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He does not comprehend them, nor does knows not, and has no power to compre-
had been so great during the last five whether, lost on earth and wildered with years of his life, that were such a specula- constant straying after that destination tion reasonable, we might well have look- which he could not recover, he has had ed for an advance at once in true man- better fortune on the other side of the great hood and creative power which would sea, is a more useless speculation still. have turned all comment into foolishness. But this development was never to come “O world! O life! O time ! on earth. Whether the wandering soul
On whose last steps I climb, has found out now the true planet to
Trembling at that where I had stood before,
When will return the glory of your prime ? which he had his celestial credentials, and
No more-oh, never more !"
BY ARTHUR HELPS.
of all kinds, must now be admitted to be ON THE PERSONAL IN GOVERNMENT.
a great power; sometimes a preponderat
ing power. I am sorry to be obliged to use this
De Quincey, who brought nice and delmode of expression, the personal,” which icate thinking to whatever subject he more befits the Greek and German lan
touched upon, considered the results of guages than our own. The proper word,
English politics as the resultants of a however, namely, “personality," has been
series of political forces, thus treating the detrimentally severed from its original matter somewhat mathematically. I have meaning, and is now used chiefly in a bad the pleasure of finding myself substantially sense.
in agreement with that eminent writer; It is needful alike for the philosopher,
only, where he speaks of forces, I should who endeavors to solve abstract questions be inclined to speak of persons, considrelating to government; for the practical ered both individually and in the aggreman, who seeks to promote some view, or
gate. carry some object by the aid of govern
I will take an illustration from what ment; and for all those who are to exer
goes on in the theatrical world. However cise influence in government, such as mem- different may have been the case in bers of the Legislature, and constituents, Shakspeare's time, it is now found neto take careful account of the nature and effect of what is personal in political and plays with much consideration of what
cessary for playwrights to write their governmental action.
the actors can act. This may be a very When people are equally educated, unfortunate circumstance for the “draequally tempered, and when there are few
ma," but it is one that must be taken into differences in station, (by the way, what a account; and in the greater drama of dull world it would then be !) that which political life and governmental action, it is personal will not require to be so much certainly must not be neglected. Those considered. But we are a long way off
performances will not go well on that from that state of things; and personal stage in which the parts have not been influence, which is the result of differences
case of the second volume he might avail himself * [The author of “Thoughts upon Govern- of the advantage referred to, by putting forth porment" some time since gave the public a condi- tions of his forthcoming work in the pages of tional promise that he would favor them with a this Magazine. As he justly remarks, “In writ. second volume; and it will be seen from the fol- ing upon so large and varied a subject as Governlowing pages that he is beginning to fulfill his pro- ment, it is impossible for any one man to possess mise. He states that subsequently to publishing sufficient experience to enable him to write with his first volume, he has received from persons of the fullness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness, experience much information, many suggestions, which such a subject demands." "He has accordand several corrections relating to the various sub- ingly adopted this means, by which, in his own jects treated in that volume, and that it would characteristic and modest words, "he hopes to have been a great advantage to the work if he had make his second volume more worthy of the subreceived these communications before the publica. ject than his first volume has been."'-ED. MACtion of it. He has therefore thought that in the MILLAN'S MAGAZINE.]
set forth with some consideration of the lating very closely to that which is purely peculiar powers and merits of the ac- personal. I suppose that there are very tors.
few matters which have occasioned more I especially wish it to be noted that I trouble to the nice consciences of men, do not mean by the word “actors" to al- who wish to act rightly in all they do, lude to the principal performers only, but than the questions connected with party intend to include in it those who form the action. Take, for instance, one of the choruses and the whole phalanx of super- highest forms of this difficulty-namely, numeraries.
how far a Cabinet Minister should go, and To bring the matter home. It is no where he should stop in going, if his colgood, for instance, to bring forward politi- leagues are proceeding in a path which is cal measures which are totally at discord distasteful for him to take, and from the with the personal feelings of the majority taking of which he perceives future serious of the people. It is very hazardous even evil. How much enters here that is perto bring forward measures which are total- sonal! How much he has to consider ly at variance with the views and wishes of that relates to the characters of those he any very important section of the commu- is at present acting with. The argument nity. At any rate, the time for producing that is generally addressed to him, and such measures must be most carefully cho- which often prevails with him, perhaps sen; for, if premature, it almost censures too often, is this: If you resign, you run
See, therefore, how, in this in- the chance of breaking up the party; this stance, that which is a personal" has to be one will follow you ; that one will folconsidered.
