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ment. If it is useful, are the individuals who rule the country richer? If it is useless, are they poorer! A public man may be solicitous for his credit: but is not he likely to gain nore credit by a useless display of ostentaious architecture in a great town, than by the best road or the best canal in some remote province! The fame of public works is a much less certain test of their utility, than the amount of toll collected at them. In a corrupt age, there will be a direct embezzlement. În the purest age, there will be abundance of jobbing. Never were the statesmen of any country more sensitive to public opinion, and more spotless in pecuniary transactions, than those who have of late governed England. Yet we have only to look at the buildings recently erected in London for a proof of our rule. In a bad age, the fate of the public is to be robbed. In a good age, it is much milder -merely to have the dearest and the worst of every thing.
"There are many," says Montesinos, "who know this, but believe that it is not in the power of human institutions to prevent this misery. They see the effect, but regard the causes as inseparable from the condition of human nature."
He seems to be fully convinced, that it is in the power of government to relieve the distresses under which the lower orders labour. Nay, he considers doubt on this subject as impious. We cannot refrain from quoting his argument on this subject. It is a perfect jewel of logic.
"Many thousands in your metropolis," says Sir Thomas More, "rise every morning with out knowing how they are to subsist during the day; as many of them, where they are to lay their heads at night. All men, even the vicious themselves, know that wickedness leads to misery; but many, even among the good and the wise, have yet to learn that misery is almost as often the cause of wickedness."
"As surely as God is good," replies Sir Thomas, " so surely there is no such thing as necessary evil. For, by the religious mind, sickness, and pain, and death are not to be ac counted evils."
Buildings for state purposes the state must erect. And here we think that, in general, the state ought to stop. We firmly believe, that five hundred thousand pounds subscribed by individuals for railroads or canals, would produce more advantage to the public than five millions voted by Parliament for the same purpose. There are certain old saws about the master's eye, and about everybody's busi-heart. ness, in which we place very great faith.
There is, we have said, no consistency in Mr. Southey's political system. But if there be in it any leading principle, if there be any one error which diverges more widely and variously than any other, it is that of which Mr. Southey entertains as exaggerated a his theory about national works is a rami- notion of the wisdom of governments as of fication. He conceives that the business of their power. He speaks with the greatest disthe magistrate is, not merely to see that the gust of the respect now paid to public opinion. persons and property of the people are secure That opinion is, according to him, to be disfrom attack, but that he ought to be a perfect trusted and dreaded; its usurpation ought to be jack of all trades, architect, engineer, school-vigorously resisted; and the practice of yieldmaster, merchant, theologian, a Lady Boun- ing to it is likely to ruin the country. To tiful in every parish, a Paul Pry in every maintain police is, according to him, only ʊne house, spying, eaves-dropping, relieving, ad- of the ends of government. Its duties are pamonishing, spending our money for us, and triarchal and paternal. It ought to consider choosing our opinions for us. His principle the moral discipline of the people as its first is, if we understand it rightly, that no man can object, to establish a religion, to train the do any thing so well for himself, as his rulers, whole community in that religion, and to conbe they who they may, can do it for him; that sider all dissenters as its own enemies. a government approaches nearer and nearer to perfection, in proportion as it interferes more and more with the habits and notions of individuals.
"Nothing," says Sir Thomas, "is more certain than that religion is the basis upon which civil government rests; that from religion power derives its authority, laws their efficacy, and both their zeal and sanction; and it is necessary that this religion be established for the security of the state and for the welfare of the people, who would otherwise be moved to and fro with every wind of doctrine. A state is secure in proportion as the people are at tached to its institutions; it is, therefore, the first and plainest rule of sound policy, that the people be trained up in the way they should go. The state that neglects this prepares its own destruction; and they who train them up in any other way are undermining it. Nothing in abstract science can be more certain than these positions are."
