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cessity for the intervention of the popu-
we find it now in our power to bestow on the subject. We shall content ourselves with little more than a brief statement of his leading points, reduced to a form of more naked simplicity than that in which they appear when halfveiled and half-adorned with all the rich apparel of his deprecatory and extenuating circumlocution. We are much mistaken if a sufficient refutation of their errors may not be found in this simple process. Let us endeavor, if possible, through all the cloud of metaphysical mystification which he has accumulated over the subject, to get at a distinct apprehension of what it is he so earnestly believes, and so zealously and ably preaches. No very easy task, as we find, after an attentive reperusal of his series of Articles-provokingly as he at times appears to explain away some of the most essential points of his doctrines into a something intangible, if not unintelligible, the moment they bring him up face to face with a truth, or a fact, the conflict of which would at once stamp his argument with the reductio ad absurdum.
Reduced to its simplest formula, Mr. Brownson's doctrine of government may be thus stated:-That government implies necessarily a distinction between the governor and the governed, as essentially twain; and therefore, that the idea of self-government by a people, if it include a discretionary sovereign authority in the people itself over its own constitution of government, to alter or to abrogate at pleasare, is absurd, since it would make the governor and the governed one and the same. That the only rightful foundation and authority of government is the Divine Will, no mere human will, whether that of a majority or of a few, being entitled to our obedience and allegiance. That the existing system of | government over any particular people, is necessarily the expression of the Divine Will in its organization for that people, and, that therefore, loyal allegiance is always due to it; if that system contain within itself provision of a mode for its own progressive improvement, that mode may be rightfully employed for the purpose, such progress falling within the scope of its design and destiny; but if it does not contain within itself any such provision, there is then no help for it, the right of rebellion being in toto denied, and that
relief can only come from the interposition of Providence, in the form of foreign conquest, or such other as it may see fit to adopt. That in case of the wrongful perversion of existing government (by bad men in its administration) from its proper mission as the agency of the Divine Will, for the maintenance of justice, freedom, and all right, appeal is only to be made to "The Church," as being, co-ordinately with the State, though of still higher commission and authority, the embodied expression of the Divine Will in human society.
Such, according to our best ability to apprehend and state it, is the outline of Mr. Brownson's theory of government, as we find it in his recent series of Articles on "The Origin and Ground of Government." We have Already adverted to the fact, that those articles are spread over a surface of between sixty and seventy pages; they of course contain a great deal more matter than that of which we have thus endeavored to present a faithful condensation. This consists of criticisms of other theories of government, and especially of the Democratic; earnest asseveration of his own friendliness to human freedom and progress, and of the harmony of his views with that spirit; together with subtle and abstruse metaphysical disquisitions on the nature of man, and his relations with God and with society, in support or illustration of his positions; The greater part of his discussion of the subject is, indeed, rather negative in its form and character than positive; denying and denouncing antagonist theories, rather than systematically developing any connected and logical completeness of doctrine of his own. In fact, he himself intimates that he is but imperfectly satisfied with his own solutions of some of the questions involved in the discussion, though he receives and gives them as the best he can find for himself or offer to others; and concludes with the remark that he has given but "bare hints and detached observations" on the subject -"suggestions" merely, which he only hopes may "lead to some correct conclusions, excite to a more thorough examination of the subject than has hitherto been generally made by our politicians, and thus contribute to a better understanding of our institutions, and to a graver and juster popular action under them." However, in
the statement of the points which we have above thrown together as the outline of his views, Mr. Brownson is sufficiently positive, and they constitute a sufficiently tangible and complete body of doctrine, to permit us satisfactorily to understand the author and classify him in his proper place among political theorists. And this we are compelled to do in spite of his own reluctance sometimes to admit all the conclusions from his own arguments; and in spite of his own profession of meanings and motives widely different from those usually animating the writers and actors of the school in which his true position must undoubtedly be "located"-a profession of which we have no idea of questioning the conscientious sincerity.
Applying this general theory to his own country, Mr. Brownson naturally enough places "the Constitution" on that throne of supreme sovereignty to which allegiance is due-" the Constitution," as distinct from, and superior to, the People governed by it (the People, whether expressed as a mere majority or even in unanimous whole), as a restraining and directing power, not created by them, nor dependent on their will, except in accordance with and through its own prescribed methods of alteration; in which latter case it, the Constitution, is as much the paramount and sovereign law in the act of its own alteration, and the substitution of improved forms of administration, as in any other part of its ordinary action. He therefore repudiates, with emphatic energy and even scorn, the name of "Democrat," and claims for himself.and all those of whose views he is the correct interpreter, the name of "Constitutional Republicans." Of course he takes strong ground against the whole doctrine and movement of the Free Suffrage Party of Rhode Island, of which Mr. Dorr stands before the country as the exponent and representative.
Now, against this general doctrine, as preached by our friend and former correspondent, we shall not, we repeat, on the present occasion at least, undertake the task of following him through all the depths and all the details of his argumentation. We are content, for its refutation, with that more effectual reductio ad absurdum which becomes, we think, sufficiently apparent the moment it is reduced to a simple and naked statement,
divested of all the surrounding mystification of reasoning or accuinulation of words, with which Mr. Brownson has probably deceived himself more than he has succeeded in deceiving any of his readers.
