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"Deus nobis hæc otia fecit."
GONE the long struggles of the working time,
Hushed is the senate's busy hum: the brow
Of ardent statesman by the wave may clear, Be soothed to sleep where sea-foam whitens near, Or wear its calm 'neath singing pine-tree bough.
Life moves more leisurely, like some fair cloud,
Its shadow widening on the purple waves, Advancing slowly o'er the deep-sea caves, Where varied treasures lie, a nameless crowd.
What mighty changes who shall prophesy,
But Wisdom holds the joyance and the pain, Conceals, but for our weal, the future from our eye.
Then let us take with thanks the golden glee
THE PATRIARCHAL THEORY OF HISTORY.
"STRANGE! that fatherly authority should be the only original of Government amongst men, and yet all mankind not know it: and stranger yet that the confusion of tongues should reveal it to them all of a sudden." It was, as the reader will probably be aware, from the pen of the immortal John Locke that this exclamation proceeded, in his just wrath against the specious but absurd arguments of Sir Robert Filmer. But the words bear a peculiar significance in modern times and seem to breathe almost a prophetic tone of thought; for, however strange the contemplation, it yet remains a fact that modern historical science has established the Patriarchal Theory of the origin of society upon a sufficiently scientific basis to take it, from the domain of theory, almost into that of established fact. "The effect of the evidence derived from comparative jurisprudence," says Sir Henry Maine, "is to establish that view of the primeval condition of the human race which is known as the Patriarchal Theory; "* and this conclusion from the latest developed of the comparative sciences almost closes the evidence of the various studies which are now recognised to be constituent elements of history.
But the writers of the seventeenth century viewed the evidence of patriarchal society from a stand-point wholly destructive to its scientific value. If the spirit of historical study be traced with the growth of English learning, it is easily perceivable how the mind, in trying to unfetter itself from the narrowness of historical vision, had drifted into narrowness of philosophical research, and this state of things militated against the acceptance of the Patriarchial Theory as an historical fact apart from a religious belief. A class of thinkers arose who affirmed its importance from its position in the Jewish writ, and deduced constitutional maxims for their own age and country which were applicable only to that stage of progress in the development of a nation which altogether precedes the political. Sir Robert Filmer's work naturally opened the door for Locke's theory of the original contract; and the celebrated chapter of controversy on the literature of this age again developed the theory of Hobbes. But these celebrated exponents of thought, though differing so widely in their conclusions, agree in the one point, that they exhibit an actual unhistorical condition of the human race. Where they used history at all they degraded it into an instrument of political controversy, and
* Ancient Law, p. 122.
People to shorten, of an armule to a callused nmm Lty.
proposed to illsavere th's from the position of the Patriarha
For very obvio a resons, and from what has already been saif, it w... be better to park over Eastern History. The peculiar posttion which the historical boons of the Bible occupy in Western thought preclude the evidence to be lerived from their pages from entering into the calm scientific area which Western history admits of; and the remains of those great empires of civilisation which preceded the rise of the Jewish nation are not yet sufficiently elucidated to gather any clear evidence of their appreciation of historical study, and their recognition of the value of institutional life.
Considering that historical composition commenced so early in Grecian literature, it might have been expected that something would have been reflected from Homeric life to the subsequent stages which the Grecian people arrived at. But the isolated bounds of Grecian experience prevented a comprehensive view of early institutions. Their antipathies, too, were against spreading their inquiries far back into the life, or beyond the frontier line of their own people. Thirlwall ("Hist. of Greece," vol. i. cap 10) has taken great pains to show that Aristotle's survey of the Greek forms of
* Professor Jowett would exempt Plato from this proposition. He is far Above the vulgar notion that Hellas is the civilised world, or that civilisation only begins when Hellenes appear on the scene."-Introduction to Plato's Laws, p. lxii.