"All of which," answers Montesinos, "are nevertheless denied by our professors of the
Now, if sickness, pain, and death are not evils, we cannot understand why it should be an evil that thousands should rise without knowing how they are to subsist. The only evil of hunger is, that it produces first pain, then sickness, and finally death. If it did not produce these, it would be no calamity. If these are not evils, it is no calamity. We cannot conceive why it should be a greater impeachment of the Divine goodness, that some men should not be able to find food to eat, than that others should have stomachs which derive no nourishment from food when they have eaten it. Whatever physical effects want produces, may also be produced by disease. Whatever salutary effects disease may produce, may also be produced by want. If poverty makes men thieves, disease and pain often sour the temper and contract the
We will propose a very plain dilemma: Either physical pain is an evil, or it is not an evil. If it is an evil, then there is necessary evil in the universe: if it is not, why should the poor be delivered from it?
arts Babblative and Scribblative, some in the audacity of evil designs, and others in the glorious assurance of impenetrable ignorance."
train them in any other way, are undermining the state.
The proof proceeds. As religion is the basis of government, and as the state is secure in proportion, as the people are attached to its in- | stitutions, it is, therefore, says Mr. Southey, the first rule of policy, that the government should train the people in the way in which they should go; and it is plain, that those who
Now it does not appear to us to be the first object that people should always believe in the established religion, and be attached to the established government. A religion may be false. A government may be oppressive. And whatever support government gives to false religions, or religion to oppressive governments, we consider as a clear evil.
The greater part of the two volumes before us is merely an amplification of these absurd paragraphs. What does Mr. Southey mean by saying, that religion is demonstrably the basis of civil government? He cannot surely mean that men have no motives, except those derived from religion, for establishing and The maxim, that governments ought to train supporting civil government, that no temporal the people in the way in which they should go, advantage is derived from civil government, sounds well. But is there any reason for that man would experience no temporal incon- believing that a government more likely to venience from living in a state of anarchy. lead the people in the right way, than the If he allows, as we think he must allow, that people to fall into the right way of themselves! it is for the good of mankind in this world Have there not been governments which were to have civil government, and that the great blind leaders of the blind? Are there not still majority of mankind have always thought it such governments? Can it be laid down as a for their good in this world to have civil go- general rule that the movement of political and vernment, we then have a basis for govern- religious truth is rather downwards from the ment quite distinct from religion. It is true, government to the people, than upwards from that the Christian religion sanctions govern- the people to the government! These are ment, as it sanctions every thing which pro- questions which it is of importance to have motes the happiness and virtue of our species. clearly resolved. Mr. Southey declaims against But we are at a loss to conceive in what sense public opinion, which is now, he tells us, religion can be said to be the basis of govern- usurping supreme power. Formerly, accordment, in which it is not also the basis of the ing to him, the laws governed; now public practices of eating, drinking, and lighting fires opinion governs. What are laws but expres in cold weather. Nothing in history is more sions of the opinion of some class which has certain than that government has existed, has power over the rest of the community? By received some obedience and given some pro- what was the world ever governed, but by the tection, in times in which it derived no sup- opinion of some person or persons? By what port from religion, in imes in which there else can ever be governed? Wh are all was no religion that influenced the hearts and systems, religious, political, or scientific, but lives of men. It was not from dread of Tarta-opinions resting on evidence more or less sarus, or belief in the Elysian fields, that an tisfactory? The question is not between hu Athenian wished to have some institutions man opinion, and some higher and more cerwhich might keep Orestes from filching his tain mode of arriving at truth, but between cloak, or Midias from breaking his head. "It opinion and opinion, between the opinion of is from religion," says Mr. Southey, "that one man and another, or of one class and power derives its authority, and laws their another, or of one generation and another efficacy." From what religion does our power Public opinion is not infallible; but can Mr over the Hindoos derive its authority, or the Southey construct any institutions which shall law in virtue of which we hang Brahmins, its secure to us the guidance of an infallible opi efficacy? For thousands of years civil go- nion? Can Mr. Southey select any family, vernment has existed in almost every corner any profession, any class in short, distinguished of the world, in ages of priestcraft, in ages of by any plain badge from the rest of the comfanaticism, in ages of epicurean indifference, munity, whose opinion is more likely to be in ages of enlightened piety. However pure just than this much abused public opinion? or impure the faith of the people might be, Would he choose the peers, for example? Or whether they adored a beneficent or malignant the two hundred tallest men in the country? power, whether they thought the soul mortal Or the poor Knights of Windsor? Or children or immortal, they have, as soon as they ceased who are born with cauls, seventh sons of seto be absolute savages, found out their need of venth sons? We cannot suppose that he civil government, and instituted it according- would recommend popular election: for that ly. It is as universal as the practice of cook- is merely an appeal to public opinion. And ery. Yet, it is as certain, says Mr. Southey, to say that society ought to be governed by the as any thing in abstract science, that govern- opinion of the wisest and best, though true, is ment is founded on religion. We should like useless. Whose opinion is to decide who are to know what notion Mr. Southey has of the the wisest and best? demonstrations of abstract science. But vague one, we suspect.