low him ; and so, this great party, with Scores of other instances may be ad- whom in the main you agree, may lose duced. There is a very striking one, that its power, and, for the present, come to ought to be mentioned. In these busy nought. times of ours, when new questions relat- Then look at the action of the personal ing to politics and government are rising in comparatively minor matters
. The up every day, it is absolutely impossible longer one lives, the more one learns to for any man-even for the man who is believe in the singular powers of individuvery fond of his own thoughts, and who al men. Take, for instance, a matter which would like to form an independent judg- may appear at first sight to be somewhat ment upon every thing that comes before remote from the subject we are considerhim-to arrive at solutions of all these ing-namely, the organization of a gov. questions for himself
. He must put some ernment department. You shall put one faith in others. He must, to a certain ex- man at the head of such an office, and he tent, rely upon authority. Here, there can do nothing without at once re-organfore, enters the personal element in one of izing. No tools but his own, fashioned its most determining forms. How it exactly to his liking, will serve his purpose. comes to prevail is thus. A man can You put another man, not supposed to be form, and always will form, some notion of greater capability than the former, into of the personal character of those who the same seat of power, and he sets to come prominently before the world; and work to do his work with the tools that he finds it easier, and sometimes impera- are given to him; and a better organizatively necessary, from want of time and tion grows up almost insensibly round other means, to adopt their views rather him, created by the mode in which than to attempt to work out conclusions he accomplishes the work that he has for himself.
to do. He is skilled in dealing with perThe foregoing remarks lead us natural- sons. ly to the consideration of parties in the I have already dwelt so much upon the State. Here, again, the personal element necessity of choosing fit men for political enters very largely indeed. It is a dream and governmental offices, that I fear to of vain dreamers to suppose that parties pursue the subject further. But all I can can be done away with in States that are say is, that those men, or bodies of men, governed by what are called Constitution- who have to choose representatives and al Governments. In such States, parties public servants, should enter very much must exist. Hence arise the gravest and into purely personal considerations, havmost difficult questions, many of them re- ing relation to the characters and nature of individuals. There can hardly be a or a girder, of one of these frail construcgreater error than supposing that a man tions, the whole edifice would give way, to will do the work you want him to do, be succeeded by a similar construction of merely because he happens at a certain frailty. What rapid changes we have moment to hold, or that he affects to known in our own time even in scientific hold, opinions exactly coincident with conclusions; and it would not have been your own.
well to have had the practical affairs of I would not have it imagined, for a this life so rapidly disturbed. Whereas, moment, that I suppose that personal feel- on the contrary, those affairs in human ings—which, by the way, are often crea- life which are “stuff,” to use a Shakted in their strongest form by personal in- spearian phrase, of the affections, the terests—are not frequently a great hin- passions, the prejudices of mankind, of all drance to the attainment of good and im- indeed that is personal, are like forest portant objects. We may frankly admit trees in their growth and stability, very that. At the same time, however, we tiresome to uproot sometimes when they must also admit that very great and good are ill-grown and you want to uproot objects are often attained by means of them; but which may afford some abiding personal influence. Men who are respect- shade, shelter, and fruit. ed, and justly respected, because they take There are some persons who may take more pains in forming their opinions than an objection to our giving much thought their fellow-citizens do, enjoy a peculiar to studying the personal in politics, beinfluence on that account. Their opin- cause they would contend that the effect ions ultimately prevail, not exactly by the of this personality is absorbed by those process of argument, but simply' by the large and general movements of the human personal influence which, in their respect- mind which prevail in any particular era, ive circles, they command. If we could In short, they would say, “ Study the age, know the secret history of how any opin- and not the man.” There is a remarkable ion came to prevail in the world, I suspect Arabic proverb which tends to support we should find that the weight of personal their views-namely, that “a man is more influence had, in almost all instances, been the child of the age in which he lives, than the prevailing means of preponderance. of his own father.” But, in the world's
Such considerations as the foregoing history, we find that there are many extend to limit our apprehension of the ill ceptional children—and those are the effects which must sometimes be admitted children who make the most noise in the to exist in party connections and in party world, and lead the other children. Quitspirit.
