political wisdom than is often found in the same number of pages. It embodies the results of the author's long study of the institutions of his country, given in a few words, not often with the evidences and the processes of reasoning which have led to his conclusions, but with the general political principles always stated in full which these conclusions illustrate. These give to his suggestions a high philosophical value. Almost every point which he makes "is developed out of the single principle, that centralization, and the bureaucracy which it nourishes, must be severely abated" (p. 30.) For this reason, the views presented here deserve to be carefully studied in this country, where, as in all civilized countries, centralization is at present a serious danger. In England, however, the danger is of an individualizing centralization; in the United States, of a generalizing one. That is to say, in England, the Parliament has swallowed up, or tends to swallow up, all local legislation, and is, consequently, overburdened with private bills, and with matters which really concern only individual towns or counties: our Congress, on the other hand, is disembarrassed of all such burdens as these, and has no inclination to meddle with the details of State administration; the temptation it is actually under is to undertake to lay down general rules which shall apply to all the States without distinction, in matters in which the inherent differences in the States would make it desirable to leave them free to adopt their own course of action.

The central idea of the pamphlet, as we have already remarked, is the menacing growth of centralization and bureaucracy.

"Centralization has come in from continental despotism, from the first French Revolutionists, and largely from the writings of Bentham, as I understand. Bureaucracy has been ever on the increase through the enormous extent of the empire, and the immensity of power devolving on the ministry

English Institutions, and their most necessary Reforms. A Contribution of Thought, by Francis W. Newman, late Professor in University College, London. London: Trübner & Co., 60, Paternoster Row. 1865. 8vo. pp. 32.

of the day; while Parliament is too slow in learning facts to be any adequate check. The House of Peers, as an order, has no interest in bureaucracy, and none in centralization. Hence, without a shadow of paradox, and with perfect straightforwardness, I maintain, that, from a true conservative point of view, our nation has to retrace many wrong steps, and make many right ones, quickly and boldly” (p. 4).

"The decay of English institutions, from the ascension of William III. to the death of George III. was mainly due to the fact, that, during European war an English Parliament can ill attend to any thing else. Just so, parliamentary reform was abandoned, because Russian war came upon us. This is an evidently defective and barbarous condition; and puts us into melancholy contrast with the United States, in which no intensity of war lessens the domestic energy of the State Governments" (p. 24).

"The task laid on the Commons House is at present too overwhelming. Without new machinery, which shall relieve it of the present intolerable load, no imaginable change in the mode of electing is likely to cure the evil. One supreme legislature for 230 millions! Englishmen who come out of practical life, and have been deeply immersed in special and very limited occupations, are to judge on private bills innumerable, and on the affairs of people very unlike to us, and quite unknown to us! In the United States, for thirty-one millions of people, there are thirty-five independent local legislatures, each having, on an average, less than a million; while the Supreme Congress is wholly disembarrassed of all local law, and regulates only a defined number of topics which concern the entire homogeneous union" (p. 13).

"In the last century and a half, while our population has been growing in numbers, and our affairs in complexity, so far have we been from increasing and developing our organization, that we have destroyed or spoiled the organs which existed. The Parliaments of Ireland and Scotland have been annihilated (one by flagrant, the other by suspected, bribery), and the power and status of our municipalities and our county organization have been gravely lowered" (ib.).

Of more practical importance to us are the remarks upon the extension of the franchise :

"Of what reforms do we now hear talk? Prominently and solely of extended suffrage and the ballot. Let me grant to a radical that each of these may have its value the ballot for its mechanical convenience, and as a temporary engine to save a limited class from intimidation. Yet, unless these are mere steps towards after-reforms, they will leave Parliament overworked and helpless, the bureaucracy as despotic as ever, India disloyal, the House of Lords as obstructive as ever to all religious freedom" (p. 11).

"The course which Whig-radical reform has hitherto taken has greatly frightened many reasonable conservatives. I maintain, that it ought also to displease, if not alarm, all sincere and reasonable radicals, because it tends to bring us to the French goal, not to the American goal. With a central authority preponderating so enormously over our local; a Parliament, by the side of which every Municipality is a pigmy; a ministry, wielding an executive so vast, while our Mayors and Lord Mayors have sunk into pageants, every step of change which merely extends the parliamentary franchise is a step towards a system in which it is decided by universal suffrage once in seven years, what oligarchy shall be our despotic rulers " (p. 5).

"That persons may be elevated' by possessing the suffrage, they must be able to meet, and discuss, and form definite opinions " (p. 26).


A truth which our reformers are apt to overlook. Another important principle, illustrated in the mode of election of our President and Senators, is contained in the following extract:

"The French Reformers in the last century, who first in Europe conceived generous and noble ideas of popular power, were aware that nothing but confusion could come of universal suffrage acting directly on a central system, in a populous nation. They devised the system of double election; and, in my belief, were fundamentally right. But, on a sound foundation, they built unsoundly. The bodies which thus elect ought not to exist merely for the sake of electing. They should elect, because they are a substantive power, trusted for other high duties, and, therefore, trustworthy for this function also" (p. 27).