Mr. Southey and many other respectable people seem to think that when they have once proved the moral and religious training of the people to be a most important object, it fol lows, of course, that it is an object which the government ought to pursue. They forget that we have to consider, not merely the goodness of the end, but also the fitness of the means. Neither in the natural nor in the political body
have all members the same office. There is surely no contradiction in saying that a certain section of the community may be quite competent to protect the persons and property of the rest, yet quite unfit to direct our opinions, or to superintend our private habits.
Men are never so likely to settle a question rightly as when they discuss it freely. A go vernment can interfere in discussion, only by making it less free than it would otherwise be. Men are most likely to form just opinions when they have no other wish than to know the truth, and are exempt from all influence, either of hope or fear. Government, as go vernment, can bring nothing but the influence of hopes and fears to support its doctrines. It carries on controversy, not with reasons, but with threats and bribes. If it employs reasons, it does so not in virtue of any powers which belong to it as a government. Thus, instead of a contest between argument and argument, we have a contest between argument and force. Instead of a contest in which truth, from the natural constitution of the human mind, has a decided advantage over falsehood, we have a contest in which truth can be victorious only by accident.
So strong is the interest of a ruler to prorect his subjects against all depredations and outrages except his own, so clear and simple are the means by which this end is to be effected, that men are probably better off under the worst governments in the world than they would be in a state of anarchy. Even when the appointment of magistrates has been left to chance, as in the Italian republics, things have gone on better than they would have done, if there had been no magistrates at all, and every man had done what seemed right in his own eyes. But we see no reason for thinking that the opinions of the magistrate are more likely to be right than those of any other man. None of the modes by which rulers are And what, after all, is the security which appointed, popular election, the accident of the this training gives to governments? Mr. Soulot, or the accident of birth, afford, as far as they would scarcely recommend that discus. we can perceive, much security for their being sion should be more effectually shackled, that wiser than any of their neighbours. The chance public opinion should be more strictly disciof their being wiser than all their neighbours plined into conformity with established institogether is still smaller. Now we cannot con-tutions, than in Spain and Italy. Yet we know ceive how it can be laid down, that it is the that the restraints which exist in Spain and duty and the right of one class to direct the Italy have not prevented atheism from spreadopinions of another, unless it can be proveding among the educated classes, and especially that the former class is more likely to form among those whose office it is to minister at just opinions than the latter. the altars of God. All our readers know how, The duties of government would be, as Mr. at the time of the French Revolution, priest Southey says that they are, paternal, if a go- after priest came forward to declare that his vernment were necessarily as much superior doctrine, his ministry, his whole life, had been in wisdom to a people, as the most foolish a lie, a mummery during which he could father, for a time, is to the most intelligent scarcely compose his countenance sufficiently child, and if a government loved a people as to carry on the imposture. This was the case fathers generally love their children. But of a false, or at least a grossly corrupted relithere is no reason to believe, that a govern-gion. Let us take, then, the case of all others ment will either have the paternal warmth of the most favourable to Mr. Southey's argu affection or the paternal superiority of intel- ment. Let us take that form of religion which lect. Mr. Southey might as well say, that the he holds to be the purest, the system of the Arduties of the shoemaker are paternal, and that minian part of the Church of England. Let us it is a usurpation in any man not of the craft take the form of government which he most to say that his shoes are bad, and to insist on admires and regrets, the government of Eng having better. The division of labour would land in the time of Charies the First. Would be no blessing, if those by whom a thing is he wish to see a closer connection between done were to pay no attention to the opinion church and state than then existed? Would of those for whom it is done. The shoemaker, he wish for more powerful ecclesiastical triin