Why, it is, out and out, the antiquated, and we had imagined obsolete, monarchical doctrine of the divine right of kings, united in unblessed alliance with the old papal doctrine of the spiritual-temporal supremacy of the Church. Disclaim it as he may qualify, explain, modify it as he pleases, to the full extent of the powers of language and of his own practised dialec. tic ingenuity-it is nothing more and nothing less than this.
True, Mr. Brownson, for himself individually, disclaims all forms of monarchy or aristocracy. He claims to be no less truly and heartily a "friend of the people" than ever he was. He has no desire to impose any restrictions on the right of suffrage or of eligibility, at least among our countrymen, in consequence of the general equality of conditions; though he contends that the political equality expressed by universal suffrage and eligibility is not a natural right, but merely a matter of civil regulation. And Freedom, civil and religious, is what he most earnestly invokes, for the full development of the possible nature of every man, and for the enjoyment of equal rights-that is to say, not so much the " equal right of every man to have a voice in saying who shall be the law-makers, and what shall be the laws," as the equal rights which "belong to social position, condition or opportunity," and which are "equal chances to equal capacities; and equal rewards to equal works."
But it is vain that Mr. Brownson struggles thus to reconcile things essentially irreconcilable-thus to dip his cup at once into the source and the mouth of the stream-thus to defend the consistency of his present with his former positions, by these professions of unaltered popular spirit and motive, at the same moment when he is putting forth some of the strongest doctrine ever advanced by the worst enemies of the people. It is impossible even to his ingenuity, to his e'oquence. All the world are not wrong, he alone being right, when all the world unites in exclaiming upon his sudden and total change of position, the one party wel
VOL. XIII.-NO. LXVI.
coming it with joyful triumph, as an illustrious conversion, signally proving the impossibility of adherence to the democratic faith by an honest and powerful mind, able to discern and fearless to follow its necessary logical consequences, and the other execrating it with indignant sorrow, as another instance of the too frequent sloughing off of advancing age backward into the old conservatism of timidity, if not of selfishness; or else the unstable vagaries of a vain and restless mind, impatient of repose, insatiate of notoriety, of excitement, of the special wonderment of the public attention, and, when wearied of the barren suffrages of applause from a party socially inferior, ambitious of the smiles of the other party, the party of the "respectability," of the wealth, of the social ascendency. Far from us thus to characterize the meaning of Mr. Brownson's recent-we will not say desertion-we will not say apostasybut we will say, of his recent unfortunate transfer of his Stentor voice and his Ajax arm from our camp, the camp of the People, beneath that banner of Democracy he now so insultingly flouts, to the antagonist array, in whose ranks he has already been eagerly welcomed to a prominent position. Far from us, we say, be this unkindness, this injustice. We have, on the contrary, often in private defended Mr. Brownson against this view of him and his course, as we have often had to repel the anti-democratic version of it, above adverted to. But Mr. Brownson must be somewhat less free in his own uncharitable imputations of " demagogueism" and hypocrisy," against all that school of political doctrine he thus denounces with the fresh and strong bitterness of recent hostility, if he would desire to be himself dealt with in that spirit of kindly forbearance, which is not wisely to be spurned by any man in the yet unsettled and insecure position, of stupendous inconsistency, which himself alone is the only person unconscious of.
As for Mr. Brownson's fine phrases of philanthropic aspiration after the true good of the masses and of every individual composing them, though unquestionably sincere on his lips, yet are they, after all, nothing more than despot-u ism always uses. Paternity is the character it especially delights to as
sume that "paternity" whose dearest hope and object in existence is the welfare of its children;" and it always insists that it is only for their own good that it governs the people, its forms and forces being necessary for the maintenance of order, the repression of wrong-doing, and the promotion of all possible good and prosperity among its subjects.
True, indeed, it is that, to those bad despotisms which govern the people only for the selfish interests of the rulers, and not for the true good of the commonwealth, Mr. Brownson denies that right divine on which their claim to moral allegiance must rest; but on this point of his discussion he is remarkably weak and confused-not, indeed, by his own fault, but by that of his doctrine. In the first place, we may ask, where is any rule of discrimination to be found by which we may distinguish between true and false government—that is, between those governments which truly express and represent the one only sovereignty of the Divine Will, and are, therefore, entitled to our support and obedience, and those which are of bad human invention and selfish tyranny? Repudiating the name of "Democrat," he claims that of "Constitutional Republican"-but what, forsooth, is the meaning of his "Constitutional Republic?" Is it simply such a government as that of Massachusetts, or of any of our States, or of the Union of them, or of any of the other "republics" of ancient or modern days? No, indeed; but every monarchy in Europe is, according to him, a "Constitutional Republic," and the crowned heads which represent the collective majesty, justice, and power of each respective nationality, are no less "Constitutional Republicans" than Mr. Brownson. Do we mistake him? Let the reader judge for himself:
"In the best, and authorized use of the term, any government is a Republic, in which power is held to be a trust from the commonwealth to be exercised for the public good in opposition to the private interest of the ruler or rulers, France, England, Belgium, and some of the German kingdoms, are Republics, for the king in them is only the first magistrate, and represents not his own personal rights, but the majesty of the State; but Austria, Russia, and the
Asiatic kingdoms and empires generally, are not Republics, for the king or emperor does not represent the majesty of the State, but is held to be it, the sovereign and proprietor of the kingdom; and his glory, not the public good, is the theoretic end that is to be sought. A Constitutional Republic may, then, be delined, a government in which power is held as a trust from the commonwealth, to be exercised for the public good, according to a prescribed law, whether actually exercised by one man called king or emperor, by the few called the nobility or aristocracy, or by the many, called the people, or, to adopt a Europeanism, adopted, but improperly, by some of our politicians, the democracy."