Government was furnished from a vast store of information which he had collected from more than one hundred states in the mother country; but this, by the light of modern historical science, only goes to strengthen the remark of Macaulay, that the Greeks admired only themselves; for had Aristotle but surveyed, with more than an incidental glance, the contemporary history of GræcoItalian life, he would have gained much to help his judgment on the Grecian forms of government and done all that was necessary to lift the historical compositions of his age out of that groove which, as Mommsen says, undertook toform links of connection between Greece and Rome by the spread of Hellenic story and fiction in keeping pace with the extension of geographical knowledge.*
It was not only experience from foreign history that the Grecian philosophers refused to use, but from their own history at an earlier stage of progress to that in which they happened to live. Though Mr. Gladstone considers that we scarcely find the strictly patriarchal king in the Iliad, † we have ample evidence that the poetry of Homer points back to patriarchal times, which, whether arising from Aryan or purely Grecian legend, undoubtedly shows a connection between Grecian political life and Grecian tribal life. We catch a glimpse of a period when a constitution had not been formed, and when "they had neither assemblies for consultation, nor themistes, but every one exercised jurisdiction over his wives and children, and paid no regard to one another."‡
It is this quotation from Homer which is used by Plato when he proceeds to speak about the origin of society. Professor Jowett, in his introduction to the Laws (p. lxiii.), points out that Plato's chief object "in tracing the origin of society, is to show the point at which regular government superseded the patriarchal authority, and laws common to many families took the place of old customs." Yet this object of the greatest of heathen philosophers seems to have been shielded behind the supposition of infinite time; seems rather to have generalised the conception of progressive development, than to have fixed a period when the distinction of nationality first began to be possible, and patriarchal chieftains became monarchs. He says that we may accept Homer's witness to the fact that there was a time when primitive societies existed; but the process by which
"History of Rome," book ii., cap. ix. (vol. i., page 484), E. T. I would refer also to some remarks by Baldwin in his " Prehistoric Nations," p. 46. +"Homeric Studies," iii. p. 30.
Vide Gladstone's "Homeric Studies," iii. 141; Maine's Law," p. 125. It is peculiar to note that Pope's translation of this passage of "The Odyssey" is singularly vague in its meaning, while some passages in his "Essay on Man" convey very distinctly this stage of society. May we not see here the influence of his friend St. John, to whose historical criticisms the present age is much indebted ?
"we seem to have stumbled upon the beginning of legislation," fills up but indistinctly that immense period of time which is as vaguely delineated in Plato's writings as it is certainly existent in his mind.*
It is important that we should point out now, by tracing its subsequent career, how this idea of a great lapse of time overshadowed, for so long a period, the growth of subsequent historical thought, which might otherwise have sought to fill up the period between man's national and natural life, by evidence from contemporary sources, when the modern civilised nations of Europe were primitive tribes.
It passed into the system of the Stoics and so severed later Grecian thought from Homeric thought. When the classical jurists of Rome appealed to the Stoic philosophers for their principles of morality, they clothed their jus gentium with notions entirely at variance with the equity of early Roman law, and produced, in Justinian's Pandects and Institutes, a jus gentium whose principal feature is its ambiguity. The jus gentium of the classical jurists of Rome suggested the Natural Law of the moderns (Austin's Lectures, No. xxxi.), which, in the instance of the Lockeian theory of the origin of law in a social compact, scarcely conceals its Roman derivation." Though the theory of Hobbes," says Sir Henry Maine, "was partly devised to repudiate the reality of a law of nature, yet these two theories resemble each other strictly in their fundamental assumption of a non-historic, unverifiable condition of the human race, for the authors agreed in thinking that a great chasm separated man in his primitive condition from man in society, and this notion, we cannot doubt, they borrowed, consciously or unconsciously, from the Romans." It is unnecessary to suggest further how, in its career from Plato's hazy conception of the dawn of society, it has passe i through phases wherein its principal features lay dormant under an enormous mass of empty declamation, as John Austin terms it; and that it again reared its head in a later age, when philosophers, forgetting or neglecting its original home, once more desired to stumble uron the beginning of legislation.
It will be necessary to notice shortly how the indefiniteness of any theory on the origin of society is still more apparent in Aristotle's system of half empirical, half a-priori method of thought. In Book i. cap. 2 of the "Politics," he clearly traces society from its germ in a single family to the combination of many families, which was instituted for mutual and lasting advantages," and hence by the way," he adds, "states were originally governed by kings, for
"If a man wants to know the origin of states and societies, he should behold them from the point of view of time."-Laws, book iii. + Vide Maine's "Ancient Law," p. 114.