the Relapse, tells Lord Foppington, that his bunals? for a more zealous king? for a more lordship is mistaken in supposing that his active primate? Would he wish to see a more shoe pinches. "It does not pinch, it cannot complete monopoly of public instruction given pinch; I know my business, and I never made to the Established Church? Could any govern a better shoe." This is the way in which Mr. ment do more to train the people in the way Southey would have a government treat a in which he would have them go? And in people who usurp the privilege of thinking. what did all this training end? The Report Nay, the shoemaker of Vanbrugh has the ad- of the state of the province of Canterbury, devantage in the comparison. He contented livered by Laud to his Master at the close of himself with regulating his customer's shoes, 1639, represents the Church of England as in about which he knew something, and did not the highest and most palmy state. So effectupresume to dictate about the coat and hat. ally had the government pursued that policy But Mr. Southey would have the rulers of a which Mr. Southey wishes to see revived, that country prescribe opinions to the people, not there was scarcely the least appearance of disonly about politics, but about matters concern- sent. Most of the bishops stated that all was ing which a government has no peculiar well among their flocks. Seven or eight persources of information, concerning which any sons of the diocese of Peterborough had seemman in the streets may know as much, and ed refractory to the church, but had made amthink as justly, as a king-religion and mo- ple submission. In Norfolk and Suffolk all rals. whom there had been reason w suspect had K
made profession of conformity, and appeared | tain many of the feelings and opinions of to observe it strictly. It is confessed that Charles and Laud, though in a mitigated form; there was a little difficulty in bringing some nor is it difficult to see that the heirs of the of the vulgar in Suffolk to take the sacrament Puritans are still amongst us. It would be deat the rails in the chancel. This is the only sirable that each of these parties should reopen instance of nonconformity which the member how little advantage or honour it forvigilant eye of Laud could find in all the dio- merly derived from the closest alliance with ceses of his twenty-one suffragans, on the power; that it fell by the support of rulers, and very eve of a revolution in which primate and rose by their opposition; that of the two syschurch, and monarch and monarchy, were to tems, that in which the people were at any time perish together. being drilled was always at that time the unpopular system; that the training of the High Church ended in the reign of the Puritans, and the training of the Puritans in the reign of the harlots.
This was quite natural. Nothing is so galling and detestable to a people not broken in from the birth, as a paternal, or, in other words, a meddling government-a government which tells them what to read, and say, and eat, and drink, and wear. Our fathers could not bear it two hundred years ago; and we are not more patient than they. Mr. Southey thinks that the yoke of the church is dropping off because it loose. We feel convinced that it is borne
At which time would Mr. Southey pronounce the constitution more secure; in 1639, when Laud presented this report to Charles, or now, when thousands of meetings openly collect | millions of dissenters, when designs against the tithes are openly avowed, when books attacking not only the Establishment, but the first principles of Christianity, are openly sold in the streets? The signs of discontent, he tells us, are stronger in England now than in France when the States-general met; and hence he would have us infer that a revolution like that of France may be at hand. Does he not know that the danger of states is to be estimated, not by what breaks out of the pub-only because it is easy, and that in the instant lic mind, but by what stays in it? Can he in which an attempt is made to tighten it, it conceive any thing more terrible than the situ- will be flung away. It will be neither the first ation of a government which rules without ap- nor the strongest yoke that has been broken prehension over a people of hypocrites; which asunder and trampled under foot in the day of is flattered by the press, and cursed in the in- the vengeance of England. ner chambers; which exults in the attachment and obedience of its subjects, and knows not that those subjects are leagued against it in a freemasonry of hatred, the sign of which is every day conveyed in the glance of ten thousand eyes, the pressure of ten thousand hands, and the tone of ten thousand voices? Profound and ingenious policy! Instead of curing the disease, to remove those symptoms by which alone its nature can be known! To leave the serpent his deadly sting, and deprive him only of his warning rattle!