We will not discuss at length all the criticisms and propositions made by Mr. Newman, but only the two or three that are of most general interest. One is especially struck with the avowal, by perhaps the most democratic writer in England, of a desire to strengthen the genuinely aristocratic element of the State, and to elevate the character and increase the power of the House of Peers, making it very much such a body as some wished that our Senate should be, chosen for life, and still endowed with its present high functions.

For the creation of Life Peers he would invite the recommendation of the House of Commons (p. 21). To the House, thus constituted, he would give "supreme control over Foreign Affairs" (p. 21); and every appointment to office should be made by the consent of the House of Peers" (p. 22). "To a reformed House of Peers the warmest lovers of liberty among us would shortly rally. A popular movement can only dictate principles, such as are these let us have true aristocracy, not bureaucracy; let us have political vitality everywhere, restricting centralization to its true functions; let every class be represented in the Legislature, and be admissible into the Executive" (p. 31). Always classes, as with all English writers. The principle, however, advanced by Mr. Mill, and analogous to this suggestion of Mr. Newman's, of a Life-Senate, composed of statesmen, who have gained the confidence of the people, is worthy of consideration.

In order to re-establish the practice of local legislation, Mr. Newman maintains "that Ireland ought to be divided into four Provinces, England into (perhaps) six, Scotland into two; Wales would remain "the Principality:" hence, might be thirteen Provincial Councils, with free power of local taxation and local legislation, subject only to a veto from Parliament, which, in most cases, would gradually become a formality" (p. 23). Not having Mr. Newman's intimate acquaintance with English affairs, we regret much that he did not have the space to enter into details upon this point, and give us his reasons for not employing the historical institution of Counties (the Provinces, of course, in Ireland) for this purpose. The counties would certainly be amply competent to perform all the local legislation, and the advantage of employing actual divisions, with historical associations, and some degree of present independence, is very manifest. It is only when it should come to being represented in the imperial Parliament that any difficulty would arise; and it strikes us that it would be better to meet this difficulty in some other way, than to establish these purely arbitrary provinces, merely for the reason that they could more easily be represented equally. We would remark also,

and with more confidence, that the possession of a veto upon provincial legislation leaves the door open for quite as much centralization as exists now. It was proposed in our constitutional convention, and most fortunately rejected. The true principle is that adopted in our federal government, of a sharp division of sphere between the two governments, but absolute and complete sovereignty of each within. its sphere.

The above are the topics of reform which are of most general interest. Hardly less so is "the perilous splendor of India." To avert danger in which quarter, Mr. Newman makes two propositions: "1. The establishment of an IMPERIAL COURT in India, to judge all causes between the Queen's Government and the Princes" (p. 18); secondly, a measure which "was solemnly guaranteed to India by Lord Grey's ministry in Parliament, and by the Parliamentary Charter of 1833;" viz., "That to every office, high or low, except that of Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief, native Indians should be admissible on equal terms with British-born subjects (p. 19). This promise is kept at present by the system of competitive examinations, which forces the Indians to come to England to be examined! Again:

[ocr errors]

"The pernicious system of centralization, which makes French legal liberty impossible, and has gravely damaged England, in India has run riot without control. When the East India Company overthrew local treasuries in India, and put into their central exchequer at Calcutta the tolls of roads and ferries of the most remote south, they perpetrated a deed which doomed their rule to be a blight upon the land, even if the virtue of their lowest servants had been on a par with the best. We know, by positive official statement, that, in consequence of this diversion of moneys from their local purpose, the roads of whole kingdoms became overgrown, and so lost that their old course was matter for official inquiry. This hideous blunder remains unreversed. India has no local treasuries. Every coin in every province is liable to be spent in some war against Nepaul, Affghanistan, or Thibet. War is made with the very lifeblood of material prosperity: roads and bridges, canals and tanks, cannot be repaired during war, while their funds are mixed with the war funds" (p. 29).

Other points, discussed in this pamphlet with less fulness, but always ably and instructively, are the state of Ireland, of the Established Churches, and of the Peasantry, the reform of the Mutiny Bill, and the neutralization of merchant vessels in time of war. Upon Lord Russell he throws the blame of the defeat of the last-named measure, which was proposed by the American Government, and received favorably by Lord Palmerston. The defective character of the Mutiny Bill he considers the cause of many of the unjust wars into which the nation is plunged by petty governors and commanders. The other three points are of vital importance, but do not require from him so full treatment.

A portion of the Review of Current Literature, together with the List of Recent Publications, is reserved for November.

« VorigeDoorgaan »