Austria and Prussia are here, indeed, nominally excluded from Mr. Brownson's definition of a "Constitutional Republic;" yet is their exclusion quite as arbitrary on his part as any of their own acts of government against an obnoxious subject. It is an unconscious but virtual confession of the fallacy of his definition, and of the system of argument of which it is an essential element. His definition embraces them not less than the others he has expressly named as among his "Constitutional Republics"-(why has he thus slurred over the case of Prussia?)— yet he shrinks, with perhaps an unconscious instinct, from exploding the absurdity of the name by conceding it to them. The monarch of either of those two nations will not fail to answer your interrogations in such wise as to bring himself quite as fully within the definition as either Louis Philippe, Victoria, or Leopold can pretend to be. He represents the nation, and recognizes his obligation to rule for the true good of his people, and for that aloneand to this end he claims that all his acts are at least designed. Louis XIV. himself never made a stronger asser. tion of the despotism of his individual power than that which has become proverbial, when he said that " he was the State." And what though there may not have been in their case any recent agency of the people in the constitution of their thrones, yet do they all, in one way or another, in addition to the passive popular sanction contained in acquiescence, refer back to an original title of popular choice,—though they bring to it, indeed, the superadded
support of a right divine, so as to place it beyond the reach of any right of popular reconsideration, together with a little collateral aid of bayonets and cannon. Mr. Brownson says, that "in giving us our institutions, Providence has solved the problem [of government] for us." Is not the same language equally applicable on the lips of the Austrian or the Russ
Ah, but there is one still higher authority in the earth, which may judge, reform, and, if necessary, overthrow these "constitutional republics" of our friend, even perhaps outside of their own provided forms,--though the latter is a point which Mr. Brownson leaves in a judicious obscurity. The State is the elephant on which the world rests, and the tortoise supporting the elephant is "the Church." But what is "the Church?" Unfortunately, that is a question for which, though made the very pivot of the whole discussion, we look in vain for any definite and intelligible answer. Mr. Brownson's "Church is a still more vague and elastic idea than his "Constitutional Republic." In one place, indeed, he hints at it as the Divine Willembodied and represented in an outward visible institution." The Priest has certainly something to do with it, since he tells us that one of the two alternative conditions necessary in order that resistance to civil government either can or ought to succeed, is that "the minister of religion bless their cause." And this authority claimed for "the Church" is stated in no weak or equivocal phrase:
the State, by THE CHURCH. It belongs to the Church, then, as the representative of the highest authority on earth, to determine when esistance is proper, and to prescribe its form, and its extent. When this commands, it is our duty to obey."
Well, if this were all Mr. Brownson said about his "Church," his meaning would, at least, be simple and intelligible enough, though few friends of liberty or of man would fail to heap upon such doctrine their heartiest execration. But unfortunately it is not-unfortu nately, we mean, for the ability of his reader to extract from his pages any distinct conception or idea of his mean ing. Is it any one of the forms of Protestantism, or their united totality? No; for "in Protestant countries the Church has been perverted into a function of the State." Is it Rome? No; for "the Catholic Church" has" itself become corrupt and oppressive,"— (though perhaps there might here seem to be shadowed forth the meaning, that "the Catholic Church" might be reformed so as to cease to be corrupt and oppressive, and then become again, what it has been once before, Church" of which we are in quest.) But in his second article (page 254) he sends the idea of " the Church" far and wide off to sea on an ocean of vague perplexity. He calls it "the public conscience; that is to say, the sense of right expressed in what we recognize as the highest and most sacred among us." "And this," he pursues, "by whatever name it goes, is our Church, our Divine Institution. This it is, whether it be called the pulpit, the press, the lyceum." Alas! what does the tortoise rest upon? Mr. Brownson hints that "he could tell, an if he would :”--“ There must be, beside the civil authority, a moral authority. This moral authority, organized, is the Church; but I will not now speak of it as organized." What were the torments of Tantalus to those Mr. Brownson thus inflicts on the reader honestly anxious, like ourselves, to understand
the full scope and extent of his doctrine, so as fairly to judge both it and him? Here has he brought us up to the last link from which he suspends his whole chain, to which, like the ancient myth, he has attached the universe, yet does he give us no Jupiter's hand to hang it by. Like the tale of