How far Mr. Southey would have the government carry its measures for training the people in the doctrines of the church, we are unable to discover. In one passage Sir Thomas More asks with great vehemence,
"Is it possible that your laws should suffer the unbelievers to exist as a party? "Vetitum est adeo sceleris nihil ?"
When the people whom Charles had so assiduously trained in the good way had rewarded his paternal care by cutting off his head, a new kind of training came into fashion. Another government arose, which, like the former, considered religion as its surest basis, and the religious discipline of the people as its first duty. Sanguinary laws were enacted against libertinism; profane pictures were burned; drapery was put on indecorous statues; the theatres were shut up; fast-days were numerous; and the Parliament resolved that no person should be admitted into any public employment unless the House should be first satisfied of his vital godliness. We know what was the end of this training. We know tha' it ended in impiety, in filthy and heartless sensuality, in the dissolution of all ties of honour and morality. We know that at this very day scriptural phrases, scriptural names, perhaps some scriptural doctrines, excite disgust and ridicule solely because they are associated with the austerity of that period.
Thus has the experiment of training the people in established forms of religion been twice tried in England on a large scale; once by Charles and Laud, and once by the Puris. The High Tories of our time still enter
Montesinos answers. "They avow themselves in defiance of the laws. The fashionable doctrine which the press at this time maintains is, that this is a matter in which the laws ought not to interfere, every man having a right both to form what opinion he pleases upon religious subjects and to promulgate that opinion."
It is clear, therefore, that Mr. Southey would not give full and perfect toleration to infidelity. In another passage, however, he observes with some truth, though too sweepingly, that "any degree of intolerance, short of that full extent which the Papal church exercises where it has the power, acts upon the opinions which it is intended to suppress like pruning upon vigorous plants, they grow the stronger for it." These two passages, put together, would lead us to the conclusion that, in Mr. Southey's opinion, the utmost severity ever employed by the Roman Catholic church in the days of its greatest power ought to be employed against unbelievers in England; in plain words, that Carlile and his shopmen ought to be burned in Smithfield, and that every person who when called upon should decline to make a solemn profession of Christianity, ought to suffer the same fate. We do not, however, believe that Mr. Southey would recommend such a course, though his language would, in the case of any other writer, justify us in supposing this to be his meaning. His opinions form no system at
all. He never sees at one glance more of a question than will furnish matter for one flowing and well-turned sentence; so that it would be the height of unfairness to charge him personally with holding a doctrine merely because that doctrine is deducible, though by the closest and most accurate reasoning, from the premises which he has laid down. We are, therefore, .eft completely in the dark as to Mr. Southey's opinion about toleration. Immediately after censuring the government for not punishing infidels, he proceeds to discuss the question of the Catholic disabilities, now, thank God, removed, and defends them on the ground that the Catholic doctrines tend to persecution, and that the Catholics persecuted when they had power.
