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THIRD SERIES, NO. I.-WHOLE NUMBER LVII.
THREE PROGRESSIVE EXPERIMENTS IN HUMAN GOVERN
By JOSEPH F. TUTTLE, Marietta College, Ohio.
OURS is a world of experiment. Oft repeated experiment, and as oft repeated failure, are necessary to secure even an approximation to perfection. Art has its infancy, its uncultivated youth, and then the ripe beauties of manhood. Science at first shoots out rays dimmer than starlight, then come the long and joyous beams of light, flashing from beneath the horizon, then the sun itself emerges, and careers upward to the full blaze of noonday. Literature at first stammers with harsh utterance, experiment converts this into the mellow tones of luxuriant but undisciplined manhood, and finally chastens this unpruned luxuriance into the angelic strains which flow from the lips of a Shakspeare and a Milton.
The Creator has not enthroned his creatures on the pinnacle of perfection. Effort must be expended, mind developed, genius waked up, energies fired, to realize the ideal perfection which burns so brightly in the human soul. Wheresoever the creature may rank, or whatever his original THIRD SERIES, VOL. I. NO. I. 1
power, he will behold reared above him mountains which his spirit will strive to scale, and when these have been attained, still other and mightier mountains will greet his eye, and arouse the godlike energies of his soul. Progress is a law of the rational universe. It was never intended that the soul, the offspring and image of Deity, should remain the passive recipient of blessings conferred by Omnipotence. That were an unworthy destiny. Thought, ceaseless and pleasurable, was destined to range over an infinite field, forever winging a bolder flight, and exploring the beautiful and grand so munificently scattered throughout infinity. In a word, it was the design of God that mind should revel in the delicious joys of activity, of progress, of eagerly reaching forward to its ideal perfection, and yet forever realize that such an idea of perfection is only consummated in God.
With these thoughts in mind, it will not seem strange that men were left to experiment on the different modes of national government. For ages this world has been one vast workshop, and the genius of man the indefatigable statuary. At one time he has chiselled, from the rough marble of society, a form beautiful as ever greeted the eye of an artist, and his heart has throbbed wildly, as he fancied his hope fulfilled. But this form was as the lifelike statue of Pygmalion. As the artist gazed on the delicate image, he became enamoured with its bewitching loveliness, but with all its delicate beauty and bewitching loveliness, it was cold marble. No ethereal fire warmed it into immortality, and it soon perished. Again the statuary toils for the desired end. At length his breath is almost suspended with joy, as he beholds another form moulded into full proportion, not so symmetrical as the former, yet not destitute of symmetry. Its magnificent bust, its brawny limbs, its iron sinews, gave token of extraordinary power. It moved and breathed, but its lustreless eye gave no evidence of immortal fire kindled at the seat of life. Its countenance was stern, and its hand swayed an inexorable sceptre. As the elated artist gazed upon this child of his genius, he thought that beauty, power, life, were here combined in per
fection. For ages it remained apparently the heir of immortality. The nations bowed submissively to its yoke. Then it began to decay, it tottered, it fell; it was not immortal.
Despair now seemed to gather around the artist, as he beheld the signal defeat of his cherished hopes. It was thenif I may be permitted to follow out the figure—that a beam of light from heaven flashed upon his soul and inspired his energies anew. Under the master-touches of genius another magnificent form was developed from the massive marble. The delicate beauty of the first creation combined with the lordly grandeur of the second. But the current of life leaping through the transparent veins, the eye kindled into the impassioned light of thought, and the countenance resplendent with the emotions of soul, all showed that the breath of immortality had waked the lifeless marble into deathless life. That was the ideal perfection, realizing the combination of beauty, power, immortality.
But to speak in plain terms, may not these figures be representatives of three grand experiments in human government, which either have been made or are now making in the world? In a certain sense all the experiments conducted among different nations, may be considered as modifications of these three, Grecian Democracy, Roman Law, and Christian Republicanism. It is proposed to develope at some length each of these systems, considering them as steps of progression toward perfection in human government.
Democracy in its purest form was the prevailing system of government in Greece. In other countries the patriarchal rule of families ripened into despotism, reducing the masses under the power of irresponsible men. But in Greece, from the very first, there was manifested a passion for popular freedom, which burnt brightly until quenched in blood by Roman power. Nor is it any well founded objection to this assertion, that such men as the thirty tyrants, Pericles, and Themistocles, exercised arbitrary power over the people; for "the thirty," by their horrid excesses during a single year, endeavoring to stifle the spirit of freedom, really added fuel to the flame, and