ting, however, all metaphor, let us ask ourTo the philosophic mind it may be an selves whether Macchiavelli, or any other uncomfortable reflection to think that all profound thinker upon politics, would admatters, political and governmental, are vise us to be content with studying solely not settled by the pure force of argumen- our own age, its peculiar movements of tation. I confess, however, that I am thought, and its prejudices, to the exclusion thankful that human beings are so consti- of studying the peculiar characters of the tuted as to be able to shake themselves individual men who will have especial free from the weight of arguments, how- sway in our age. ever imposing those arguments may be ; Bringing the matter home to political and that the world is largely governed by thought, I contend that all those, from its affections, which, after all, include the the highest to the lowest, who desire to greater part of our nature, and that part take an earnest part in politics, should which is perhaps best worth cultivating. carefully consider the nature and charac
Besides—and this is no light matter ters of their leaders. I do not mean to these personal affections give stability to a limit this consideration to the characters State. If we were more amenable to of the great leaders only of political argument than we are, the affairs of the thought and action. Nine out of ten of world would be in a state of continually us have some political leader-some perrapid fluxion ; and good growth would not son whose opinion we greatly regard, or come out of that. There would be a series whose influence we feel, in political matters of wooden edifices rapidly succeeding one and it becomes us to consider, much and another; for when you disturbed a post, closely, what is the nature and character of the person whom we have thus exalted from you, even materially, as respects cerinto leadership.
tain present objects. Is it wise to depose Here enters a very important view of him as your leader or representative, when human character, as bearing upon human you are able to detect that in essentials, action, which I believe is hardly ever suffi- that in his ultimate views, that in the ciently considered. In fact, the error aris- deeper signs of character, he is with you? ing from this want of consideration, is one The above are altogether personal quesof those which most infests human action. tions, requiring nice and careful thought; It is in considering a character not ad hoc and they go some way to support the main -not in respect to those matters in which purpose of this chapter, which is to show the character is significant as regards the the value of what is personal in politics, purpose for which you investigate the char- and the need for studying it on the part acter. Now, apply this thought to very of any person who wishes to fulfill his pohumble instances. You want to have good litical duties, as a citizen, to his own satisbricks made. You must look, at any rate faction, and to his country's welfare. in the first instance, to the qualities that A just consideration of the personal make a man a good brickmaker. His re- would tend to prevent much waste of ligion, his political opinions, his social con- thought in the discussion of governmental duct, many even of his personal merits or questions. Observe what has been the failings, have nothing whatever to do with case as regards the writers in former ages, the question of his being a good or bad who have directed their minds to these brickmaker. A similar train of thought questions. How little does one get, that may be applied to the highest matters; is useful, from men who have devoted themand whenever any man chooses for him- selves to abstract questions relating to the self a political leader or representative, origin of government, or from those of the one of the chief things he ought to make Abbé Sièyes kind, who have been emiup his mind about is the character of that nently skillful in framing Constitutions upon leader, or representative, in so far as it paper. The phrases “ Social Contract," bears upon the particular function for I Divine Right,” “Greatest happiness of which he is chosen. Reuben may have greatest number," buzz about our ears ; had every virtue under the sun, except but when we come to translate them into stability ; but it being pronounced by his action, they mostly elude our grasp. One father that “ unstable as water, he should doctrinaire responds to another, and all not excel,” it would not have been advis- is haziness for the poor practical man who able to choose a leader, or representative, is inclined to take things as they are, and from a tribe which partook of that hered- to endeavor to evolve some good out of itary vice of instability.
them. I would not say that the labors of I now venture to put forth something philosophic men, who have devoted themwhich may be considered somewhat too selves to abstract questions of governsubtle, but it is nevertheless worthy of ob- ment, are wholly useless; but you enter servation. It often happens that a man quite a different atmosphere of thought has certain views and objects, which, for when you approach the minds of Bacon, the moment, are your views and objects; Macchiavelli, and Goethe-men who have but this man's ultimate designs, and also been largely conversant with other men, his nature and character, are thoroughly as superiors, inferiors, or equals-and foreign to yours. And, strange to say, throughout whose works you will find that his present agreement with you may sig- much of what is strictly personal has ennally foreshadow future disagreement-as, tered into all their considerations upon for example, when a very young man governmental questions. The reason is, agrees with a very old and experienced that such men have been men of the world man. Even the way in which he ad- in the best sense, whereas the others have vocates his present views (which are yours for the most part been but students. also) may indicate how wide is the differ- I am not a Positivist; in fact, I agree ence between yourself and himself upon with Carlyle in a certain distaste for all essentials. It will be a great question for “ists and isms ;" but there must be someyou, how far you should support that thing of deep meaning and attraction in man. Or, take the exactly opposite case. Comte's works, which has made so many Suppose that the man in question differs earnest disciples for that remarkable man.