"They must persecute," says he, "if they believe their own creed, for conscience' sake; and if they do not believe it, they must persecute for policy; because it is only by intolerance that so corrupt and injurious a system can be upheld."
any of those who have in this age directed their attacks against the last restraint of the powerful, and the last hope of the wretched. The whole history of the Christian religion shows, that she is in far greater danger of being corrupted by the alliance of power than of being crushed by its opposition. Those who thrust temporal sovereignty upon her treat her as their prototypes treated her author. They bow the knee, and spit upon her; they cry Hail! and smite her on the cheek; they put a sceptre into her hand, but it is a fragile reed; they crown her, but it is with thorns; they cover with purple the wounds which their own hands have inflicted on her; and inscribe magnificent titles over the cross on which they have fixed her to perish in ignominy and pain.
The general view which Mr. Southey takes of the prospects of society is very gloomy; but we comfort ourselves with the consideration that Mr. Southey is no prophet. He foretold, we remember, on the very eve of the abolition of the Test and Corporation Acts, that these hateful laws were immortal, and that pious minds would long be gratified by seeing the most solemn religious rite of the church profaned, for the purpose of upholding her political supremacy. In the book before us, he says that Catholics cannot possibly be admitted into Parliament, until those whom Johnson called "the bottomless Whigs" come into power. While the book was in the press, the prophecy was falsified, and a Tory of the Tories, Mr. Southey's own favourite hero, won and wore that noblest wreath, "Ob cives servatos."
That unbelievers should not be persecuted, is an instance of national depravity at which the glorified spirit stands aghast. Yet a sect of Christians is to be excluded from power because those who formerly held the same opinions were guilty of persecution. We have said that we do not very well know what Mr. Southey's opinion about toleration is. But, on the whole, we take it to be this, that everybody is to tolerate him, and that he is to tolerate nobody.
We will not be deterred by any fear of misrepresentation from expressing our hearty approbation of the mild, wise, and eminently Christian manner, in which the church and the government have lately acted with respect to blasphemous publications. We praise them for not having thought it necessary to encircle a religion pure, merciful, and philosophicala religion, to the evidences of which the highest intellects have yielded-with the defences of a false and bloody superstition. The ark of God was never taken till it was surrounded by the arms of earthly defenders. In captivity, its sanctity was sufficient to vindicate it from insult, and to lay the hostile fiend prostrate on the threshold of his own temple. The real security of Christianity is to be found in its benevolent morality, in its exquisite adaptation to the human heart, in the facility with which its scheme accommodates itself to the capacity of every human intellect, in the consolation which it bears to the house of mourning, in the light with which it brightens the great mystery of the grave. To such a system it can bring no addition of dignity or of strength, that it is part and parcel of the common law. It is not now for the first time left to rely on the force of its own evidences and the attractions of its own beauty. Its sublimeter off than at any time before or since. theology confounded the Grecian schools in the fair conflict of reason with reason. The bravest and wisest of the Caesars found their arms and their policy unavailing, when opposed to the weapons that were not carnal, and the kingdom that was not of this world. The victory which Porphyry and Diocletian failed to gain is not, to all appearance, reserved for
We look, however, on the state of the world, and of this kingdom in particular, with much greater satisfaction, and with better hopes. Mr. Southey speaks with contempt of those who think the savage state happier than the social. On this subject, he says, Rousseau never imposed on him even in his youth. But he conceives that a community which has advanced a little way in civilization is happier than one which has made greater progress. The Britons in the time of Cæsar were happier, he suspects, than the English of the nineteenth century. On the whole, he selects the genera tion which preceded the Reformation as that in which the people of this country were bet
This opinion rests on nothing, as far as we can see, except his own individual associations. He is a man of letters; and a life des titute of literary pleasures seems insipid tc him. He abhors the spirit of the present gene ration, the severity of its studies, the boldness of its inquiries, and the disdain with which it regards some old prejudices by which his own
The signs of the times, Mr. Southey tells us, are very threatening. His fears for the country would decidedly preponderate over his hopes, but for his firm reliance on the mercy of God. Now, as we know that God has once suffered the civilized world to be overrun by savages, and the Christian religion to be corrupted by doctrines which made it, for some ages, almost as bad as Paganism, we cannot think it inconsistent with his attributes that similar calamities should again befall mankind.